Because of COVID-19, the NFL stands are empty. They are stimulating the crowd with audio. It reminds me of a laugh track on TV, which I find to be very annoying.

Why do they have these fake crowd noises?

  • 1
    They're doing the same in association football (aka soccer).
    – F1Krazy
    Sep 13 '20 at 18:12

Per The Sporting News:

Fans in the stands at NFL games will be a rarity for at least the first few weeks of the 2020 season, and as other sports leagues have realized in their returns to live action, crowd noise is a massive factor in terms of how a TV audience consumes a game. So yes, of course the NFL is going to get fake crowd noise into your living room even if no fans are at the stadium where your game is being played.

Essentially, they're putting it there for the same reason as a laugh track: to fill in auditory feedback that you're used to having. It's not perfect, but they're hoping it helps.

To even more directly answer your question, the use of fake crowd noise is mandated by the league in their Game Operation Manual.


The NFL's Football Operations department sent a memo on September 3, 2020 to the teams explaining the policies around fake crowd noise in empty stadiums this year. There are two types of crowd noise audio that are being used:

  1. Broadcast Audio (Crowd noise incorporated in the broadcast). This is the audio that you are hearing on television during the broadcast. It was developed by sound engineers from NFL Films, and is described as "dynamic and reactive to game situations." A league-hired audio engineer is working live at each game to try to simulate reactions to the game. This audio is only for broadcasts; the players do not hear this on the field.

The memo does not spell out the reasons for using fake crowd noise on the broadcasts, but it is safe to assume that they did some testing and didn't like how the broadcasts sounded with no background noise.

  1. League-Curated Audio for Stadium. The league has provided each stadium with an audio file that contains crowd noise on a loop, and teams are required to play this audio file at the stadium anytime the game clock is running. There is a unique audio file for each stadium. According to the memo:

The purpose of the curated audio is to create an audio landscape (i.e., a baseline "murmur") that masks some field-level audio typically not audible in a stadium with fans.

Essentially, if the stadium is too quiet, it is too easy to hear things said on the sidelines. I'm guessing that this is to prevent a team on one sideline from hearing what is being said on the other sideline.

In addition to this stadium crowd noise, the stadium is expected to play the normal music and audio prompts that they would normally play with fans present.


The deeper answer can be best answered by Slavoj Zizek. Basically, we're hard wired to believe that if another person or in this case - audience = persons,,, Are Really enjoying a play and screaming, cheering, etc. is added to the TV audio for you to hear at home... With hardly any people at the stadium ,, they're forced to use an ativistic psychological trick to convince the at home audience that "this particular moment of the game is fun". The core of intrinsic belief of a person is called into play. You need another to believe for you,,, or not , depending on your disposition.

And? I'm glad that someone is questioning this tribal - hard wired. brain of ours!..

What we're talking about occurs @ 9:30 into the video.. I've no idea what time that would be backwards.

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