'Unwatchable': Fans divided over NRL's 'weird' fake crowd

NRL viewers were divided over the use of artificial crowd noises for Thursday night's match. Pic: Getty

The NRL returned on Thursday night and fans couldn't get enough of it.

Parramatta showed that the hype around the side is real this season with a comprehensive 34-6 thumping of the Broncos at Suncorp Stadium.

The one referee and implementation of the six-again rule for ruck infringements were extremely well received.

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Most commentators and fans thought the rule change made the game flow better and created a faster and more exciting spectacle.

All in all, it was a successful advertisement for the rejigged season and an overwhelming win for the NRL.

However, one issue proved particularly divisive for fans - the use of artificial crowd noises to complement the broadcast.

Obviously with no supporters inside the stadiums, the match broadcasts lose that special atmospheric quality that only comes from the sounds of thousands of fans screaming uncontrollably from the stands.

So Fox Sports have introduced artificial crowd noise into the broadcast, providing a constant background of generic crowd sound effects to complement the coverage.

Germany's top flight football league, the Bundesliga, has implemented the same thing to mostly positive reception.

The lack of crowd noise was particularly noticeable in round two of the NRL and Fox Sports is adamant that its inclusion makes for a better audience experience.

“The stars of the game are the players, not the audio effects. But having them makes for a better experience,” Fox Sports’ head of television Steve Crawley said.

“What we add will be subtle so we can still hear big hits and players communicating.

“Our audio guys have developed a world-class solution to a unique problem and we think it will be adopted elsewhere during this time.”

Fake crowd draws mixed reviews from viewers

Fox Sports have exclusive rights to the Saturday night matches where they will each game will be simulcast on two different channels - one with fake noise and one without.

However, while many viewers on Thursday night agreed that the artificial noises made for a better spectacle, others were put off by the fake crowd effects.