Microsoft (MSFT) - Get Report said it would partner with the National Football League to run the league's virtual fan experience technology in lieu of in-person crowds, similar to what the software giant is currently doing for the National Basketball Association.
Microsoft Teams will feature a feed of virtual fans that will be displayed on the stadiums' LED screens and on the television broadcasts.
The Redmond, Wash., company has been an NFL partner since 2013 with coaches and players using Surface tablets on the sidelines and coaches boxes.
"Microsoft technology has been an integral part of NFL operations for several years. And with the new challenges ahead of us this season, Microsoft will be instrumental in helping us innovate the best possible experiences for our players, coaches, officials, and fans," said NFL Chief Information Officer Michelle McKenna in a statement.
During NFL games, the home team will be responsible for inviting fans into a so-called virtual VIP experience, where they watch the game together via a Microsoft Teams meeting. The fans will see a dual-screen display of the live game next to a gallery view of fellow fans.
The fan feeds are isolated, then grouped into a fan mosaic and displayed in the home team's stadium. Fan audio from the virtual VIP gallery will be mixed with augmented crowd noise that will be pumped through the stadium speakers.
The NFL is kicking off its 55th season on Thursday, with the 2019 Super Bowl winning Kansas City Chiefs hosting the Houston Texans at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City.
Microsoft and the NBA launched the technology in April in response to coronavirus lockdown precautions that prohibited fans from going to stadiums.
Microsoft shares at last check were falling 1.5% to $208.23.