NFL teams with AWS on statistics package driven by machine learning

The NFL is joining Major League Baseball as an AWS customer, announcing a deal today to provide real-time statistics running on AWS.

The tool is part of the NFL’s Next Gen Stats program, which will take advantage of AWS machine learning and data analytics tools to enhance its current offering. MLB has had a similar deal in place with its StatCast tool.

The NFL uses RFID tags in player equipment and the ball to capture real-time location, speed, and acceleration data. Much like the MLB product, this data can be used to heighten the NFL broadcast experience by showing viewers a unique data-driven view of the play on the field.

Beyond entertaining and informing fans, the teams can also use this data to augment their film review process. After every game in the NFL, coaches review the game film and figure out what players did well and what they didn’t do well. They go over this with the players as part of their regular weekly classroom work to improve play.

The film review has gotten quite advanced, but by enhancing their Next Gen Stats with the AWS analytics toolkit, it could provide an additional level of sophistication to the statistics review process. Matt Swensson, vice president for emerging products and technology at the NFL sees this as providing a new level of information for coaches, players and fans.

“By powering Next Gen Stats with AWS, we’ll be able to kick off our 2018 season with even more impactful and meaningful content, uncovering deeper insights into the game of football than we’ve ever done before,” he said in a statement.

No industry illustrates the power of a data-driven world quite like sports. Fans and teams alike use statistics to evaluate players and teams. With the popularity of Fantasy Sports, people are looking to the power of advanced statistics to help build their fantasy teams.

MLB drove the move to statistics with the rise of advanced metrics popularized by Billy Beane and the Oakland A’s and made famous in the book and movie Moneyball. Since then, all of the major sports have begun to move towards using advanced analytics to evaluate players.

The deal between the NFL and AWS is just another step in that journey.