NFL Borrows From MLB’s Playbook by Enlisting Amazon's Machine Learning Site

Amazon to bolster NFL stats with machine learning and real-time data analytics.

Getty Images / Scott Taetsch

If you’re dead last in your fantasy football league this season, don’t think about throwing in the towel just yet. Next season holds a whole new opportunity to win big — and the promise of some seriously souped-up, cutting-edge stats to give you an edge.

The National Football League is following in Major League Baseball’s footsteps by partnering with Amazon Web Services for its 2018 season to add to what the NFL calls its Next Gen Stats program. These tracking systems make it possible to chart players’ every movement on the field in unprecedented detail.

The AWS deal adds a powerful A.I. tool to the mix, making it possible for the NFL to use its machine learning capabilities to draw even deeper connections about players’ movements and actions on the field. While teams — the smart ones, at any rate — will look to these new new insights to get a competitive edge, fans will benefit from the never-before-seen stats the algorithms will be able to dig out.

The deal comes after the MLB debuted its partnership with Amazon during the 2015 season. AWS powers the the MLB’s version of Next Gen Stats, Statcast. This provides baseball fans data on players’ acceleration, pitch velocity, and home run trajectory, giving everyone watching at home and on the field a more detailed look at the nuts and bolts of every play.

NFL Next Gen Stats

The NFL has used data-capturing hardware since 2014, when tracking hardware was placed in players’ shoulder pads that gathers real-time acceleration, speed, and positional data.

In 2016, the league partnered with Zebra Technologies to embed radio-frequency identification (RFID) chips into player equipment and the ball. These state-of-the-art tags made possible the Next-Gen Stats program that fans utilize today.

This new Amazon deal will build upon the comprehensive data-capturing that the NFL has become known for by allowing broadcasters to display a whole new, data-driven perspective of the field during live games.

“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,” Matt Swensson, VP of Emerging Products and Technology at the NFL, said said in a statement. “We chose AWS because of its combination of advanced cloud offering, powerful machine learning capabilities, and experience operating at the scale we need.”

The NFL’s choice to partner with AWS furthers the push for more statistically-driven sports. All the fantasy football geeks are sure to be thankful.

Related Tags