Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Bundesliga teams up with AWS to give football fans real-time match insights

The German Bundesliga has integrated Amazon Web Services technology into live broadcasts to give football fans real-time insights into the games playing out in front of them.

Amazon’s cloud infrastructure and artificial intelligence (AI) will be deployed to gather player data and generate two forms of insight: Average Positions and Expected Goals (xGoals).

The former tracks the positions each player adopts on the pitch, which AWS claims will provide viewers with insight into their side’s intended playing style. xGoals, meanwhile, is a measure of the probability a player will score a goal with a shot from any given position on the field.

The feature was rolled out for last night’s Borussia Dortmund vs. Bayern Munich tie, known colloquially as Der Klassiker due to the ferocious and long-standing rivalry between the two teams.

xGoals and Average Positions

The Bundesliga - the country’s top division - is the first major football league in Europe to return to action following the coronavirus pandemic, albeit behind closed doors. As such, the eyes of football-starved fans from across the globe are trained firmly on the German top flight.

While the league does not traditionally draw the international attention or acclaim garnered by the English Premier League, for instance, the Bundesliga will hope the new real-time stats will help keep ratings high once rival competitions have resumed.

“AWS is helping the Bundesliga enhance the broadcast viewing experience by delivering deeper insights into the game that didn’t previously exist,” explained Andy Isherwood, Vice President and Managing Director EMEA at AWS.

“With AWS, Bundesliga is able to provide real-time statistics to predict future plays and outcomes. These two new statistics are just the beginning of what we’ll be able to deliver for football fans as we look forward to unlocking new ways to better educate, engage and entertain viewers around the world.”

To assess Average Positions, AWS captures and analyzes information on each player’s average location on the field, then pushes the resulting analysis to viewers at home.

To calculate xGoals, meanwhile, the Bundesliga will lean on Amazon SageMaker - a service designed to build, train and deploy machine learning models. To ensure the greatest possible degree of accuracy, models were trained on data relating to 40,000 shots on goal from previous games, along with an array of positional data.

“We at the Bundesliga are able to use this advanced technology from AWS, including statistics, analytics and machine learning, to interpret the data and deliver more in-depth insight and better understanding of the split-second decisions made on the pitch,” added Andreas Heyden, Executive Vice President of Digital Innovations for the DFL Group.

While last night’s Der Klassiker was selected as the litmus test, Average Positions insights will be available for all future Bundesliga broadcasts, while xGoals will be available for highlight matches only.

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