Amazon is expanding its work with the NFL, scoring a deal with the Seattle Seahawks to provide the team with cloud, machine learning, and artificial intelligence services.
The Seahawks — who play homes games down the street from Amazon’s Seattle headquarters — will move “the vast majority of its infrastructure to AWS,” in addition to other new uses.
The Seahawks previously relied on Microsoft, another Seattle-area cloud giant. Its data ecosystem was stored on Microsoft’s Azure cloud and crunched with Microsoft’s PowerBI software to analyze, visualize, and deploy information to coaches, medical personnel, and other stakeholders. The team will still use Microsoft products and services.
With the new AWS deal, Seattle plans to work with Amazon to build new stats and analytics platforms. The tech will help the Seahawks better track player performance in both games and practice and build predictive models for how to defend quarterbacks and other crucial parts of the game.
“As our official cloud provider, AWS will enable the Seahawks to become a data-driven organization that uses the power of technology to fuel future championships,” said Chip Suttles, vice president of technology for the Seahawks. “We chose AWS because of their relentless focus on innovation, their broad array of machine learning services, and proven experience in supporting large sports organizations and enterprises around the world at scale.”
Here’s how the Seahawks will use AWS in their day-to-day operations:
- The team is developing a new set of proprietary stats combining its own data with the AWS-powered Next Gen Stats, player health and wellness information and scouting reports. The stats are meant to give coaches a single window into player and team performance in real time.
- The team is building a cloud-based video analytics platform to analyze games and practices. It will use Amazon’s facial recognition software to identify and track players, and give the organization a better understanding of their opponents’ defensive and offensive strategies.
- The Seahawks will use Amazon SageMaker, a service for building, training, and deploying machine learning models, to analyze how quarterbacks perform under pressure. The team will look at hurries, knockdowns, and sacks, to predict which defensive players can create pressure based on depth of throws and distance gained by a receiver after catching a pass.
Amazon’s relationship with the NFL has grown stronger over the years. For the last three years, Amazon has streamed Thursday Night Football games via Prime Video. The games also stream on Amazon-owned Twitch, and the company has sought to enhance the experience by giving fans greater access to Next Gen Stats, an analytics product powered by AWS.
Aside from sharing a hometown, the Seahawks and Amazon have crossed paths a few times. Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson consistently appears in TV ads for Next Gen Stats. Wilson and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos have been known to get together for the occasional pancake breakfast.
Bezos has also been floated as a potential future owner of the Seahawks, previously owned by the late Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen (his sister Jody currently owns the team). Bezos has reportedly become close with several current NFL team owners and has strong support within the league to “join their ranks.”