Amazon Integrating AI to Modernize NFL Viewing Experience

Amazon is using artificial intelligence to change the way viewers experience “Thursday Night Football” on Amazon Prime Video this season. Now in the second year of its 10-year NFL deal, Amazon joins Disney’s ESPN in using AI to change how people experience televised sports by parsing a variety of analytics and using machine learning to interpret 2D video into 3D for a variety of viewpoints on any play. Amazon is auto-generating highlights feeds for each game, so late arrivals can catch up. September 14 marks the debut of the new AI Prime features and the games in 1080p HDR.

Amazon learned that viewers wanted more insight into team strategy. So the company has added features like “defensive alerts.” “Amazon trained a machine learning model on 35,000 plays from the last few seasons in order to teach it to automatically suss out whether a defender is likely to blitz on any given play,” reports The Verge.

Body language — the thing coaches and players spend hours analyzing using footage from previous games — will now be available to Prime viewers in real time.

Now, Prime Video subscribers streaming live “Thursday Night Football” might see highlighted the player who’s about to make an important move. “What [the broadcast] is doing is saying, now you can watch the defense the same way the quarterback does,” Amazon’s analytics expert for “Thursday Night Football” Sam Schwartzstein tells The Verge.

Amazon is modeling a huge amount of NFL data from field-goal percentages, replays and more, and packaging them into a secondary stream called Prime Vision that caters to data-hungry fans.

“We don’t want to just put math on the screen,” Prime Video Senior Coordinating Producer Betsy Riley tells TechCrunch, explaining that “it’s about using data to tell a deeper story,” one that “lets people understand the chess match that’s unfolding on the field.”

“After winning its first Sports Emmy Award following the inaugural season of its exclusive primetime NFL package, Prime is looking to crank up the tech quotient yet again in year two,” writes SVG News, providing details on the HDR feature.

Sportscasters are actually on the front lines of using AI to change how people view entertainment. Amazon began using AI for “TNF” last season, and FOX Sports and NBC Sports are also using machine learning to enhance play.

ESPN, an early mover, recently unveiled its new Catalyst Stage in Connecticut. In 2020, Disney’s ESPN was the first to use AI to generate 3D from 2D video, making plays viewable from any angle. That can now be done in real time on the Catalyst stage using computer vision and NeRFs.

ReSpo.Vision is one company using algorithms to track the movements of players and objects in real time, generating 3D game models that sports broadcasters can use to visualize the action from different perspectives, like a bird’s-eye view, an off-side angle or even a virtual reality experience.

Nielsen Will Incorporate 1st-Party Amazon Data in ‘Thursday Night Football’ Ratings, MediaPost, 8/24/23

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