Amazon Signs Deal to Provide Soccer Analytics

The tech giant will provide data for broadcasts and digital products when the Bundesliga returns from its winter break.

Hertha's Dodi Lukebakio, left, and Freiburg's Lucas Hoeler, right, during a match between Hertha BSC Berlin and SC Freiburg in Berlin, Dec. 14, 2019.
Hertha's Dodi Lukebakio, left, and Freiburg's Lucas Hoeler, right, during a match between Hertha BSC Berlin and SC Freiburg in Berlin, Dec. 14, 2019.
Soeren Stache/dpa via AP

Statistics on sports broadcasts give context to what happened. The German Bundesliga and Amazon want to provide a data-based guess on what will occur next.

The league announced a deal Monday to make Amazon its official technology provider, a collaboration that will provide statistics for the Bundesliga's television broadcasts and digital products. The new product will launch when the season resumes Friday after the league's winter break.

Klaus Bürg, Amazon Web Services' general manager for Germany, Austria and Switzerland, said in an interview he envisions "machine learning and artificial intelligence being applied to historical data" that will lead to a "very high probability of being right in what's being predicted."

European soccer telecasts have been less immersed in the kind of data often used on U.S. telecasts of the NFL and Major League Baseball, rarely mentioning distances and speed of shots. MLB's Statcast system provides information such as distance of home runs and hits, distance and speed of fielder runs and spin rates of pitches, just to mention a few.

Andreas Heyden, executive vice president of digital innovation at the Deutsche Fussball Liga, said this deal goes beyond the current statistics provided by Sportradar and Opta.

"To give them more information on the game and deliver a better, higher quality and faster speed, which is massively important and a deeper depth of data is something that at the end will also leverage the value of the rights," he said.

Data will be customized to each fans' preference, according to Heyden, in a manner so “if I am fan of Club A and I hate Club B or I don't like Club B, I only get news about Club B if they lose and not if they win.”

"In the future, the consumption of sports generally and football, or soccer as it would be in the U.S., is going to be about any fan being able to have a different fan experience," said Robert Klein, the CEO of Bundesliga International. "To be able to manage the wealth of information that we have and then drive it into meaningful products through the pipes, through to TV, through to the websites or through to mobile, we need a partner with the experience of an AWS, their ability of course in cloud service in terms of delivery, but also the innovation and understanding of artificial intelligence and machine learning."

Klein said the data is owned by the Bundesliga and its clubs, and it does not necessarily have to be shared with players.

The international organization of players' unions said it “strongly advocates" for “clear rules” on the use of such data.

“These rules should cover the collection and storage of private player health data, the commercialization of player data, and the use of player data in contract negotiations," FIFPRO said in a statement. "At the same time, we are in active discussions with FIFA to draw up industrywide standards to help make sure player data is handled securely and fairly, and in such a way as not to prejudice the lives and careers of players.

More in IoT