AWS and NHL partner to turn game data into new ways of experiencing hockey

Soon-to-be Amazon CEO Andy Jassy has touted the partnership will bring an entirely new perspective and layer of fan involvement to the game of hockey.
Written by Asha Barbaschow, Contributor on
Image: AWS

The National Hockey League (NHL) has announced a partnership with Amazon Web Services (AWS) that will see the latter become the official cloud infrastructure partner of the league.

The NHL will turn to AWS specifically in the areas of artificial intelligence and machine learning. The league is looking to automate video processing and content delivery in the cloud and leverage its Puck and Player Tracking (PPT) System to better capture the details of gameplay.

The PPT system has been in development since around 2013. Speaking previously, NHL SVP of business development and innovation Dave Lehanski said the system, to be installed at every arena, would result in a number of antennas up in the rafters, tracking sensors placed on every player, and tracking sensors manufactured inside the pucks.

He said the puck sensors can be tracked up to 2,000 times per second to yield a set of coordinates that can then turn into new derivatives and analytics.

"We've been working on that with a number of companies … and now the goal we've settled on, the system we're installing is to start to figure out what are we going to do with all this data, how are we going to turn it into meaningful experiences for fans and for everyone in the NHL community," Lehanski said, speaking at SAP Sapphire.

Read more: How the NHL is planning on using data analytics to change the game for everyone

The PPT runs on the AWS cloud.

"AWS's state-of-the-art technology and services will provide us with capabilities to deliver analytics and insights that highlight the speed and skill of our game to drive deeper fan engagement," NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said.

The NHL will also build an enterprise video platform on AWS to aggregate video, data, and related applications into one central repository that will enable easier search and retrieval of archival video footage, give broadcasters instant access to NHL content for syndication and licensing, and facilitate the creation and delivery of new in-game analyses, predictions, and video highlights to enhance mobile, online, and broadcast experiences.  

As part of the partnership, the Amazon Machine Learning Solutions Lab will work with the league to apply its tech to game video and official NHL data, including data from the PPT. The plan is to convert the data into advanced game analytics and metrics to further engage fans.

The league will use AWS Elemental Media Services to develop and manage a cloud-based HD and 4K video content delivery system that will provide a "complete view of the game to NHL officials, coaches, players, and fans".

The cloud giant said the system will encode, process, store, and transmit game footage from a series of camera angles to provide continuous video feeds that capture plays and events outside the field of view of traditional broadcast cameras.

AWS said the NHL will be able to audit its feeds to broadcast partners in real time by using AWS' service for collecting, processing, and analysing video and data streams in real time, Amazon Kinesis, as well as Amazon SageMaker that enables the building, training, and deployment of machine learning models.

"This capability will enable the NHL to create a smart monitoring system that detects and automatically fixes potential feed issues, offering fans a seamless in-game experience across viewing platforms," the company said.

"With this agreement, AWS will provide our industry-leading cloud technology to the NHL, becoming a foundational partner in delivering NHL performance analytics, and collaborating to enhance the way people experience hockey by providing more engaging content and greater insights to fans," current AWS chief and soon-to-be Amazon CEO Andy Jassy added.

"Our relentless focus on innovation gives the NHL the ability to bring an entirely new perspective and layer of fan involvement to the game of hockey."

The NHL will be introducing its new analytics capabilities throughout the season.


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