AWS signs cloud innovation deal with owner of Toronto Maple Leafs, Raptors, FC and Argonauts

Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment will use a range of AWS-enabled artificial intelligence, machine learning, and deep learning cloud services.
Written by Jonathan Greig, Contributor

Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment (MLSE) announced a new deal that will see AWS provide technology services to notable Canadian sports franchises like the Toronto Maple Leafs, Toronto Raptors, Toronto Football Club (FC), and Toronto Argonauts.

MLSE said it plans to use AWS' portfolio of cloud capabilities -- including machine learning, advanced analytics, compute, database, and storage services -- to support how its teams play; how players stay healthy; how fans connect with each other and experience games; and how sports franchises operate internally. MLSE added that it aims to offer its teams new AWS-powered insights to further improve the caliber of gameplay and develop new technology for sports fans.

Humza Teherany, chief technology and digital officer at MLSE, said the company built its Digital Labs program to create solutions and products that drive the evolution of sports and elevate the fan experience. 

"We aim to offer new ways for fans to connect digitally with their favorite teams while also seeking to uncover digital sports performance opportunities in collaboration with our front offices. With AWS's advanced machine learning and analytics services, we can use data with our teams to help inform areas such as: team selection, training and strategy to deliver an even higher caliber of competition," Teherany said. 

"Taking a cloud-first approach to innovation with AWS further empowers our organization to experiment with new ideas that can help our teams perform their very best and our fans feel a closer connection to the action."

MLSE already has plans to use Amazon Rekognition and Amazon Kinesis for video processing and analysis. The company wants to use video footage taken from cameras installed at arenas and practice facilities to inform in-game decisions. 

They also hope to use augmented reality, virtual reality and Amazon Kinesis for its future "Game within the Game" digital experience. The platform will allow fans to gamble, play games and gain more insight into their favorite players. 

MLSE will be working with AWS to create an "at-home and in-stadium mixed-reality experience" by combining visual data from cameras around the arena with sensors in players' jerseys and the puck or ball.

"We are always searching for innovative organizations to partner with that will disrupt the norm and create the very best experience for our fans. Our partnership and what we plan to achieve with AWS will help transform Toronto's sports and entertainment industry," said Jordan Vader, senior vice president at MLSE. 

"Tapping into the technology developed by AWS will also enhance how we engage with fans, giving them exciting, personalized experiences in and out of our venues from before the puck drops in the rink to after the final buzzer on the court."

AWS' Matt Garman added that they already work with a range of sports organizations in a variety of sports including the NFL, Formula 1 and the NHL. 

Eric Gales, country manager for AWS Canada, told ZDNet that AWS typically works backwards with customers, slowly combing through business problems that can be addressed using ML, AI, and high performance computing. 

"Sports serve as a great medium to bring the benefits of machine learning to life. Teams, leagues, broadcasters, and partners are using AWS to build data-driven solutions, helping organizations like Formula 1 redesign their cars, NFL teams train their players and ensure their safety, the NHL connect with their fans, and so much more," Gales said. 

"AWS wants to work together with our sports customers to increase the pace of innovation, and change how we collect, automate, analyze, and leverage data for leagues and teams, and for secondary stakeholders like broadcast partners. AWS works with some of the largest sports organizations in the world, including the NHL, NFL, Seattle Seahawks, Formula 1, Bundesliga, NASCAR, the LA Clippers, and many more."

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