The NFL season is here, and Amazon is taking its relatively new role as the exclusive partner for Thursday Night Football seriously, announcing that a wide range of AI features will be coming to the broadcast this year.
There's no denying that AI technology has left a big impact on the business world over the last few months. From integrated features in software like Salesforce to updated curriculum in schools, AI is here in a big way.
Now, it looks like the technology is coming to the sports world as well, with some serious upgrades coming to broadcasts for the 2023 NFL season.
Amazon Prime Announces AI Features for TNF
Last year, Amazon Prime took over the broadcasting responsibilities for Thursday Night Football without too many bells and whistles. The platform stayed relatively true to the format, with largely the same experience that viewers have become accustomed to over the last few years.
Now, however, Amazon Prime is upping the ante with some new features that are powered by AI and machine learning, aimed at improving the overall experience for viewers. The goal is to make the game and, more specifically, strategy more accessible to laymen and experts alike.
“We don’t want to just put math on the screen. It’s about using data to tell a deeper story and to bring our fans insights so that they understand the game better. We think doing that lets people understand the chess match that’s unfolding on the field.” – Betsy Riley, senior coordinating producer at Prime Video.
If you don't want to watch the big game like this, have no fear. The new AI features will be on display for the Prime Vision with Next Gen Stats broadcast of the game, which will be separate from the standard experience.
Given the relatively shaky roll out of AI features throughout business software, it's safe to say there will be some growing pains. Still, by the sounds of it, this could be a big leap for the technology to reach even more mainstream users.
Thursday Night Football AI Features Explained
So, what kind of features can you expect to see on Thursday Night Football this year? Here's a breakdown of some of the AI features that will be available during the broadcast of the 2023 NFL season.
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Blitzing is an integral part of any defensive strategy in the NFL, and the ability to know when it's going to happen can separate a good quarterback from a great quarterback. But what if the audience could get in on the analysis?
With the Defensive Targets feature, Amazon Prime has trained machine learning models on 35,000+ plays to guess when it's going to happen. Body language, pre-snap position, and general player movements are all taken into account to provide viewers with potentially game-changing plays in real time.
They say defense wins championships, but it's pretty hard to win the game without scoring some points on offense. Luckily, these AI features are rolling out on both sides of the ball, and Prime Targets should make some viewers think they can actually play.
With Prime Targets, viewers will be able to see the exact moment a wide receiver or other pass catcher is wide open. A small green bubble will appear around the open player, indicating that the defender has left in the dust.
If you've ever missed SportsCenter and wanted to get a comprehensive recap of the game, you know that it's not nearly as easy as it should be. Fortunately, Amazon Prime is taking this into consideration to provide you with game highlights that actually give you everything you need to know.
Much like Google Bard features that can recap meeting notes, the Key Plays feature will use AI technology to provide a comprehensive set of game highlights, helping you understand what happened without having to actually watch the game (or a 15-minute “recap” on YouTube).
Fourth Down Territory
Going for it on fourth down has become a popular option for NFL coaches, as analytics show that the move can be statistically beneficial in the right scenarios.
Now, viewers will be able to understand exactly when those scenarios arise with the Fourth Down Territory feature. This will provide live odds and statistics based on how likely a team is to convert on fourth down.
Field Goal Target Zones
There's nothing more exciting than the end of an NFL game when a team is only losing by three points. Currently, broadcasts show that field goal target line, the spot on the field at which the kicker is at least somewhat likely to make the kick.
The Field Goal Target Zones feature will add to that functionality, providing multiple lines on the field, displaying the likelihood of each location. This way, you'll know exactly how stressed you need to be about your team hitting a double doink before halftime.