How is Artificial Intelligence Improving the NFL?
The NFL is the most popular professional sports league in the United States. It draws fans from all around the country and is home to extremely talented athletes that put on a show for viewers week in and week out. However, as of late, the NFL has seen its ratings numbers decreasing. The 2016 season saw about a 7% dip in ratings from the previous year, and the 2017 season saw an even bigger decrease with a 9% dip in regular season ratings. This poor performance can be accredited to a number of things, including conflicting views on concussions, and overall boring streams that fail to show impressive and useful statistics in-game.
In an effort to improve its ratings and reverse this slide, the league is increasingly turning to Artificial Intelligence. Many people remember the film Concussion, which highlighted the dangers of excessive hits to the head and exposed the NFL’s ignorance of these brutal injuries. This increased awareness of the dangers of CTE decreased popularity of the league, likely due to public concern. However, the league is now using AI to minimize worries about concussions by rapidly diagnosing whether or not a player must sit out of the game.
This technology measures the impact of a collision to one’s head, and, if high enough, the player must refrain from contact for a calculated amount of time. This will prevent gruesome injuries and keep popular players healthy and on the field, something that viewers around the world will appreciate.
NFL fans and viewers want to be as close to the game as possible. The league now has the ability, thanks to artificial intelligence, to analyze plays in an instant and project extremely impressive and important stats onto broadcasts. The NFL’s program, Next Gen Stats, places tracking technology in the equipment of players, balls, and in stadiums around the country, providing information on the speeds and directions of players, as well as things like the distance between two players and the velocity of a throw.
Impressive data such as this is then analyzed in an instant and displayed on screens everywhere thanks to the league’s partnership with Amazon Web Services (AWS). AWS then uses its machine learning program to create and portray models and predictions on everything from catch probability percentage, to probability of a kicker missing a field goal in the final minutes of an important game. This allows for an extremely immersive experience for viewers that not only helps them to better understand what is happening on the field but engages them during time outs and in between plays.
The 2018-2019 season ratings for the NFL saw a rebound from previous seasons and also boasted impressive increases in audience numbers watching from home. It is likely that this recent performance was aided by the increasing use of AI intelligence to protect players and analyze the game. This technology generates information in seconds that the human mind could not possibly envision on its own. It will be exciting to see how it improves further and allows for an even more in-depth experience of watching the most popular sport in the country.
Written by Matthew Durborow & Edited by Daniel DiPietro & Alexander Fleiss
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