MLB targets enhanced fan engagement with expanded Amazon deal

North America’s Major League Baseball has extended and expanded its partnership with the Amazon Web Services (AWS) division of internet company Amazon.

AWS will serve as the league’s official provider for machine learning, artificial intelligence and deep learning workloads under the new agreement, terms of which were undisclosed. MLB will use AWS machine-learning services to further develop its Statcast tracking technology, which analyses player performance for every MLB game.

The partnership will also allow the league to develop new technologies to support clubs in driving innovative fan experiences and engagement across its 30 ballparks. The Amazon ML Solutions Lab will also be harnessed to amplify game statistical data integrations within broadcasts, including MLB Network, live digital distribution such as MLB.com and the MLB At Bat app, and creating more personalised viewer experiences that tailor to each market and geographic region.

AWS’s services will allow MLB to better manage its scorekeeping, game notes and pitch classification. The Amazon SageMaker tool will also be used to test how well pitches can be accurately predicted by evaluating the pitcher, batter, catcher and situation. Additionally, Amazon Comprehend will be used to build a language model that will seek to create analysis for live games in the tone and style of iconic announcers.

The Reuters news agency reported that AWS is working with MLB on a real-time pitcher heat map that will change to reflect the circumstances of the situation, such as the stadium, time of day and a team’s standing in the league. Amazon will also be granted branding opportunities to showcase its technology.

Jason Gaedtke, MLB’s chief technology officer, said in a statement: “Incorporating machine learning into our systems and practices is a great way to take understanding of the game to a whole new level for our fans and the 30 clubs.

“We chose AWS because of their strength, depth, and proven expertise in delivering machine learning services and are looking forward to working with the Amazon ML Solutions Lab on a number of exciting projects, including detecting and automating key events, as well as creating new opportunities to share never-before-seen metrics.”

Mike Clayville, vice-president of worldwide commercial sales at AWS, added: “MLB has been collecting statistical data on its players and clubs for decades, and turned to AWS in 2015 to take its game-day stats to the next level so that fans can dig deeper into advanced metrics that ultimately enhance enjoyment of the game.

“AWS has the broadest and deepest portfolio of cloud services with the best security and proven operational expertise, which is why MLB chose to work with the world’s leading cloud to build, run, and enhance Statcast. We are excited to work with MLB as they continue their journey in the cloud, leveraging AWS machine learning services to capture previously immeasurable aspects of the game and find new ways to enhance the fan engagement model for baseball.”

AWS this month partnered with the Formula One motor-racing championship in a move that is designed to open up new levels of data access to fans. AWS also holds a partnership with the NFL American football league.