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Thursday Night Football: Amazon Introducing AI-Driven Features

Thursday Night Football game using AI-driven features by Amazon

As Amazon Prime Video prepares for its second year as the exclusive rights holder for NFL’s Thursday Night Football (TNF), the streaming service is aiming to give fans a more enhanced viewing experience with a variety of new AI-driven features. In a demonstration with Prime Video executives, We learned about the AI elements coming to TNF this season, the first Black Friday NFL game, and when viewers can expect HDR video quality.

“We want it to be meaningful for the average fan.” AI and ML are revolutionizing the way sports fans consume content. They enable viewers to explore a deeper level of analytics and gain more insight into the game than ever before. Prime Video senior coordinating producer Betsy Riley emphasizes that it is important to present this data in a way that is meaningful and accessible to the average fan.

We use data to tell a deeper story and provide our fans with insights that give them a better understanding of the game. We believe this allows people to comprehend the strategy of the game being played on the field. As a tech company, exploring the numbers and finding ways to use technology to tell the story of the game in more meaningful ways has been an exciting challenge for Thursday night football game.

Last year, Amazon incorporated AI into TNF, such as X-Ray which provides viewers with real-time access to live stats and data. In addition, Rapid Recap generates up to thirteen two-minute-long highlights to help viewers catch up on plays from a game. After winning its first Sports Emmy award in May, Amazon shows no indication of slowing down.

Thursday Night Football Sammy sports award Amazon
Image Credits: Amazon

Prime Vision will incorporate the new AI features into Next Gen Stats, its weekly alternate stream that showcases graphic overlays on the screen during plays to provide fans with real-time stats and analysis. Amazon will conduct internal testing of the features during tonight’s preseason game at 8 p.m. ET, but fans won’t be able to access them until September 14, when the 2023 season commences.

Now, you can find the complete TNF schedule on Amazon’s website.

Thursday Night Football Amazon prime Video
Image Credits: Amazon

Sam Schwartzstein, TNF Analytics Expert at Prime Video, explained that the ML model can analyze XY coordinate data, the relationships between players, and their acceleration to predict who is about to blitz. He also told us that the model was trained on 35,000 plays and is getting smarter when it comes to identifying blitzes and situations better than offensive linemen.

He stated that the team has a panel of NFL experts comprising former quarterbacks, coaches and offensive linemen that help annotate the plays. He added that having the in-house neural network can expand the kind of features that they can do in the future. Prime Targets (featured in the first image at the very top of the page) works similarly in that it lights up a player that is open for a pass with a green orb.

Amazon tested the Open Receiver feature during last season’s games, tracking which players were most likely to convert a first down. This feature also automatically monitors when a quarterback drops back to throw a pass and a receiver runs out and establishes separation from the defenders, lit up by the green orb. “This is the first statistic that measures the process of the play,” noted Schwartzstein.

Prime Vision’s predictive analytics feature can help coaches make more informed decisions in these situations. This feature utilizes real-time data to provide a visual representation of the field and the probabilities of a successful fourth down conversion.

As time passes, more and more teams are choosing to attempt a fourth-down conversion. Fourth Down Territory is unique in the way it operates; it works like a true NFL analytics coordinator, displaying the optimal time for a team to try a fourth-down conversion and the probability of success.

Fans can use Key Plays to view in-game highlights and critical moments while watching the game live or streaming on demand afterward. Rapid Recap and Key Plays ensure fans never miss the action by leveraging AI and machine learning to offer viewers a full rundown of what’s happening on the field.

Amazon Prime Video will leverage Black Friday to offer exclusive shopping deals to viewers. During a press call earlier this week, Jay Marine, Prime Video’s global head of sports, hinted that Amazon has some “interesting things” planned for Black Friday that will be beneficial for fans. When asked for more information, Riley told TechCrunch that Amazon will reveal more details in the coming weeks.

Amazon will likely roll out interactive shopping elements to capitalize on the busiest shopping day of the year. Last year, the company introduced TNF Central, a dedicated fan store page that offers TNF-related items, NFL-branded merch, and Amazon devices. Eric Orme, the director of live events at Prime Video, also commented on the matter.

Orme manages global product, engineering, and operations for live sports events such as Thursday Night Football, the Premier League, UEFA Champions League, MLB, NBA, and US Open tennis. He anticipates a surge in viewership for the Black Friday game due to the holiday weekend, but is confident it will provide a smooth streaming experience for all viewers.

The retail teams, leveraging AWS, collaborate closely with us. We have performed various scenarios and are confident that traffic projections will be accurate. This year, Prime Video will offer HDR video quality to all Thursday Night Football viewers, after carrying out a test run last season.

Many fans will likely enjoy the improved visuals with higher contrast and vibrant colors. The upgrade is available on any HDR-enabled device, and subscribers do not need to adjust any settings as the livestream will automatically be upgraded. Amazon Prime Video’s ‘Thursday Night Football’ attracted 15.3 million viewers for a strong start.