Sport and technology in perfect harmony: DFL and AWS generate added value for fans and partners

Collage of four Bundesliga Match Facts Screens

21 June 2021 – In January 2020, DFL became the world’s first professional football league to enter into a partnership with Amazon Web Services (AWS) as part of a long-term innovation strategy. In roughly 18 months of close collaboration and the first full season completed together, the partnership has yielded some impressive results.

The sheer number of projects and their rapid implementation are indicative of the ambitious goals the two companies have set for themselves. At the same time these projects highlight the benefits of working in the cloud. Rapid piloting and iteration utilising quantifiable feedback form the basis of many projects which aim to meet the needs of fans and partners better than ever.   

Fan and partner-centric development

DFL and AWS share a common focus: to maximise the experience for DFL’s media partners, customers, and Bundesliga fans. The results of qualitative surveys and the increased use of the services implemented by DFL and its subsidiaries together with AWS have demonstrated that this partnership is capable of generating substantial added value along DFL’s entire value chain.

Enhancing the sports data portfolio

The first development the public got to see from the two companies was in the Bundesliga Match Facts powered by AWS which enabled the development of innovative statistics. This feature has been welcomed enthusiastically by fans, broadcasters, teams, and more and is being used for a variety of football reporting formats. The core purpose of this initiative is to provide all interested parties with new, easy-to-grasp insights into the action on the pitch. Bundesliga Match Facts are generated from official match data in a near real-time process, and made available on broadcasts, through the Bundesliga platforms and channels, as well as the freely-accessible Bundesliga app.

Virtual Bundesliga likewise benefits from advanced data generation

Significant progress has been made in aggregating data from the Virtual Bundesliga, as well. Match data that had to be collected and processed manually by each individual club can now be compiled in an automated process. Using the AWS Textract solution, data are extracted automatically from uploaded files, such as screenshots of the game’s summary statistics page, using advanced optical character recognition and computer vision processes. Virtual Bundesliga match data can be analysed much faster and with higher precision than before – one of many benefits that help professionalise eFootball.

Global distribution via cloud services

Apart from optimising data collection and processing, the first joint project between AWS and DFL focused on enhancing the distribution of the international signal of Bundesliga matches. Since the beginning of the 2020-21 season, live broadcasts from DFL’s International Product Portfolio (IPP) have been available as live streams. DFL supplies its broadcast-ready signal to media rights owners around the world via satellite and fibre-optic cable, responding to the increasing demand for OTT content with the offer of IP-based live streaming. The corresponding video signal is fed into the AWS environment, processed automatically and encoded using various AWS media services.

Optimising the Bundesliga digital archives

Another ground-breaking change was the optimisation of content searches on the DFL Media Hub, the world’s largest – and growing – football digital video archive. To help users work with Bundesliga and Bundesliga 2 media content more efficiently by allowing them to find relevant content in more than 175,000 hours of video footage more easily, the archived materials are now upgraded automatically by adding AI/ML-technologies. This effectively turns the video library, which has a combined volume of more than 11 petabytes, into a digital content treasure trove.

The Bundesliga and Bundesliga 2 clubs, all national and international media partners of DFL, and numerous media, agencies and sponsors in need of this material are granted access to the library and profit from its improved search features enabled by new, relevant data points.

Successful partnership

The partnership between DFL and AWS is a long-term arrangement. Both sides contribute substantial know-how – comprising areas as diverse as sports, data collection and media production but also Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence and cloud computing – to generate powerful new features. This has helped both sides implement their joint innovation strategy, devised at the beginning of their partnership, at a fast pace, enabling numerous highly effective projects and expanding DFL’s portfolio of services in meaningful ways by incorporating state-of-the-art technologies.

New personalisation options

DFL and AWS have jointly discussed and agreed their future roadmap: Both partners are determined to further leverage the potential of Artificial Intelligence to develop a host of new personalisation options that will allow users to custom-design content for their respective applications. This approach applies to both digital services for fans and various platforms DFL media partners can use for their work.

The goal is clear: To drive individualised ways of experiencing Bundesliga for media partners, clubs and fans while building a future-ready portfolio of digital DFL services.