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Maple Leaf Sports and AWS transform experiences for sports fans

Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment (MLSE) are innovating together to transform how some of Canada’s best-known sports franchises create and deliver extraordinary sports moments and enhanced fan engagement.

The sports franchises include Toronto Maple Leafs, Toronto Raptors, Toronto Football Club (FC) and Toronto Argonauts. MLSE selected AWS as its official cloud provider and official provider of artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), and deep learning cloud services. MLSE will use AWS’s comprehensive portfolio of cloud capabilities, including ML, advanced analytics, compute, database, and storage services to support their teams and lines of business. Innovating together, MLSE will build solutions that will support how teams play on the ice, court, pitch, or field; how players stay healthy; how fans connect with each other and experience games; and how sports franchises operate internally.

MLSE aims to offer its teams new AWS-powered insights to further improve the calibre of gameplay. Using Amazon Rekognition (AWS’s service for automated image and video analysis) and Amazon Kinesis (AWS’s service for easily collecting, processing, and analysing video and data streams in real time), MLSE will be able to process and analyse video footage from cameras installed at team training facilities and game venues in real time to better prepare for crucial decisions during games. For example, the critical game data stored and analysed on AWS can be viewed by coaches on the bench to help them strategize their next play.

Humza Teherany, chief technology & digital officer at MLSE, said: “We built Digital Labs at MLSE to become the most technologically advanced organization in sport. As technology advances and how we watch and consume sports evolves, MLSE is dedicated to creating solutions and products that drive this evolution and elevate the fan experience. We aim to offer new ways for fans to connect digitally with their favourite teams while also seeking to uncover digital sports performance opportunities in collaboration with our front offices.

“With AWS’s advanced machine learning and analytics services, we can use data with our teams to help inform areas such as: team selection, training and strategy to deliver an even higher calibre of competition. Taking a cloud-first approach to innovation with AWS further empowers our organization to experiment with new ideas that can help our teams perform their very best and our fans feel a closer connection to the action.”

Jordan Vader, senior VP, Global Partnerships at MLSE, said: “We are always searching for innovative organizations to partner with that will disrupt the norm and create the very best experience for our fans. Our partnership and what we plan to achieve with AWS will help transform Toronto’s sports and entertainment industry.

“Tapping into the technology developed by AWS will also enhance how we engage with fans, giving them exciting, personalized experiences in and out of our venues from before the puck drops in the rink to after the final buzzer on the court.”

MLSE will develop new technology for sports fans as well, using AWS’s broad portfolio of cloud services to create extended and unrivalled experiences for its teams’ supporters in the arena, at home, and in the metaverse. MLSE will use augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) applications and Amazon Kinesis to power its planned “Game within the Game” digital experience. With it, fans will be able to track their favourite players, access enhanced game insights in real time, take part in free-to-play gaming, and participate in on-demand sports betting. Moving forward, MLSE will work with AWS to build an at-home and in-stadium mixed-reality experience by combining visual data from cameras around the arena with sensors in players’ jerseys and the puck or ball.

MLSE’s goal is to create a more powerful sense of community through platforms such as Digital Arena (also known as “Game Time” in the MLSE teams’ mobile apps). The platform offers fans an interactive, second-screen experience where fans can share and chat with other fans, alumni, and team mascots. The experience also includes a virtual t-shirt toss and trivia game, allowing fans to connect with each other. Digital Arena aims to help fans feel closer to the game and one another, no matter where they are watching. By running Digital Arena on the world’s leading cloud, MLSE can provide a consistent real and virtual fan-engagement experience.

Matt Garman, senior VP of sales and marketing at Amazon Web Services, said: “AWS supports many of the world’s most exciting sports organizations with the most comprehensive and broadly adopted cloud offerings. We help organizations like Formula 1 to redesign their cars, the National Football League to train their players, and the National Hockey League to pull fans deeper into the game with a growing roster of real-time stats. We’re thrilled to grow our global sports community with MLSE and help them build a winning suite of analytics and machine learning capabilities.

“Together with AWS, MLSE will continue to strengthen iconic Canadian sports franchises like the Toronto Maple Leafs, Toronto Raptors, Toronto FC, and Toronto Argonauts, and help them connect with fans on a more personal level than ever before.”

Canadian hockey fans experienced the winning combination of AWS and hockey viewing with the June 2021 debut of the U.S. National Hockey League’s (NHL) two new advanced analytics during the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Shot Analytics and Save Analytics real-time stats, powered by AWS, appeared as on-screen graphics and data visualizations during NHL games, giving fans a better understanding and deeper appreciation of how their favourite players and teams perform during crucial moments.

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