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Real-time statistics and insights will let fans see inside their favorite game as never before.
By Jeff Erickson | August 2021
The Premier League begins their 2021–22 season when Arsenal takes on newcomer Brentford on August 13. Brentford is fresh off their promotion to the top flight of English football, but they won’t be the only new team on the pitch on opening day. Oracle will be debuting their own bold moves in the game’s broadcast with Match Insights—Powered by Oracle Cloud.
Viewers outside the UK will see Match Insights statistics that combine years of historical match data about teams and players with real-time player tracking. AI-powered analytical models will use the data to give viewers a deeper understanding of what’s happening on the pitch. Insights for the opening match will include:
Average Position: This insight tracks the positions of all players in and out of possession and highlights the different ways teams organize themselves when attacking and defending.
Win Probability: Using four years of match data, Win Probability shows the chance a team will win or draw by simulating the remainder of the match 100,000 times.
Attacking Threat: As the match ebbs and flows, this statistic tracks how likely the team in possession is to score a goal in the next 10 seconds based on data from thousands of historical games.
Match Insights will make Premier League matches even more exciting by giving fans a deeper understanding of the action on the pitch, says Lee Bonfield, a football enthusiast and member of the Oracle Cloud team tasked with developing Match Insights. Bonfield wants Match Insights to help TV viewers and social media followers enjoy the match even more by giving them new perspectives on the action. As a Londoner who runs a Premier League fantasy football league and podcast with his wife Sam, Bonfield can’t believe his good luck at getting to help bring new insights to Premier League fans. “It's my personal and my professional life coming together in a way that I never thought would happen,” he says. “It's brilliant.”
Premier League leaders are excited to bring fans a new perspective to start this season. “With a new season about to kick off, we are delighted to have Oracle on board as the Premier League’s official cloud, data and analytics, and machine learning provider,” says Premier League Commercial Director Will Brass. “We are always looking for new ways to bring the competition to fans and will work with Oracle’s expertise and technology to create new experiences and more opportunities to tell the story of player and team performances during live broadcasts.”
Match Insights will flow to the screen and the broadcast booth where they can help on-air talent such as former midfield great Roy Keane convey the action. “A TV presenter like Roy Keane might note that while Arsenal are down after the first 45 minutes, Match Insights might indicate there’s a good chance they will come back,” Bonfield says. How will Keane know? The analytics engine in Oracle Cloud Infrastructure will weigh, for example, “the number of sprints by the midfield three over the last five minutes compared to the previous 40 minutes” and compare that trend with historical scoring outcomes, Bonfield says. “All of those different criteria can be taken in to model the game a thousand times and say, 700 times out of a 1,000 this kind of movement and speed in the midfield, combined with this number of successful passes, make for a score in the next five minutes.”
Match Insights will help open up more conversations and healthy debates about the action on the field. “A guy with loads of experience like Roy Keane will have his own stories to enhance the commentary, but this can give him new ways to talk about the game,” Bonfield says.
Match Insights can also stir the pot in those “second screen” conversations among viewers who split attention between their TV and phone. These viewers watch the TV screen but stay connected with all the dialogue happening via texts and social media on their phone. “When we pick our phones up, we create our own narrative on social media,” Bonfield says. “Match Insights can give those viewers a way to use their second screen to go deeper into the data-driven storyline.” Match Insights—Powered by Oracle Cloud is “an extension of the work we do every day,” which is helping people create value from data, says Bonfield.
For players and fans around the world, Premier League opening day is a time to relish the challenge ahead for their favorite clubs. This season it will also be a chance to experience a fresh level of insight via the new stats and the Oracle partnership, “Oracle have a proven track record of working with global sports organizations and have an unrivalled ability in data analytics, so we are excited to see how the partnership will develop,” says Premier League’s Brass.
Photography: Shaun Botterill/Getty Images, Marc Atkins/Getty Images, Alex Pantling/Getty Images