AWS: The Promise of Next Gen Stats

Next Gen Stats are all the buzz for NFL fans, but what do they actually mean? Julie Souza from AWS explains the allure for fans.

Wade McElwain
Wade McElwain

Last Updated: 2024-02-09

Richard Graves

Next-generation statistics (next gen stats) have become a buzzword in the world of sports, promising a deeper understanding of the game through data-driven insights. Julie Souza, head of sports at Amazon Web Services (AWS), highlights the potential of next gen stats to revolutionise NFL football analysis and fan engagement.
 In an exclusive interview with Richard Graves for SportsBoom, Souza discusses the rise of big data, and how it can effect the fan experience. 

According to Souza, the introduction of next gen stats has been met with enthusiasm, particularly among those eager to delve into the intricacies of the game. "The cool thing about data and next gen stats is those who want it, there's somewhat a limitless supply of data that could be put into analytics to help people understand the game better," says Souza.

However, as Richard points out, the application of next gen stats isn't always straightforward. The perceived black-and-white nature of these statistics raises questions about their compatibility with the nuanced decisions made in the heat of the game. Souza acknowledges this challenge, emphasising that while analytics provide valuable insights, they should complement rather than replace human judgment and experience. "I never think that this should be... a substitution for judgment and experience," she notes.

Human Factors in Decision-Making

Indeed, the human element plays a crucial role in sports decision-making, with variables like injuries and individual player performance shaping the course of the game. Souza underscores the importance of integrating these factors into the analytical framework, ensuring that next gen stats serve as a tool for informed decision-making rather than a rigid set of rules.
She also explained that AWS is partnering with the NFL in these early days to make their data more applicable to players and teams:  “we're working with the NFL on digital athlete program, which is helping inform training regimens and coaching strategies that help reduce player injury."

Embracing Debate: The Intersection of Data and Passion

Despite occasional conflicts between intuition and analytics, Souza believes that such debates contribute to the excitement of the game. "That's what makes it exciting... It's not... a substitute for judgment," she remarks. 
Souza's stance reflects a broader trend in sports analysis, where the tension between data-driven insights and emotional investment continues to fuel discussions among fans and experts alike.

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Future Possibilities: Beyond the Numbers

Looking ahead, Souza envisions even greater integration of data into the sports experience. From real-time betting predictions based on expected outcomes to personalised fan engagement through platforms like Prime Vision on Thursday Night Football, the potential applications of next gen stats are vast.
“How do we use this data to help tell a better story, tell, educate the fan to help them get more invested, right?….that's for the engaged fan that wants to go deep and like get into the analytics and, you know, compare them to their own math that they're running at home..”

Next gen stats might be a relatively new thing for the NFL fan, but they represent a valuable tool in the modern football landscape, offering insights that enrich both professional decision-making and fan engagement. As the journey continues, the challenge lies in striking the right balance between data-driven analysis and the intangible elements that make sports truly captivating.
After all sometimes you just want to watch some football, and not be smacked in the face with data. 

Wade McElwain
Wade McElwainSenior Sports Writer

Wade McElwain is our Mr. NFL, a bona fide North American sports nut who knows about NBA, NHL, MLB, PGA plus MMA boxing and more. Originally from Canada, Wade is also an international award-winning stand-up comedian; host of numerous TV game shows; and a TV producer & writer. He also runs NFL in London-the largest NFL fan group in Europe, and has hosted NFL events at Wembley and around the world. Yes, he lives alone and does nothing but watch sports.