Nothing captures the public’s attention or brings people together more than football, and the 2022 World Cup is no different. Football matches bring a plethora of opportunities, wealth, and brand awareness to a host of companies, organizations, and sectors, but one that is often overlooked is that of hyperscale data centers. While the link may not be immediately apparent, there are several ways football, and in particular large events such as the FIFA World Cup, the Euros, and Copa América work in tandem with hyperscalers.
Hyperscalers Merge Sports and the Cloud
In the cloud market, the competition between hyperscalers is often fiercer than in any stadium. To attain maximum shares in the industry, hyperscalers actively work with sports events and franchises to make them bigger and better than ever before. This is achieved by making matches available for a larger audience through live broadcasts and internet streaming. As we know, hyperscale data centers are the driving force behind streaming big events, easily adapting in scale to meet any demand, no matter how high or how sudden the influx.
Some stadiums are taking the Cloud and compatible devices one step further in order to try and attract new spectators, while keeping existing fans interested, with high-speed Wi-Fi and bespoke apps that range from parking and traffic alerts to chatbots and navigation. Cloud based platforms and applications rely on hyperscale computer networks to deliver the speed they require to process and transmit vast amounts of data.
Many predict that the future lies in ‘Smart Stadiums’ which will utilize the Cloud for anything from crowd safety and security to notifying staff when bins get too full. In fact, according to IMARC Group, despite the initial decline in attendees post pandemic, the smart stadium market is expected to grow by 22% per year between 2022 and 2027 globally.
Big Data Integration and IoT
Due to the rise in sports data analysis in recent years, the World Cup (and football in general) presents lucrative opportunities to integrate Big Data into matches. Just as many other industries use data to engage with their audiences and personalize marketing opportunities, the football industry (and the sports industry in general) has followed suit.
This typically involves specialized companies collecting data on previous matches and players to provide statistical insights (often for predictions) and measures a number of variables ranging from movement speeds and possession times to number of touches. Sports television channels also use these insights to make their broadcasts more meaningful and engaging for viewers, usually in the form of real-time statistics.
The collection of data, however, is not for our benefit alone. The ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT) and connected devices (including smart watches and fitness trackers) are used by both teams and individual players to process data with the aim of optimizing and personalizing their training regimes and reducing injuries. This data must be secured and processed quickly and securely for continuous analysis, which is dependent on reliable, secure, and fast networks.
Football and AI
It’s becoming more common these days for data analytics companies to utilize probabilistic forecasts based on tournaments simulated by Artificial Intelligence (AI). This involves using AI technology to analyze past matches and then recreating a number of scenarios in simulated test matches. The purpose of these tests is not limited to predictions. The findings can also help individuals and teams to form more complex strategies while improving overall performance and minimizing risks.
Many referees have also begun to embrace Video Assistant (VAR) Technology to assist them in making more accurate calls on aspects of football matches such as penalties, free kicks, and yellow or red cards. There is also “line” technology that investigates images to calculate if the ball passed the line or not (ultimately deciding whether a goal was offside).
In addition to being used by referees, AR/VR headsets may also begin to play more of a role in consumer
experience in the near future, with digital 360° immersion for the audience from the comfort of their own home. AI also brings opportunities for automated journalism, with media outlets leveraging AI automation to expand their coverage.
Big events such as the World Cup and the Euros have always garnered additional views in comparison to smaller league football matches. For example, the England Lionesses’ historic win in the Women’s Euro 2022 championship attracted a record live crowd of 87,192 people. The final, which was broadcast on BBC One, drew an average of 11 million viewers and a 66% audience share, peaking at a staggering 17.5 million viewers watching from their devices.
These numbers are what hyperscale networks were designed for, to scale up and cope with any capacity even at short notice. With the continued growth of streaming and social media, football has become more accessible than ever before, due in no small part to the decreasing need for subscription-based sports channels on TV, meaning interest and coverage only continues to rise.
About AFL Hyperscale
AFL Hyperscale is the first cabling and connectivity solution provider focused on the ever-evolving needs of data centers. With decades of expertise in the design and manufacture of hyperscale and data center network solutions, AFL Hyperscale have the capabilities and infrastructure to rapidly deliver pioneering, scalable network connectivity solutions across the globe to support ever-increasing demands.
Learn more about our hyperscale data center solutions here.