NFL optimizes schedules with IBM's analytics systems


Michael North, senior director of broadcast planning and scheduling for the National Football League (NFL), has a tough job: assembling the best, most exciting schedule for the complete NFL season that satisfies the requirements of the teams, the broadcasters and fans. It's truly a big data optimization problem.
Ten years ago, the league worked for months to creat a single viable schedule by hand. Today, with the help of IBM systems and optimization experts, Mr. North's team can turn out dozens of schedules in just hours. With so many schedules to choose from, the NFL is in a much better position to deliver compelling match-ups on the best days for viewing. Mr. North sums it up this way: "How do you take the best of each of those schedules, eliminate the worst of some of them and try to find that one grain of sand? We’ve been very fortunate that IBM has been helping us come through this pitch and find that grain of sand each year."