Microsoft Extends its NFL Deal for Surface Tablets

05:48 12/04/2017

Microsoft MSFT  extends its deal with the National Football League that makes the Surface the NFL’s official tablet

The company signed a five-year deal with the NFL in 2013. The extension adds an additional year, which pushes the deal expiration to the end of the 2018-19 football season.

Microsoft MSFT  struck a five-year deal with the NFL to make Surface the official tablet of the league more than four years ago. While the deal was supposed to run for five years, Microsoft is now renewing it for a sixth year. Surface will now continue to be used for video reviews in NFL games until the end of the 2018 / 2019 season.

“We're excited to help the NFL change the game with Surface devices being used by players and coaches on the sidelines to make more informed decisions, referees using Surface for instant replay to enhance the speed of the game, and teams using Microsoft products in their business and football operations,” says Yusuf Mehdi, Microsoft’s corporate vice president, in a statement to SportsPro. We look forward to continuing the partnership next season.”

Microsoft’s exclusive NFL deal has never been far from controversy. The software giant was forced to “coach” NFL announcers to not call its Surface tablets an iPad, and the company had to defend its tablets after the Patriots stopped using them. Despite this, Microsoft has reportedly spent $400 million on its Surface NFL deal, and it involves a complex range of infrastructure, software, and basic storage cabinets and cases used to protect the tablets. Microsoft has also produced its own Surface Type Covers with NFL logos, and the Madden 17 game also uses the tablets.

Microsoft's Surface is the "official tablet" of the NFL, and it's trying to make sure that sportscasters get the message. After it became clear that announcers may not know what the Surface was — with one announcer referring to it as an "iPad-like tool" — Microsoft has been working with broadcasters to make sure that mistake doesn't happen again. "It’s true, we have coached up a select few," Microsoft tells Business Insider. "That coaching will continue to ensure our partners are well equipped to discuss Surface when the camera pans to players using the device during games."

You can't fault Microsoft for trying: it's reportedly paying the NFL about $400 million over the next five years as part of a wide-ranging partnership that promotes the Surface and brings various league content to the Xbox One. Putting the Surface to use on the NFL's sidelines is a pretty great route to exposure — especially with how much luck Beats seems to be having with support from league players. The next step is getting viewers to actually know what tablet the coaches and players are using, and Business Insider makes it sound like Microsoft is getting there.

How Surface tablets are changing the way NFL coaches work:

NFL sidelines are almost always entertaining to watch, but this year, it hasn’t been about the players and coaches — it's the new technology that has been catching viewers' eyes. If you've been watching NFL games at all this season, it's been hard to miss the bright blue Surface tablets, complete with giant “Microsoft Surface” branding, that team staff almost constantly use during games. Those tablets (which are not iPads) are in all 31 NFL stadiums and used regularly by all 32 teams. They’re the product of a partnership between Microsoft and the NFL to bring in-game analysis into the 21st century.

Meanwhile, the NFL has announced that it will be committing US$90 million over seven years to a new social justice initiative that will support efforts and programmes to combat social inequality.

The initiative, which will see the league work closely with its teams and players, comes in response to player demonstrations during the US national anthem before games.

“Social justice may mean different things to different people and organisations,” said Anna Isaacson, the NFL’s senior vice president of social responsibility. “The NFL's work will encompass programmes and initiatives that reduce barriers to opportunity, with a priority on supporting improvements in education, community/police relations and our criminal justice system. Additional focus areas include poverty, racial equality and workforce development.”

Microsoft MSFT  is a technology company whose mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more. They strive to create local opportunity, growth, and impact in every country around the world. Their strategy is to build best-in-class platforms and productivity services for an intelligent cloud and an intelligent edge infused with artificial intelligence (“AI”).

The way individuals and organizations use and interact with technology continues to evolve. A person’s experience with technology increasingly spans a multitude of devices and becomes more natural and multi-sensory with voice, ink, and gaze interactions. They believe a new technology paradigm is emerging that manifests itself through an intelligent cloud and an intelligent edge where computing is more distributed, AI drives insights and acts on the user’s behalf, and user experiences span devices with a user’s available data and information. They continue to transform their business to lead this new era of digital transformation and enable their customers and partners to thrive in this evolving world.

Founded in 1975, they operate worldwide in over 190 countries. They develop, license, and support a wide range of software products, services, and devices that deliver new opportunities, greater convenience, and enhanced value to people’s lives. Their platforms and tools help drive small business productivity, large business competitiveness, and public-sector efficiency. They also support new startups, improve educational and health outcomes, and empower human ingenuity.

Their products include operating systems; cross-device productivity applications; server applications; business solution applications; desktop and server management tools; software development tools; video games; and training and certification of computer system integrators and developers. They also design, manufacture, and sell devices, including PCs, tablets, gaming and entertainment consoles, other intelligent devices, and related accessories, that integrate with their cloud-based offerings. They offer an array of services, including cloud-based solutions that provide customers with software, services, platforms, and content, and they provide solution support and consulting services. They also deliver relevant online advertising to a global audience.

This article has been provided by a Chasing Markets contributor. All content submitted by this author represent their personal opinions, and should be considered as such for entertainment purpose only. All opinions expressed are those of the writer, and may not necessarily represent fact, opinions, or bias of Chasing Markets.
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