Back in 2013, Microsoft and NFL struck a five-year, $400 million deal that would provide NFL teams with on-field Surface devices to review plays. That deal ran through the end of the 2017 season, but a one-year extension through 2018 was reached, meaning we still have another year to possibly see Bill Belichick toss a Surface tablet in frustration.
“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,” said Yusuf Mehdi in a statement to SportsPro.
Being in partnership with the NFL, the biggest sports league in the U.S., seems like a no-brainer for Microsoft, but the deal has been plagued by negative PR. Announcers kept calling the Surface tablet iPads early on (and still do) and technical issues led to many videos of coaches and players tossing the tablets in frustration. Sometimes it was the fault of the tablet and other times is was an issue with the game, but regardless, it wasn’t the best look when players were tossing them around like toys.
None of this has deterred Microsoft’s willingness to work with the NFL. The extension will now ensure that we will see Surface tablets on the sidelines at least until the last game of the 2018 season, which would be Super Bowl LIII.