Microsoft, NFL extend Surface sideline deal to another season

Microsoft Surface will continue to be 'the official tablet of the NFL'.
Written by Jake Smith, Contributor
Image: Microsoft/Mollie Ruiz-Hopper

The National Football League has renewed its partnership with Microsoft for it to continue to supply Surface tablets to referees for video reviews on the field until the end of the 2018/2019 season.

The Surface tablets are also provided to coaches and players to examine footage of previous play during games.

"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," Yusuf Mehdi, Microsoft's corporate VP, said in a statement to SportsPro. "We look forward to continuing the partnership next season."

Microsoft has held an exclusive agreement with the NFL since 2013, in a deal reportedly worth $400 million over five years. It's not clear how much the 2018/2019 deal is worth and why only a year was chosen as terms.

Surface use in the NFL has seen controversy. During the 2016 season, Patriots coach Bill Belichick ranted that he was "done with the tablets" after smashing a Surface on the sideline in prior weeks. Microsoft responded painting Surface as a "winning advantage."

In August, the NFL began using the Surface with referees on the field to speed up the replay review process.

In another technology push, the NFL announced last week it will use Amazon Web Services as its standard machine learning and analytics provider to boost the performance of the league's player statistics platform. AWS also became the "official technology provider" of the NFL.

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