September 25, 2015

With football season in full swing and all 32 teams looking to make it to Superbowl 50 and going about it indifferent ways, they all have one thing in common, Microsoft. The partnership is three years old but according to Jeff Tran, director of Sports & Alliances in the Windows and Devices marketing group, “This is a really important year for Microsoft and the NFL. We launched Windows 10 and have new products on the horizon and for the NFL, this is the golden anniversary of the Super Bowl.”

You may have seen teams using the Surface Pro 3 – “The Official Tablet of the NFL” which is different from the Pro 2’s from last year. They are lighter, bigger and can be used as a whiteboard. Since teams play in all types of weather they are not only waterproof but they have better daytime readability and can be used in temperatures between 10 degrees Fahrenheit and 110 degrees.

Sean Payton, head coach for the New Orleans Saints loves the Sideline Viewing System (SVS), which allows coaches to see full color images from a previous play and plan their next play more efficiently and quickly. “Our ability to use the Sideline Viewing System is much more efficient than the original photographs, I was skeptical, waiting for the first thing I don’t like. Then I swipe, and it looks pretty good, and then I can make it bigger. And it took all of about 10 seconds to say these are better than expected.” Says Payton



Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson credits the Surface Pro as an MVP to his success. “The Surface Pro has been a game changer for me,” he says. “The Surface has been exceptional to have on the sideline. When I get back to the sideline, I’m able to get the plays right away. Being able to zoom has a huge advantage, too. I can see everybody’s eyes, what they’re looking at.”

Not only are players and coaches using Microsoft technology, but referees are also testing alternatives to the video replay booth by reviewing replays on the Surface’s with Bose headphones. Teams are using technology such as drones, Xbox Kinect and even virtual reality for tactical advantages. Basically, if you aren’t using technology in the NFL, you aren’t winning a Superbowl ring.

Fans can even get it on the action by downloading the Microsoft NFL app! It’s available on Windows 10 PCs and tablets for a “second screen experience”. You can receive Next Gen stats (player speed, top speed, and distance traveled thanks to a RFID chip embedded in each players shoulder pads), instant highlights, and personalized notifications. Using the app on Xbox One will give you a side by side view of both the game and a notification center showing all your personalized info.

“One of the great aspects of our partnership with the NFL is that while we’re changing the game on the sidelines, we’re also changing the game for the business of football,” says James Bernstrom, Microsoft product marketing director for Windows and Devices Marketing. “Football operations is trusting us with critical playbook and video information to work with their partners to deliver that content safely and securely. For the business of football – running the back office – they trust Microsoft products. And then, within multiple teams, you’ll see how Surface and Xbox are being utilized within stadiums to provide custom content in some cases, and other places where they have the ability to try out an Xbox One before, after or during games.”

Just like technology off the field, technology on the field is growing as Microsoft develops new apps. The unique partnership thrives because of NFL’s expertise in football and Microsoft’s expertise in technology, and will surely change the way the NFL gets to Superbowl 50, and will likely change how they get to Superbowl 75 and 100.