The nation’s most popular sport is about to get real geeky thanks in large part to technology from Microsoft.
NFL.com is reporting that the deal is for five years and worth $500 million, though Microsoft has not confirmed that.
There are two big aspects of the new partnership: Microsoft technology on the field and off of it.
First, you’ll start seeing Microsoft’s impact in the living room. Fans will be able to watch games on their Xbox and do several things at the same time thanks to Skype and SmartGlass technology.
For example, you’ll be able to watch a game, trash talk with a friend on Skype, watch replays and see your fantasy football team stats all on the TV or tablet with SmartGlass.
Focusing on fantasy football is not a bad move by Microsoft, as it targets a $1 billion business that is showing no signs of slowing down.
“For fans, the NFL on Xbox will provide the most complete way to enjoy live football by bringing the first fully-integrated fantasy football experience to the TV, exclusively through Xbox,” said Don Mattrick, president of the Interactive Entertainment Business at Microsoft, in a press release.
The other part of the deal will arrive a little later down the road but is equally as interesting. Microsoft said that players and coaches will be able to use Surface tablets on the field to watch replays, view photos and analyze plays in real-time all from the tablet.
Essentially, instead of carrying around a complicated paper playsheet, we may see coaches strutting a Surface tablet to help them call plays, or players on the bench scrolling through screenshots of the opposing team’s defensive schemes on the most recent scoring drive.
You can also expect to see lots of Microsoft branding across the NFL this season. “Surface by Microsoft” will be pasted on the hoods of the instant replay stations, while Microsoft has become the “official sideline technology sponsor of the NFL.” Also, the Surface and Windows are now the “official tablet and PC operating system of the NFL,” and Xbox is now the “official interactive video entertainment console” of the NFL.
Speaking of sports and Microsoft, Andrew Wilson, head of EA Sports, made an appearance at today’s launch presentation and announced four titles already in production for Xbox One: FIFA 14, Madden NFL 25, NBA Live 14, and UFC. He said that Microsoft and EA are marking the start of a brand new partnership and a “very special relationship.” The Xbox One games will be powered by EA Sports Ignite, an all new game engine that blends real and virtual worlds.
Previously on GeekWire: Xbox One: Live from Microsoft’s new console unveiling in Redmond