Microsoft is supplying NFL coaches and players with Surface tablets on the sidelines this season, but at least a few commentators didn’t get the memo.
As spotted by The Verge, announcers calling Sunday’s Falcons vs. Saints game were discussing the tablets as New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees was holding a Surface and examining his team’s previous possession.
“They’ve gotten rid of the pictures and now they got the iPad-like tools,” the FOX commentator noted.
That’s probably not exactly what Microsoft envisioned when it inked that $400 million contract with the NFL in May 2013. While the Surface branding is obviously apparent around NFL stadiums and TV broadcasts, it appears a few media members — and likely coaches, players, and viewers — still don’t know what the new tablets are actually called, or what company makes them. This is despite the fact that the Surface has been lauded as the “official tablet of the NFL.”
As part of that contract and the NFL’s push to improve its technology, Microsoft is equipping teams this fall with customized Surface tablets — 13 for players on the sidelines and another 12 for offensive and defensive coordinators in the coaching boxes.
Historically, team personnel would print out black-and-white images of past plays and put them together in a binder for coaches and players — a process that takes up to 30 seconds for every possession. The Surface tablets help streamline this process.
“Not only will images via Surface be delivered in near real-time, but the Sideline Viewing System App provides more detailed, high-resolution images including with the capabilities to zoom-in and make digital annotations,” Microsoft notes in this blog post.
On top of the sideline use, the NFL also used Surface tablets during this year’s NFL Combine, while medical trainers from select teams used the Surface to monitor concussion information during games last season. Microsoft has also run TV ads with Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson touting the Surface.
Update: And, now it has happened again, on Monday Night Football. See our follow-up story: Hey, Trent Dilfer, that’s a Microsoft Surface on the sidelines of Monday Night Football, not an iPad