It’s hard to believe five years have passed since Microsoft struck a deal with the NFL over its Surface tablet, but that is indeed the case. The contract wasn’t without its problems — the Surface was called an iPad on more than one occasion — but that hasn’t prevented a contract renewal between the two companies.
According to SportsPro, Microsoft will provide NFL referees with Surface tablets, as it has for the past few years, which will be used to review videos. This will continue through until the end of the 2018 – 2019 season, at which point it is unclear what the NFL will do.
Surface tablets are also used by players and coaches who want to review footage, plus elsewhere in the League. It is unclear why the NFL chose to extend the contract for a single additional year; the Surface tablets have been a contentious addition to the League’s tech roster, and there have been at least a couple incidents involving them.
There was that time a few years ago, for example, when announcers kept referring to the Surface as an iPad and an “iPad-like” device.
Then there was that time a couple years ago when Patriots coach Bill Belichick announced that he was reverting back to paper because he was “done with tablets.” There “just isn’t enough consistency in the performance of the tablets,” he’d been quoted as saying, though the statements appeared to be directed at the use of tech on the sidelines in general. Still, he was caught on camera throwing a Surface tablet onto the ground.
Despite this, the apparent frustration and problems few have with the devices — or tech in general — doesn’t appear adequate enough to shift the NFL away from the use of tablets. For its part, Microsoft gets to keep calling its Surface the “official tablet of the NFL” for another year.