The National Football League (NFL) has announced a new partnership with Microsoft that is worth $400m (€310m) over five years, according to widespread US media reports.
Microsoft will deliver unique interactive NFL television services for the next-generation Xbox One video games console and will use Microsoft devices and services to "evolve the in-game, sideline experience" for coaches, players and other personnel.
Microsoft said that the NFL on Xbox service would provide fans with an all-new viewing experience through innovations around Skype and Xbox SmartGlass; an all-new, innovative fantasy football service allowing fans to view players and live competition side by side on a single television screen. Xbox also retains the exclusive rights to extend these interactive services to tablets, enabling fans to use Xbox SmartGlass technology to enhance game day viewing.
Don Mattrick, president of the Interactive Entertainment Business at Microsoft, said: “This partnership will redefine NFL experiences through exclusive and interactive content that you will find only on Xbox. 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.”
The partnership is also set to benefit NFL teams as coaches and players will soon have access to a variety of Microsoft products, including Surface tablets to enhance on-field communications, photo viewing and play calling. Microsoft and the NFL said that they envisage a “sideline of the future” with players reviewing in-game photos from different camera angles directly from the sideline and head coaches calling plays off connected Surface tablets instead of today’s static paper products.
As part of the partnership, Surface by Microsoft branding will appear on NFL sidelines, including on the hoods of the official on-field NFL instant replay stations. Xbox remains the official game console of the NFL and will also become the official interactive video entertainment console.
Microsoft will serve as the official sideline technology sponsor of the NFL and Surface by Microsoft and Windows will act as the League’s official tablet and PC operating system.