Microsoft's Surface Tablet Is Coming to NFL Sideline's

Microsoft recently forged a parntership with the NFL and will be bringing its Surface tablet to NFL sidelines. But, the company may be eventually competing with Apple.

Aug 12, 2014 at 8:00PM

Fantasy football junkies are on the edge of their seat because the NFL is officially back. Last season ended on a high note as the Super Bowl broke records, despite the blowout, with 111.5 million viewers. As you might expect, the NFL is an enormous and important platform for advertisers, its partners, and the brands that are used during games and by athletes. With that said, technology giants Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) are two such companies, and the NFL might very well step-up its game with either.

The NFL is a perfect illustration of why enterprise technology is important: It boosts exposure to the company and is also financially rewarding depending on the size of the enterprise client. This is especially good news for Microsoft, as the company announced recently that its Surface Pro 2 tablets will be used on both the sidelines and in the booths during NFL games.

Microsoft is calling it the Sideline Viewing System, which essentially acts as a photo viewing system for players to see past formations on the field. For example, Eli Manning throws an interception, goes back to the sideline and can then see and explain the exact defensive formation that caused the mistake. In the past, viewers would see quarterbacks, in particular, talking on the phone following an interception, touchdown, or a series, explaining formations with their hands. But now, players of all positions will have an interactive platform to stay on the same page.

Albeit, this is the first major launch for Microsoft in the NFL following their five year partnership last year, reportedly worth $400 million. Already, Microsoft has launched a couple small NFL products, like an application for Windows 8, but this is the first set of hardware and software that coaches and players will use, and viewers will see, with the Microsoft name.


Furthermore, there's a lot that goes into an NFL game, in regards to technology, including film sessions, playbooks, and digital technology like line-of-scrimmage and first-down lines. Notably, pictures are a relatively small piece of the NFL puzzle.

While $400 million over five years is a big commitment from the NFL, Roger Goodell and team owners don't seem to be jumping head first into Microsoft; use of the Surface and Sideline Viewing System is not mandatory, but rather a luxury. Another element is that other technology giants already have a large presence in the NFL, namely Apple.

Currently, Apple's iPads are used as digital playbooks for most NFL teams, which are highly visible to viewers, likely more-so than Microsoft's Surface will be in this coming season. Hence, the NFL may have struck a deal with Microsoft, but teams have shown their loyalty to Apple. Albeit, the NFL has a history of diversifying the companies it works with, having previous long-term deals with both Motorola and IBM (NYSE:IBM).

With that said, IBM was a key consultant to the NFL for nearly a decade, and also provided data-center management. However, IBM terminated the program in 2012 when the two parties could not agree on how to manage IT sponsorship. But a lot has changed since then, including IBM and Apple's large enterprise partnership that occurred earlier this year, which could spark the NFL's interest.

Albeit, the technology company that ultimately wins the NFL is still unknown, but what's known is that IBM is one of the strongest enterprise brands in the world, and Apple's hardware and software has some of the greatest appeal in the world. As for Microsoft, it's a strong brand, but more for software like Windows, and aside from a contract signed prior to the Apple and IBM partnership, the NFL has shown no signs of loyalty to Microsoft, or a willingness to flood its brand with Microsoft products.


As it appears, the NFL is simply introducing a minor service in an attempt to determine whether the Surface will stick with teams and players. Reportedly, the partnership with the NFL and Microsoft took 18 months to complete and followed a stretch when it was coming off a partnership with Polaroid.

At that time, Apple's enterprise business was weak, but now with IBM, the landscape for Apple in this arena has changed, and it already owns the favor of coaches and players. As a result, it's not too far-fetched to suggest that Microsoft won't get much further than pictures on the sideline, and with Apple's new beefed-up enterprise capabilities, we could be seeing more of the Apple logo in the years to come on NFL sidelines.

Leaked: Apple's next smart device (warning, it may shock you)
Apple recently recruited a secret-development "dream team" to guarantee its newest smart device was kept hidden from the public for as long as possible. But the secret is out, and some early viewers are claiming its everyday impact could trump the iPod, iPhone, and the iPad. In fact, ABI Research predicts 485 million of this type of device will be sold per year. But one small company makes Apple's gadget possible. And its stock price has nearly unlimited room to run for early-in-the-know investors. To be one of them, and see Apple's newest smart gizmo, just click here!


Brian Nichols owns shares of Apple. The Motley Fool recommends Apple. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple, International Business Machines, and Microsoft. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

1 Key Step to Get Rich

Our mission at The Motley Fool is to help the world invest better. Whether that’s helping people overcome their fear of stocks all the way to offering clear and successful guidance on complicated-sounding options trades, we can help.

Feb 1, 2016 at 4:54PM

To be perfectly clear, this is not a get-rich action that my Foolish colleagues and I came up with. But we wouldn't argue with the approach.

A 2015 Business Insider article titled, "11 websites to bookmark if you want to get rich" rated The Motley Fool as the #1 place online to get smarter about investing.

"The Motley Fool aims to build a strong investment community, which it does by providing a variety of resources: the website, books, a newspaper column, a radio [show], and [newsletters]," wrote (the clearly insightful and talented) money reporter Kathleen Elkins. "This site has something for every type of investor, from basic lessons for beginners to investing commentary on mutual funds, stock sectors, and value for the more advanced."

Our mission at The Motley Fool is to help the world invest better, so it's nice to receive that kind of recognition. It lets us know we're doing our job.

Whether that's helping the entirely uninitiated overcome their fear of stocks all the way to offering clear and successful guidance on complicated-sounding options trades, we want to provide our readers with a boost to the next step on their journey to financial independence.

Articles and beyond

As Business Insider wrote, there are a number of resources available from the Fool for investors of all levels and styles.

In addition to the dozens of free articles we publish every day on our website, I want to highlight two must-see spots in your tour of

For the beginning investor

Investing can seem like a Big Deal to those who have yet to buy their first stock. Many investment professionals try to infuse the conversation with jargon in order to deter individual investors from tackling it on their own (and to justify their often sky-high fees).

But the individual investor can beat the market. The real secret to investing is that it doesn't take tons of money, endless hours, or super-secret formulas that only experts possess.

That's why we created a best-selling guide that walks investors-to-be through everything they need to know to get started. And because we're so dedicated to our mission, we've made that available for free.

If you're just starting out (or want to help out someone who is), go to, drop in your email address, and you'll be able to instantly access the quick-read guide ... for free.

For the listener

Whether it's on the stationary exercise bike or during my daily commute, I spend a lot of time going nowhere. But I've found a way to make that time benefit me.

The Motley Fool offers five podcasts that I refer to as "binge-worthy financial information."

Motley Fool Money features a team of our analysts discussing the week's top business and investing stories, interviews, and an inside look at the stocks on our radar. It's also featured on several dozen radio stations across the country.

The hosts of Motley Fool Answers challenge the conventional wisdom on life's biggest financial issues to reveal what you really need to know to make smart money moves.

David Gardner, co-founder of The Motley Fool, is among the most respected and trusted sources on investing. And he's the host of Rule Breaker Investing, in which he shares his insights into today's most innovative and disruptive companies ... and how to profit from them.

Market Foolery is our daily look at stocks in the news, as well as the top business and investing stories.

And Industry Focus offers a deeper dive into a specific industry and the stories making headlines. Healthcare, technology, energy, consumer goods, and other industries take turns in the spotlight.

They're all informative, entertaining, and eminently listenable ... and I don't say that simply because the hosts all sit within a Nerf-gun shot of my desk. Rule Breaker Investing and Answers contain timeless advice, so you might want to go back to the beginning with those. The other three take their cues from the market, so you'll want to listen to the most recent first. All are available at

But wait, there's more

The book and the podcasts – both free ... both awesome – also come with an ongoing benefit. If you download the book, or if you enter your email address in the magical box at the podcasts page, you'll get ongoing market coverage sent straight to your inbox.

Investor Insights is valuable and enjoyable coverage of everything from macroeconomic events to investing strategies to our analyst's travels around the world to find the next big thing. Also free.

Get the book. Listen to a podcast. Sign up for Investor Insights. I'm not saying that any of those things will make you rich ... but Business Insider seems to think so.

Compare Brokers