The NFL’s latest multimillion-dollar five-year deal isn’t for a player; it’s to secure Microsoft’s Surface tablets for use on the sidelines by players and coaches, the Wall Street Journal reports. Stripped-down versions of the tablets were already used this past Sunday for the kickoff of the NFL’s preseason.
The $400 million deal was announced last year.
The tablets are really just an update on the old system of snapping photos, printing them, and putting them in a binder. The Surface tablets are custom built to be waterproof and also cheat proof. Video and internet apps are disabled, the Journal reports, and outside of game time they are to remain in the league’s hands.
Teams will also be able to opt to use the traditional method of printed images.
“We’re thrilled to be teaming with a true innovator like Microsoft to shape the future of the NFL game experience,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell told the Associated Press. “Both on-field, and in the living room.”
Microsoft is also expected to roll out tech to enhance the fan experience. Live Skype chat with other fans across the nation, more-seamless fantasy football updates, and real-time in-game highlights are some of the new ideas the AP reports could be coming in future seasons.
Immediately, though, the tablets will be the biggest change. Referee stations will also sport Microsoft logos, though it’s unknown whether they will use tablets themselves.
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