Like many of you, I watched this weekend’s AFC Championship between the New England Patriots and the Denver Broncos as the sideline commentators reported that the Surface Pro 3 devices had failed on the Patriots bench. I’ve gotten a lot of questions about this outage so I thought it was important to not only explain what happened on Sunday but also share some updates on our partnership with the NFL as we near the second full season of Surface devices being used on the sidelines. Here are the facts:
- Microsoft Surfaces have not experienced a single failure in the two years they’ve been used on NFL sidelines. In the past two years, Surfaces have supported nearly 100,000 minutes of sideline action, and in that time, not a single issue has been reported that is related to the tablet itself. On rare occasions like we saw on Sunday, the stadium has network issues that prevent the delivery of images to the Surface devices. In these cases, we work with the NFL to quickly troubleshoot possible network issues so we can get the photo imaging solution to proceed as normal.
- Surface usage amongst NFL teams continues to grow. The NFL is not only a game of inches, it’s also a game of seconds. In addition to the widespread adoption of Surface tablets in the coaches’ booth, more teams are turning to Surface tablets during the critical moments of the game because they can better quality images faster. And every second counts.
- Teams are more effective as a result of Surface tablets. There are dozens of testimonials like this one from Mike McCarthy of the Green Bay Packers, praising Surface for increasing team productivity and effectiveness. The now infamous clips of Johnny Manziel and Aaron Rogers abusing their Surface devices are further evidence of two things: 1) players are getting information faster, even if they don’t always like what they see and 2) these devices were built to endure just about anything, even Johnny Manziel’s head.
When we embarked on our landmark partnership with the NFL three years ago, we did so with a vision to revolutionize the game, and I’m proud of the progress we’ve made in a few short years.
Coaches and players who once relied on static, black-and-white photos of NFL plays to analyze coverage, can now use our Surface tablets to view more dynamic, full-color images, up to seven times faster than the printed page. As a result, those teams are more informed, more productive and ultimately, more competitive.
We continue to hear from players and coaches that our tablets are changing the way they operate, on and off the field. Surface tablets have become ubiquitous on NFL sidelines and in the coaches’ booth, and more than half of NFL franchises are also using Surfaces end-to-end, as playbooks, to watch video and as a laptop replacement in their front office to handle the administrative duties of running the team.
Our vision has started to become a reality, but we also know there is still plenty of work to be done. With Super Bowl 50 around the corner, as millions of fans will be reflecting on the past fifty years of the game, the team at Microsoft will be dreaming of the next 50 years and the potential for technology to continue to change the game for the better.