As you likely know, Microsoft is deeply involved in the NFL here in the United States. While the use of technology in the NFL field has faced some heavy criticism from coaches like Bill Belichick, Microsoft continues to stand by their partnership with the league. In perhaps what may become some better Surface-themed PR for Microsoft, recent developments in the way that the NFL wants to update replay rules might put Surface tablets right on the football field (via TouchDownWire)
According to ESPN, the NFL wants to centralize replays and establish a system, where referees on the field will be able to use a tablet to touch base with those in the New York-based Gameday Central room to make a decision on a call. This would ensure consistency and openness, replacing the current format where the referee would instead go to the sideline “hood”, and watch a replay of the play in question to make a decision.
The would-be replay system in the NFL is very similar to what is already in use in other major American sports. For instance, in Major League Baseball, all instant replay reviews are examined by an umpire at the Replay Command Center in New York City, who has the final decision as to whether to uphold or overturn the initial call. Samsung was able to capitalize on the MLB replay rule when it was first initiated in the 2014 season and become the official replay sponsor. As fans pointed out, the sponsorship deal came complete with corporate logos on the shirts and hats of replay officials, essentially turning the MLB replays into one giant Samsung ad.
Like Samsung, and the MLB, Microsoft has a huge chance to benefit from the would be replay system in the NFL. Since on-field replay officials in the NFL would end up using tablets on the field instead of visiting the sideline, Microsoft’s Surface devices would be insight of the TV broadcast cameras, and the Microsoft Surface product name could even be mentioned by sportscasters, that is if they don’t refer to the Surface as an iPad.