Microsoft and NFL add benefits on the field and in the living room
For a lot of people in the U.S., fall is synonymous with football. Now that the NFL season is in full swing, fans and teams can find new and better ways to experience this fall favorite thanks to the ongoing collaborative sponsorship between Microsoft and the NFL.
“We have a passion for innovating and improving the quality of our devices and services, and are especially excited about this opportunity to improve the productivity for coaches and players on the sidelines not to mention the ability to bring a whole new experience to the NFL fans from the comfort of their living rooms,” says James Bernstrom, Microsoft product marketing director for devices and studios.
Through the Microsoft NFL app for Xbox One – “The Official Game Console of the NFL” – fantasy football aficionados and amateurs can fully engage in the fierce competitiveness that defines the fun and the drama of this pastime within a pastime. They can turn to the app for the ultimate in personalized information on their carefully chosen NFL.com Fantasy players, including in-game highlights, real-time updates, news, scores and stats. It’s the ultimate companion on the journey to the Super Bowl.
And on the field, coaches and players are using the specially designed Microsoft Surface Sideline Viewing System.
The solution is made up from Surface tablets – “The Official Tablet of the NFL” – and a Microsoft application that allows coaches to quickly analyze images from previous offensive or defensive series to plan their next plays – a process that previously relied solely on printers and paper. Microsoft technology is helping make analysis of the game more efficient, productive and competitive, starting with streamlining the photo viewing process.
“You’ve heard me say it before – separation is in the preparation. I’m always looking for a competitive edge and new Microsoft Surface technology on sidelines gives us the ability to begin analyzing what the opposing defense is trying to do as soon as we walk off the field,” says Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson. “In a game that can change on a single play, that detailed preparation can be the difference between wins and losses.”
No matter what team colors you wear this season, Microsoft and the NFL will be there to help you feel like you’re on the field, alongside players who are also using devices and services from Microsoft.
“This sponsorship combines a technology titan with the top consumer entertainment product in the U.S.,” says Jeff Tran, director of Sports & Alliances in Devices & Studios marketing. “The NFL is the best consumer TV entertainment product there is, with 34 of the 35 most-watched shows in the fall 2013 TV season being NFL games.”
This relationship brings the best in fantasy football to your TV and technology to NFL personnel. It’s not just one product or a couple of services, but a company wide effort with the NFL.”
On their Xbox One, fans get access to multiple channels, which form the foundation for a fully immersive NFL experience. Those channels can appear as tiles at the bottom or on either side of the screen.
The NFL on Xbox One reimagines the way you experience football by bringing live games and fantasy teams together on what is usually the central screen in many households – the living room TV. Sundays (and Mondays and Thursdays!) will never be the same again. You can tailor the experience with content from NFL.com, NFL Network, NFL Now, NFL RedZone and the NFL Sunday Ticket, a new addition. And for those who take fantasy football as seriously as the real deal, there’s more good news.
“We’re really doubling down on fantasy football this year by adding both new fantasy partners and features to our NFL app,” says David Jurenka, the senior director of Xbox Sports who oversees the NFL on Xbox One app. “In addition to NFL.com, we’ve added CBS fantasy football as a channel within the NFL on Xbox One app.”
You’ll stay up to date on your fantasy football team analysis with real-time updates and exclusive in-game highlights, news, stats, scores and standings in your NFL.com league. Snap brings both of these parts of your life together: watch live games (or other shows and movies, or play a game) at the same time as receiving a constant stream of scores and stats through the NFL League Feed. These fantasy football notifications and in-game highlights are new this year.
“Xbox One will be the best experience for NFL fans this season,” Jurenka says. “I think NFL fans expect more every year. There are all these apps and a bunch of places to get information and content. Xbox One brings it all together within a single app. Snap it next to live TV, and if you’re a fantasy football fan, watch in-game highlights. It’s a really great way to engage with the NFL. The App is personalized to you and will keep you informed via Notifications when you aren’t in the App. It’s a big step forward compared to what we had last year.”
NFL Now, a new digital service from the NFL, houses the largest digital library of NFL content, including content from NFL teams, the NFL Network and the NFL Films Archive. Eligible customers who are unable to receive DirecTV service – such as college students who live in dorms – can sign up directly for NFL Sunday Ticket on Xbox One.
In addition, qualifying subscribers can watch NFL Network and NFL RedZone on Xbox One. NFL Network provides information and insight straight from the field, team headquarters, league offices and everywhere the NFL is making news, seven days a week, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. NFL Network will also carry 16 live Thursday Night Football games during the 2014 season. NFL RedZone brings fans every touchdown of every game on Sunday afternoons.
The NFL app on Windows 8 complements the Xbox One experience as the ultimate “on the go” fantasy football companion, with features like Live Scoring, Player News and Windows 8 Game Center, which shows your matchup score in real time. You can also relive the agonies and ecstasies of your NFL.com fantasy team on game day by watching videos of key scoring moments during the game.
What’s happening on the field is just as exciting as what goes on in your living room with Xbox One – and we don’t mean just on the playing field.
A typical 8,000-square-feet NFL sideline is packed with more than players, dozens of coaches, team personnel, trainers, support staff, media members, cheerleaders and equipment – all constantly in motion. In previous seasons, coaches and quarterbacks pored over photo printouts from before a snap and just after. They use images from two cameras around the stadium to analyze the opposing team’s defense and strategize future plays.
It’s the perfect place to see “The Official Sideline Technology Sponsor of the NFL” in action, through the game-changing Microsoft Surface Sideline Viewing System app.
Since the beginning of preseason, every NFL stadium has received more than two dozen specially made, ultra-durable Surface tablets loaded with the app and four charging and networking carts. It streamlines a multi-tiered process into one dynamic, full-color digital hub. The Surface gives enhanced details, as well as the ability to zoom-in and focus on any area of the picture, which can help teams be more efficient and productive in making adjustments during games.
“You are a coach and you want to see plays, and the images you get paint a picture of a few seconds before the snap and a few seconds after,” Bernstrom says. “Under the old system, someone has to take those images, send them to a printer, wait for black and white prints, grab them and try to stick them in a three-ring binder. If it’s raining or snowing, they struggle to put them in a plastic sleeve, and after that, they still need to find the coach.”
With this new system, coaches can make decisions more quickly and enact changes to what they see right away—without waiting till the end of a series to make adjustments.
The creation of these devices is just one of many examples of the close collaboration between Microsoft and the NFL.
Bernstrom explains that the app was built by working with the NFL, individual team’s video directors, coaches, and players along with a large team of engineering and product marketing folks at Microsoft. Then hardware that began as Surface tablets off the shelf were tailored to withstand the heat, cold, rain, glare and even jarring equipment drops that come with the territory. It’s complete with a special case and the option to use an attached stylus. This was a team effort end to end and was something that Microsoft was uniquely positioned to create.
While paper printouts will still be available as a backup, the teams are all using the Microsoft Surface Sideline Viewing System—and the early reports are teams love it.
“The old viewing system – while functional – couldn’t meet the speed and detail I look for to gain that competitive edge,” says the Seahawks’ Wilson. “Every second counts and having Microsoft Surface technology on sidelines allows players and coaches to analyze what our opponents are trying to do in almost real time. Plus, the ability to zoom in on full color photos and really get a look at defensive alignments helps tremendously when trying to make adjustments on the fly.”
“This year builds on our relationship in an exponential way,” Tran says. “We’re going to be on the sidelines of every single NFL game, with Microsoft tablets used in a meaningful way by the NFL, not just as a communication vehicle but actually a product that can help improve gameplay.”
Sounds like a touchdown for teams – and for the fans.
The NFL on Xbox One requires advanced TV hardware and broadband internet; ISP fees apply. To view live NFL Network and NFL RedZone content, users must have a qualifying TV provider and subscription to the respective content. Additional requirements or subscriptions may apply for some features, such as NFL.com Fantasy Football, Yahoo! Fantasy Football and DirecTV NFL Sunday Ticket, ESPN Fantasy Football, CBS Sports Fantasy Football and NFL Now. See xbox.com/nfl.
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