- Until the end of the 2018/2019 season, Microsoft Surface will continue to be the official tablet of the National Football League, reports The Verge. The tech company renewed its original five-year contract for a sixth year.
- The Surface is used by the athletes, coaches and referees for "instant replay to enhance the speed of the game" as well as overall team business operations, according to Yusuf Mehdi, corporate vice president at Microsoft.
- The initial deal was about $400 million and included the tablets' related infrastructure, including software, protection cases and even the cabinets in which the tablets are stored.
While the deal is now in its fourth year, it has not been without some strain. About 2,000 tablets were distributed across 34 stadiums by October 2016, according to Microsoft.
However, during the same time, New England Patriots coach, Bill Belichick, had publicly declared he was "done" with the tablets and would much rather rely on "pictures." He claimed the tablets did not have "enough consistency" in their performance.
Nearly a year later, Consumer Reports also discredited the Surface tablet and downgraded its "recommended" rating due to poor reliability. Soon after the report, though unrelated, Delta Airlines announced plans to discontinue use of Windows devices in exchange for iOS devices in 2018.
Despite those criticisms, the extension of Microsoft's NFL contract indicates the tablets are overall benefiting the league. Referees were introduced to the technology in August for instant replays, which proved to be successful.