Microsoft Paid The NFL $400 Million To Use Its Tablets, But Announcers Are Calling Them iPads


Eli Manning reviews plays on a Microsoft Tablet

Paul Sancya/AP

Eli Manning reviews a play on an iPad-like device.

Prior to the season, Microsoft and the NFL struck a 5-year, $400 million deal with one of the major components being that the Microsoft Surface would become "the official tablet of the NFL" with coaches and players using the Surface on the sidelines during games.

But Microsoft and the league ran into a problem during week one of the season when at least two television announcers mistakenly referred to the tablets as iPads giving a huge rival some unexpected exposure.

The biggest blunder for the league came during the nationally televised Monday Night Football game when ESPN's Trent Dilfer joked about how long it took Cardinals assistant head coach Tom Moore to "learn how to use the iPad to scroll through the pictures."


In a separate incident, Drew Brees of the New Orleans Saints was spotted by Fox commentator John Lynch using a Surface on the sideline. Lynch remarked that Brees was "not watching movies on his iPad."

Lynch did seem to realize his mistake when he later noted that players now have "iPad-like tools" at their disposal. However, at no time during the discussion was Microsoft or the Surface mentioned by name.


Drew Brees


Drew Brees hard at work with his iPad-like tool.

Luckily for Microsoft there are other forms of exposure for their new deal. In addition to the tablets, the Microsoft Surface logo is also on the replay monitors used by the officials.

NFL referee


There is probably not a Surface tablet under that hood.

As for future games, the NFL and Microsoft will likely work to inform - or more likely remind - the networks that those blue tablets are in fact not iPads.

Otherwise, this campaign is off to a rocky start and the novelty of the devices for the networks will no longer be there and they will stop being mentioned at all.

Microsoft Surface ad


Microsoft declined an opportunity to comment on the partnership and whether any changes would be made moving forward. The NFL has not responded to requests for comment at the time of this publication.