A $400m sponsorship deal with the NFL backfired this weekend, after Microsoft’s Surface tablets went offline for coaching staff during a live game.
The sponsored Windows tablets failed to provide New England Patriots with crucial play information leading to enraged fans, coaching staff and players- and the whole thing was captured live on TV in the US.
The tablets, which serve images of previous plays with both team’s positions, went offline for at least 20 minutes.
— Paul Thurrott (@thurrott) January 25, 2016
Opposing team the Denver Broncos did not suffer issues with their Surface tablets and were allowed to continue using them, giving the home team an intelligence advantage.
The incident took place during Sunday’s AFC Championship game between the Denver Broncos and New England Patriots, resulting in the kind of negative publicity Microsoft surely never dreamed its $400 million sponsorship would lead to.
“They’re having some trouble with their Microsoft Surface tablets,” CBS’ sideline reporter Evan Washburn said during the game. “On the last defensive possession the Patriots’ coaches did not have access to those tablets to show pictures to their players. NFL officials have been working at it. Some of those tablets are back in use, but not all of them. A lot of frustration that they didn’t have them on that last possession.”
Microsoft quickly sprung into action to blame the breakdown on a network connectivity issue rather than the tablets themselves. .
“Our team on the field has confirmed the issue was not related to the tablets themselves but rather an issue with the network,” Microsoft said in a statement. “We worked with our partners who manage the network to ensure the issue was resolved quickly.”
This is not the first time that the sponsorship has backfired. Previously, NFL player sand staff repeatedly referred to the Microsoft Surface as an ‘iPad’.
— Saintel Daily (@SaintelDaily) September 12, 2015
The tablets have also been routinely thrown about by infuriated players- although whether they are frustrated with the match or the tablet is often unclear.
Relevant: A brief history of NFL quarterbacks destroying tablets https://t.co/V7fS30amkK
— Michael Katz (@KatzM) January 24, 2016
This is also not the first time they have been knocked offline, suffering a similar issue in a game between Dallas Cowboys and the Washington Redskins in December.
— Vinny Carpenter (@vscarpenter) December 8, 2015