The NFL on Xbox One and Surface: Your own personal gridiron

Quarterbacks rely on receiving a reliable snap as the first step toward a first down – and eventually a touchdown – every time they run a play. Now with the recently released Xbox One, armchair quarterbacks around the country have a true game-changer: being able to “snap” official NFL highlights, stats, news and scores – along with fantasy football – next to live TV broadcasts of NFL games. And with Surfacethe official tablet of the NFL – fans have a device that, at their fingertips, gives lightning fast responses as they blitz through apps like Xbox SmartGlass, NFL Mobile and NFL Game Rewind.

NFL Fan = 14, Being overwhelmed by multi-tasking during games = 0. No flags on the play, but let’s get a recap and see what led to the NFL fan pulling ahead.

With the launch of Xbox One, many of these new capabilities are now available to NFL fans. Heading into the final month of the regular season before the playoffs, Microsoft and the NFL are changing the way fans experience – and enjoy – one of America’s favorite sports.


NFL Game Center on Xbox One

“Today, the person sitting in front of a TV screen, they separately have out other electronic devices while they’re watching the game, they’re checking in on their fantasy football team, or they’re looking at highlights from across the league. The fan is really put in the center of having to control and make sense of everything that’s going on in the world of football on a Sunday,” says David Jurenka, senior director for Xbox Sports.

“We’ve flipped that paradigm on its head with Xbox One. We want to allow the user to lean back and enjoy the game, through things like a personalized destination for NFL content, integration of your fantasy football team – whether that’s in the full app or Snap app experience – or the extension to SmartGlass, where you can see highlights come through on your second device, and push those to your TV that’s connected to Xbox One,” Jurenka says. “We are weaving together the experience that fans are trying to put together for themselves today, but when they’re doing it, it’s not synchronized, it’s very disconnected and it’s not tied into the social environment.”

In other words, Xbox One takes the work out of all that so you can focus on the game.

With Xbox One, each fan will have a personalized NFL destination that features their favorite teams and players. The brand new console will also give fans a connected, social experience that gives them the chance to talk football smack with friends via services like Skype.

“Xbox One was fundamentally designed from the ground up to be this all-in-one entertainment platform,” Jurenka says. “We think the NFL and its brand and the unique assets we have from them around fantasy football, in-game highlights – even some things that are more futuristic– will really showcase how our platforms are innovating the consumer experience.”

And because Xbox One can manage your traditional TV through one HDMI input, you’ll be able to watch your games through your cable or satellite provider, and snap your fantasy football app on the side so you can see your team updating in real-time. For instance, with SmartGlass, you can share reel highlights coming in via to the rest of the room, by pushing it through the Xbox One to the TV using your tablet.


NFL Fantasy Roster on Xbox One

“Seeing us team up with the NFL at the launch of Xbox One is signaling to everyone that this is an entertainment device, in addition to the games we’ve had as the backbone of our service over the last decade,” Jurenka says.

Fans are getting early gifts with all the content that is possible with this powerful combo, such as NFL Network and NFL RedZone.  If they’re subscribed to one of the many affiliated cable or broadcast providers that provide NFL Network and NFL RedZone on an authenticated basis, they can also plug in and watch on Xbox One.

One feature that is unique to Xbox One is the ability to create personalized highlight reels of fantasy football players.

“It’s something that jumps out at people,” Jurenka says of the responses to the beta testing of that particular feature. “We’ve had really good reactions from that content.”

And with Xbox One, you’ve got a device that adapts to you – and then can switch that personalization to other members of your household using your voice. Favorite teams, apps and other preferences stay in one place – and make it easy for everyone to stay on the same page.

NFL Fan = 21, Being overwhelmed = 0. NFL fans are in good shape going into the half.

Fans with a Surface get even more help on game days.

“More and more people, when they’re sitting down on the couch for football Sunday, or watching their favorite shows, or whatever it is they’re doing, they might have an electronic gadget in their hands,” says Brian Seitz, senior manager for Surface. “And wouldn’t it be great if you could have emails snapped on one side, and your fantasy team snapped on the other?”

With the Surface’s kickstand, you can prop it up on your lap – or snap it flat if you prefer it that way. It’s convenient – and comfy – when you’re kicking back in the recliner. It also has a detachable backlit keyboard built specifically for Surface for watching prime-time games (and with it getting so dark so early, that feature comes in handy for afternoon games, too!). 

“Everything about Surface was made to work together,” Seitz says.

In the world of fantasy football, speed matters. You’ve got to type in the name of your replacement player when your running back gets injured – before someone else in your league snatches them. (And when you do, it’s as if you just ran a punt back for a touchdown – so, so satisfying.)

If you’ve got a Surface 2, then you’ve got a faster processor, a thinner and lighter device, an upgraded 1080p screen for re-watching the best plays from NFL Game Rewind and upgraded cameras to exchange fantasy football smack (don’t play like you don’t).

“In other words, it’s as though you’ve picked up the sleeper of the year who was better, faster and stronger than anyone would have believed, and now you are coasting into the playoffs,” says James Bernstrom, product marketing director.

He adds, “We’ve got a tablet that is super productive and fun, so whether you’re using the Fantasy Football app or watching games on NFL Game Rewind, you can also drive your Xbox One with SmartGlass – and then you can snap on your keyboard and send out some work emails if you need to. You can do all the things you want to do, have fun doing it – and get some work done if need be all on the same device.”


NFL Game Rewind App for Windows 8.1

It’s also important to factor in how deeply personal the device is, and how that enhances the fan experience.

“The stuff that I care about is on my Start screen,” Seitz says. “And for me, two of my favorite tiles on my Start Screen are NFL Mobile and NFL Game Rewind. These help me keep up on the latest headlines from across the league, scores as they happen and video replay so I can relive the Seahawk’s biggest plays of the season.”

And that makes it a game winner, because you can pin your entire sports world to your Start Screen so it’s always a fingertip away.


The NFL Mobile 2013 App for Windows

NFL Fan = 28, Being overwhelmed = 0. We’re in the third quarter and this looks like a done deal, but let’s see how this plays out.

While it will be close to the playoffs this season by the time fans get to experience the synchronicity of Microsoft and the NFL, it is just a taste of what to expect for the 2014 season, says Jurenka.

“For instance, the NFL is rolling out Surface devices to NFL teams and loading them with apps to help medical staff and trainers. We have a lot of NFL fans here, and part of being a fan means watching your favorite players, and a big part of that is player health. Providing a platform for the medical staff and trainers to have access to critical information at a moment’s notice is just one of the ways we can help take care of the players, and that’s what we’re all interested in,” Bernstrom says.

Now, through the power of Xbox One and Surface, the NFL game experience is all about you.

“We’re going to continuously innovate,” Jurenka says. “The product that we’re putting out this holiday is something we’re really proud of – it’s got great integration of fantasy, stats on demand, SmartGlass, personalization of your favorite team, and it aggregates all of that content in an elegant manner – and we think that’s a great first step. But we realize it’s just the starting line.”

This year, no matter what, you, the NFL Fan, are a winner in the battle against juggling devices, apps and information – while watching a live game.

Final score: NFL Fan = 31, Being overwhelmed = 0.

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Athima Chansanchai
Microsoft News Center Staff

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