With the National Football League (NFL)’s first season under COVID starting this weekend, Microsoft is on hand to help out: The software giant is expanding its NFL partnership to enable new experiences in these tying times.
“Microsoft technology has been an integral part of NFL operations for several years,” NFL CIO Michelle McKenna says. “And with the new challenges ahead of us this season, Microsoft will be instrumental in helping us innovate the best possible experiences for our players, coaches, officials, and fans, through activation like the Fan Mosaic and the Bud Light Showtime cam.”
With fans unable to attend games—similar to what we’ve seen with the NBA, MLB, NHL, and other professional sports this year—Microsoft is providing a feed of virtual fans called Fan Mosaic that will be displayed in stadiums on LED screens, and on broadcasts to TV viewers. As with the NBA, the home team in each game can invite fans to a virtual VIP experience in which they watch the game together via a Microsoft Teams meeting, and each fan’s video feed will be mixed into the Fan Mosaic display.
Microsoft is also providing a Bud Light Showtime cam in stadiums for key games. After a player scores a touchdown they will see fans from the Fan Mosaic appear on LED screens installed at each end zone, allowing them to connect and celebrate the moment virtually.
Behind the scenes, NFL Football Operations will reduce the number of people it has onsite at each game and it will use Microsoft Teams to virtually manage operations for all of the games throughout the season. And the league will continue to use Surface PCs for game preparation, in-game sideline viewing experiences for players and coaches, and more.
“In a season of countless challenges, we are honored to deploy Microsoft’s powerful combination of hardware and software to help the NFL bring football to people everywhere,” Microsoft corproate vice president Jeff Teper says. “With new fan and player experiences and operations solutions that keep everyone safe, we have developed a deep and lasting partnership with the NFL, and we look forward to future collaboration in the days to come.”