Microsoft inks deal with NBA to use Surface, Azure in digital push

Microsoft has reached a deal with the National Basketball Association that will see the league tap Azure and Microsoft Surface tablets for the 2020-2021 season. According to CNBC, the deal will be leveraged to “enhance the online experience for fans.” There’s no word on the terms of the deal, nor its duration.

“”I think the fact that we are announcing it in the middle of this pandemic is a testament to how important it is that we move forward with this deal,” said NBA Commissioner Adam Silver in an interview with CNBC. “Time is of the essence here.”

A league spokesperson told CNBC that the NBA could use Microsoft’s tech to add new features for fans to take advantage of on its website and apps. One example is delivering games in a viewer’s native language. Otherse include giving fans better camera angles depending on what’s happening in a game, stats about player, and letting fans chat during games.

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“The league also wants to draw on archive videos to augment what people see while watching and roll highlight clips of favorite players,” CNBC reports.

In addition to new experiences for fans, CNBC says the NBA will move “some key workloads” to Azure, replacing its on-premesis data centers for the NBA website and apps. Azure will also be tapped for things like encoding video feeds, indexing events in footage, and more.

The deal marks the second major win for Microsoft when it comes to professional sports. In 2013, Microsoft struck a deal with the NFL that saw it bring Surface tablets to the playing field, with coaches and broadcast talent using them to review footage from games and more. According to the report, it’s not clear if the NBA will be using Surface tablets in the same way.

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