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Microsoft signs multiyear deal with the NBA for Azure and Surface

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A new tech sports partnership is born, but the details are vague

Microsoft has signed a multiyear deal with National Basketball Association (NBA) to become the official AI, cloud, and laptop provider for the league. The deal will see the NBA using Microsoft’s Azure platform to broadcast live and on-demand basketball games, with personalized content.

The NBA will also use Microsoft’s Surface products, although the company isn’t revealing in detail how these will be used. Microsoft struck a similar deal with the National Football League (NFL) to supply Surface tablets back in 2013, but this NBA deal only mentions “Official Cloud and Laptop Partner.” Microsoft also extended its NFL deal recently so that all 32 teams will use Microsoft Teams for communications.

Other details about the deal are fairly vague. Microsoft says it will also assist the NBA with its historical video archive and data sources as part of this new deal to surface them in new ways using machine learning and data analytics. “This will create a more personalized fan experience that tailors the content to the preferences of the fan, rewards participation, and provides more insights and analysis than ever,” explains Microsoft.

The deal comes in the middle of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, at a time when the NBA is on pause. Both companies will start working together on platform tech for the 2020–21 NBA season, and Microsoft will become “an associate partner of future marquee events, including NBA All-Star, MGM Resorts NBA Summer League and WNBA All-Star.”