Footy fever: where to watch

Friday, 1 June, 2018

With our multi-faceted, multi-channel viewing world we live in there are now many ways and means to watch June’s forthcoming World Cup.

Coverage of the 2018 FIFA World Cup will be split, as is tradition between the BBC and ITV and all matches are available on Freeview. But matches will also be available across the Internet, smartphones, tablets and games consoles.

So, what’s the best for you? Here we look at just what is available out there for us footy-mad fans. And what to avoid if you hate the game.

Watching matches through a PC, Mac or laptop

Watching games with a PC, Mac or laptop is straightforward. Both BBC iPlayer and ITV Hub are available. Remember as desktop versions of these on demand services you will need to own a TV licence.

Obviously, your broadband connection will make a huge difference to the quality of viewing. Test your broadband speed – if it’s too slow you may experience buffering or drops in signal and you may not be able to watch in HD unless you have fibre optic broadband

A minimum speed of 3Mbps is recommended. You can use our broadband comparison page to find a faster connection.

Watching with an iPad or Tablet

You can stay up-to-date with the World Cup via FIFA’s official World Cup app. The app is available at both Google Play Store and Apple Store. It features up-the-minute information on all games and events at the stadiums, as well as video highlights.

Watching on your smartphone

To watch games on your phone you will need to download the BBC iPlayer or ITV Hub apps from Google Play Store or Apple Store. To watch either you will need a WiFi connection or a strong 3G or 4G signal.

If you currently don’t have a strong 3G or 4G signal, then perhaps think about investing in a new SIM for you mobile. Check out our SIM comparison page

Watching with your TV package

Both TalkTalk TV and BT TV offer all the matches on your subscription package. The YouView box will allow you to pause, rewind or record matches.

Sky TV and Virgin also offer full viewing through their premium subscription packages. They also offer pause, rewind or recording of matches.

HD and 4K

Despite the fact that the BBC has been testing its ultra HD streaming recently, it’s highly unlikely that matches from this year’s World Cup will be broadcast in 4K. but if they do then it is also highly likely that it will be shown on the BBC iPlayer.

And, despite the fact that both Sky Sports and BT Sport have the capability to show 4K neither have struck any deal in the UK, so far. In contrast, Sky Deutschland did strike a deal with the German state broadcasters.

Meanwhile, BBC One, BBC Two and ITV all have HD channels available on Freeview although there may be some restrictions and sometimes it can take a while for live broadcasts to become available on a catch-up service. Currently, ITV Hub does not have HD content streaming.

The BBC recently announced that HD programmes can be streamed via their browser version of iPlayer and through games consoles, compatible smart TVs, Chromecasts and YouView set-top boxes.

Whatever your choice of viewing the traditions of getting the beers in, wearing silly hats, eating pizza and cheering on your team, whoever they are will sure to be upheld.

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Tim Bamford author picture


Tim is a veteran freelance journalist writing extensively on internet news and cybersecurity.