We’re hours away from the start of the quadrennial tournament that some erroneously refer to as the biggest show on Earth. But don’t let that bother you – the start of the World Cup is nearly here!
England’s plane has touched down, the TV studios are ready and the amount of podcasts, tweets and articles trailing the tournament has reached fever pitch.
So how can you watch and follow the tournament in the UK and US? Let us reveal all! If you’re after the best World Cup twitter accounts, check out this Twitter list of the best.
When is the World Cup 2018?
The opening ceremony takes place at 3.30pm BST on the afternoon of 14 June at Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, followed by the opening match between hosts Russia and Saudi Arabia at 4pm BST.
That’s the only game on Thursday but after that it’s full steam ahead with three games per day at 1pm, 4pm and 7pm BST until Sunday 24 June.
Then between 25-28 June there are four games per day, two at 3pm and two at 7pm. These are the final group games which take place at the same time.
Then it’s onto the round of 16 (32 teams start the tournament) with two games per day between Sat 30 and Tue 3. These take place at 3pm and 7pm BST.
The quarter-finals are on Friday and Saturday 6-7 July at 3pm and 7pm BST, with the semi-finals at 7pm on the 10 and 11 July. The final takes place at 4pm BST on 15 July.
There’s also a third-place playoff on the 14th July, but nobody ever cares about that.
Watching the World Cup on TV in the UK
Watching the World Cup in the UK is mega easy. That’s because it’s one of the “crown jewels” of sport – events that have to be available on free-to-air TV under UK law.
The BBC and ITV will be sharing the coverage as usual, with all the games live on BBC 1, ITV or ITV 4. Evening highlights will also be available around 10.30pm. This programme will usually be on the channel that hasn’t shown a game that evening (the same channel may have shown games earlier in the day).
The BBC is covering England’s first two games for the first time ever, while ITV is taking England’s final group game against Belgium. As a result, ITV will have first and second pick of the round of 16 and first pick of the semi-finals. Both ITV and the BBC will show the final. Lord knows why ITV bothers doing this, but it does.
The BBC’s punditry team features Frank Lampard, Rio Ferdinand, Phil Neville and Alex Scott while ITV has a major coup with Sky man Gary Neville’s analysis.
Watching the World Cup online and on your phone
Expect packages of highlights to be available from both broadcasters’ websites, too, and expect goals and short highlights to be available on their respective Twitter and other social accounts (for the games they have the rights to).
This World Cup will be more defined by readily-available short-form video than ever before. There’s also FIFA’s own Twitter account and YouTube channel as well. The BBC says it will also post daily World Cup stories on Snapchat and Instagram.
If you’re on your phone, you can watch the games using the iPlayer and ITV Hub apps. The BBC Sport app will also be an invaluable resource for highlights.
Archive games are also available via FIFA’s YouTube channel where you can watch ‘as live’. England fans might want to look away now.
Watching the World Cup in 4K HDR
After several experiments with 4K HDR streaming via BBC iPlayer, the BBC has announced that all the games it has rights to will be available in 4K on the iPlayer using the HLG version of HDR.
This service is very much experimental and will only be available to a set number of users on a first-come, first-served basis – somewhere in the region of “tens of thousands” according to the BBC. All footage will be shown at 50 frames per second.
The stream will be available via the iPlayer app on certain 4K HDR compatible TVs. The BBC has provided a list of these TVs. If you’re depending on getting access, you’ll need to ensure your set is on there.
The Ultra HD stream will be available from the BBC iPlayer home screen as soon as programme coverage begins – it will be displayed until the trial is full for that match. Note that you won’t be able to rewind or restart the stream!
The first matches to be available in Ultra HD will be on Friday 15 June – 1pm: Egypt v Uruguay and 7pm: Portugal v Spain.
Note that whether you can get complete unadulterated 4K depends on your internet connection. For the full 3840 pixel Ultra HD, you’ll need at least a 40Mbps connection. That means if your connection is below that, you’ll get a downgraded version – 2560 pixel Ultra HD.
You will probably need a 20Mbps and above connection to get the trial. It may be possible with a slightly slower connection, but we just don’t know.
Listening to the World Cup 2018 on radio
BBC Radio 5 Live will have Mark Chapman and Kelly Cates covering the tournament and there will be live commentary of every single game on either 5 Live or sister station Sports Extra available online, via DAB digital radio or via the BBC iPlayer Radio app.
Robbie Savage will also be presenting a weekday World Cup Breakfast Show which we’re sure will be music to the ears of Nicky Campbell devotees.
Experiencing the World Cup in VR
Yes, the BBC Has launched a VR app (BBC Sport VR – FIFA World Cup Russia 2018) that will enable you to watch each match as though you’re sitting in the stands. The BBC’s work here is experimental, but it’s interesting regardless.
The app is or will be available for iOS, Android, Gear VR, Oculus Go and PlayStation VR.
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