After a year of spectator restrictions thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, football fans the world over are excited to see live matches on their screens and in stadiums.
Unlike the Premier League, with its confusing table of TV rights shared between BT, Sky and Amazon, Euro 2020 fixtures will be available to watch on terrestrial TV channels for free.
According to our recent research, nearly 15 million football fans have had goals spoiled because of a lag in their broadcast, either receiving notifications on their phone or hearing loud reactions from neighbours a split second before seeing the goal on their TV.
With 54% of those surveyed said they’d experienced this, it’s worth making efforts to ensure none of the action is spoiled this summer. Check out our top tips:
Five million people have had a game ruined when a notification on their phone alerted them to a goal just before they saw it happen on screen. So make sure you put your phone on silent or switch it off altogether so that there are no distractions.
Radio broadcasts are slightly faster than digital TV broadcasts as digital devices have to decode large packets of data before it reaches your TV or device. If you’re watching the match, be sure to switch off the radio in the other room to avoid any spoilers as almost three million fans reported hearing a goal on the radio ahead of the broadcast they were watching.
The weather may be glorious right now, but if your neighbours are watching on better broadband or on traditional terrestrial TV or radio, they might see the goal a second or two before you do. Four million football fans heard their neighbours shouting about a game they were watching. If you live near a pub, this is doubly important, as a similar number (4.2 million) heard excited patrons shouting about a goal before they’d seen it
So unless you live in the middle of nowhere, it might be a good idea to close your windows while the match is on.
Our research found that more than four in 10 football fans (44%) are planning to watch this summer’s football matches on a smart TV. And almost half of smart TV viewers (47%) have suffered a goal being spoiled, compared to only one in ten (12%) who listen on analogue radio.
|Broadcast type||Fans who have had a goal spoiled|
|Streaming on a smart TV||47%|
|Terrestrial broadcast on a non-smart TV||28%|
|Streaming on a computer||24%|
|Streaming on a mobile phone/tablet over WiFi||20%|
|Streaming on a mobile phone/tablet over mobile signal||18%|
|Reading web-based text service (eg BBC Sport live service)||15%|
|Listening on digital radio||17%|
|Receiving goal alerts on phone or computer||16%|
|Listening on analogue radio||12%|
Old-fashioned analogue radio and TV broadcasts have almost no delay delivering live action. However, analogue TV was officially switched off in 2012. So if you’ve got your heart set on not being a single second behind the action, analogue radio is the best option for you.
Digital TV is the next best option, being a hair ahead of satellite TV broadcasts, which are delayed further by the time it takes for the signal to travel up to a device in orbit.
|Rank||Broadcast type||Average delay (seconds)|
|1||Analogue Radio||Near instantaneous|
|2||Digital Radio||Between one and two seconds|
|3||Satellite television||Between 0.9 seconds and 2.2 seconds|
|4||Digital terrestrial TV||More than one second|
|5||Cable television||About five seconds|
|6||Streaming||Between ten and 45 seconds|
|No longer available||Analogue terrestrial TV||Near instantaneous|
|No longer available||Teletext||Near instantaneous|
As so many households in the UK do, if you watch TV via the internet, make sure you have a solid broadband connection so that you don’t experience any additional delays. You can do this by comparing the best broadband in your area.
If you don’t have the best broadband, you’ll definitely want to dial down your streaming quality. While some of the Euro 2020 action will be available to watch in stunning 4K resolution, if your connection isn’t comfortably above 50Mbps, you’ll likely experience lag and buffering issues.
We have plenty more information if you need more tips on how to reduce the lag when watching live online sport in 4K and how to improve picture quality when streaming TV shows and films.
Catherine Hiley, streaming expert at Uswitch.com, said: “There’s nothing worse than having a gripping football match spoiled by hearing people celebrating a goal before you see it on the big screen.
“If you want to enjoy this summer’s football without any chance of having a goal spoiled, your best option is analogue radio, where the feed is almost instantaneous.
“If all else fails, watch the football on whatever device you have available, but make sure you turn off all other gadgets and keep the windows shut to keep out the cheers from those around you.”
Anything can happen with live sports and there have been many infamous glitches throughout football history, ranging from transmission errors to confusion on the ground. We've highlighted some football moments that fans still can't stop talking about:
Who could forget the "human error" that caused millions of fans to miss Steven Gerrard's fourth-minute goal in the 2010 World Cup England v United States match? Instead of watching the legendary goal, HD coverage viewers were left furious as they instead watched an ad for Hyundai cars due to a "transmission error".
It isn't always transmissions that are to blame for missing action in live games! In 2010, former professional football, Chris Kamara (known for his on-air gaffes) caused hilarity on Soccer Saturday as he failed to realise that player Anthony Vanden Borre had been sent off due to a red card while commentating live on air.
During the 2009 Merseyside derby, fans were left reeling after cameras missed the only goal. Dan Gosling's 118th-minute winning goal took Everton into the fifth round of the FA Cup but millions of fans were left in the dark as ITV instead cut to a scheduled ad break. While many managed to catch the goal as some channels returned back to the match just in time for Gosling's strike, many fans first learned of the goal because of the Everton team celebrations.
New technology doesn't necessarily mean a better viewing experience! When the pandemic stopped fans attending matches last year, Inverness Caledonian Thistle FC announced they'd be introducing an AI camera operator. Unfortunately, the AI camera operator confused a linesman's bald head for the football instead, resulting in missed action for fans while the camera comically followed the linesman for much of the match.
While it is impossible to predict and prevent every live football glitch, you can reduce lag with a great broadband connection. Compare TV and broadband deals to ensure your ready for the next big match.