Thursday sees the world’s biggest football tournament kick off in Moscow, Russia. Thirty-two teams will compete for the ultimate prize in world football in what’s sure to be a treat for footie fans all over the globe.
So how do you get a piece of the action? Thankfully, all the games are being shown completely free, so you won’t need a pricey TV subscription in order to watch. You can also stream the games in 4K, and keep up on all the action thanks to Google’s natty new features.
We’ve also rounded up the best kit to help you enjoy the football, whether you’re watching at home or on the move.
How do I watch the World Cup?
In the UK, the rights are split between the BBC and ITV, so you can watch every game live without paying a penny (well, apart from the TV licence, of course). ITV is showing the opening ceremony (from 2:30pm on Thursday 14th June) and opening game between hosts Russia and Saudi Arabia (kick off at 4pm).
As ever, both the Beeb and ITV will show the final live.
Can I watch it on my phone?
You can, using the BBC iPlayer or ITV Hub smartphone apps, or through a web browser at the iPlayer or ITV Hub websites.
Can I watch it in 4K?
Indeed. The BBC has announced it will stream all of its 33 matches in 4K HDR – that’s four times as many pixels as high definition, and with high dynamic range technology adding depth to the picture, making it look more lifelike. You can stream the matches through iPlayer, though the BBC is only letting a certain number of people stream in the resolution so as not to cause any bandwidth issues. It will be on a first-come, first-served basis.
You’ll need a speedy internet connection and a compatible TV/computer monitor to take advantage.
What about virtual reality?
The BBC has launched a dedicated VR app for the matches too, which aims to put the user right in the football stadium – turn your head, and the on-screen view reacts accordingly. The app will work on iOS and Android devices using a Google Cardboard-style viewer, as well as dedicated headsets like the Oculus Rift and Samsung Gear VR.
The app is called BBC Sport VR – FIFA World Cup Russia 2018.
How do I stay up-to-date online?
Google has the answer; the search giant is adding a host of tournament statistics, like trending players, group progress, line-ups and more to its search results. It has a new layout too. And within 30 minutes of the end of the match, select broadcasters will provide video highlights of major match moments within the search results.
You can also tap to watch the match live, or to receive score updates on your phone. Plus a dedicated timeline will include in-game moments, live images, stats, tweets and more. Just try not to make it too obvious where your attention lies if you’re at a wedding/baptism/funeral.
Android users can pin real-time scores on your phone’s home screen from Search on mobile web browsers or from the Android Google app. Just drag your match of choice onto your homepage. Simple.
Another new feature is the winning probabilities for each game. So for England’s first game, it has a 69 per cent probability of beating Tunisia. We’ll take those odds.
The Google News app on Android also has a dedicated World Cup Tracker. This includes a special spotlight feature to visualise scores, highlights, results and schedules all in one place.
Video highlights will be posted to YouTube, and Google Trends gives an insight into what people are searching for. Heading out? Look out for the ‘good for watching sports’ highlight on business listings in Google Search and Google Maps, so you can see where’s good to watch the match.
The TV: Philips 50PUS6272
£460, philips.co.uk This 50-inch monster can be had for under £500, which is an absolute steal. The picture quality is second to none – not to mention 4K – and the Ambilight feature of coloured lights is a neat extra.
The speaker: Sky Soundbox
From £250, sky.com It might be pricey for non-Sky customers (£800, versus £250 if you already pay for Sky), but the Soundbox gives great sound. It’s much more compact than a surround sound system, and even has a dedicated football mode to really hear those shouts of “GOOOOAAAAAALLLL!”
The smartphone: Samsung Galaxy S9+
£869, samsung.com The 6.2-inch screen on this thing is an absolute beauty: it cascades over the sides of the device, making it seem like it goes on forever. The result? A more immersive viewing experience. It also has a 3.5mm headphone port for watching on the sly.
The tablet: Apple iPad Pro
From £769, apple.com/uk Admittedly this is aimed at pointy glasses-wearing graphic designers, but the 12.9-inch screen is also perfect for watching the footie. Just careful you don’t spill your drink on it.
The charger: Juice Power Station
£29.99, juice.co.uk Match in the dying moments, and your battery’s about to go? Don’t panic. This portable charger can juice up two phones at once, and will charge up most flagship phones a whopping six times before giving up the ghost.