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How to watch the 2018 World Cup online

By Dan Howdle
Thursday, May 10th 2018

Coverage of the 2018 FIFA World Cup will be split, as always, between the BBC and ITV. The opening game between hosts Russia and Saudi Arabia on Thursday 14 June will be live on ITV while England's first game against Tunisia will be shown on the BBC four days later. Both broadcasters will show the final, which takes place on Sunday 15 July.

All the games will be available to watch online through the BBC iPlayer and on the ITV Hub. So if you don't fancy going down the pub to watch the games, here are some alternative methods via broadband, from apps on your smartphone through to services on your PlayStation or Xbox.

Which channels are showing England games?

England start their campaign on the BBC

England's World Cup opener against Tunisia will be live on the BBC at 7pm on Monday 18 June. The Three Lions' second group game, against Panama at 1pm on Sunday 24 June, will also be broadcast by the Beeb. England round off their Group G campaign against Belgium in a 7pm kick-off on Thursday 28 June – that game will be shown by ITV.

Coverage of knock-out matches will be decided later

Only the group stage matches have been allocated to either BBC or ITV so far. Once the group stage is completed, the knock-out matches will be divided between the two broadcasters. ITV will have the first two picks of matches from the round of 16 and the first pick of the semi-finals, while the BBC will have the first two choices of quarter final games.


If England win their group they will play the runners-up from Group H (Poland, Senegal, Colombia or Japan) on Monday 2 July at 7pm. If they qualify in second place they will play their first knockout match on Tuesday 3 July at 7pm.

Watching matches on your tablet

You can use BBC iPlayer and the ITV Hub

You can watch all the World Cup games through the On Demand players supplied by the BBC and ITV through the iPlayer and ITV Hub respectively, either on their websites or via the apps from the Apple App Store or Google Play. Matches being shown by ITV will be streamed live through the ITV Hub, and matches shown live by the BBC are streamed live on the iPlayer.

And there's an official World Cup 2018 FIFA app

If you've got an iPad or Android tablet, you can stay up to date with all the World Cup action via FIFA's official World Cup app. The app is available from both the Google Play store and the Apple App Store, and features up-to-the-minute information on every game, along with news on upcoming matches, events at the stadium, and video highlights. However, you won't be able to watch full World Cup games live through the app.

Watching World Cup 2018 matches on your smartphone

BBC iPlayer and ITV Hub apps are available

To watch World Cup matches on your phone, all you need to do is download the ITV Hub and the BBC iPlayer from the App Store if you have an iPhone or from Google Play if you have an Android phone. You can watch using either a wi-fi connection or a strong 3G or 4G signal.

If you don't yet have a strong 3G or 4G connection, you may want to invest in a new SIM for your mobile before the World Cup gets underway in June.

Watching matches on your games console

It is possible to watch World Cup matches through some games consoles, but it depends on which one you're using. The BBC iPlayer is available on the Xbox One, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4. The ITV Hub app can be downloaded on Xbox One, Xbox One S and Nvidia Shield.

Watching matches on your laptop

Watching on your laptop, home computer or Mac is as simple as heading over to either the BBC or ITV website and clicking on 'iPlayer' or 'ITV Hub' respectively. As with the apps, the desktop versions of these on demand services will allow you to watch the games live as long as you have a TV licence.


Your home broadband connection will make a big difference to how these on demand players perform on your home computer. If your broadband speed is too slow, you may experience significant buffering (video loading) or drops in signal, and you'll be unable to watch the games in high definition.

You may need fibre optic broadband to watch in HD

If you think your home broadband speed may be too slow to fully appreciate the World Cup online (a minimum download speed of 3Mbps is best for streaming), you can use our broadband comparison page to find yourself a faster connection. If you want to watch the World Cup in HD we recommend fibre optic broadband.

Watching the World Cup with your TV package

Watching matches on YouView

You can watch the games live at home on your subscription TV service. If you're with TalkTalk or BT TV you can watch all the World Cup football games from the comfort of your living room. The YouView box lets you pause and rewind TV programmes, so if you miss the kick-off, or want to rewind and see that goal just one more time, the YouView box will let you do it.

Sky and Virgin provide full access to matches

Both Sky and Virgin host premium subscription TV services, and you can watch the live World Cup games on BBC and ITV through both TV providers. They also offer the ability to pause, rewind, and even record live TV content, so you can keep matches saved on your hard-drive to watch again and again.

Watching the World Cup in HD

BBC One, BBC Two and ITV all have HD channels that are available on Freeview as well as on the Sky, Virgin Media, BT and TalkTalk TV platforms.

Programmes broadcast in HD on the BBC are also usually available to watch in HD on the iPlayer, although some shows are subject to rights restrictions and it can sometimes take a while for live broadcasts to become available on the catch-up service.

The BBC says HD programmes can be streamed via the browser version of iPlayer and via games consoles including the PS3, PS4, Xbox One and Xbox 360, Chromecasts, compatible smart TVs and Virgin, Sky and YouView set top boxes.

Unfortunately, the ITV Hub has no such provision for streaming HD content.

Watching the World Cup in 4K

All of the World Cup matches that will be shown on BBC One will also be broadcast in Ultra HD and High Dynamic Range (HDR) on the iPlayer.

It's happening as part of a trial that will be available to a limited number of fans as the BBC says "tens of thousands" will be able to access each Ultra HD stream on a first-come, first-served basis.

Head to the iPlayer home screen when programme coverage of a BBC One match begins, the stream will be available until the trial is full.

In order to watch in 4K, of course, you'll need a 4K-ready TV (a full list of compatible devices is available on the BBC iPlayer help page) and a broadband connection of at least 20Mbps to watch in 2560 pixel UHD and 40Mbps to watch in full 3840 pixel UHD.

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