Forget your Super Bowls, your NBA championships and even your WrestleManias. The sporting event that brings the entire globe to a standstill is the FIFA World Cup. Now that the 32-nation tournament has gotten the ball rolling in Russia, you won't have to miss a single match or memorable moment, thanks to streaming.
Here in the U.S., we have a couple of options to satisfy our soccer jones (or get our football fix, if you're more internationally minded). With the 2018 World Cup about to get underway, here's what you need to know about staying on top of every goal, kick and yellow card from your phone, tablet or set-top box.
When does the World Cup start?
The first match between host Russia and Saudi Arabia began today (June 14). It's the only match on opening day, but tomorrow, get ready for a steady stream of games, beginning with Egypt vs. Uruguay at 8 a.m. EDT. The group stage — in which the four teams that make up one of the eight World Cup groups face off against one another — runs through June 28, with at least three matches every day.
From there, the knockout stages begin on June 30, with the final in Moscow taking place Sunday (July 15) at 11 a.m. EDT.
Because this year's World Cup is taking place in Russia, expect some early kickoff times, particularly if you're on the West Coast. During the group stages, most match days feature kickoff times of 8 a.m., 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. EDT. Knockout-stage games take place at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. EDT, with the semifinal matches scheduled for 2 p.m. EDT on July 10 and July 11.
Which channels are the World Cup on?
Fox has the exclusive English-language rights to the World Cup. Coverage will appear on both the Fox broadcast network as well as the company's FS1 pay-cable channel. FoxSports.com has a schedule of which matches will air on which channel, and you can even set reminders if there's a particular game you want to see.
Spanish-speaking viewers — or just sports fans who like very enthusiastic Goooooooooool! calls from announcers — can watch the tournament on Telemundo. The Spanish-language network will televise almost every match, save for eight group-stage matches that will be farmed out to sister channel NBC Universo.
Which apps should I use?
You'll find Fox's coverage on its Fox Sports Go app, which is available on Android, iOS, Amazon and Windows. It's also available on streaming boxes, including Apple TV, Chromecast, Roku, Fire TV, Xbox and Android TV. Note that you'll need to sign in with your cable provider, so this isn't an option for cord-cutters.
Both broadcasters are taking the matches to virtual reality as well. All 64 matches will be available through the Fox Sports VR app (Android, iOS), which promises to let you watch the match from a virtual in-stadium suite alongside friends and other fans. The Telemundo Deportes VR app promises a similar experience, along with 360-degree content from the opening and closing ceremonies of the tournament.
Just as Russia and Saudi Arabia were getting things underway, Oculus announced that viewers will be able to watch Fox's coverage of select matches for free in its new Oculus Venues app. The first match kicks off June 17 at 11 a.m. EDT when Mexico takes on Germany. Three other matches will be available in Oculus Venues: Portugal-Morocco on June 20, Brazil-Costa Rica on June 22 and England-Panama on June 24. Venues is available on Oculus Go and Gear VR.
What streaming services are offering the World Cup?
Given up on cable? You can still find World Cup action on a multitude of streaming services, provided you pick the right channel. All of the services listed below offer free seven-day trials, so if you time your signup with the matches you really want to see — the semifinals and final, for example — you may be able to stream the World Cup without parting with a dime.
Here are your options.
DirecTV Now: DirecTV's streaming service includes Fox, FS1 and Telemundo in its $35-a-month basic package. To get the handful of matches appearing on NBC Universo, you'll have to upgrade to the $60-a-month tier.
FuboTV: This streaming service specializes in sports, though you'll find news and entertainment programming channels included as well. For the World Cup, FuboTV's 85-channel starter package includes Fox, FS1 and Telemundo, with NBC Universo included in some markets; it costs $45 a month. Fubo Extra, which includes 30 hours of Cloud DVR for those early morning matches, costs $50 a month.
Hulu with Live TV: You'll find Fox, FS1 and Telemundo on the $40-per-month service. You can record up to 50 hours of live TV with Hulu's Cloud DVR feature.
PlayStation Vue: PlayStation's $40 Access tier includes Fox, FS1 and Telemundo. To also get NBC Universo, you'd need to pay another $3.99 for the Español Pack.
Sling TV: If you're just interested in Fox's coverage, Sling TV's $25 Orange package is the lowest-priced option among streaming services. It features both FS1 and Fox (with the latter's broadcast channels not available in every market).
For the World Cup, Sling is promising a World Cup Ribbon that will flag which games are live, giving you one-click access. Sling also features bonus content if you subscribe to one of the service's international packages that include highlight feeds, tactical cams and other special views. Cloud DVR is a $5 add-on with Sling.
Telemundo isn't part of Sling's offerings, but you can get the NBC Universo games through Sling's $10-a-month Best of Spanish TV package. Sling says select customers subscribing to that package will get a free preview of FS1 during the first four days of the World Cup.
YouTube TV: The most straightforward package comes from YouTube TV, which includes all the relevant channels — Fox, FS1, Telemundo and NBC Universo — in its $40-a-month package.
Other Options: Cable provider Comcast is putting its best foot forward for the World Cup, updating its Xfinity X1 service with some soccer-friendly features.
While most of the features, such as DVR highlights, are geared toward viewers parked at home in front of a TV, there are a few goodies for Comcast subscribers on the go. You can stream matches from the Xfinity Stream mobile app or the Xfinity TV website. Notifications features can let you know when matches are about to begin.
If you'd prefer to see how the rest of the world is enjoying the World Cup, you could invest in a VPN service that masks your location so you can access livestreams from other countries. That method also requires you to know where to find legally available live-streams from overseas broadcasters, however.
Updated June 14 with information about Oculus Venues.