For an entire month every four years, the FIFA World Cup dominates the sporting spotlight. And for both diehard or fair-weather soccer fans cheering on their country (or another one if theirs didn’t make the cut like the US men’s team), it’s an electrifying four weeks.
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.
The World Cup starts on June 14 and runs through July 15. The games are in Russia, which is seven hours ahead of Eastern Time — meaning many of the matches will be held around midday in the U.S. So, how can you watch? We run down the options, online and vbroadcast:
- On TV, the games will be on either Fox or Fox Sports 1 – on many days, the channels divide the matches. In Spanish, you can watch on both Telemundo and NBC Universo.
- Online, you can stream the games live via FoxSports.com and TelemundoDeportes.com.
- There are also streaming services like Hulu Live, YouTube TV, Fubo or Sony’s PlayStation Vue service – all of which include some or all of the World Cup’s U.S. carriers.
- If you’re watching on a mobile device, you can use iPhone and Android apps for Fox Sports, Fox Soccer Match Pass, or Telemundo Deportes en Vivo.
- For international and other online options, you can also review the Reddit page for Soccer Streams – and there are also other sites that list video streams, such as Best Sports Streaming.
By tradition, the first match features the host country: Russia plays Saudi Arabia on Thursday, June 14, at 11 a.m. ET. The tournament then switches to a higher gear, holding three matches daily for the first 10 days. Then it ramps up to four matches daily from June 25-28 – the final days of the group phase.
The knockout phase begins on June 30, with the Round of 16. The semifinals are set for July 10 and 11 – both games are at 2 p.m. ET — with the finals scheduled for July 15, at 11 a.m. ET.
When does the World Cup start?
The first match between host Russia and Saudi Arabia takes place Thursday (June 14), with an 11 a.m. EDT kickoff. 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.
Telemundo’s games can be found on the Telemundo Deportes En Vivo app (Android, iOS) as well as on NBC Sports (Android, iOS), since Telemundo and NBC are part of the same happy Comcast family.
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.
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.
Here’s what you need to know about the World Cup 2018:
Who is hosting the World Cup?
Russia is hosting this year’s FIFA World Cup. Games will take place across the country from Moscow to Sochi. The World Cup begins on Thursday, June 14 and ends on Sunday, July 15.
When is the first World Cup game of 2018?
The first World Cup game of 2018 is between Russia and Saudi Arabia, and it begins at 11 a.m. ET/8 a.m. PT. It’s the only match being played on Day One. The matches begin in earnest on June 15 with games between Spain and Portugal, Morocco and Iran, and Egypt and Uruguay.
What is the World Cup 2018 schedule?
The schedule can be found on the FIFA World Cup website. The 64 World Cup matches are broken up into two phases: the group phase and the knockout phase.
Teams have been organized into eight groups (A through H), during which they play teams from their group. Winners in those groups move onto the knockout phase. You can see the group phase matchups here and knockout phase dates and times here.
How to watch the World Cup 2018 on TV.
If you are watching from the U.S. and haven’t cut the cord, you have a few options, depending on your language preference. For English, World Cup games will be televised on Fox Sports and FS1 (a television schedule can be found here). If you want to watch in Spanish, the NBC Universal owned Telemundo and NBC Universo will broadcast games. (A schedule can be found here.) Fox Sports GO and FoxSports.com are also streaming the games, and you can sign in via your TV provider to watch on the go.
How to watch the World Cup 2018 via a streaming device.
For those without cable or satellite television, you’ll be able to watch games through a streaming service that carries Fox, FS1 or Telemundo like Sling TV, YouTubeTV, FuboTV, DirectTV Now, etc. Though some like Sling and DirectTV Now offer short free trials, the aforementioned streaming services all require subscriptions, so you will need to shell out between $25 to $45 per month, depending on the package you get.
You’ll also need to make sure that whatever streaming service you sign up for is compatible with your cable box alternative — a Fire TV, Apple TV, Roku device, Wi-Fi-enabled Blu-Ray player, game consul, etc.
How to watch the World Cup 2018 without paying for a subscription?
There are several options if you are a cord cutter who doesn’t want to pay for a streaming service. First, you can buy a digital antenna, which should be able to pick up Fox and allow you to watch games on live TV. Second — though the games are airing early given the time difference — you can always look up local bars showing World Cup games. How much you spend on booze and bar food is up to you.
The World Cup 2018, beyond football fandom.
As previously mentioned the FIFA World Cup is also a huge business venture across industries. Despite the amount it takes to organize present a World Cup, FIFA can rake in a profit. During the 2014 Brazil games, FIFA brought in a revenue of $4.8 billion. The organization spent $2.2 billion and made $2.6 billion in profits. The overall revenue came from TV rights ($2.4 billion), sponsorships ($1.6 billion), and ticket sales ($527 million).