How the world watches the World Cup on TV, online
Television and online rights for sporting events are typically sold by territory. For the World Cup, that means U.S. viewers are limited to what’s available through U.S. television networks ABC, ESPN and Univision.
ABC and ESPN, both owned by The Walt Disney Co., are splitting the English-language coverage on television. All games are available through ESPN’s website and mobile app, WatchESPN. Viewers will need a username and password with a participating pay-TV provider, such as Comcast or Dish. DirecTV is notably off the list.
Univision is doing the Spanish-language broadcasts and online streaming in the U.S. Starting with the quarterfinals, viewers will need a pay-TV password as well.
Outside the U.S., games are available on a variety of over-the-air and cable channels, with streaming available for free or for a fee. Legal viewing is restricted to people in those countries. Services are typically able to block outsiders based on the computer’s numeric Internet Protocol address.
Here’s a look at what viewers outside the U.S. are getting:
ENGLAND — All games are available over the air for free because the World Cup has been designated a “crown jewel of sport,” part of a regulation that prohibits certain events from being restricted to pay TV.
ITALY — All 64 matches are available on Italy’s Sky satellite service. State broadcaster Rai is showing 25 games, including all of Italy’s matches plus other big games, on its free digital cable service.
JAPAN — All games are available for free on national broadcaster NHK as well as other channels.
MEXICO: All national team games and one or two live games a day are carried over the air by Televisa and Television Azteca. Televisa also offers its 30 live matches online. Complete coverage is carried only on the Sky satellite service.
NIGERIA — Selected games are available on Nigerian national broadcaster NTA and local private stations. Many viewers are turning to DStv, a South African satellite TV network, for complete coverage. The DStv offices in Lagos have been staying open seven days a week as Nigerians flock to sign up. But regular electricity outages mean people will need to have private generators or battery-powered radios on standby.
RUSSIA — All games are broadcast live with Russian commentary on the main state television channel, Rossiya, though this means that many of the games are shown in the middle of the night Moscow time. The games are then re-broadcast during the day. Rossiya also posts videos of goals or other highlights from previous games on its website.
SOUTH AFRICA — The national South African Broadcasting Corporation will show all 64 games live over three channels, meaning it’s available to everyone with a $23 annual TV license. Nineteen SABC radio stations will offer commentary covering all of South Africa’s 11 official languages.
SPAIN — Games involving La Furia Roja, the Spanish national team, are free. All of the other games are available on a premium cable channel, or online for $57.
THAILAND — The country’s military junta, in an effort to “return happiness to the people” negotiated a deal with the tournament’s broadcaster, RS International Broadcasting, to allow all the games to be shown for free on an RS channel and two military-run channels. RS had planned to show just 22 of the 64 matches for free. Thailand’s national team is not playing in the tournament.