The FIFA World Cup is the biggest event for the most popular sport in the entire world. According to FIFA and Kantar Media, almost half of all people who are alive tuned in at home to watch at least a minute of one match of 2014’s World Cup in Brazil. Over one billion people watched the final game.
The 2018 World Cup will take place in Russia, and many of the matches will be easy to watch in the United States (if you live on the east coast, at least). Here’s our guide to catching as many of the beautiful games as possible.
What Is It, Anyway?
The World Cup is a soccer tournament where national teams compete for the world title. Each country that qualifies to participate is organized into different groups, which ascend through brackets by winning matches. This starts on June 14 and goes for a month, with the final on Sunday, July 15. This year, the United States failed to qualify, as did Italy, the Netherlands, and Chile.
But don’t worry, there will still be plenty of drama. For example, the tiny nation of Iceland is making its World Cup debut—and against none other than the team led by superstar Lionel Messi, playing for his final chance to bring the Copa del Mundo back home to Argentina. Suspense!
When Does the World Cup Start?
The first match is between Russia and Saudi Arabia on Thursday, June 14 and takes place in Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium. Kickoff is at 11 am EST (8 am PST).
Russia is an enormous country, and matches will take place in far-flung stadiums in Sochi, St. Petersburg, and Ekaterinburg, among others. If you want to watch a particular team, look up their group schedule. Find the match schedule, which channels are streaming which match, and input calendar reminders here, or find scores on FIFA’s website.
During the group stage, matches will be taking place between 6 am EST (3 am PST) and 3 pm EST (noon PST). Some of the early match-ups that you might want to make room for on your schedule include:
- Iceland’s debut against Argentina on Saturday, June 16 at 9 am EST (6 am EST)
- Germany, the returning champs, facing off against Mexico on Sunday, June 17 at 11 am EST (8 am PST)
- England’s fearless and unbelievably young striker Marcus Rashford in the first game against Tunisia on Monday, June 18 at 2 pm EST (11 am EST).
If you live on the west coast, you’d better have a DVR. Or you may have to resign yourself to watching a few game highlights after the fact, since only deranged people will drag themselves out of bed to watch France vs Australia at 3 am PST.
What Streaming Service Do I Use?
For English speakers in the United States, Fox Sports has exclusive broadcasting rights and will be showing every game. If your soccer-viewing would feel incomplete without an announcer yelling “GOOOOOOOL!”, Telemundo and NBC Universo have your back.
First, you need a streaming service that shows these channels. DirecTV Now might be the easiest and cheapest one. The “Live a Little” bundle includes both FS1 and Telemundo, and right now the company is offering a free 7-day trial period, or $25 off for the first three months. (It will go up to $35 after that). DirecTV Now also offers an app for iOS and Android devices, and you can stream the games online at DirecTVNow.com.
If you’re not interested in the Spanish-language games, SlingTV carries Fox Sports and FS1 in the Sling Blue package. Sling is also currently offering a free 7-day trial period. If you think you might want to stick with a streaming service after the World Cup, Sling Blue offers 45+ channels and is cheaper than DirecTV at $25 per month. Sling also makes apps for iOS and Android devices.
You might also want to consider FuboTV. Its base package offers 85 channels for $45 month and includes FS1 and Universo. There are iOS and Android apps too. More services to consider: YouTubeTV carries Fox Sports, FS1, and Universo for $40 per month; Hulu Live TV, which carries the Fox channels for $40 per month; and Playstation Vue, which carries FS1 for $40 per month.
If you really don’t want to pay anyone any money, you can wait until July to use one of the 7-day free trials to stream the final game for free.
What Device Do I Use?
After you subscribe to one of these services, log in to the Fox Sports app on your streaming device. We love the Roku Ultra, but Amazon’s Fire TV and Apple TV also support these services. If you don’t immediately see the game you were looking for, don’t panic. Check the schedule, since some games will be streaming on a different Fox channel. All of the games should be available on FoxSports.com and the Fox Sports GO app.
If you decide to stream from your phone, it will be easier to watch on your television with a $35 Google Chromecast. True cheapskates—and I salute you—will avoid paying for any service whatsoever with a digital antenna, like this one, which will let you watch Fox games over the air.
You also don’t have to watch all the games to enjoy the experience of the World Cup. There will be endless articles, recaps, and analysis. Our personal recommendation for podcasts is Al Jazeera’s Game of Our Lives, which examines soccer through the various lenses of politics, economics, and cinema, with guests like Werner Herzog.
Finally, I have one last suggestion: Check to see if your local bars, restaurants, or movie theaters are planning on playing games during business hours. If there’s anything more fun than watching soccer, it’s watching soccer with fifty of your new best friends, while drinking beer at 11 am. Just a thought.