The 2018 FIFA World Cup kicks off today in Russia, with the host nation taking on Saudi Arabia to launch a month of the world’s top teams (sorry Italy) playing the world’s most popular sport in the world’s most-watched sporting event, with and estimated 3.4 billion expected to tune in worldwide. Coverage will be more widespread than ever thanks to live-streams and apps, and platforms from Fox and Telemundo’s exclusive broadcasts in the U.S. to Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and more everywhere.
Here’s an exhaustive rundown of how to catch all the action:
Fox Sports, in the first year of its exclusive U.S. English-language rights deal, will air 38 games live on the Fox network — more games on broadcast than during the previous four World Cups combined, and the most ever for an English-language network. In all, it will air more than 350 hours of programming. Fox Sports 1 will air an additional 26 matches, and all 64 games will be live-streamed via Fox Sports Go and Fox Soccer Match Pass.
Fox Sports’ studio is a two-story complex based in Russia’s Red Square featuring two sets, a main anchor desk and an interview area for pregame, postgame and late-night shows. Programs in the mix include World Cup Live, hosted by Kate Abdo; World Cup Today, with Rob Stone; and World Cup Tonight, with host Fernando Fiore.
Foxsports.com (for authenticated users) and the Fox Sports App will feature via the FIFA World Cup Hub live streams and full replays of all 64 matches and includes five bonus feeds (including a “tactical view,” from high above the goal, to see all 22 players) totaling seven extra hours of coverage per match, commentary, rosters, stats and highlights. Team Channels will include three live video feeds (match simulcast, player and coach/bench) as well as real-time, team-vs.-team stats concurrent with action from various angles of the field, and Match 360 will offer behind-the-scenes looks two hours before each kickoff chronicling everything from team bus arrivals to pregame warm-ups.
Also of note: the Highlight Machine, via wich users can create their own highlight reel by year, team, player, matches or play type, with the ability to share on social media platforms. Additionally, Fox has partnered with tech company LiveLike for a VR experience via the Fox Sports VR app, where fans can stream all 64 games from multiple angles while sitting in virtual luxury suite.
Check out the full Fox TV schedule of games here.
Also in its first year of exclusive U.S. rights, NBCUniversal-owned Telemundo‘s Spanish-language coverage including more than 500 hours on TV via Telemundo and Universo and 1,000-plus hours across digital, including live-streaming all 64 games via apps Telemundo Deportes En Vivo and NBC Sports, the Telemundo stations’ apps, and across mobile, tablet and most connected TV devices (Apple TV, Roku, Amazon Fire, Chromecast, Xbox, Sony Playstation 4, Samsung Smart TV’s). The live stream will feature an exclusive view to the games through six extra camera angles. Live stats, press conferences and player interviews will also be available.
In addition, the new Telemundo Deportes VR App will feature all 64 games in a virtual VIP suite through a super-wide-angle feed, along with 360-degree content featuring dressing rooms, team bus arrivals, and the opening and closing ceremonies.
Telemundo’s Un Nuevo Día begins 32 days of special programming, “Somos fans como tu” (We are fans like you), on Thursday at 6 AM ET live from Moscow.
Check out the full Telemundo-Universo TV schedule of games here.
Deadline’s rundown of overseas broadcasters’ plans from the BBC and ITV in the UK to ARD and ZDF in Germany, Mediaset Espana in Spain and Televisa, TV Azteca and Sky in Mexico. Check it out here.
The worldwide leader no longer has U.S. rights, but it’s still going all-in. Its English-language coverage will include a special one-hour SportsCenter (mostly on ESPN2) at 5 PM ET on every match day of the tournament. ESPN FC, the U.S.’s global soccer program available on ESPN+, the ESPN App and ESPN.com, will also air daily. ESPN Deportes will offer coverage via SportsCenter, Fútbol Picante, Jorge Ramos y su Banda, Raza Deportiva, Los Capitanes, Cronómetro and more via its set in Moscow. Among the cool World Cup treats: ESPN Fantasy is rolling out an ESPN FC Match Predictor, a game that gives fans the chance to pick the winners for each round and compete for prizes.
In addition to Fox’s and Telemundo’s handles, FIFA’s official feed is @FIFAWorldCup, offering access to match coverage, behind-the-scenes video and photos and access to players in seven languages (i.e., @fifaworldcup_es, @fifaworldcup_de, @fifaworldcup_fr). Players also are active on the platform, like Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo (@Cristiano), Brazil’s Neymar (@neymarjr) and Colombia’s James Rodríguez (@jamesdrodriguez). Game-specific hashtags will also make things easy to and follow (see chart at right).
The video platform’s YouTube TV will offer all games live in U.S. markets in English and Spanish through Fox, Telemundo and NBC Universo, and the YouTube TV cloud DVR feature is available to record matches. Globally, there will be video highlights from official FIFA broadcasters in more than 80 countries including the BBC in the UK, ARD Sportschau in Germany, NHK in Japan, Kwese in Nigeria and across Africa, Televisa in Mexico, and Latina Televisión in Peru.
The official FIFA channel will share content from around the tournament and keep users up-to-date with the latest news.
The platform will make it easy for fans to interact using Instagram Stories, with features including Polls (for pre-match predictions), easy access to business profiles to purchase team products, an Emoji Slider and GIFs. To interact directly during games, there is Go LIVE Live video and Instagram Direct. Suggestions to follow during the tournament: @fifaworldcup, @worldsoccertalk, @whereisfootball, @foxsoccer. Key tags: #WorldCup, #Russia2018, #FIFA18.
No live matches, but the world’s biggest social media site is utilizing its Facebook Messenger chat service, adding World Cup filters.
The service is offering a free 7-day trial of Hulu with Live TV via Fox, FS1 and Telemundo, with content including full event replays, recaps and highlights available at the World Cup hub (Fox Sports’ Phenoms docuseries will be made available to all subscribers). Viewers can search for their favorite team and add them to “My Stuff” to ensure those games are recorded. For the semifinals and final, Hulu will offer a multi-stream experience (five live bonus feeds) for Hulu with Live TV subs.
Yes, you can ask Siri about World Cup scores, schedules, standings and team rosters. Brazil, Russia, Denmark, Finland, Malaysia, Turkey, Thailand, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Israel have been to the list of 26 countries that already support Siri sports. Apple News will also feature up-to-date scores and schedules, a knockout bracket, and profiles from Eight by Eight magazine.
The App Store will be featuring soccer-related apps from Fox Now and BBC Sport to games including FIFA Mobile and PES 2018. Via the Apple TV App, along with the broadcast options teams and matches can be followed on Up Next, and subscribers will have the ability to receive notifications on their Apple devices when their team is playing or a game is close.
Another cool feature: Apple Music will offer playlists for each of the 32 countries, good for pregame soundtracking to amp you up for kickoff, and postgame to celebrate (or wallow).
A first in World Cup history, the satellite provider is offering all 64 games live on Fox and FS1 in 4K High Dynamic Range — with 10-bit color depth and at 60 frames per second — for its 4K subs. Those feeds are available on channels 105 and 106. From June 14-17, DirecTV is offering a free preview of FS1 (and its six games in that stretch) regardless of a user’s current package, with access including a red button on the remote leading to interactive features like Experience and Knockout Rounds.
Subscribers in most U.S. markets can access live streams of every match on Fox and FS1 via the DirecTV App, and all DirecTV and DirecTV Now subscribers can authenticate at FoxSports.com and Fox Sports App for access to matches, VOD replays, bonus feeds and highlights.
Sling TV is offering the tournament for the first time. Subscribers to “Sling Blue” ($25 per month), can watch live matches on Fox Sports 1, plus live matches available on Fox in select markets and bonus content. (In non-Fox markets, you can watch via an OTA antenna.) A ribbon on “My TV” will allow easy access to content, including Fox’s suite of World Cup extras. Subs can also record via Cloud DVR ($5 per month), The service also offers access via its “Best of Spanish TV” ($10 per month) that includes all eight matches on NBC Universo, and International packages (Arabic, French, Polish and Portuguese, throwing in a free Roku with subscription). A free preview of FS1 from June 14-17 will be available.