France and Belgium will meet in the 2018 FIFA World Cup semifinals later today in St. Petersburg, Russia, pitting the neighboring countries (the game is being billed as “La Fête des Voisins,” or The Neighbors’ Party) against each other for a chance to play for the title Sunday against the winner of Wednesday’s England-Croatia matchup.
France is one win away from returning to the final 20 years after as the host nation it won the 1998 title, when it beat Brazil. It arrived at this point the tournament with an impressive 2-0 victory over Uruguay in the quarterfinals. It was Belgium who, after a scare in the Round of 16 against Japan, knocked out five-time champ Brazil 2-1 in the quarters this year.
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In the U.S., the match will be available to watch live on Fox at 2 PM ET/11 AM PT as well as on Telemundo, with the added bonus of Fox simulcasting the game on the 78-foot by 330-foot big screen in New York’s Times Square, using the feed from local Fox 5 NY.
Both Fox Sports and Telemundo have seen strong ratings for this year’s tournament, with Fox building its numbers that peaked with a tournament-high 6.32 million tuning in for the Croatia-Russia quarterfinal Saturday — the best men’s soccer number on an American network since the 2014 World Cup final. Spanish-language Telemundo just posted its best-ever Friday daytime audience in network history with its quarterfinal broadcasts and has matched that feat on two other weekdays during this tournament, which kicked off June 14.
There are plenty of other ways to watch today’s France-Belgium game, meanwhile. In the U.S., it also will be available for live stream for authenticated users on Foxsports.com and the Fox Sports App. On the Telemundo side, matches will be available via Telemundo Deportes En Vivo and NBC Sports; the Telemundo stations’ apps; and across mobile, tablet and most connected TV devices.
For those who have access to Hulu, the game is available with Live TV via Fox and Telemundo. The match will also be available live to subscribers to DirecTV. YouTube TV offers 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.
Social media platforms like Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and Twitter will offer recaps and highlights.
In France, the game will air at 8 PM local time on leading commercial broadcaster TF1, which drew its largest audience of the tournament — and its highest ratings of the year — with 12.9 million watching France beat Uruguay. An estimated 3M-5M more likely watched on giant screens in bars and town squares throughout the country, which at this time of year especially in the south is flooded with Belgian tourists. License plates emblazoned with a red B seem to be one in every three, making it feel like there are more Belgians in Provence during the summer months than in Belgium. (If the tourists we ran into in the supermarket checkout line Sunday are any gauge, sentiment will be friendly in what will be a fiercely contested match. As the family we spoke with packed up their groceries, they smiled and wished, “May the best team win.”)
Pay-TV outlet BeIN Sport is also showing the game in France.
RTBF is airing the World Cup in Belgium, where the main supermarket chain there, Delhaize, is closing an hour early tonight so its employees can watch the 8 PM game.
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