The Totally Exhaustive Guide for Streaming the 2018 FIFA World Cup as Cheaply as Possible [Update]

Illustration for article titled The Totally Exhaustive Guide for Streaming the 2018 FIFA World Cup as Cheaply as Possible [Update]
Photo: Lars Baron (Getty)

The most beautiful game is about to take place, and thanks to the magic of streaming television we can all watch the 2018 FIFA World Cup without owning some insane cable package (if you own an insane cable package you’re almost certainly set to watch it already).

The 2018 FIFA World Cup runs from June 14 to July 15. You can expect to watch 64 games (that’s four days’ worth of football) played over the course of a month, with the final match occurring Sunday July 15, 11am ET. Check out Fox Sports’ full schedule, which tells you when every game is and which channel is broadcasting it. Only care about your country’s performance? Look at the play schedule page, and add the games you don’t want to miss to your calendar.

Thanks to FIFA and its (maybe overly lucrative) media licensing agreements, you can watch all 64 matches on Fox, FS1, Universo, and Telemundo. If you’re planning to stream for free...don’t. FIFA and friends seem to have gone out of their way to make sure this is a televised event that will cost you at least a few dollars. While you should probably watch it as God intended—with face paint covering your screaming mug in the nearest bar broadcasting the match—watching at home is fine, too, I guess. Below we’ve outlined how to do it without bankrupting yourself for a month.


Before we get into the streaming services let’s talk Over The Air, or OTA. That will, without a doubt, be the cheapest way to get the games, both Fox and Telemundo will be locally broadcasting the World Cup wherever their channels are available. So you can pick up an inexpensive antenna, plug into the back of your TV, and watch the games live and for free in 720p or higher (depending on your local broadcasting station for Fox and Telemundo).

If you want to set up DVR you’ll have to spend a little more—both time and money-wise. Tivo and Silicon Dust’s HDHomeRun are two boxes that can DVR local stations, provided you pay a monthly fee. However our personal favorite DVR source is Plex. It has a monthly fee as well, but a wider variety of tuner and DVR boxes to choose from.

But streaming is still the easiest way to go if you don’t want to miss games. The services, with varying tiers, add-ons, and pricing options, might be a bit confusing though. Here’s what you need to know: Every streaming TV service will let you enjoy the World Cup, but prices will definitely vary. To make it easier we’ve ranked them in order of cost.


Available Channels: Fox, FS1, Telemundo

Starting Price: $35/month (or $10/month if you’ve never subscribed before)

At $35 per month, DirectTVNow is one of the more affordable picks among the bunch. Its $60 per month plan adds Universo and FS2. If you’re a first-time subscriber, you can take advantage of the current free trial promotion, and get three months of service for $10 per month. Just remember to cancel before your discounted service gets a lot more expensive.


Sling TV

Available Channels: Fox, FS1

Starting Price: $25/month (Sling Blue), Foreign language games: $10/month

Sling’s mid-range package, Sling Blue, will get you both FOX and FS1, and doubles as the cheapest way to catch the games you want to see. If you’re looking for Spanish-language games on Universo, you’ll have to pay an additional $5 per month to access games broadcast on Universo.


Can’t afford that $25 monthly fee? You can pay $10 per month for Sling’s World Sports channel package, which will also let you watch the 2018 FIFA World Cup live. One catch: The matches are broadcast in French and Brazilian Portuguese. It might be a turn off, but consider this: Are you watching for the commentary, or for the sport?

Hulu Live TV

Available Channels: Fox, FS1, Telemundo

Starting Price: $40/month

Your run of the mill Hulu subscription is great for Brooklyn Nine-Nine, but bad for sporting events. You’ll need to step up to Hulu Live TV, which will grant you access to all the World Cup games your heart desires, and will let you record up to 50 hours of footage with its cloud DVR functionality. You can quadruple it to 200 hours buy adding Premium Cloud DVR functionality, which also lets you skip past commercials for an extra $15 per month.



Available Channels: Fox, FS1, Telemundo

Starting Price: $40/month

Subscribe to PS Vue’s least expensive option, the Access Package, to watch the 2018 World Cup using either your PlayStation console, computer, smartphone, tablet, or streaming devices like your Apple TV, Chromecast, Amazon Fire, Android TV, or Roku. The games will be made available on-demand, so there’s no need to worry about using the PS Vue’s My DVR feature to record ‘em. Spanish language viewers can also add Universo for another $5 per month.


YouTube TV

Available Channels: Fox, FS1, Telemundo, Universo

Starting Price: $40/month

YouTube TV is pretty straightforward, but differentiates itself from competitors like Hulu by making premium features standard. Where Hulu Live TV offers a finite amount of cloud DVR storage, YouTube TV offers unlimited cloud DVR space, so you can record to your heart’s content. It also offers a pretty no-nonsense way to catch games in either English or Spanish, as it includes Spanish-language broadcasts on Universo and Telemundo.


Correction: Tuesday, July 10, 2018, 3:30 p.m. ET: We have included additional devices supported by PlayStation Vue.

Staff Reporter, Gizmodo

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