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How to watch the 2018 FIFA World Cup online

A World Cup game sets a record for the most-watched Fox Sports livestream

This year, the world’s best soccer players (and most rabid fans) have convened in Russia for the 2018 FIFA World Cup. It’s by far the biggest sporting event in the world — more than a billion people tuned in live to watch the 2014 World Cup finals match in Brazil, and the 2018 edition has already set a record for Fox Sports, which announced that the July 2 match between Brazil and Mexico (where Mexico was defeated 2-0) was its most popular stream ever, with 1.4 million unique visitors. Throughout the day on Monday, 2 million viewers tuned in to watch the World Cup on Fox, besting the network’s previous all-time record of 1.8 million viewers set a week prior on June 27.

The 2018 World Cup has also set the record for the most-watched Spanish-language livestream with the match between Argentina and Croatia on June 21 (Argentina was defeated 3-0).

Chances are, you’re one of those fans — or at least curious about all the hype. We’ll help you figure out the best way for you to watch the 2018 FIFA World Cup online. (You’ve got the right TV, right?)

Who’s competing?

Unfortunately, the United States didn’t qualify this year, but that doesn’t mean U.S. soccer fans shouldn’t be watching. Based on Fox Sports’ numbers, American fans are clearly tuning in, especially seeing as there are plenty of teams to follow. In total, 32 different teams from around the world will be competing in the event, which only comes around once every four years. The full list includes Egypt, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Uruguay, Iran, Morocco, Portugal, Spain, Australia, Denmark, France, Peru, Argentina, Croatia, Iceland, Nigeria, Brazil, Costa Rica, Serbia, Switzerland, Germany, Mexico, South Korea, Sweden, Belgium, England, Panama, Tunisia, Colombia, Japan, Poland, and Senegal.

When is it?

The event kicked off June 14 and runs until Sunday, July 15, when the final match will take place at 11 a.m. ET/8 a.m PT.

How to watch

The easiest way to watch is live on TV. Your cable or satellite subscription will need to include Fox Sports, which has exclusive English coverage of the matches, while Telemundo and NBC Universo handles Spanish-language coverage.

The June 21 Telemundo digital broadcast of the Argentina versus Croatia game racked up 4.3 million livestreams for a total of 68 million minutes viewed. Yes, that’s a new world record. It accounted for nearly 50 percent of Telemundo’s 9.3 million total live video streams on June 21.

That said, we do live in a post-cord-cutter world, and you by no means have to bend the knee to the major TV carriers in order to watch your favorite teams.

Streaming services

There is no shortage of livestreaming TV services that can replace a cable subscription entirely. But only certain ones, and certain packages, include the channels you’ll need to watch. If you’re going this route, here are the services and the minimum required package you’ll need to get the right channels:

  • DirecTV Now’s “Live a little” package or higher, $35 per month
  • Sling TV Blue, $25 per month, or Sling Orange and Blue, $40 per month
  • Fubo TV base package, $45 per month
  • YouTube TV base package, $40 per month
  • Hulu With Live TV base package, $40 per month
  • PlayStation Vue “Access” package, $40 per month

That gives you several options, but as for which is best for you, that will depend on your devices, price range, and location. The good news is that each of these services include a free trial period that usually lasts about seven to 14 days, in case you want to check one out before paying. Consult our best streaming TV services guide for a more in-depth analysis of each to find which will fit you best. Or read our roundup of the best apps for the World Cup for other alternatives.

Fox Sports Go and Fox Sports VR

Those subscribed to any the above streaming services, or who have an account with cable/satellite TV providers Xfinity, DirecTV, AT&T SuddenLink, Century Link, Spectrum, Optimum, Verizon, Dish, Cox, or Frontier can log in to the Fox Sports Go browser or app to watch each match, as well as highlights and analysis programming.

You can also watch in VR thanks to the Fox Sports VR app on iOS and Android devices. The app will give you a full 360-degree viewing experience from a seat in the stadium, and will even match you up with Facebook friends or other fans who are watching so you can experience the matches with other fans (this feature can be turned off, however).

Oculus and Gear VR

Through the VR app platform called Oculus Venues, Oculus Go and Samsung VR users can watch the World Cup in VR, including four free matches:

  • Germany vs. Mexico,  8 a.m. PT/11 a.m. ET on June 17
  • Portugal vs. Morocco, 5 a.m. PT/8 a.m. ET on June 20
  • Brazil vs. Costa Rica, 5 a.m. PT/8 a.m. ET on June 22
  • England vs. Panama, 5 a.m. PT/8 a.m. ET on June 24

Other select matches will also be streamable in Oculus Venues for certain countries via the following outlets:

  • United States: Fox Sports VR or Telemundo Deportes VR
  • UK: BBC Sports VR for UK users
  • Australia: SBS Optus FIFA
  • Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Uruguay, or Venezuela: DirecTV Sports VR
  • Greece: ERT VR
  • France: MYTF1 VR

Recaps and highlights

Depending on where you live, you might have to wake up early (or stay up late) to watch your favorite teams. Luckily, if you miss a game, catching up shouldn’t be much of an issue. Not only do all of the streaming services include cloud DVR (either for free or as a paid add-on), it’s easy to catch highlights after the fact regardless of how you’re watching. YouTube partnered with official FIFA broadcasts in more than 80 countries to provide highlights and recaps if you happen to miss a match. These recaps are available for free on YouTube.

Updated on July 4: The July 2 match between Brazil and Mexico was Fox Sports’ most popular livestream event ever. 

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