Looking for a cord cutter’s guide to World Cup 2018? Stop right here.
The 2018 FIFA World Cup marks the first time that cord cutters in the United States will be able to watch the world’s greatest sports tournament without requiring a cable or satellite TV subscription.
It’s also the very first time that FOX Sports and Telemundo will broadcast the World Cup after ESPN and Univision lost out on the rights.
While times have changed since the 2014 Brazil tournament, neither FOX Sports nor Telemundo Deportes are shouting from the rooftops that cord cutters can watch the tournament. In fact, the opposite is true. Both broadcasters will want you to watch as many of the games through traditional television in order to appease advertisers and produce impressive TV viewing numbers. FOX Sports even has gone to the extent of removing the World Cup 2018 streaming coverage from its FOX Soccer Match Pass app in order to “force” people to watch it with a TV subscription.
But the good news is that there are several legal options to watch 2018 World Cup without a TV subscription. And we’ve spent tens of hours conducting interviews and researching all of the possibilities to ensure you have all of the information you need to make the decision that’s best for you.
OPTION 1: GO OLD SCHOOL WITH RABBIT EARS
If you’re fortunate to have access to your local over-the-air FOX and Telemundo stations in your area through the use of an indoor HD antenna, you can conceivably watch all of the World Cup games for free.
FOX Sports will broadcast 38 of the 64 games via the over-the-air FOX network. The other 26 games will be via FS1, which requires a TV/satellite subscription. However, you can watch most of the remaining 26 games via your local Telemundo over-the-air channel (again with an indoor HD antenna or a pair of “rabbit ears”.)
Between the two channels, you’ll be able to watch almost all of the games. The only ones you’ll miss out on are the games televised on FS1 and Universo during the final days of the First Round of the World Cup where there are simultaneous games being shown. Both Universo and FS1 require a TV/cable subscription.
OPTION 2: BEST CASE SCENARIO
While FOX Sports has made more World Cup games available via over-the-air television than ever before, it doesn’t help cord cutters who want an easy way to access and record every single game. With most of the games kicking off at 8am ET, 11am ET and 2pm ET each day, a DVR is going to be a must-have.
Out of all of the legal streaming solutions available, the one that we recommend the most is fubo — for three reasons. One, fubo includes FS1, FOX (which fubo has coverage of in 90% of US households) and Telemundo (which fubo offers in 17 markets nationwide). Two, fubo includes a DVR with 30 hours of storage at no extra cost. And three, fubo is $19.99 per month for the first month (plus they offer a free 7-day trial).
Other legal streaming options include Sling Blue for $20 per month, which includes FS1 and FOX (in select cities). Sling TV offers a DVR with 50 hours of storage for an extra $5 per month. DIRECTV NOW offers FS1 and FOX (in select cities) starting at $35/month including a DVR with 20 hours of storage (at no extra charge). YouTube TV is available in select cities for $40/month with a DVR included. Last but not least, PlayStation has a product called Vue that’s $40 per month and also includes a DVR (as well as FOX and FS1, etc).
If you have an indoor HD antenna or pair of Rabbit Ears, another option to consider is a subscription to Sling TV’s Best of Spanish TV for $10/month which includes Universo. Combined with the free, over-the-air Telemundo network, you could make sure you don’t miss any of the games in Spanish-language. Sling’s Best of Spanish TV package doesn’t include a DVR, however.
OPTION 3: WATCH BROADCASTS FROM OVERSEAS WITH A VPN
Another option to consider is signing up with a VPN service so you can watch live World Cup broadcasts.
Plus when using a VPN, your ISP will have difficulty slowing down your connection so you’ll experience less buffering when watching the World Cup, a tournament you’ve waited four years for.
OPTION 4: BROADCASTER APPS
All of the World Cup games will be streamed via the official apps from FOX Sports and Telemundo Deportes. However, you need a cable/satellite subscription to log into these apps.
FOX’s apps are FOX Sports GO and FOX Sports Mobile. Both require authentication to verify that you subscribe to FS1 through your cable or satellite TV subscription.
Telemundo’s app is named Telemundo Deportes en Vivo. As of press time, a Telemundo spokesperson said “Telemundo is still considering its approach on authentication for World Cup content,” so it’s possible the Spanish-language broadcaster may allow some access to games for cord cutters without requiring authentication. But don’t count on it.
The FOX Sports GO and FOX Sports Mobile apps have been upgraded recently in preparation for the World Cup. There’s also the FOX Soccer Match Pass app, but FOX Sports decided not to make any of those games available via that streaming service.
One workaround with FOX Sports GO is that you can subscribe to fubo and log in to the FOX Sports Go with your fubo credentials. But if you’re going to do that, you can just watch games on the fubo app. But having access to FOX Sports GO via fubo is a good backup to keep in mind.