For the millions of fans around the world waiting with baited breath for the Fifa Football World Cup, they will have a bigger choice than ever for watching streaming games online and on mobile phones. The Football (or soccer depending where your from) World cup will kick off on Friday, and fans can watch all the matches from a wide selection of mobile and Internet websites.
Both ESPN and ABC are streaming the games in the US, showing 54 matches live on ESPN free for US viewers who have an affiliated service provider with ESPN, which includes AT&T, Verizon, Comcast amongst others. There will be ten games playing live live on ABC that will not be availabl, however all 64 matches in the World Cup will be available live on mobile devices to customers whose plans include TV on their mobiles.
In the UK you can watch the matches on the iphone using the new ITV World Cup app, which is planned for launch just before the tornament. Plus you can watch matches on the BBC’s iplayer service.
Having the matches online will be music to the ears of many, as the games come thick and fast. Many are on when fans are at work. Comparing the digital experiences of the 2010 World Cup to the 2006 tournament, Josh Kosner, senior vice president and general manager of ESPN Digital Media, said, “Things have changed utterly.”
“This is going to be the biggest and most powerful demonstration of this, and it’s just the start,” Kosner said. “It’s the playbook, it’s the blueprint for what’s coming.”
Worldwide interest in the World Cup has been growing very intense with the Nike World Cup commercial directed by Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu being viewed by more than 13 million on YouTube since May 17th when it first aired.
Over the last 12 months, Akamai Technologies Inc., which delivers about 20% of the world’s Internet traffic, has been building its capability in anticipation of the World Cup. It expects traffic to be two or three times as heavy as what was measured during President Barack Obama’s inauguration.
“It could well be another watershed event in terms of people understanding what is now possible to do with video online,” Akamai chief scientist Tom Leighton said. “This will draw a lot of people at once and that will cause people to be aware en masse that, hey, you can do some very cool things with video online that you can’t even do with broadcast right now.”
The World Cup is also shaping up to be a benchmark in the evolution of mobile TV, which is common in South Korea, growing in the rest of Asia, Africa and South America, but nascent in the U.S. and Europe. ESPN has partnered with AT&T, Sprint, Verizon, FLO TV and MobiTV to bring games to cell phones.
The competition could be a test for bandwidth useage that is already heavily used. Last week, AT&T announced that to ease congestion on its network, it would no longer offer unlimited Internet data plans for new smart-phone customers. ESPN’s Kosner acknowledged that those with live TV on their mobile phones are still a “relatively small audience,” but predicted that the World Cup will be “a galvanizing event” for the capability.
All we can say is the internet is primed, our mobile phones and monitors sit at the ready, so . Come on my son.