So you have cut the cord and all of a sudden developed a case of World Cup fever.
Fans in big cities can likely find a bar to watch some games.
Pay-TV subscribers can watch all 64 games on ESPN and ABC networks and the Watch ESPN app — some broadband subscriptions also give you the ESPN 3 Internet channel, which has all the games. You can see near real-time video highlights — and real-time game coverage — on ESPN's international soccer site ESPNFC.com.
ESPN and Google also are teaming up to post in-progress and post-game video highlights from the sports network within relevant Google searches. With Microsoft, ESPN created ESPN FC World Cup Essentials, an Internet Explorer-optimized site for World Cup information about teams and upcoming matches.
But there's an alternate soccer strategy for cord-cutters: set another sports app as your — I can't help myself — goooooaaal!
A little-known secret: Spanish-language rights holder Univision Deportes will be streaming all the first- and second-round games live for free on its recently enhanced app — without the need for subscriber authentication. Through the tournament's end July 13, Univision Deportes Network will be all-World-Cup-content all the time. In addition to the live broadcasts, the network will deliver live pre- and post-game coverage.
You can watch the app on your Android or iOS smartphone or tablet and your computer. If you missed all or part of a match, you can watch clips — Univision Deportes will be posting those even as the game goes on."Users will be able to see live streams of all the matches on their PCs, smartphones and tablets, see real time clips tied to match stats, match schedules, team alerts, and much more," says Kevin Conroy, president of digital and enterprise development for Univision Communications. The app will also include real-time alerts, multi-camera angle video clips and behind-the-scenes coverage. "It's the one experience for all soccer fans (and) the one place to go to get all your soccer needs," he says.
Again, the free ride doesn't last through the World Cup's entirety. The last eight games of the tournament will require authentication with your pay-TV credentials. But condensed versions of those final games — and the in-game clips — will be available free for all users.
My initial visit to the app required watching five minutes of advertisements, but subsequent ads were held to one minute. The live streaming — complete with commentary in Spanish — does run a bit behind the TV broadcasts on ESPN and Univision Deportes.
But the video looked crisp and clean watching on an iPhone and a Samsung Galaxy Note 3 over Wi-Fi and via cellular connection. At one point, heavy rain blocked my DirecTV signal, but I could stay tuned in through the app. You can also see live tweets about the game and share clips on Facebook and Twitter and via e-mail.
Univision Deportes' move has already paid off. Univision Digital had its highest app downloads ever last Thursday and that day's live stream of the opening ceremony and the Brazil vs. Croatia match had 1.9 million views, Univision's most-watched live stream ever
The presentation represents the cutting-edge delivery — live stats, real-time highlights, DVR controls such as slow motion viewing, instant replay and social media — that sports fans are starting to expect on mobile and portable devices.
Consumers' embrace of mobile and tablets for video is measurable at NeuLion, which teamed with Univision on the World Cup project. NeuLion handles delivery of Internet content including sports and special events such as the Rolling Stones pay-per-view event in Dec. 2012.
The online video technology company has seen total video traffic rise 30% so far in 2014 over last year, when it delivered 154 petabytes of video traffic — the equivalent of more than 150 years of recorded HDTV. Mobile and video traffic makes up about 60% of all its traffic, says NeuLion co-founder Chris Wagner. "It's really a much better experience," he says.