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How to stream the 2014 World Cup

James Careless | June 12, 2014
For the next month, the eyes of the sporting world are going to be on Brazil. And that means the eyes of many sports fans in this country are going to be trained on a TV screen, browser, or mobile device.

There's a catch, though: If you want to catch the World Cup through any of the various flavors of WatchESPN, you're going to need a cable or satellite subscription. (Supported providers include AT&T U-Verse, Bright House Networks, Charter, Comcast, Cox, Dish, Google Fiber, Midcontinent Communications, Optimum, Time Warner Cable, and Verizon FiOS TV.) The cost of admission is worth it, contends Kevin Ota, ESPN's director of communications: "This is one of the largest sporting events in the world." Which is of small comfort to cord cutters, but pretty standard practice for apps offering live streaming of sporting events. (NBC's Olympic streaming options, for example, had the same satellite-or-cable subscription requirement.)

In addition to its live-streaming app, the sports network is also rolling out a specialized ESPN FC app for iOS and Android that figures to be full of World Cup coverage for the next month. Built on ESPN's existing SportsCenter app, the ESPN FC app will have a dedicated 2014 FIFA World Cup section that will serve as the default launch page, providing direct access to World Cup-related content. U.S. users will get to see live match highlights and video (a feature not available in other parts of the world, thanks to broadcast restrictions). Globally, all fans will have access to ESPN FC studio content and commentary. (As you might imagine, there are more than a few mobile apps targeted at World Cup fans--we've selected some of our favorite apps to help you enjoy the 2014 World Cup elsewhere on TechHive.)

The view from overseas

As extensive as ESPN's coverage is, for an event with the World Cup's global reach, it can be enlightening to watch the coverage from other parts of the world--particularly if you're living abroad and miss hearing the coverage in your native language. Watch Maradona's "Goal of the Century" from the 1986 World Cup and try to tell me that it isn't enhanced by Victor Hugo Morales's play-by-play.

There's a pretty simple solution--mask your IP address so that you can access websites in other countries. A U.S. district court ruled last year that masking your IP address so you can go to a blocked website violates the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, but some contend the ruling has a fairly narrow scope--certainly not the sort of thing that's likely to land you in hot water if you just want the BBC's feed of the England-Italy match. Still, logging in via a virtual private network to keep your whereabouts a secret is an ethically gray area, even if there are plenty of services--both for Windows and the Mac that will be happy to help you surf the globe for a small fee and very few questions asked. Throw in a list of FIFA's media rights holders, and it shouldn't take too much detective work to figure out how to enjoy another country's World Cup broadcast.


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