World Cup tech-fever

Written by Josh Blodwell

June 15, 2006 | 14:10

Tags: #fifa #hdtv #streaming #tvdrive #world-cup

Companies: #bbc #ea

There’s nothing the nations of the world enjoy more, after a good four years of slaughtering each other on the battlefield, than a jolly good World Cup. If you live in the US, you’ll be forgiven for not knowing about the Cup. However, if try to call anyone outside the continental US you’re likely to find yourselves put straight to voicemail.

We’re not ignoring you on purpose, we’re just a little busy; at least until a couple of days after the final. But you might be able to get hold of a couple of teetotallers on the 10th of July, as long as their nation’s team weren’t in the finals.

Some of us are more passionate than others, though; the Portuguese seem to be making a case for a month’s holiday, to give due homage to the beautiful game.

They’ll have a chance this year too, because there are countless ways to follow the action as it happens from wherever you may find yourself this month. Would you like a guide to the various options available? We thought you might.

World Cup tech-fever Getting the game on HD World Cup tech-fever Getting the game on HD

Footie in HD

The premiere way to watch the action unfold will be on a High Definition TV (HDTV) tuned into one of the HD sport channels showing the World Cup.

If you buy an HDTV to watch the World Cup on, you’ll have to find a provider capable of supplying you with a HD signal. If you live in the UK, you’ll have access to some of the matches on the BBC’s HD test channel; it’s rolling out limited HDTV services for the World Cup. This HD coverage will kick off with the first match on the 6th of June, and the Beeb is broadcasting 20 of the 64 matches live.

Unfortunately there’s no HD channel on UK terrestrial Freeview, but the BBC coverage is available for free - by digital satellite (Sky HD) or through Telewest cable.

There are numerous differences between the services, but the important question is who has the most HD coverage of the cup. The answer’s Telewest, who have all 64 matches airing live on the ITV HD channel.

Telewest’s only problem is one of availability. If you don’t live in a Telewest cable area you can’t get the service, and if you don’t already have that company's TVDrive you’re unlikely to get your hands on one in time to watch the finals. You can quickly check if your’re in a Telewest area by entering your postcode into the checker on their site.

World Cup tech-fever Getting the game on HD
If you can’t get Telewest in time or in your area, you’re not totally stuffed. Sky HD will also be broadcasting the BBC HD free to view channels, one of which will be playing the BBC’s World Cup coverage. As with Telewest, if you don’t already have a Sky HD box, or an installation date you’ve no chance of getting a system ready in time for the cup final. Bad luck.

However, all is not lost - there is another way. The BBC HD signals are free to view, so anyone with a compatible HD Set Top Box (either a Humax 2000 or Pace 810) may tune in. Both boxes need updates to decode the signal, because the BBC is using a lesser encoding format than the boxes are programmed for.

You’ll also need a satellite dish - it should be pointed at Astra 2D, which is visible in many European countries, including the UK. You can find some good information on setting up your dish at this thread on AVForums. The only problem is that you won’t be able to watch subscription Sky HD channels by legal means, and there aren’t a lot of unencrypted English speaking channels in range of the UK.

If all this seems like too much hassle, you might be able to watch the footie at a cinema. A Belgian HD Channel called Euro1080 has secured the rights to broadcast all the world cup games live in European Cinemas. 14 Odeon cinemas in the UK will be showing matches in: Bath, Birmingham, Covent Garden, Greenwich, Guildford, Leicester Square, Liverpool City, The Printworks Manchester, Maidenhead, Silverlink, Norwich, Sheffield, Southampton and Wimbledon. If you live outside the UK have a look at the map of Europe on Euro1080’s website to see if there’s a cinema showing the games near you.
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