World Cup 2018: Watch it, tweet it, stream it

World Cup 2018: Watch it, tweet it, stream it

Simon Leather, Head of Connectivity Product Management

Simon Leather, Head of Connectivity Product Management

World Cup 2018: Watch it, tweet it, stream it

The World Cup this year was a big deal, with a more connected world than ever, everyone was watching and talking about it.

England's close 2-1 win over Tunisia, for example, attracted a TV audience of 18.3 million,  beating May's Royal Wedding and proving once and for all that Harry Kane is more popular than Prince Harry. But while that equated to 69.2 per cent of the potential audience, that pales in comparison to Iceland's first ever World Cup game, as 99.6 per cent of the country's TV viewers watched their side draw with Argentina.

Overall, it was expected that 3.4 billion people would watch this year's World Cup - and they did lot more than sitting in front of their TV.

The second screen is social

This year, social media was where much of the world Cup was discussed. More than half of fans (51 per cent) used social media while watching the World Cup, with 50 per cent messaging friends during the games.


672 million tweets using the #WorldCup hashtag were sent

During the last tournament in 2014, some 672 million tweets using the #WorldCup hashtag were sent, while there were 2.1 billion related searches on Google and 350 million people talking about it on Facebook. 

It's not just on the big screen where England fans were watching. This World Cup, online streaming had also proven to be a hugely popular option, letting people keep up with the football wherever they were. Indeed, more than three million people used the BBC's iPlayer or Sport website to watch the win over Tunisia - a new record for the service.

Is streaming meeting expectations?

However, those using iPlayer or ITV Hub might have found that they weren't quite getting the true live experience. In fact, these 'live' streams are often at least two minutes behind broadcast TV, which meant fans following along on social media learnt about goals and incidents long before they saw them.

There are several factors behind this, but one of the biggest issues is that streaming pictures go through extra steps before being delivered to the user, which increases latency.

The Internet connection could also play a part. Slower speeds might mean breaks in playback, which higher-quality HD services will be off-limits. If using a shared connection, anything else running on the same network will mean less bandwidth available for streaming.

This isn't just an issue for home users. While managers may or may not have approved of employees watching the World Cup in working hours, having extra strain placed on already slow networks can leave businesses struggling to operate. But with faster, higher-bandwidth networks, high-quality streaming will be more reliable and not impact other services, whether hosting a videoconference or the latest football match.