The Spot

Fox’s World Cup Streaming Options Are Terrible

Nigeria forward Asisat Oshoala fires in a goal as Sweden defender Nilla Fischer tries to defend during a Group D match at the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup.

Photo by JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images

The Women’s World Cup kicked off on Saturday with an exciting matchup between hosts Canada and the People’s Republic of China, which remained scoreless until Canada won a penalty in second-half stoppage time. The match aired in the U.S. on Fox Sports 1, and its Group A follow-up, which pitted New Zealand against the Netherlands, aired on Fox Sports 2.

I’m a cord-cutter, but I saw both games as they happened, on my computer, without resorting to pirated live-streams. That’s because I signed up for Fox Soccer 2 Go, a very stupidly-named service that allows people to stream every single 2015 World Cup match, live or on demand up to 7 days after it occurs, for the low price of $19.99 per month.

OK, $19.99 per month isn’t actually a low price, compared to most streaming services. And after using Fox Soccer 2 Go for a couple of days, I strongly doubt that it’s worth that much money. Apart from having a poorly designed website with a not-very-helpful FAQ section, Fox Soccer 2 Go has two glaring drawbacks: It shows neither a running score nor a game clock onscreen during games. This makes it very difficult to keep track of how many minutes are left in each half, which is kind of a crucial piece of information when you’re watching soccer. (It’s usually easy enough to keep track of the score in your head, but there are exceptions, like Germany’s 10-0 thrashing of the Ivory Coast on Sunday.) Additionally, Fox Soccer 2 Go features a different commentator from those who call the matches on Fox and its sports channels—so if you want to experience the chemistry and expertise of J.P. Dellacamera, Tony DiCicco, and Cat Whitehill, you’re out of luck.

So, what are your other options for watching the World Cup online? If you don’t want to pay anything and you don’t mind Spanish-language commentary, you can live-stream the Copa Mundial Femenina on NBC Sports Live Extra (also known as NBC Deportes en Vivo Extra). The bad news: There’s no replay after each game has ended, and just like Fox Soccer 2 Go, NBC Deportes doesn’t show the score or game clock onscreen.

If you have a cable subscription—or if you have a close friend or relative willing to give you their cable login information—you can stream the games on Fox Sports Go, which has the same commentary (and the same blessed score bug) that you’d find on TV. You can’t replay games after they’ve aired, though, so if your office prohibits streaming afternoon games while you’re working, you might be better off shelling out for Fox Soccer 2 Go.

All in all, Fox’s streaming options are a lot weaker than ESPN’s streaming options during the men’s World Cup last summer. WatchESPN is available on a wide variety of desktop and mobile platforms, shows on-demand replays of games for up to a few weeks afterwards, and shows you a running score and game clock while you’re watching. You could argue that at least Fox is giving cord-cutters a way to pay for live sports—which wasn’t yet an option with ESPN during last summer’s World Cup—but having to pay $20 a month for a mediocre sports-streaming service is not exactly a cable eschewer’s dream. Regardless of the drawbacks of Fox Sports Go and Fox Soccer 2 Go, soccer fans should get used to them—Fox has the rights to broadcast the men’s and women’s World Cups through 2026. Hopefully by then they’ll have figured out how to broadcast soccer over the Internet without forcing Americans to jump through unnecessary hoops.