Best FREE Ways To Watch Live Football Online
Let’s face it. For many of us, the Internet means one thing and one thing only: free stuff! Whether it’s music, movies, or even porn, the Internet is like the Holy Grail when it comes to getting stuff for free. That even extends to watching free live football online. Which brings us to Peer-To-Peer (P2P) clients.
For those of us who can’t afford to pay the monthly fees for Setanta, Sky Sports, UEFA, or whatnot, watching a free live football stream via a P2P client may be the only option for football fans needing that live experience. As a result, you should be aware of the advantages, as well as the disadvantages, of relying on a free P2P stream when watching live football online.
In P2P technology, each user, while downloading a video stream (usually from a TV station), is simultaneously also uploading that stream to other users, thus contributing to the overall available. As such the more users, the better the video quality. In other words, it pays to go with a well-known and popular client.
A. Advantages of Live Football Online Streams:
It’s completely FREE! You won’t pay a cent. Unless you get snookered into paying some website that professes to have streaming football for free but, in reality, does nothing more than provide you a list of links to free live football P2P streams available on the Internet.
You get access to stations from all over the world. If you want to watch football, rubgy, foreign films, or Japanese game shows, you will have no shortage of choices.
Since the popular clients rely on multiple streams, it means that if one stream goes out, you still have others available and won’t miss any action.
B. Disadvantages of Live Football Online Streams:
As with any instance where you get something for free when you could be paying for it, you have to weigh the pros and the cons of engaging in behavior of dubious legality. In the U.S., the use, reproduction, retransmission or rebroadcast of most sporting events is strictly prohibited. In fact, most sporting events will utter that disclaimer in full at some point during their broadcast.
Most organizations have become vigilant about patrolling these streams and shutting them down (especially on Justin TV). Copyright laws are less stringent in other parts of the world (especially in China, where TVU and UUsee are based). However, leagues have been trying to shut down these football streams as well (with varying degrees of success).
Lag time is an issue. In general, with P2P clients, downloading a stream and then uploading it to another user creates lag time. As such, P2P streams will usually be a few minutes behind the original source.
The quality of free football streams can be very unstable. Sometimes, finding a reliable, uninterrupted stream can be more difficult than finding a reliable England #1. There are a couple of reasons for this (the streams, not the England #1). Streams are often shut down in the middle of broadcasting because of copyright issues. Additionally, if the number of users fluctuates wildly during the stream, it will affect the quality and speed of the stream.
Additionally, by its very nature, there is no on-demand service. Since you’re relying on whatever any given channel happens to be broadcasting, then you’re stuck with what you get. So, if you really want to watch that Chelsea/Manchester United match, but you’re stuck with a match between two Qatari teams you’ve never heard of, sorry, you’re out of luck. (Editor’s note: don’t worry… for a match like Chelsea vs. Man United you will always find a gazillion of streams available. Things get more tricky if you’re looking for Scunthorpe Utd vs. Cheltenham Town).
C. Live Football Streaming Basics:
There are two main ways to watch P2P streams. PC users can download one (or several) of the programs listed below. Typically, it will download as a zipped file or an executable file. Double-click on the downloaded file and take it from there. Unfortunately for Mac users, there are only a few programs that will work for you. If you have Windows XP or Vista, as well as the latest version of Internet Explorer and Windows Media Player, then you should be able to use any of these programs. Some of them will work with Firefox or with Linux, but you’re better off sticking with the Microsoft family. See? Bill Gates controls our lives when it comes to watching football, too.
Or you can go to a website that hosts live streaming video like www.justin.tv. Each method has its advantages and drawbacks, so you’ll probably want to try out several methods instead of relying on one.
When running P2P programs like Sopcast or TVU (more below), you will typically get an interface that will include a screen and a list of available channels. To take a look at the TVU interface, click here. Sopcast‘s interface is similar, but more compact. To take at Sopcast, go here. Click on the channel you want to watch and you should be good to go.
A good idea would be to bookmark one of the pages listed below containing football schedules. That way, you can be sure that you’ll never miss a game!
D. P2P Clients for Live Football Streaming:
Sopcast is probably the most popular and well-known P2P client. In order to run it, you must have either Windows Media Player or Real Player and either Firefox or IE. It is VERY difficult to adopt for Mac (believe me, I’ve tried it). It’s possible, but it requires a lot of work and doesn’t always work. Follow this link for more information.
Sopcast boasts “advanced P2P engineering” and “quick buffering, usually between 11-29 seconds, and minimal delays.” Sopcast also gives users the ability to broadcast their own channels, as well as to embed the Sopcast player in websites or software programs.
Sopcast hosts most major channels, like ESPN, Setanta, and Sky Sports. Most leagues and competitions are featured, both live and on delay. Since you’re relying on TV schedules, you’ll have to check on-line to see what’s on. Thankfully, the good folks at All P2P TV have done that for us.
2. TVU Networks
TVU Networks is based in China, and their TVU Player became popular during 2006 World Cup when many people in the U.S. used it to watch matches that were not available in the U.S. Like with Sopcast, you must use either Windows XP or Vista as your operating system, but the program supports Linux as well. To view the videos, Windows Media Player 10 is recommended, but Version 9 works, too. IE is the recommended browser, but Firefox users can download a plugin here. There are no Mac versions. Much like with Sopcast, you have to jump through a lot of hoops in order to convert it for use on a Mac.
Unlike other P2P clients, TVU networks uses real-time packet replication, which is very much like P2P file sharing, except that the video is brought to you in real time. Every additional viewer watching a channel helps make the network stronger and helps improve the signal of all the other viewers watching the same channel.
Most TVU channels are free; a small number are available on via monthly subscriptions, payable by credit cards. There are many different networks from countries all over the world, ranging from the U.S. to Italy to China. Sporting events are broadcast both live and on delay (depending on the respective TV schedules). Additionally, TVU boasts a nice interface. The list of available channels is located in a menu-bar on the left and separated by category (Sports, News, Movies, etc.).
3. Other Windows Streams:
PPStream – P2P application with a Chinese interface and an English installation wizard. Includes many Sports channels from China. Still in early stages, and “some pauses and buffering may occur due to video stream quality and limited peer connections.” But if you really want to follow Wang Zhi-Zhi and Bayi Basketball, then this one is for you!
PPMate – Boasts many channel options and quick buffering. Also allows users to record live streams with a simple click. Many popular channels available.
TVAnts – Another popular program. Large number of sports channels, particularly football. Original focus was to broadcast Asian channels all over the world, and that’s still their bread-and-butter. Nevertheless, they have ESPN, CCTV Soccer, Star Sports, Sky Sports, etc.
UUSee – Based in China. Mostly in Chinese, so you should only use if you’re fluent.
4. Live Online Football Streams (for Mac):
Livestation – Beta only. Works for Mac and PC. Videos are encoded in VC-1 format (which is what they use for Blu-Ray and HD DVD’s). Offers live streaming TV. Drawback: channel list is still small, but should grow.
Joost – On demand videos only. No live action yet. Interface is similar to Youtube. Can watch video highlights but no matches.
Octoshape – Streaming TV and radio. Small list of channels as still in testing phase. Uses peer-to-peer grid technology so that, in theory, streams don’t use up as much bandwidth. Whatever that means.
Babelgum – Italian-based application with a lot of Serie A football highlights. Supported by ads and interface is similar to Youtube (i.e. you can rate videos, send messages to other users, join communities, etc.). As with Joost, there is no live streaming video, only on-demand. The focus is on filmmaking and social networking. And no, they’re not named after Ryan Babel.
5. Justin TV
Popular web-based site that broadcasts live events. Users stream videos onto the site that others can watch. Because it’s web-based, both Mac and PC users can access Justin TV.
You can watch most live events on Justin TV, ranging from Premiership matches to La Liga to Brazilian matches. If you click on the “Sports” category, it will usually list the most popular streams in descending order. You can also use their search engine to find the event you wish to view.
Unfortunately, because of its popularity, streams get shut down very often. Especially sporting events (in particular PPV events like UFC, WWE, and Boxing). Additionally, the quality can be choppy and poor. Here’s a little tidbit, though: if you understand Spanish, then you should take advantage of the Spanish language streams on Justin.tv (Mexico is VERY lax when it comes to shutting down illegal programs).
Excellent web-based site that broadcasts live events. Like Justin TV, users stream videos onto the site, but in this case the quality is very good and broadcasts are in high-definition. Both PC and Mac users can use it, although you might have to download a driver that’s unique to the site. The website has instructions that will guide you through the installation.
Due to their high quality/HD requirements, they choice of channels is rather limited. But it’s a great coup for football fans, and they stream Fox Soccer Channel, Setanta, and Gol TV.
The quality is good, although it does slow down every once in a while. I haven’t had any problems with the streams getting shut down midway through, but I would anticipate that there might be problems as they become more popular.
ITV allows viewers to watch programs for free on their website. According to their website, programs are shown as near live as possible, although there are some delays. They show most England international matches for free. I’ve had some trouble getting it to work, but you can watch any of ITV’s programs like Coronation Street, I’m a Celebrity, Get me Out of Here!, The X-Factor, and syndicated programming like Smallville or The Sally Jesse Raphael Show.
E. Football Schedules:
All P2P TV – Specializes in schedules for all kinds of sports, including football, MLB, NHL, NBA, Cricket, Boxing, Hockey, Golf, Tennis, etc. Has a small Download page for useful software you can use for live streams (not as good as the MyP2P.eu guide -see below).
My P2P.eu – Specializes in schedules for all kinds of sports (Am. Football, Baseball, Basketball, Cricket, Cycling, Football, Golf, Hockey, Motorsports, Tennis), but also has a Live TV section (not restricted to sports). In addition, has a great & comprehensive Software guide to all the programs you can download to watch live matches, including how to install & use them.
Live Soccer TV – Exclusive to Soccer. Very useful for TV schedules, but won’t give you any P2P links. The cool thing is that they also list tape delays & match repeats, have schedule menus for each league (Premiership, La Liga, Serie A, etc.), and a neat search feature.
F. Search Engines
123WebTV – A search engine that searches for football highlights, live events, and other sports online. They don’t broadcast events themselves, but allow you to sift through the various sites online (such as Setanta, Virgin Media, Fox Sports, and others). For some sites (e.g. Setanta) you need to register an account in order to access their videos.
Finally, a word of warning: be wary of sites that offer “Streaming Football.” Usually, it’s nothing more than a list of links, similar to the ones above, and will usually cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $7 a month. Chances are, you’re probably going to be relying on these same streams anyway. Why pay $7 a month for the same links when you could get them for free?
As you can see, if you want to watch free live football online, you’ll have a bevy of options to choose from. Indeed, think of it as going to a buffet. You could pay for a reliable service from a network, which would be like going to a nice, classy buffet at a Vegas or Indian casino where you’ll be dining on steak, lobster, and sushi. Or you could rely on the hit-or-miss service of the free P2P clients, which would be like going to the cheap Chinese buffet near your apartment where you’ll be fighting off the midnight runs. In the end, you should choose the best live football option for your situation.
Also read: Best Ways To Watch Live Football Online.
Watch Live Football Online:
- Watch English Premier League Live Online
- Watch World Cup Live Online
- Watch Champions League Live Online
- Watch European Championship Live Online
- Watch Europa League Live Online
- Watch La Liga Live Online
- Watch Serie A Live Online
- Watch Bundesliga Live Online
- Watch Ligue 1 Live Online
- Watch Scottish Premier League Live Online
- Watch FA Cup Live Online
- Watch Carling Cup Live Online
- Watch African Cup of Nations Live Online