The 2018 FIFA World Cup starts today, Thursday, June 14th, in Russia and obviously, we can’t wait to see our favourite teams take to the 12 stadiums that will be hosting the month-long tourney and deliver to our expectations.
Russia is faraway as far as most of us in Kenya are concerned. However, since the once-in-four-years tournament has been widely anticipated, most of us who love and swear by football – and just about anyone who wants a good cheer for the next one month – will do everything possible to make sure we get to watch as much of the action as possible.
Of course, that obviously means trying to be near a television set every day starting from noon when match analyses are expected to start for the early kick offs, all the way to late night when the last fixtures are played.
Watching the World Cup through FTA channels
In that regard alone, there are various means of getting to watch the World Cup. One can opt to do so via the various free-to-air (FTA) TV channels that will be doing so. NTV has partnered with Kwesé to air half of the 64 matches. Kwesé’s own Kwesé Free Sports (KFS), which is a free-to-air channel, will also be airing a similar number of select fixtures for the next one month. In this case, all that one needs is a television set that can receive digital signal (DVB-T2). Modern TVs ship with built-in support for digital TV platforms so this shouldn’t be an issue.
However, if you’re of the many that have decoders in order to get a signal on your otherwise analog set then you will need it. If you don’t then you will need one. There are several set top boxes in the market at various price points.
Of course, I’ll be biased on this one and recommend the Safaricom Digital TV and Internet Box which is now available for Kshs 4,000 less than it usually goes for just because of the World Cup.
Watching the World Cup through Pay TV channels
The reason why you can only watch half the World Cup fixtures on free-to-air channels is because, well, money. Pay TV channels, which have secured rights to air the matches in the country and throughout the region, are capitalizing on the season to net subscribers and make money. It’s business, after all.
There’s also another practical reason: some matches, like the final group games and knockout ties like the semi finals, will be played simultaneously.
If, like yours truly, you’ve been watching the World Cup religiously in the past on KBC TV (long live our state broadcaster) then you know that they would usually just air one match live and record and air the other after the fact in instances where they are being played simultaneously. This is because they broadcast on a single channel unlike pay TV platforms which have multiple channels and, as such, can air all simultaneous matches live leaving the viewer with options to choose from.
That means that unless you want to miss some of the action, like Portugal vs Spain tomorrow, which won’t be available on FTA channels, you will need to pay up.
For already paying subscribers, being able to watch the World Cup on the various pay TV channels and platforms and the “unmatched” commentary that they are promising is a bonus. For those who are not, there have been several incentives to get them into the fold. Multichoice, for instance, has a combination of a one-month subscription to its Compact bouquet, its HD decoder, dish and free installation for Kshs 5,000. Other than DSTv, those who subscribe to Kwesé TV and Startimes will also have a front row seat to the World Cup and there have also been some incentives from the providers. Like being able to stream the same matches via the internet.
Watching the World Cup online
Thanks to the constant drop in internet data bundle pricing over the years and the increase in the fibre optic network footprint, the 2018 World Cup finds most Kenyans in urban areas with more than one option when it comes to keeping tabs on what’s going on in Russia.
If you have a reliable home internet solution, like, say, Safaricom Home Fibre, which I use, you can just stream the World Cup from whichever platform that will be offering such a service at the highest possible quality. This can be by use of a smart TV, streaming directly on a computer, mirroring your computer or connecting it directly to your TV via HDMI, or, more likely, by use of an Android-powered media streaming box. Like the one from Safaricom, which, for reasons I have already outlined before, I recommend over the other Android-powered boxes already available locally (hint: Android TV).
If you go with my suggestion of the Safaricom Digital TV and Internet Box then you might want to take advantage of the Giga Football Pass, the data bundles meant specifically for enabling as many of us as possible to watch the World Cup without having to worry about the amount of data we are consuming. Especially if you either lack a fibre connection or want to be able to stream matches on the go through your smartphone.
Dial *400# then,
Of course, it is not a 2018 World Cup if it is not possible to stream the matches from wherever we are on our smartphones, right?
The same Giga Football Pass bundles from Safaricom are also available to smartphone users for their subscribers.
Dial *544# then,
Now, here’s why some of the earlier highlighted ways of being able to watch the 2018 FIFA World Cup are important: because you might need them to be able to watch matches on the go either at an extra cost or at no extra cost. Safaricom has simply partnered with the various platform owners to make it convenient to watch the World Cup on the go.
This is the case for DSTv and Startimes subscribers who will wish to follow the action when they are away from the TV set. A 3-hour or 24-hour Giga Football Pass subscription will allow DSTv and Startimes subscribers to watch all the matches from their smartphones. However, while active DSTv subscribers will just need to have the DSTv Now app installed on their smartphones, their Startimes counterparts will not only need the Startimes app but also an additional Kshs 40, on top of the payment made to Safaricom for the daily or 3-hour Giga Football Pass. The 40 bob is a daily subscription.
Then, there’s the recently announced partnership between Safaricom and Kwesé iflix. Under this partnership, both smartphone and Safaricom Big Box users can watch all the World Cup matches through the Kwesé iflix app. As noted earlier, this will be at a slightly higher cost: Kshs 99 daily as it entails both the Giga Football Pass as well as a Kwesé iflix premium subscription that lets them stream the matches as well as access premium content on the Kwesé iflix app. You know, in case you need to relive Jeremy Clarkson’s antics in Top Gear in between matches or before matches begin.
Those who are not interested in subscribing to iflix will be able to watch only 32 matches on their smartphones for either 3 hours straight or a day since they wouldn’t be able to do so using the Big Box. This will cost Kshs 50 per day or Kshs 20 for 3 hours. The 3-hour pass is enough for one to watch a single match they did not want to miss since the time difference between all the group matches, bar the final ones which will be played simultaneously, is 3 hours.
It is worth noting that the Giga Football Pass bundle will only be used for streaming on Kwese iflix, StarTimes and DStv Now apps. For your other smartphone uses, you will still need an active data bundle subscription.