The United States and Germany play a high-stakes match at the World Cup today, with each team still vying for a spot in the knockout rounds. Both teams can advance with a win or a draw. Kickoff is at noon in New York and 6pm in Berlin.
Germans, like most of the world, can watch the match for free on public broadcaster ZDF, which will also stream it online. Most Americans will watch on cable channel ESPN, which has enjoyed record ratings during the World Cup. But since the match comes in the middle of the US workday, lots of people will be looking to watch online.
That’s where it gets tricky. ESPN is streaming the match, but that requires a pay TV subscription and a cumbersome process to prove it. However, there are other options.
In the US, the simplest, fastest, and least expensive option is Univision’s live stream. (It’s available on the web and through Univision’s apps for iOS and Android.) The broadcast is in Spanish, which is perfect for the more than 37 million Americans who speak the language. Everyone else can mute the audio, which might be the right approach for the workplace, anyway, or turn the match into a language lesson.
Note, however, that Univision’s stream isn’t legally accessible outside the US. Time is also running out on this option: Starting with the quarter-finals of the tournament, Univision’s streams will require a pay TV subscription just like ESPN.
Univision + ESPN Radio
If you’re watching Univision’s stream, don’t understand Spanish, but still want commentary during the match, then mute Univision and turn to the radio. ESPN Radio is broadcasting the match for free on its affiliated stations and online.
One advantage of this approach is that ESPN Radio’s announcers tend to receive higher marks than their counterparts on television. And without the aid of visuals, they have to better explain what’s happening on the field.
The downside of mixing media, though, is that television, live streams, and audio feeds aren’t all synced up. You can watch Univision for free on over-the-air TV, but that’s more than a minute ahead of Univision’s (and ESPN’s) live streams online. ESPN Radio online, meanwhile, is about 10 seconds behind Univision online. And the timing of ESPN on over-the-air radio will vary based on your station.
The match, of course, is streaming online outside the US: on the BBC in the United Kingdom, CBC in Canada, NPO in the Netherlands, and elsewhere. Those streams are free, but they check to make sure you’re inside the country, which is tough luck for Americans.
There are plenty of ways to get around such restrictions, though, using virtual private networks (VPNs). Two reliable and free VPN services are TunnelBear and Hola. Just know that using them to pretend you’re in another country probably violates terms of service and possibly the law.