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The BBC is the largest and oldest global broadcaster in the world. A public-funded, free-to-air media giant operating in the UK, the “Beeb” as it’s affectionately known, produces television, radio and online content, including entertainment, news and sport.

Live Football on BBC

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As a public entity, the BBC is most famous among football fans for its coverage of major men’s and women’s international tournaments, including the FIFA World Cup and UEFA European Championships. 

However, its football coverage across video and audio platforms doesn’t stop there.


Which football competitions does the BBC show?

In terms of live football matches, the BBC covers the FIFA World Cup and UEFA European Championships, bringing a major international tournament to every television screen in the UK for free every two years, without fail, as well as highlights of matches it does not show.

Sharing the rights to these tournaments with fellow free-to-air giant ITV, the BBC enjoys an equal split of games throughout the group stages and knockout stages, before airing one semi-final and broadcasting the final to millions simultaneously alongside ITV.

It has also quite regularly aired fixtures from other global showpieces like the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) and Copa America.

When it comes to club football, the BBC also boasts the rights to produce free coverage of the oldest club competition in the world, the FA Cup. Every season, the public broadcaster shows live matches from the first round of the competition until the final at Wembley.

What’s more, the BBC is famous for its long-running Premier League highlights show, Match of the Day, and its sister programme Match of the Day 2, both of which keep fans up-to-date with all the goals and action from each weekend of Premier League football.

The best TV packages to get the BBC Sport

Despite being a free-to-air network, with no subscriptions or monthly payments, UK citizens are technically required to hold a TV license to watch BBC programming of any kind, on TV or online.

The TV license currently costs £159 a year, or the costs can be spread out via a monthly Direct Debit.

Although millions of people choose not to have a TV license, and risk the consequences of being caught watching television, without one, it is technically a requirement for watching the BBC in the UK.

Aside from the license, there are no other costs. The BBC is not something which football fans have to directly sign up for like Sky Sports, TNT Sports or other providers.

Best BBC Sport Live Streaming Options in the UK 

Fans can enjoy all the football that the BBC has to offer on the BBC Sport website, BBC Sport app or the BBC iPlayer, the broadcaster’s dedicated live streaming app.

This means you can enjoy Match of the Day, the FA Cup, the FIFA World Cup and more, on all your devices, wherever and whenever. That’s phones, tablets, smart TVs, or whatever you prefer.

However, the BBC and the football it covers can also be watched on a myriad of other streaming services, both paid and free, in the UK, including NOW, Pluto TV, Freeview and more.

Remember that whatever streaming service or website you use to watch football on the BBC, you will need a valid TV license to do so legally.

Can You Watch the BBC Using a VPN?

Fans from around the world can watch football on the BBC on the website, app or BBC iPlayer using a Virtual Private Network (VPN). Even if you don’t reside in the UK, you can access BBC football live streams wherever you are, with the help of a VPN.

Assuming you have checked the rules and regulations regarding VPNs where you are, and done your due diligence regarding the best VPN to go with, there’s little stopping you from accessing football live streams on the BBC.

Best BBC Football Pundits and Commentators

Across its Match of the Day and Match of the Day 2 highlights programmes and its live football coverage of the FA Cup, FIFA World Cup and more, the BBC has some of the most beloved presenters, commentators and pundits in its ranks.

In terms of hosts and presenters, it boasts Gary Lineker, perhaps the most famous and popular football TV presenter in the UK, as well as household names like Mark Chapman and Alex Scott.

These big-name hosts are often joined in the studio by the likes of former England and Newcastle United superstar Alan Shearer, popular rising star Jermaine Jenas, former Premier League winner with Arsenal Martin Keown, and several other high-profile figures.

Fans of football on the BBC are also treated to commentary from the likes of Jonathan Pearce, Guy Mowbray, Martin Fisher and other veterans of the booth.

Pros and Cons of BBC Football

The big plus for the BBC is that it is “free”. Discounting the TV license fee which, while it does go towards funding the institution is not technically a subscription fee for the service, watching football on the is completely free.

Also, the “Beeb” has the right to air the FIFA World Cup, which is inarguably the pinnacle of world football, something which none of the big pay-TV broadcasters can claim.

The obvious downside for the BBC is the lack of club football rights, with the FA Cup being the jewel in the crown of its club offering. It does produce Match of the Day, which is a hugely popular and world-famous brand, but a lack of regular live matches from the Premier League or the UEFA Champions League on its network does harm the BBC somewhat.

FAQ: How to watch BBC Football

Q. How can I watch live football on BBC?
A. You can watch live football on the BBC, including the FIFA World Cup and FA Cup, on linear television, usually on BBC One, or online via the BBC iPlayer.

Q. How can I watch BBC live online?
A. You can watch BBC live online, football, sport or any other type of programming, via the BBC’s dedicated live streaming platform, the BBC iPlayer, or on the BBC website or app.

Q. Do I need a TV license to watch BBC iPlayer?
A. Yes. You must be covered by a TV Licence (including a free TV Licence if you are eligible) to use the BBC iPlayer. This applies to any device you use.

Q. How do I watch BBC iPlayer?
A. You simply download the BBC iPlayer app to your mobile device (e.g. phone, tablet, smart TV), sign up for a BBC account or log in, navigate to the live channel or on-demand content you wish to watch and start live streaming.

Q. Why can’t I watch football on BBC?
A. You can watch some football on the BBC, including live coverage of major international tournaments, the FA Cup and Premier League highlights. However, the reason you can’t watch live football from several other high-profile competitions, like the EFL and the UEFA Champions League, is that it does not own the broadcast rights to those entities.

Q. What can I legally watch without a TV license?
A. As long as you are not watching live television from the BBC or live streaming on the BBC iPlayer, website or app, you can watch content live or on-demand without purchasing a TV license in the UK..

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