BBC to stream World Cup in 4K and how to watch anywhere

The BBC has announced plans to stream dozens of matches from the FIFA World Cup 2018 in Russia live in 4K resolution and high dynamic range colour (HDR).

The BBC is one of two free-to-air broadcasters which will be showing the World Cup in the UK. Their coverage will only be available to UK-based viewers, but with a VPN you will still be able to stream it and watch 4K coverage from everywhere. And in this article, we will tell you everything you need to know to do it.

BBC to stream the World Cup in 4K

This year’s World Cup will be the first time that the BBC has streamed a major sporting event in 4K or ultra-high definition (UHD). The image will include four-times as many pixels as a regular HD picture.

They are not the first British broadcasters to offer live sports in 4K. But they are the first to offer 4K streaming in conjunction with HDR. They are able to offer this thanks to a new type of HDR called hybrid-log gamma (HLG), which they have created together with Japanese broadcaster NHK.

But there are a few restrictions in their coverage.

The BBC has the rights to show half of all World Cup Games. But only the games being broadcast on BBC One will be made available in 4K on the iPlayer. That will amount to a total of 29 games but can be expected to include all of England’s matches and the World Cup final.

There will also be a restriction on the number of people able to stream these matches. The BBC has said that access will be restricted to tens of thousands of devices and will be grated on a first-come, first-serve basis.

You will also need a 40 megabit per second (Mbit/s) internet connection to enjoy the optimum viewing experience. This is faster than most regular household internet connections, so if you are planning to stream matches in 4K, you should check how fast your connection is first.

Watch in 4K outside the UK

The BBC says that if you want to watch World Cup matches in 4K on the iPlayer you need to be in the UK. But that is not strictly true.

It is true that everything being streamed on the BBC iPlayer is geo-restrcted for UK-based viewers only. But, despite the BBC’s best efforts to stop VPN-users from accessing iPlayer streams from outside the UK, many still can.

To watch the BBC’s 4K coverage, all you have to do is click on the relevant button on the iPlayer. So, any VPN which can allow access to the iPlayer will also let you view these 4K matches too.

Not every VPN can access the iPlayer overseas, but two which can are NordVPN and ExpressVPN. So, to watch live 4K coverage of World Cup 2018 matches via the BBC iPlayer, all you need to do is follow these simple instructions (we have used NordVPN as an example):

  1. Visit the NordVPN website and sign up for their service. If you choose their annual subscription package, you can use the code VPNCOMP17 to get 30% off.
  2. Go to the VPN Apps section of their website and download the correct app for your device type. Alternatively look for their app in your usual app store.
  3. Open the app and login with your account details. These are the details you were given in step 1.
  4. On the world map, click the United Kingdom and then click Connect.

Now, head over to the BBC iPlayer website and, as long as you are one of the first to click on the 4K streaming link, and your internet connection is fast enough, you should be able to enjoy Ultra HD coverage.


Things to Note

It is important to remember that access to the BBC 4K streams will be limited. For some games, this probably won’t be a problem, but for popular matches, such as England games or the Final, be sure to get onto the iPlayer nice and early to guarantee you can watch the 4K stream.

As well as having a fast internet connection speed, you will also want to optimise your VPN connection speed to enjoy the best possible quality of stream. The best way to do this is to be as close to the UK as possible.

Users in Western Europe will enjoy the best service. Those in Eastern Europe and the on the east coast of the USA should be ok too. But others further afield may encounter more problems. Test your speeds in advance to make sure you will be able to watch the 4K coverage ok.


For the first time, the BBC will be streaming 29 World Cup matches in 4K quality this summer. This service is intended for UK-based users only, but those overseas will still be able to access the service using a VPN.

In this guide, we have told you how to do this using either NordVPN or ExpressVPN. But remember, you will need to optimise your VPN connection and also have a minimum 40 megabit per second (Mbit/s) internet connection too.

You will also need to be one of the first few thousand people to click on the BBCs 4K stream link. But if your luck is in, you can enjoy the quality coverage ever of the FIFA World Cup 2018.

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