4K World Cup 2018 guide: How to watch, what you need and the best compatible TVs

Everything you need to know about streaming the beautiful game this summer

How to watch the World Cup in 4K
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It's coming home apparently. Optimism aside (England are destined to get knocked out by Colombia in the last 16), you really should be watching the World Cup in 4K on your smart TV.

Since this kind of opportunity only comes around every four years, you don’t want to be shortchanged with standard definition.

Those in the US have the opportunity to max out their picture for the World Cup with a variety of 4K options. And thankfully, the BBC's World Cup 2018 coverage is being shown live in 4K UHD to for those in the UK.

See also: How to watch 4K on Xbox

Despite this, achieving the optimal viewing experience isn't as clear-cut as it may seem.

In short: you won’t be able to flick across to any old compatible channel and receive top picture quality — you’re going to have to be, ahem, on the ball and have the right kit at your disposal. That's why we’re here to guide you. So, whether you want an idea of the best TVs to watch the World Cup in 4K, or simply need information on how to get the best quality from your existing setup, read on for all the answers.

Where can I watch the World Cup in 4K? (UK and US)

4K World Cup 2018 guide: How to watch, what you need and the best compatible TVs

Let’s kick things off for those in the UK, whose only option for 4K is tuning into the BBC’s coverage. The broadcaster is showing all of its 29 World Cup matches in Ultra HD and HDR through the BBC iPlayer, but the key thing to be aware of here is that that not everybody is guaranteed entry to the highest quality.

There’s only a limited number of spaces available (in the tens of thousands) on a first come, first served basis for each game. In theory, it's a "trial". In reality, it's "annoying". However, we're now well into the tournament and there hasn't been reports of people not being able to get involved in the 4K party.

But what about through terrestrial means? Well, that’s a non-starter, unfortunately. The BBC doesn’t have enough bandwidth to push the games through its traditional platform, and neutrality rules allegedly prevent it from being able to air games over cable or satellite, even though there are whispers to suggest Sky was willing to back the 4K broadcasts to its UHD subscribers at no cost to the BBC.

Obviously, these factors greatly limit who will be accessing the 4K HDR World Cup streams, but it's a slightly more manageable situation for those in the US.

If you want to watch 4K HDR Stateside, there are a few options that are far simpler. If you're a DirecTV subscriber, you'll be able to watch every game in glorious 4K HDR via channels 105 and 106. Unfortunately for everyone else, it seems DirecTV has attained exclusive rights to show all the games in 4K HDR. The only other satellite or cable alternative is Dish Network, but that'll only get you 56 of the 64 games. You can catch those - in 4K HDR - on channel 540.

Finally, there's Hisense's Fox Sports: 2018 FIFA World Cup Edition app, but that's exclusive to Hisense TVs only - regardless, it's a good option if you don't have a subscription to either Dish or DirecTV.

If you're not overly concerned about live action (a questionable move on your part), you can always catch up on games through Comcast's Xfinity X1 platform, which will be taking coverage from Telemundo and Fox and letting you play it on demand the day after the live games have taken place.

As you can probably tell, there’s none of this trial business going on in the US, either, so you won’t have to compete with other viewers just to get on board with your preferred option.

What do I need to watch the World Cup in 4K? (UK and US)

4K World Cup guide: How to watch the football in 4K

It goes without saying, but, hey, we’ll say it anyway: you need a 4K TV to stream the World Cup in 4K. Shocker, right? For the uninitiated, these TVs are generally 2160p, which means a resolution of 3840 x 2160 pixels, while there are also some overkill, 8K equivalents you can explore too.

But picking up the right TV isn’t the end of the story. Again let’s cover off the UK viewers first, who can also check out the list of compatible TVs with the BBC’s coverage here. You'll see that it's far from a comprehensive list. Many top-end models, from big name brands, aren't invited to the World Cup 4K party, and there are errors within that list to be wary of. It's also possibly not complete, with the Roku Streaming Stick+ and a group of Sony's 2018 range added in the week leading up to the big dance.

The Roku Streaming Stick+ is actually a brilliant option if your TV isn't on the list - we've been using one for all the BBC 4K games and have had no issues so far. It's less than £80... well worth the money in our opinion.

Roku Streaming Stick+
Roku Streaming Stick+

And sadly, if you thought your biggest problem was getting in, well, you’re also going to need a broadband connection strong enough to churn out speeds of 40Mbps if you want the max, 3840 pixel stream. If your connection can only manage 20Mbps consistently, that will drop down to 2560 pixels. These streams will automatically scale to match your broadband capabilities, with all resolutions using 50 frames a second refresh rates.

In the US, as we mentioned above, your live 4K options are a lot wider. If you're choosing to go with down the Hisense route, then you’re going to need one of the company’s premium Ultra HD TVs, including the H6E, H8E and H9E.

If you're a DirecTV subscriber, you'll need a Select package or higher, plus a compatible Genie 4K HDR receiver. Of course, you'll have needed your satellite system professionally installed as well. If you're a Dish subscriber with a 4K-compatible receiver and TV, you're good to go.

The best TVs to watch the World Cup 2018 in UHD 4K

Excited? Indeed you should be – especially if you’ve already got one of the TVs on the BBC’s list or you’re all set Stateside. If not, no fear – we’ve chosen our five top 4K televisions to watch the World Cup in UHD on.

Sony AF8

Really want to impress your mates this summer with an absolute TV monster? Then look no further than the OLED-tastic AF8. With picture and sound quality the same as you’d find on Sony’s more ‘funky’ looking A1, the screen itself actually provides the audio thanks to the Japanese giant’s Acoustic Surface tech.

Samsung Q7

Samsung has led the way on the LCD-front with its QLED tech, and the Q7 shows LCD has plenty of life left in it yet. Colours are bold and vibrant, and the peak brightness this TV is capable of means HDR looks stunning.

Samsung Q7
Samsung Q7

Hisense H6E

If you live in the US, you’ll need a Hisense TV for that Fox 4K app, and the good news is they come in pretty cheap. You can get a 43-inch set for less than $350 – which is great value for a HDR TV.

Hisense H6E
Hisense H6E

Philips 55POS9002/05

This Philips Android OLED TV packs in the P5 picture quality engine to digitally optimise everything you view, and Ambilight tech means a more immersive picture too, emitting a wide glow from three sides of your TV screen onto the wall.

Philips 55POS9002/05
Philips 55POS9002/05

LG 55SJ950V

LG claims this TV is great for people not in the best optimal viewing angle – which is likely if you've got a room full of your pals all watching the game. That's thanks to the Nano Cell Display tech, which enhances off-centre colour consistency and reduces colour distortion due to viewing angle.

LG 55SJ950V
LG 55SJ950V

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