Have you heard? It’s World Cup season! Given that the World Cup only happens every four years, it’s been a good time for me to reflect on the changes in how I’ve been watching the greatest sporting event on the planet (at least, since the last time the tournament rolled around.) In short, technology has made this World Cup better than ever, with everything from the memes to the resolution getting a big boost this year.
And speaking personally, one of the biggest differences for me is the massive growth in internet streaming, combined with the prevalence of unlimited data plans that has made this year’s matches that much easier to watch. Four years ago, I remember sprinting home to catch a shootout that my roommate was texting me about last World Cup, bursting in my door to catch the final shots. There were no over-the-top streaming services like Sling TV or Hulu’s live service for me to catch the game on, and if whatever network that had the rights then was even offering an online stream, it wasn’t the sort of data I could afford to waste on my limited, 2GB per month plan.
This year, though, has been entirely different. I’ve caught up on matches while calmly walking back from the subway, streaming merrily in HD through YouTube TV, watched shootouts on a second screen at the office while writing posts (including this one), and caught early morning matchups from the comfort of my bed on weekend mornings. It’s an entirely different experience from a few years ago, and one that’s a clear case where technology has improved things for the better.
I’d also be remiss in not pointing out how tech has enabled the other great part of the World Cup — watching with friends. Sure, I may be streaming the matches off my phone while waiting for a train, but I’ve been able to follow the entire tournament in real time with my friends, whether they live around the corner or across the world. Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp have become just as important as the actual game stream, letting me communicate and commiserate with everyone in real time (sorry again, Iceland.)
Ultimately, it’s just nice to see tech bringing people together, just like the sport is supposed to do.