Earlier today, I talked about the hidden features of WatchESPN that benefit U.S. soccer fans who want to watch the 2014 World Cup. Since then, people have been asking me questions like "Yea, but who gets to see WatchESPN, and can I see it if I'm a cord cutter?"
Some of my friends who are cord cutters said that they have access to WatchESPN, but aren't entirely certain why. They said things like, "maybe it's because I am a Comcast Internet subscriber even though I don't have a television subscription." But their experience was anecdotal at best.
Then I discovered the WatchESPN FAQ which answers a great number of questions about the service.
It turns out that access to WatchESPN under normal circumstances "requires a video subscription from an affiliated provider." WatchESPN's affiliated provider list includes many of the major cable television and Internet providers such as AT&T U-Verse, Comcast, Cox, Dish Network, and Time Warner. At the moment, it doesn't include providers such as DirecTV.
If WatchESPN isn't available to you, you have the ability to watch the first two rounds of the World Cup for free, with no TV subscription on Univision through its website or the Univision Deportes App on iOS, Android, or XBOX One. The catch is that you need to be OK with listening to Spanish language play-by-play and commercials. Here's the Operation Gadget review of the Univision Deportes app for iOS in case you want to try it out.
This is a good cultural experience for many English-speaking Americans. I watched an entire World Cup when I was in high school in Spanish, and I learned a lot of Spanish colloquialisms that apply to sports that way.
Later rounds of the World Cup will require a television subscription, which will work for most major carriers other than Comcast; Comcast doesn't carry the Univision Deportes channel.
I'll try to give some options for people who want to go to more extreme measures in order to avoid paying for TV to watch the World Cup in a future article.
We wrote a review of the Univision Deportes app for iOS, which we like a lot. It's especially a good option for people who speak Spanish and can't follow English play-by-play on ESPN, WatchESPN, the CBC, and other English language broadcasters.