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With the World Cup well underway, more and more people are choosing to watch online, with both ITV and BBC showing live coverage of each match on their websites. 

I've been attempting to watch a few matches on both websites, and the BBC is the clear winner so far... 

First of all, actually finding the live coverage on ITV.com is harder than it needs to be. It looks easy, since you see this screen when you arrive at the homepage during matches: 

This looks simple enough, but it then takes a further three clicks until I reach this page (click image for larger version): 

Then, it's a real challenge to find out what I need to click to actually watch the match which is why I arrived at this page in the first page. 

Viewer polls, team line ups, player profiles etc, may be useful, but the 'watch match' link should be unmissable; instead it is in the yellow bar near the top of the screen marked 'watch and chat'. 

This opens up the match in a small window. You have to watch a couple of minutes of ads first, which is fine since ITV needs to make money from the coverage, though it is annoying when you have to wait two minutes to start watching. 

I wonder how effective these ads are for ITV, since many users must simply go to another tab or window and do something else while they wait for the ads to pass. 

I also made the mistake of clicking on the instant replay while I waited for the ads to play out, which froze the whole page, meaning I had to refresh and start from scratch. 

However, the worst thing about the online coverage is the quality. The small screen shown above isn't quite big enough to watch the game properly, but if you enlarge the coverage to full screen the resolution is not good enough and a blurry mess ensues. 

Worse still, the coverage is jerky and needs to reload / buffer every few minutes. This screen became a familiar sight during the Ivory Coast v Portugal game: 

A quick search on Twitter shows that I'm not the only one with complaints about ITV's online World Cup coverage. Here are a few of the many negative comments: 

I swear the ITV online "live" stream keeps going down just so I have to reload and they can show me more ads. #itvfail #worldcup

One thing worse than ITV football coverage? ITV football coverage online.

It seems that ITV is as crap at online coverage as it is on the TV. Portugal game is jerky and so many adverts. BBC's is SOOOOO much better

ITV online is a pile of steaming ad-ridden turd. Best use tvcatchup.com for those games

ITV live online is terrible compared to the BBC stream. I want higher resolution instead of the ability to hear what ITV viewers think.

A big praise to BBC online streaming, quality is thousand times better than ITV's player.

By contrast, the quality of the BBC's coverage is excellent. I watched the whole of Italy v Paraguay without any glitches, and even in full-screen, the picture quality is excellent. 

The BBC has similar findability issues though; if you find the live coverage via the BBC Sport section of the website, then you get a version which is accompanied by a Twitter feed, team news and stats, but the picture quality is inferior to that shown via iPlayer. 

However, if you head for the iPlayer when a match is playing or about to start, there isn't a quick link to whatever is on TV now, so you need to hunt through today's schedules for the link to watch, though the beta version does at least have a link on the homepage. 

Conclusion

ITV has gone to some effort to provide lots of stats and interactivity to set alongside its online coverage, but it needs to improve the core offering, by improving the quality and reliability of its live football coverage, as well as making it easier to find quickly. 

Graham Charlton

Published 16 June, 2010 by Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton is the former Editor-in-Chief at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter or connect via Linkedin or Google+

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Comments (24)

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Malcolm Coles, Director at Digital Sparkle

"If you find the live coverage via the BBC Sport section of the website, then you get a version which is accompanied by a Twitter feed, team news and stats, but the picture quality is inferior to that shown via iPlayer. "

That would explain it. I thought the BBC had had some sort of quality meltdown. They should make it a lot clearer you can watch in better quality elsewhere ...

about 6 years ago

Luke Mitchell

Luke Mitchell, Head of Youth Strategy at The Beans Group

Throughout the Japan game I couldn't get the BBC stream to work, despite persistent refreshing.

about 6 years ago

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Kris Noble

Had a very similar experience trying to watch a game, I gave up in the end and listened to the BBC commentary on iPlayer instead.

ITV's "watch online" isn't great all round IMO - it's a long way behind both 4od and iPlayer. Hard to find programmes unless you know what you're looking for, poor streams and loads of ads.

about 6 years ago

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Luke

In my experience the BBC certainly has the more favourable cleaner design, while the ITVlive thing goes a little overboard.  That said, I find the side BBC panel commentary at its best rather pointless and at its worst damn annoying (during one match it reported the goal quicker than the video screen). 

In contrast, the ITVlive chat is a nice interactive touch and it’s good to see that those running it are eager to chat too.  Additionally, ITVlive have seemed to be more on the ball with getting relevant replays up (even if you do see more ads) and although the stream is sometimes pixel-tastic, I’d rather that than it stop completely – as it has seemed to quite often for BBC.

I think they can learn a little from each other. 

about 6 years ago

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David Bishop, Research at Co-operative Financial Services

The mobile app ITV have out is even worse than this - I mean apart from never being able to stream over wi-fi or 3G, the wrong scores, missing scores, wrong tables, matches in the wrong order it is great.

about 6 years ago

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Jason Smith

All the BBC need to do now is get rid of Alan Hansen and they willl have a perfect coverage of the World Cup ....i cant understand a word that man says :)

about 6 years ago

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Cropstar

The STV streaming of ITV's matches is much better, there is even an "HD" option which looks reasonably good full screen. It's on www.stv.tv

about 6 years ago

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Danny Whatmough

I'm so glad I'm not the only person that took ages to find the 'watch now' link on the ITV site!!

about 6 years ago

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Nee Cartwright

This article is exactly right. The ITV live stream is both difficult to find and incredibly frustrating to watch. How gutting that the BBC doesn't have rights to all the matches.

about 6 years ago

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Mohammed

I think ITVs coverage both on TV and Online has been absolutely shocking, I've found streams online through various sites much quicker and better to view.

Itv has provided such poor coverage on both TV and online, I've decided not to bother watching anything of theirs. I understand they have got to make money through advertisements, but do they have to make the links do damn hard to find?

about 6 years ago

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rizwan

itv ads pissed me off you can't even fast forward them bbc is slightly better and yes i too found it very difficult to find itv's world cup matches at first bbc is a lot more straightforward and few clicks and you are there and why do you have to watch and chat on itv i did this and was very distracted i was hardly watching the match too busy typing messages and why can't stupid itv just do one long advert instead of 3 which last from 20 to 30 secs long each.if you arrive late for a match you should go straight to the match not go through ads.and the ads r shit and they are always the same

about 6 years ago

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Deri Jones, CEO at SciVisum.co.uk

Half time and England 1:0 - and the BBC stream seems to be holding up well.

At least according to the WorldCup streaming media User Journeys we've been monitoring for the BBC.

Deri

about 6 years ago

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J

Alan Hansen - by far the best commentator. Insightful, balanced and the one who always cares about good quality football.

about 6 years ago

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AJ

Itv online football is rubbish. It keeps stopping and starting utter rubbish. and then the comments tell you what happened before you see it because the "live" feed is 10 minutes behind the actual game!

about 6 years ago

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Richard

ITV Player is woeful. Every game just jolts every 2-3 seconds, even with a high speed connection. Having to wade through cluttered pages and clicking about 5 times and THEN watching 3 adverts before you get to the action!

The BBC iplayer has been nothing short of perfection when compared to this drivel. Well done BBC.

about 6 years ago

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Tristan

Im watching IVT player. Its the start of the 2nd half of extra time...my computer crashes...and when i turn it on 1 min later... its on penatlys.. 17 Min delay..BBC All the way!

about 6 years ago

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kurt

ITV world cup games are not live,,,,i was watching the Japan game and was talking to my girlfriend in Japan,,,our stream was like 15mins behind ,,so how the hell is this live????? ITV are complete utter crap,,,,,,,,and whats worse is ,,this is why have to pay for a television license geeeeeeeeshh,!!!!

about 6 years ago

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finnie

kurt,

You are wrong, you have to pay due tothe  BBC TV License fee. ITV get all its revenue from adverts. BBC get over £13bn from this fee. You work the rest out.

about 6 years ago

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Metal Mickey

Thanks ITV for ruining my world cup experience. Same issues here, time delay, crashing, ads, buffering, shitty quality. Was better off listening on the radio. Wish the Holland v Brazil game had been on the Beeb, no problems in their camp.

BBC FTW!

about 6 years ago

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mizo

ok Finnie,,

point taken ,but either way its still a pain in the ass for a T,V license when you consider whats on the  BBC ,,and that thing they call free view,,lol yeah sure its free ,,what a laugh,,we should have the choice if we wanna watch the BBC ,i for one would happily do with out it if it meant no paying for a licence,,and when you consider how much that ego mad crap J,ross gets paid its a kick in the mouth,,and as far as ITV they shouldnt advertise as live if its not ,,,still i shouldnt complain i guess,,,its just one more reason to get out of this god awful country we call England,,,and to think this used to be a great place ,,even an Empire,,what the hell happened,,,God save the queen??  God save England..

about 6 years ago

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Lisa Davies

Sorry to stray off the point slightly but the other thing about ITV player is they can't get even the most basic things right half the time. Last night they had messed up the dates and times of the latest Corrie episodes and tonight they've fixed that but got the images that go with the last three episodes the wrong way round. Come on ITV it's not rocket science.

about 6 years ago

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Modek

Totally agree. ITV streaming was rubbish. I tried it a couple of times then switched on my TV as it was unbearable. So many ads all around the place and took ages to load. BBC streaming was a masterpiece!

about 6 years ago

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muffy

Yeah same issue here ITV what a load of rubbish,,,

BBC has it better ,,oh and is it me or do the bbc spoke ppl for the footy wear way to much make up,,,its like watching a Drag show,,guys keep of the eye make up,,,you look soo pathetic,,,

about 6 years ago

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muffythedog

Yeah same issue here ITV what a load of rubbish,,,

BBC has it better ,,oh and is it me or do the bbc spoke ppl for the footy wear way to much make up,,,its like watching a Drag show,,guys keep of the eye make up,,,you look soo pathetic,,,why o why they wear so much make up is beyond me,they must look in the mirror and think yeah it looks ok,,but really  its such a joke guys .

about 6 years ago

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