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How far behind is iPlayer for World Cup matches?

World Cup 2022 iPlayer
Playing catch up: why is BBC iPlayer behind when watching live TV?

With many World Cup matches playing at different times throughout the day, it’s great that you don’t always need to be near a TV to watch them. Streaming services such as BBC iPlayer and ITVX mean you can get your fix of the live games practically anywhere. However, because of the time lag with these services, be ready to hear cheering elsewhere before you see the ball hit the back of the net. So how far behind is BBC iPlayer and why does it occur? Let’s find out.

Why is live streaming on BBC iPlayer behind live TV?

Your internet speed and the processing power of your device are two common factors that can cause lag when watching online live streaming.

Another major reason is the way the picture travels across the internet. With live TV through an aerial or satellite, you get the signal pretty much directly from source.

In contrast, online streaming has to take a longer route through various servers and CDNs, or content delivery networks. CDNs buffer the content closer to the viewer, so that all of that traffic doesn’t have to travel so far across the internet. While CDNs are necessary to stop streaming services bringing the internet to its knees, they do incur a delay.

So how much of a delay can I expect?

How far behind BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, and the other streaming services are depends on the factors already mentioned. However, a ballpark figure is anywhere between 30 seconds and a couple of minutes.

As an example, we watched the Wales vs Iran match on our Freeview television and streamed the game simultaneously via BBC iPlayer on an iPad. As you can see from the image below, the iPad was around 90 seconds behind.

So, while watching online, how do you avoid being the last to know your team scored a goal? The best option would be to invest in some noise-cancelling headphones. Either that, or go to the pub to watch it with everyone else!

BBC iPlayer not working on smart TV?

About the author

Mark Parvin

I have worked with and wrote about computers, video games and consumer tech for more years than I care to admit.
I currently run my own IT support business and write about the wonders of tech whenever I can.

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