Live streaming is a service offered by all of the best betting sites around that allows you to watch a whole host of sporting events on your computer, tablet or mobile. It means you can get the thrill of betting on the big game, race, fight or match and watching all the action unfold. It is great for in-play betting because you can see how the game is going and adjust your bets based on the gameplay, whilst it is also perfect for watching live sport on the move.
Most of the big UK bookies offer some form of live streaming and, at the very best bookmakers, the range of events covered is massive. A lot of the events may not be televised through normal channels and certainly not on mainstream, free-to-air TV. This means that if you love watching and betting on sport, live streaming really is something you need to check out. Events are often essentially free to watch, though there may be some restrictions such as having funds in your account or occasionally having made a bet on the match or race in question.
In this article, we take a look at everything you need to know about live streaming, covering what events are shown, how live streaming works, how much it costs, what sort of quality you can expect and whether or not you can ever watch pay per view events such as a big moxing bout.
What Can You Stream?
The precise offering varies from site to site and of course according to what is going on in the world of sport at any given time. At the major UK bookies, probably the most common sports you will see are horse racing, football and tennis, though many more are also frequently available.
Horse racing is one of the most widely available sports and all of the best racing bookmakers offer live streams. Horse racing is perfect for streaming as the rights to broadcast it are usually inexpensive and only a small selection of the major races are shown on the large terrestrial and satellite channels. In addition, because of the incredibly close links between the betting industry and the sport, they often work together in a mutually beneficial way.
The offering will typically cover all UK and Irish races with some from around the world thrown in, as well. Whilst racing fans can access these races through paid services, where the all-round coverage and quality might be a little better, for most punters, streaming is an excellent option to watch the races they are betting on and can be a great way to pass an afternoon.
The best football betting sites cover just about every league and tournament in the world when it comes to betting. That means you can have a punt on football from all six populated continents, including even more obscure options like junior leagues, beach football, lower-tier action and more from places, such as Saudi Arabia, India, Belarus and Guatemala. Strange as it may sound, you can also watch the action live in many instances too, with streams covering a good number of these footballing outposts.
Broadcasting deals and licensing arrangements (which we will consider in more detail shortly) mean that you cannot necessarily watch the very biggest competitions, such as the Premier League. However, much depends on your geographical location and football fans in the UK can still stream some of the “Big Five” European leagues, as well as some of the “best of the rest”, for example, Dutch, Portuguese and US football.
Tennis is a hugely popular sport for in-play betting and part of the reason for this is that so many matches are available on live streaming. You will often be able to access the big matches such as those at Grand Slams but, certainly for lesser tournaments, you really will be spoilt for choice, with the option to watch most games from week to week.
Snooker is a sport that is often available to live stream and as with many of the options that are most widely available there are a number of reasons for this. In general, sports that lend themselves to in-play betting tend to receive more coverage and the big odds swings in snooker mean it is very popular in this regard.
In addition, sports that have, or have historically had, close links to betting tend to be more widely available. Some of snooker’s biggest tournaments are still sponsored by major UK bookmakers and so it ticks a lot of the live streaming boxes, especially as only the main two or three tournaments receive much mainstream television coverage.
Pretty much everything that we have said about snooker also applies to darts and this is another sport that you will find regularly streamed. In addition, like snooker, its main demographic tends to be one that bookies are keen to appeal to and so you will find a good number of smaller events and some of the bigger ones too.
The major US sports, basketball, baseball, ice hockey and American football, are all widely available to live stream at many of the top UK bookies. Some, such as ice hockey and basketball, tend to lend themselves a little better to live streaming but because none of the lesser leagues are widely shown on “normal” TV in the UK you will find a huge number of games from various leagues in all of these sports.
Many of the smaller sports are very widely available, chiefly because there is not massive competition to broadcast them otherwise. This means that if you are a fan of sports such as table tennis, squash, volleyball (and beach volleyball), badminton and European sports such as handball, you really will be spoiled for choice.
Aside from those, some of the other major sports popular in the UK, such as cricket, rugby and golf, do receive some coverage. For a range of reasons, including the length of time these sports go on, how popular they are for in-play betting, and how suitable to viewing on smaller screens they are, these are not anywhere near as widely available to live stream as some of the sports listed above. Even so, you will certainly see some fixtures and tournaments from all of these available from time to time.
As if all that was not enough, you will also be able to watch some of the smaller MMA and boxing bouts on live streams. There is also a growing amount of eSports coverage, with some of the UK’s biggest bookmakers covering it. Esports does have its own dedicated streaming services but as more and more people begin to bet on Esports we expect bookies will expand their offering.
Are Streams Free?
Streams are free in that you will not normally have to directly pay a fee to the bookie to watch them. However, you may need to have made a bet on the event in question in order to watch. The precise requirements vary from bookie to bookie and sometimes from event to event. Whilst many are entirely free, with the only requirement being that you are logged in to your bookie account, others may require you to have funds in your account or to have made a bet within a certain timeframe.
The requirement will usually be shown when you attempt to access a stream but if not just check out the site’s streaming FAQ or similar, or get in touch with the customer support team.
When it comes to the technical requirements, you can again find full information at whatever betting site you are using. In general, most modern phones and tablets, and certainly laptops, will be more than capable of handling bookmaker live streams. Requirements will vary from site to site depending on what system they use but should you need to download anything you will be prompted to do so.
If you are using a site’s app this will normally include the required software so you should be able to stream directly through it without needing to download anything further. Subject to certain licensing and technical restrictions you may also be able to cast your stream to a larger device such as your TV, or use an HDMI cable to achieve the same goal though this is not always possible.
In terms of internet speed, you should be able to watch a good quality stream with a clear picture over any decent 4G or 5G connection. That means you can watch your favourite sport and keep up with your bets on the go. Alternatively, any half-decent broadband connection will provide the same so if you have access to Wi-Fi this is usually the best option. If you are in something of a connectivity black hole then many sites have the option to receive a lower quality stream that should at least avoid buffering.
Can I Watch Pay-Per-View on Bookie Live Streams?
For a long time now just about all the big boxing and UFC bouts have been pay-per-view (PPV). For many fans, this is extremely frustrating as you need to pay £30 or sometimes even more for a fight that may only last a few seconds. And, invariably it is broadcast at around 4 am UK time!
There are mixed feelings about the PPV model and its popularity comes and goes. Some people in boxing are looking to move the fight game away from PPV but, for now at least, if you want to watch the big title fights in the major combat sports, or the biggest events from the WWE, you are going to have to stump up. Or are you? Is it possible to watch PPV events on bookmaker’s live streams?
Well, unfortunately, for anyone thinking they had hit upon a nice loophole, the answer is almost certainly no. Before we explain why, we should make it clear that we are talking here about the live streams offered legally by bookmakers in the UK, rather than any illegal or dubious streams you may be able to access via the darker corners of the web. In general, we would advise against these for a range of reasons, including the fact that they can be vectors for malware and viruses, often do not walk and are invariably poor quality.
Returning to bookmaker live streaming, PPV events are not likely to be offered because that would subvert the whole PPV system. Floyd Mayweather wasn’t able to afford his “Air Mayweather” private jet ($60m in case you were wondering) thanks to fans watching his fights for free. The licensing of PPV events is heavily restricted and organisers use all the technological means they can to make sure that footage cannot be easily, and certainly not legally, streamed.
Of course, almost inevitably there are sites that will try to get around these restrictions. As such, you may see offers of cheaper (or even free) streams of PPV events. However, these will not be offered by any reputable bookmakers and, as said, quality and legality will be questionable at best.
Are There Any Exceptions?
It is possible that you may be able to receive access to a specific PPV event as some form of offer or promotion. This is not something we have seen often and not by any of the top bookies out there but it could be worth bearing in mind, especially given there are always huge PPV events hovering on the horizon.
In theory, a bookie could offer a PPV pass in lieu of a free bet or bonus to new customers who join and place a bet on the fight, bout or event in question. Alternatively, it may be an offer with a traditional retailer, such as an electric goods store if you buy a new TV, or perhaps even as part of an offer when you buy insurance or switch your electricity provider.
Can You Live Stream Premier League Football?
Before we look at whether you can watch free live streams of the Premier League let us once again clarify that we mean via UK bookmakers and also that we mean assuming you are based in the UK. Streaming restrictions vary from country to country according to the various broadcast deals in place. But assuming you are in the United Kingdom, you will not be able to live stream action from the EPL through an online betting site.
In theory, you may be able to subvert such regulations by using a VPN but, as with semi-legal and illegal live streams, this is not something we would recommend. Using a VPN is often a breach of a bookmaker’s terms and could lead to your account being closed. That is assuming you can even access the site via a VPN as many bookmakers have software that enables them to recognise when one is being used.
As with PPV, the reason that you will not be able to access the Premier League using a free live stream is money. Broadcasters such as Sky pay huge sums of money for the rights to show the world’s most popular football league. Why would they spend billions of pounds if fans could just sign up to a bookie and watch the action for free?
Some games featuring the top English sides may be possible to view, for example friendlies, or, depending on rights deals at the time, some cup games. However, due to the highly lucrative nature of the broadcast rights for the Premier League and Champions League, it is highly unlikely that these will ever be available on free, legal, bookie live streams.