World Cup bill shock is not just for travellers

Risk for fans streaming games to mobile devices


watching smartphone

The potential cost of travelling to the World Cup without appreciating the data roaming implications could run to hundreds or even thousands of pounds. However, one expert has warned that even if you stay home, the World Cup could cost you an extra £12 on your mobile bill for every match you follow. With 18 matches taking place during working hours - when you are likely to be away from home - the tournament could cost a shocking £216.

So where does the risk lie, and what can you do to avoid it?

The issue is that there will be 18 World Cup matches with 5pm weekday kick-off times, which means that many people will still be at work - or will be on their way home and unable to watch the match on TV.

Of those in work, some employers have gone to the lengths of installing TVs in meeting rooms and informing staff that they are free to watch early evening matches in the office. Others can watch from their desktop computers - providing that their employer hasn't restricted the services they can receive.

However, if your employer is less open to granting additional freedoms around the World Cup, there's a chance you may end up watching the tournament on some kind of mobile device in the office - or on your way home.


MoneySuperMarket research shows that more UK workers will follow at least one match over the internet during this year's tournament (39%) than will watch them on a traditional TV set (34%) at their place of work. Of those who are intending to follow World Cup matches at work, 24% will do so over BBC iPlayer and 19% will view via ITV Player.

The risk here is that it could make huge inroads to your monthly data allowance. Kevin Pratt, broadband editor at MoneySuperMarket said: "With the number of people intending to watch matches online at work there are implications that need to be considered. Streaming isn't cheap to do and without the right data packages in place, whether that is on available broadband/Wi-Fi or mobile phone contracts, some people could be severely stung."

Pratt says the cost of each match will depend on the connection type and the device, but says a match could use anything from 450MB to 1.5GB - which could cost anything from £4 - £12.

What can you do?

It's worth exploring your options before you turn to your mobile device. Your employer may be more open to you watching matches in the office than you expect. Alternatively, if you have the option of flexible working, these days may constitute the perfect opportunity to take advantage of this option.

If you finish work at five, and can't make it home, then as long as you spend less than £4 on refreshments, it may actually be cheaper to watch the match in the pub - although that one might be harder to justify to any non-football-fans in the household.

If you have no other option than to watch on a mobile device, you need to evaluate your internet or mobile phone data package before the tournament starts, to ensure you have the capacity to watch the games you want as well as still use your day to day data without being charged for exceeding your data limit.

Pratt adds: "It might be worthwhile upgrading your existing package for a short term to cover any extra data usage or, opting for a provider's 'bolt on' deal to add some extra data allowance to your package. Spending a little more up front could help you avoid a huge bill shock if you end up going over your limit."