Sports fans often find themselves on the bad end of deals when it comes to how much it costs them to watch things live. In 2021, the biggest events were split across 16 different platforms, 13 of which required regular payments, presuming you include the television licence. That means that sports fans would have to pay up to £150 per month to be able to watch the biggest events, without even taking into account the likes of pay-per-view channels that get used for the likes of big boxing matches throughout the year.
Another option open to people is to watch events via a bookmaker’s Live Stream channels. Whilst the exact thing you’ll get to watch might not be quite what you were hoping for, Live Streams do tend to be available on most sports. Yes, you’re unlikely to be able to watch Liverpool v Manchester City on a Live Stream, but if you’re not too fussy about the exact match that you end up engaging with then you’re ok. If, for example, you want to watch La Liga, the Bundesliga or Serie A then you will often find these types of games streamed by bookies as well as lower league UK games.
When it comes to some other sports like Tennis some larger betting sites will live stream every major game, including the slams. You can get access to streaming of major cricket, darts, snooker and other traditional sports as well as most US sports and a whole host of other things from table tennis to greyhound racing. Some sites now stream up to a quarter of a million individual events a year.
In the early online days most bookies charged for their streaming requiring you to place minimum bets to access them, however, now, with many, the streams are often free to watch for all customers, not requiring you to place a bet on the event to watch it. Some do require you to have bet withing the previous day or have funds in your account to watch, but you don’t need to bet on the thing you are watching.
Yes, this in many ways is free but obviously it is not completely free as the idea is you may bet or be more likely to bet with the bookie offering the stream, either on what you are watching or something else. If you are comfortable with that and you are someone who uses bookmakers and bets anyway then it is often a good option.
What Live Streaming Entails
Most bookmakers want to you to watch live events on their platform as it means that there’s an increased chance that you’ll place bets with them. With most bookies, it will be relatively obvious how you stream events live, owing to the fact that they will usually have a small symbol or specific area of the site that you need to head to in order to do so. All you need to do is to click on the link for the specific event that you want to watch and, if they’re offering a Live Stream, you’ll be taken to the relevant page for the stream in question.
The main thing to bear in mind when it comes to Live Streaming is that that is a bit of a misnomer. In virtually all cases, the stream will actually be a fair bit behind the live action. This is so the bookies have time to adjust or suspend odds markets before you see something happen, for example, if a player commits a serious foul in football the bookie will suspend markets before you can see it.
This can be a big problem if you’re using one betting site to stream an event whilst placing your bets against other punters on betting exchange sites. Always bear in mind that they might be in front of you in terms of how the action is playing out, so it’s not out of the question that they already know the outcome of something that you’re betting on.
If you are watching just for enjoyment remember that the action is a little behind the live event otherwise this could hamper the experience. Turning off notifications for score updates, etc. is a good idea so you don’t find out there has been a goal or who the winner is before you see it.
Streams are also not a substitute for watching on TV or on a subscription platform but they work almost as well on mobile and smaller devices. On desktop streams windows are generally small and the resolution is lower compared to what you get by paying for it. Still, the streams have enough quality for you to be able to follow the action and enjoy it. The experience is generally better on mobile, the resolution is still lower but the overall experience is not far off.
Do You Need To Pay?
There is no hard and fast rule when it comes to how much a bookmaker charges punters to watch Live Streams. For some, it will be necessary to place a bet on the action that you’re watching, even if it is as little as 50 pence. For other companies, they don’t ask you to place a bet on the exact event, but they will ask that you’ve placed a bet of some form within a reasonable period of time, such as the last day or seven days. As long as you have done so, you can then Live Stream any event that that company is showing.
It is also not uncommon for some betting companies to ask that you’ve deposited money into your account, even if you haven’t actually placed a bet on anything. This means that your ability to Live Stream events will be determined by you having added at least the minimum deposit amount to your account recently. Finally, there are some online bookmakers that simply require you to have an account with them, even if you haven’t actually deposited any more or placed any bets with them at any point since opening your account.
Why Bookies Offer Live Streaming
One of the most obvious questions that some people might ask is why, exactly, bookmakers even offer Live Streams of sporting events. This becomes especially relevant when the bookie that you’re talking about doesn’t even ask you to deposit money or place a bet in order to be able to watch something live. The answer, of course, comes in the form of driving engagement. Most people that know that a bookmaker might offer a Live Stream of an event will have that information because they have placed bets in the past or are willing to in the future.
Bookies find it incredibly difficult to engage customers when it is such a competitive market. They know full well that their competitors have just as much ability to bring punters to their sites as they do, with offering the best odds alone not enough to win the argument. As a result, they all try to find unique ways to encourage customers to their sites, whether that be via interesting deals or regular offers. Another way or gaining the attention of bettors is to offer them Live Streams of sporting events, which will always be popular.
Even the very act of offering a Live Stream will bring some punters to a site that they might not have thought of visiting otherwise. Once there, the temptation will always be present to place a bet on what they’re watching. If you have had to make a deposit into your betting account in order to be able to watch a Live Stream then that temptation will be even greater, whilst sites that ask you to place a bet, even just a small one, will know that you’ve made the first step towards placing regular bets with them.
Ultimately, online betting companies are not charities. Yes, some of them might be willing to allow you to watch a Live Stream for free, but that’s only because they think that you will be tempted to place a bet sooner or later. The very nature of business means that this is the way that gambling operators work, but as long as you know that going in then you stand an increased chance of being able to avoid falling foul of the temptation. The key thing to remember is that you should never place bets on sports you don’t follow, even if you are getting to watch a Live Stream for free.