Whether you’re married with kids, living with mates or just haven’t left home yet to venture into the big wide world, you’ll know the feeling. The moment you realise no one else is home and you have the television to yourself for a few hours in an evening or even a whole weekend.
There are of course plenty of other things you could be doing than just watching TV, but once you’ve decided not to do them, you can always find live football to watch if you look hard enough. All you need to know is what channels to look for and which ones are the best.
So below, we’ve compiled a list of the best channels for live football, what matches they show and our thoughts on how good their coverage is.
I think we’re all aware of this channel aren’t we? They’ve dominated live football in the UK for nearly 30 years now and although they’ve lost the rights to show Champions League football in recent years, their coverage of live domestic football in the UK has to be the best around. Now Sky have changed their format and come up with dedicated channels for each sport, so it’s even easier to find what you want to watch.
Gone are the Sky Sports Channels 1, 2, 3, 4 etc, replaced by Sky Sports Football and Sky Sports Premier League.
The Premier League channel does exactly what it says on the tin: it shows live Premier League Football over the weekend, including Friday and Monday nights. The main presenter is David Jones, who does an excellent job as he asks the various pundits on the show their opinions both pre-match and post-match.
Sky Sports Football covers the rest of the football action that Sky have the rights to, such as the EFL (which includes The Championship, League One and League Two). As well as extensive live rights to all of the England matches in the newly created UEFA Nations League, plus the 2019 and 2021 UEFA Nations League Final Four fixtures.
Unfortunately you can no longer watch Champions League football or La Liga on Sky Sports as they lost the rights to show those competitions. That is certainly a big loss, as these were extremely popular, but in terms of what they do show, the coverage is excellent.
BT do still feel like the new kids on the block, even though they have been showing Premier League football themselves since the 2013/14 season. To begin with their coverage was okay, but not brilliant. Also, the majority of people don’t like change and it took some time for the public to get on board with BT, especially with some of the pundits they had at the beginning.
Steadily over time they have improved dramatically and their pitch side coverage, as well as that in the studio with Jake Humphrey, is right up there now. Not only do they show the live match on Saturday evening with in-depth analysis, they also get into real discussions with the guests they have in the studio and the live show can go on for a good hour or so after the final whistle.
As mentioned, Sky Sports’ loss is BT Sport’s gain, because a few years back BT won the rights to show all the Champions League football.
BT spent big to get those rights, and they invested in their presenters too with their main host being Gary Lineker, as well as plenty of top pundits (mainly ex-players) in the studio and pitch-side across Europe. Lynsey Hipgrave is also one of the main presenters for Champions League, Europa League and a variety of other of other matches they cover like the FA Cup.
BT Sport are doing a good job with the channels they have and although there has been plenty of other companies in the past that have tried to compete with Sky. BT Sport looks to have made it work. They’ll be around for a long time to come, and their coverage is currently only going from strength to strength in our opinion.
We’ll be honest here, we weren’t actually aware how long Premier Sports has been around until we looked it up. So like us, you might be surprised yourselves by how many years they have been showing live football.
Although they don’t show UK fixtures, they do have various live football from across Europe and around the world and have done since they were established.
Currently they show live Copa do Brasil, La Liga from Spain, China Super League, Coupe de France, the Dutch Eredivisie, Italy’s Serie A as well as Portugal’s Primeira Liga. Which means on any given night of the week, you can find live football to watch with them.
Like BT and Sky, Premier Sports is a subscription channel but they do have a sister channel called FreeSports which is available to watch for free on Freeview, Sky, Virgin, Freesat, TalkTalk and BT.
They do not show loads of live football matches for free like you get on their main channels, but at least a few times a week they show live games so it is definitely worth checking out. especially if you like continental football.
What can we say about the BBC these days, our first thought is always Match of the Day, but when it comes to live football, unless there is a major tournament like the World Cup on, the choice is limited.
Their main offering is the FA Cup, and presenter Dan Walker does a super job with this, especially in the early rounds of the cup where he visits and presents shows from some of the lower league and non league teams.
From getting inside the tiny dressing rooms, interviewing chairman in the bar or club house to walking around the ground before kick off chatting to the fans.
They don’t have much live coverage but what they do show is good in our opinion. Saying that, they do always seem to get first pick on the “bigger” match in the FA Cup over BT.
Football on ITV these days is limited when it comes to regular weekly live football, because they’ve struggled in the bidding process against both Sky and BT. However, they do currently have shared rights for four years with Sky Sports for England’s football matches until 2022.
ITV have retained exclusive live rights for England’s European Qualifiers games up until Euro 2020 and the 2022 FIFA World Cup. They don’t have any domestic football from the UK any more, it’s just World Cup and Euro Championship coverage.
However, we’ve always been a big admirer of ITV4 too, as it does have some really good live sport and documentaries on there. What’s more, if you were lamenting the loss of La Liga on Sky Sports, we have some great news for you!
Recently, ITV4 struck a deal to show weekly live La Liga matches featuring both Madrid teams and of course Barcelona and this will be the only weekly live free-to-air football shown in the UK.
How To Find Out What’s On
Here at Live Sport Center, we have listings for all of the channels mentioned above, which are updated daily.
So keep your eye on this site and you’ll find more than enough live football to keep you occupied whenever you have a few hours to spare, and can get your hands on the remote.