Euro 2012 is upon us and with it three glorious weeks of bonus summer football. The only possible dampner on events - weather aside - are those pesky commitments that can get in the way. With often two games a day to contend with and a fair few 5pm kick offs, a big clutch of afternoon dentist appointments are going to start looking rather suspicious.
So, instead, embrace technology in Euro 2012 style and here behold a host of ways to watch the European Championships football even if you’re stuck behind a desk or in a church pew dressed up in your suit.
TVCatchup.com is your one stop and should be your first port of call for catching a live game without a television in sight. If you’ve not used it before, it’s a free service that streams all of the Freeview channels to your computer and even to iPhone and iPads as well, over both Wi-Fi and 3G, courtesy of dedicated apps. Those on other mobile platforms will have to tune in via their browsers.
You have to register for access but it’s all free of charge with no spam or any kind of dirt to deal with whatsoever, save a quick pre-roll ad when you first tune in. The streams are clear and there’s even a beta version of ITV HD to try out if you’re lucky enough to be after a Euro 2012 fixture on that channel.
Type: Live - desktop, mobile, tablet
Apps: iPhone & iPad
Of course, you could always go straight to the source on this one, what with both the BBC and ITV having their own dedicated streaming services. The good news is that there’s none of the tricky rights issues that you get into when it comes to the Premier League. The Beeb is allowed to both stream its Euro 2012 games and hold them for catch-up on-demand view.
So, from here, it’s a question of how you’d like to play it. If you’re watching live, then there’s the desktop version of iPlayer, the Android and iOS apps using both Wi-Fi and 3G, some BlackBerry app support. Or you can just navigate to the BBC iPlayer site on your mobile device’s browser and see what goes. With the BBC Trust all about equal access, you’ll probably be pleasantly surprised.
Catch-up-wise, it’s a similar affair but, if you’re looking specifically to download to your device rather than stream - quite sensible, given that these things are 90 minutes long excluding all the buildup and analysis - it’s a rather more mottled picture. Sadly, it seems as if it’s something that the Beeb is phasing out and it’s only really the preserve of older feature phones and some portable media players. Take a look at this list and see if your device is compatible.
Type: Live, catch-up & download - desktop, mobile, tablet
The ITV Player option is sadly not as good as the iPlayer one, at least not for those on Android. The ITV Player app on Android neither lets you stream over 3G nor watch the content live - meaning that you have to rely on catch-up Euro 2012 viewing which isn’t always as attractive when it comes to sporting events.
Those using the app on iPhone or iPad don’t suffer the same restrictions but the way around it, of course, is to use your Android browser instead, and that might not be too bad a thing given that the ITV Player Android app is buggy to say the least. If the ITV website isn’t having it, then use this work around of how to make your Android browser a desktop browser.
If you are looking to stream a fair bit of Euro 2012 over a mobile broadband connection, then it's going to eat through your data allowance like nobody's business. A quick tip would be either to up your current data package or buy yourself a dedicated SIM for the month-long proceedings.
With the best mobile broadband coverage in the country, Three is where to head to. Choose the SIM 300 1-month, all you can eat tariff. It's a £15 rolling contract, so remember to roll yourself out of it once you're done. No need to ditch your normal arrangement. Just switch SIMs when it's time to get the footy on. The added advantage is that you won't get any phone calls or texts interrupting you either. The same is also available as a micro-SIM package.
If you happen to be on holiday during Euro 2012, then good for you. You can not only watch it without any work commitments in the way but you might also get a touch of local colour, nice weather and maybe even a national team that's worth supporting.
Naturally, your best bet in this environment is finding a local bar. That said, it might not be as straight forward as that, depending upon your location. Now, you might be able to get around the iPlayer and ITV Player walls with a touch of proxy server action or even some dirty software like Hotspot Shield, but try approaching the matter in another way. This is a list of the TV rights holders in other countries for Euro 2012. Go to their websites and you might find a stream player service all of their own which you can access while on their soil. Do make sure to use a local SIM if you're thinking about viewing over 3G, of course.
At Euro 2012
Finally, you might have braved both the hotel prices and nationalist groups and made the trip out to the European Championships itself. If so, then make sure to pick up an Orange UK SIM before you travel. Powered by Vidiator’s Xenon Live platform, it provides Orange customers with access to 34 live broadcasting channels including all the games being played at this summer’s tournament in Poland and the Ukraine.