If you like to wager on football matches, then you also very probably like to watch the matches that you have wagered upon - it certainly adds an extra dimension of thrill to your sports betting.
Most of us watch football on terrestrial or satellite TV, but not every single game is shown live, plus TV broadcasters tend to concentrate on the big games or the big leagues. What if you've money on a La Liga relegation six-pointer, or a League One game between the giants of Fleetwood Town and the titans of Southend United? Thankfully, because of live football streaming at many online sports books, you just might be able to see football matches that simply cannot be seen anywhere else.
Online sports betting is becoming more and more popular, and in order to attract more custom, some online sports books offer live football streaming of major matches and leagues throughout Europe and beyond. Other markets are covered too - in particular horse racing, tennis and basketball - but it's live football streaming that generates the most interest.
If you're excited about the prospect of signing up for an online sports book just so you can enjoy the live streaming that's available, then you may need to calm down a little. You cannot just log into your sports book account and see what games are available. For you to be able to watch a live streaming game most online bookmakers will have some kind of stipulation. First and foremost, you very probably will have to have a 'minimum amount' wager placed on the live football streaming event you want to watch. Other stipulations may include having a minimum deposit amount in your sports betting account, or having recently made a certain number of bets of a specific total value or more.
If you type 'live football streaming' into Google no doubt at the top of the results page you will see some very dodgy-looking sites. These are not sports betting sites, but sites that show links to poor-quality illegal streams of football matches. Usually these streams originate from overseas broadcasters that file sharers are live streaming. It is illegal to share copyrighted material without permission, and anyhow, such streams are usually very poor quality, and have the commentary in a language it's unlikely you'll be able to understand.
Live football streaming via sports books is perfectly legal. All the major sports books that permit you to watch live streamed events have signed deals with sports leagues and broadcasters. The live football streams you can access are high in quality, and are much, much better than watching some low quality stream that dissolves into a blocky mess every few seconds or so!
The phrase to use here is 'as good as' – live streams are not actually live, but are only typically delayed by five to ten seconds. If you listen to, for example, radio commentary for an event you are live streaming, you will notice this slight delay, however, the delay does not detract significantly from the live football streaming experience.
Most viewing is done via PCs or laptops. You may be able to cast a stream so you can watch it on TV or via an internet browser on a SmartTV. Live football streams should also work on any device that have the capability of streaming video via the internet – for example your smart phone or tablet.
You will also need a dedicated connection to the internet of course. For the best streaming experience, you will need to find a broadband connection. Your home network will be best, but your local coffee shop's wireless broadband should also suffice if you're away from home.
Depending on the quality of the stream, you may be able to watch on a mobile device with a 4G connection, or even 3G, at a pinch.
Here is a quick run down of the football leagues you should be able to watch at a sports book that provides live football streaming services:
Unfortunately, the EPL is ' out of bounds' for most online sports books. The EPL is the world's most popular football league, and broadcasting rights are not cheap – indeed the last three-year EPL deal signed by Sky and BT amounted to an outlay of £10.4 billion. Sports books simply do not have that type of free cash hanging around, so very few EPL matches are available to be watched via live streaming.
The good news though is that a huge number of matches in the EPL are broadcast via Sky and BT. If you have a bet on a game and don't have Sky or BT then you should be able to find a pub or bar in your local area that is broadcasting it.
Football rights for the Championship are shared by SkyTV and Channel 5. While not so lucrative as the EPL, the 'money rights' for broadcasting are still too high for nearly all online sports books. This means that very few Championship games are available for live football streaming via sports books. The Championship is, at the time of writing, sponsored by Sky's sports book Sky Bet, but they do not currently have plans to live stream any FLC matches. The same goes for the two leagues below the FLC – League One or League Two.
La Liga is the top level of football in Spain and features giant teams such as Real Madrid and Barcelona, and some of the world's top footballing talent including Leo Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Luis Suarez. In the UK broadcasting rights are (again) held by Sky Sports, but the costs involved are not as extortionate as with UK football, hence some sports books are able to offer live streaming so many La Liga football matches.
Italy's highest level of football is Serie A, a league that features such classic teams as Juventus, Milan and Internazionale. For many years in the UK Italian football found a natural home for itself on Channel 4, but that no longer seems to be the case. In the UK now Italian football is almost exclusively broadcast on BT Sport. Some online sports books also have deals that allows them to live stream football matches from Serie A, which is a great boon if you enjoy betting on Italian football.
Ligue 1 is France's top level of competition in regards to football. Despite have some very good teams - Paris Saint-Germain for one - the French football league is not regarded as being as lucrative as the football leagues in England, Spain or Italy. As a result, broadcasting rights (held by BT Sport) are affordable by many leading sports books, so you should be able to watch streamed football matches from Ligue 1.
Football is, of course, a truly global event like no other. There are plenty of other top leagues around the world - Germany, Holland, Belgium, Turkey, Asia and of course Major League Soccer in the USA - and you'll find plenty of matches that are live streamed via your favourite online sports books.
Want to know more about wagering on football? Read our football betting guide for information on the best bookies and most popular types of bets.
Only a handful of the leading sports books offer live football streaming. Here is a quick breakdown of the best of them, and which football leagues and competitions are available for streaming. We'll also go through which other sports are available for streaming, just in case you are interested.
As well as being the internet's leading betting exchange, Betfair is also one of the leading online sports books for live football streaming and live streaming of other sports. Note that all events here have a streaming delay of between two and five seconds, or longer for some events.
Don't expect EPL games at Betfair, but do expect some very 'eclectic' leagues to be covered, such as the top leagues in Norway, Finland and even China. You will have to place a minimum bet though before you are able to watch any stream. This minimum bet value varies from event to event, so check the details before you attempt to live stream.
Other sports available for live streaming at Betfair includes Horse Racing, Tennis, Greyhounds, Volleyball, Snooker, Basketball, Darts, Cricket, Ice Hockey, Rugby League, Bowls and Handball.
Want to know more about Betfair? Read our Betfair review for details about their sportsbook and promotions.
Bet365 is something of a Marmite site – people either love it or hate it. The non-flashy, spreadsheet-like approach does take some getting used to, but professional sports bettors do seem to appreciate it.
Most sports bettors who use Bet365's site also appreciate the live streaming of football and other sports that's available at this leading online sports book. The site live streams over one hundred thousand sport events every year, straight to your desktop. You can view any sports betting stream at Bet365 as long as (a) you have an account at Bet365 and (b) your account is funded, or you have placed a bet within the previous twenty-four hours.
Among the live football streaming that's available at Bet365, you will find live Serie A, MLS and UEFA Europa Cup matches, as well as coverage of leagues from all over the globe. The other sports that are available to view via live streaming include cricket, tennis, bowls, table tennis, baseball, rugby league and basketball.
Read more about Bet365's sportsbook and promotions in our review.
The history of Paddy Power is littered with 'controversy' on a very small scale, but this has not put punters off from using Ireland's leading sports book for all their sports betting needs. This site also provides live football streaming.
Live streaming at Paddy Power is delayed by ten seconds or so, but that should not affect your viewing pleasure too greatly. Football coverage includes MLS, Swedish football and football from all over rest of the globe, including substantial coverage of Asian football.
Other sports that you will find to stream at Paddy Power include tennis and cricket. To watch a streamed event at Paddy Power you just need to click on the TV icon that's placed to the right of any listed event. You will need to be a member at Paddy Power to watch the event, plus you may need to make a minimum value bet.
What else do PaddyPower have to offer? Find out in our in-depth review.
Sky have of course become the biggest non-terrestrial broadcaster of all sports – including football – in the UK. You would expect the live betting section of Sky – Sky Bet – to provide plenty of live football streaming opportunities and it does, with over six thousand live football games shown every year.
Sadly, if you want to watch UK football via this service you are just not going to have the option to, as Sky want you to sign up for one of their Sky Sports packages instead, as you might expect. You will be able to watch games from Germany, the Netherlands, Brazil, Portugal, Russia and Northern Ireland though.
The other sports you can watch via live streaming at Sky Bet include tennis and horse racing. To watch any event you will of course need to be a member of Sky Bet, and you will have to bet on the sporting event that you want to watch.