World Cup live stream figures show football fans watch games online in record numbers

France vs Belgium game will be streamed through websites on a bigger scale than ever before

France Belgium World Cup preview

With only four teams remaining in the 2018 Fifa World Cup, more fans than ever before are expected to watch the final fixtures between France and Belgium, and England versus Croatia, online.

Even before the semi finals kick off, figures show that the online streams of England's previous games broke BBC's records for the most live streamed programme ever.

The most viewed match of the World Cup so far was England against Sweden in the quarter final, with 3.8 million people viewing the match through BBC iPlayer. This topped the previous high of 3 million who tuned in to watch England face Tunisia in the opening game.

The first semi final between France and Belgium, set to kick off at 7pm BST on 10 July, will be streamed through BBC iPlayer in the UK.

A total of 31.2 million browsers watched the group matches through the BBC platform. This compares to 32 million online viewers for the whole of Brazil 2014.

The BBC's chief technology and product officer Matthew Postgate, said in a statement shared with The Independent: “Alongside the BBC’s world-class TV and Radio coverage, record numbers of fans are using our digital services to follow the World Cup. Millions are watching the big matches on their connected TV at home, while millions more are sneaking a peak on their work laptop or cramming in some games on their commute.

He added: "People love the BBC’s World Cup coverage -and we’re making sure they can tune in whenever and wherever they want.”

France's defender Benjamin Mendy and France's midfielder Paul Pogba take part in a training session of France's national football team

Even more viewers tuned in for the knockout games, as the last 15 days of the tournament produced the largest viewing figures – both for TV and online.

“We’re delighted that we’ve been able to bring some of the most exciting games of the World Cup so far to BBC audiences and that so many have tuned in," said Steve Rudge, BBC lead executive of football.

"We now look forward to bringing viewers some of the biggest games of the next round including heavyweight clashes between France and Argentina and when the hosts Russia take on Spain in Moscow.”

Cybersecurity experts have previously warned that some online sites hosting live streams of World Cup matches pose a threat to football fans who watch them.

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