UK households watching Euro 2024 on BBC and ITV issued '45 second' warning

People planning to watch the Euro 2024 tournament on BBC and ITV have been issued a "45 second warning". Comparison and switching service Uswitch has found around five million people are at risk of a TV live-lag spoiling a sporting moment because of delay-prone smart TVs.

When watching a live broadcast via a smart TV or digital services such as Sky Go, ITVX or All4, programmes are shown as much as 45 seconds later compared with satellite or terrestrial TV. Uswitch said a simple fix was to watch the games on BBC or ITV via an aerial cable, connected to the wall.

"While there are a number of excellent digital streaming services, even with the fastest broadband connection and a great streaming provider you're still going to be a little bit behind the live action, and susceptible to dreaded live-lag," said Sabrina Hoque, broadband expert at Uswitch.

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"If you're somebody who wants to avoid spoilers at all costs, then using a cable TV connection may be the best option for you, as it will come with the minimum live-lag time. Though at present Virgin Media is the only provider offering this in the UK."

The broadcast type and average delay have been revealed in a Uswitch study. For Analogue Radio the lag is "near instantaneous" but for Digital Radio it is "between one and two seconds", the consumer site has explained. For satellite television it can be between 0.9 seconds and 2.2 seconds.

For digital terrestrial TV it is more than one second and for cable television it is about five seconds. For streaming it is between 10 and 45 seconds, the research from the consumer group website has also revealed. Uswitch uggests muting app and chat notifications, not looking on social media and shutting the windows so you can't hear your neighbours' reaction.