England's World Cup qualifier this Saturday will be the first major sporting event to be screened solely online. The match against Ukraine at the Dnipro Arena has catapulted broadcast company Kentaro into the headlines, being shown at assorted newspaper Web sites, and even in cinemas. We answer your questions in our pre-match warm-up.
Where can I watch the game?
Ukraine vs England will be streamed principally at www.ukraineVengland.com.
Kentaro has partnered with The Sun, The Times, News of the World, The Daily Mail, The Daily Telegraph, The Daily Express, The Daily Star, The Independent, Virgin Media and Orange to stream the match on their sites. Each of the partners has a subdomain at Kentaro's ukraineVengland.com, so you have to sign up with Kentaro first.
The match will also be shown in some Odeon cinemas, which is just weird. If you really feel the need, it's on at Basingstoke, Bath, Birmingham, Blackpool, Derby, Hatfield, Lincoln, Leicester Square in London, Manchester, Norwich, Sheffield, Southampton and Wimbledon.
Coverage starts at 16.45 and kick-off is at 17.15.
How much will it cost?
£5 if you sign up now. This price is available until the end of Wednesday. On Thursday that goes up to £10, then £12 on match day.
Payments are made with PayPal, so you don't give Kentaro your card details. You only need to provide Kentaro with an email address and your postcode to sign up, and you don't need to give any details to the partner sites.
Is there any way of seeing the game free?
Not really. The match itself is free if you sign up to online gambling site bet365.com, but you have to credit £10 to your account. Why not stick that tenner on Emile Heskey to score? It's worth a punt. Okay, maybe not.
What's the quality of the stream?
The match will be streamed in standard definition, so it won't be much fun connecting to an HDTV.
Why isn't the game on telly?
By fluke, basically. As is usual with away games, sports licensing agency Kentaro bought broadcast rights from the Ukrainian FA and sold the game to ill-fated sports channel Setanta. When Setanta took an early bath and the BBC and ITV both missed a sitter by failing to stump up enough cash, Kentaro appointed Perform, "world leaders in monetising sport and entertainment in digital media". Rather than try anything fancy, Perform has opted for route one: pay-per-view. We doubt these circumstances will be repeated any time soon, especially for more significant events.
Who can watch the match?
Anyone with an Internet connection, Flash 10, and a PayPal account. Mac and PC are both supported. You'll need Internet Explorer 7.0.5730.11, Firefox 3.0.4, Safari 3.1.2, Opera 9.6.4 or Google Chrome 188.8.131.52.
Oh, unless you're in Albania, Cyprus, Croatia, Israel, Spain, Germany, Italy, Poland, Germany, Russia, Serbia and the Balkans, Turkey, Latin America, North America, the Middle East, Hong Kong, Thailand and South Africa. Which is pretty much everywhere. Including the Ukraine.
Ice-cream loving Football Italia legend James Richardson will present the live coverage with former England boss Sven Goran Eriksson. David Pleat and Tony Jones provide commentary on the game itself.
Will it work?
Kentaro will only sign up 1 million subscribers to ensure the streams don't fall over. We're sceptical that it will go without any technical hitches at all, but we're equally sceptical that a million punters will sign up -- after all, England are already through, and judging by the reaction, fans who already pay licence fees and Sky Sports subscriptions aren't keen on putting their hands in their pockets yet again.
Should I care?
About the game? Not really. Having won all their qualifiers so far, England are already through to the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. As an online event, however, it's an interesting experiment. Us die-hard webheads are excited about the prospect of seeing major sporting events online, but not at the expense of choice about where you watch it. Watching on your laptop is a welcome option, but only if you can't make it to the pub or a decent telly.
As for the pay-per-view factor, the fact is we have to pay for everything somehow. But do you want to pay up for games in this manner, or would you rather put up with advertising? And should the BBC have a monopoly on major events like this? Tell us your thoughts in the comments section. Eng-er-land!