Good news: In 2014, there are more apps and other options than ever before. As the World Cup transitions into the knockout stages, here's a look at how to keep up on everything to do with the tournament in Brazil, including the U.S.-Germany match on Thursday.
To stream games online using ESPN's website or app, viewers need a cable or satellite TV subscription. It's not enough to have Internet service through the cable provider.
But there is another way to watch for free - legally. Spanish-language channel Univision is streaming the first 56 World Cup games for free on its website and Deporte app. The only drawback (for some) is that the commentary is in Spanish.
Unfortunately, even the games on Univision will require a cable or satellite subscription once the quarterfinals begin on July 4.
ESPN Radio and Sirius XM are broadcasting all games over the radio. Simply find your local ESPN station, tune in at game time and let the drama unfold. Sirius requires a satellite radio subscription.
This is handy if you are watching the game on Univision but want to hear English-language commentary, though Internet streams can run a minute or so behind the broadcast.
There is a wide array of smartphone apps to help World Cup fans.
If you're looking for a source outside the sport's governing body, check out Forza Football, Vubooo's World Cup 2014 and World Soccer Finals for Apple and Android devices, and in some cases Windows phones as well. You don't get live video, but the apps offer lineups, game statistics, live updates, rankings and video highlights.
These apps offer similar information, but they are all free so you can try them all and see which you like best.
ESPN's website is chock full of stats and video highlights that you can access even if you don't have cable. Many news sites, including The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, offer live blogs of all of the games, offering insights and commentary. This can be a useful way to keep up, especially now that two games are going on at the same time.
My favorite live blog is from The Guardian. It provides an insightful running commentary, along with a heavy dose of snarkiness and an ongoing debate about which country's national anthem is the best.
Guardian World Cup page.
Twitter is displaying World Cup scores on its home page. All but two teams have official accounts, and 300 players are on Twitter. FIFA's Twitter accounts are FifaWorldCup and Fifacom. Clicking on the official Twitter hashtags, WorldCup and WorldCup2014, will take you to Twitter's hubs for the event.
Google has been doing a different Google Doodle on its main search page each day. One memorialized Paul the Octopus, an octopus that predicted World Cup winners until his death in 2010.
Google also has special Street View pages that highlight the painted streets of Brazil and the inside of all World Cup stadiums. The figure that guides users through Street View now has a white T-shirt and a soccer ball.
A dedicated Google Trends page showcases all trending topics related to the World Cup. Also, when you search for anything related to the World Cup, including just the name of a country in the tournament, stats and other information appear in a graphical box up top.
Hit the bar
Even if you have a TV, the best way to watch the World Cup is with other fans. Ask local bars and restaurants where and when the games will be shown.
But don't limit yourself to those: community centers, parks or other non-traditional places might be showing the games. In Minneapolis, for example, the Riverview Theater showed the June 16 U.S.-Ghana game for free. In New York, games are being shown outdoors at The Archway under the Manhattan Bridge.
If you don't have a cable or satellite TV subscription, this is about the only way you can watch live video with English commentary in the U.S. ABC television stations are showing 10 of the 64 games, including the final, over the air for free. But streaming is through ESPN, so you still need the subscription.
So do your research, and you might find some unexpected places nearby showing the games - and find out which neighbors are fellow fans.