Ned Newell-Hanson, a 26-year-old Londoner, watches football obsessively but avoids paying for it. Some of his happiest moments are watching Chelsea games on his mobile, ideally on his balcony with a glass of wine but if necessary on a bus, hours after they have ended. (He goes to great lengths to avoid prematurely hearing the score.)
This scheduling allows him to have a normal life while still not missing a moment of his favorite team. He has registered his devices on various relatives' and friends' Sky and BT Sport accounts, so that he can see the games free. "I go through my PlayStation, so I can stream to my TV," he says. "I never watch live television."
He also spends about as much time playing football video games as watching real matches. The one big difference between him and fellow millennials, he says, is that they rarely immerse themselves in one match for 90 minutes: "A lot of my friends will be on their phones doing other stuff practically half the game."
Mr. Newell-Hanson has just moved to New York, where he plans to watch the World Cup in bars. But his generation's embrace of new forms of viewing is transforming humanity's favorite TV event.
Digital disruption has already hit the entertainment, marketing and advertising industries hard. Music revenues, for instance, have plummeted in the past 20 years as streaming replaced CDs. More recently, streaming has revolutionized viewing, too: young Britons now watch more Netflix than all forms of BBC television combined.