The 2010 World Cup will be watched online by nearly a third of British football fans, according to a survey released today by PC World. They questioned over 3,000 Brits in the run up to the World Cup following a surge in sales of its wireless networking and video streaming gadgets.

What did they find?

 30% of fans, which equates to over 14 million of those expected to watch the World Cup live, are planning on doing so over the Internet.

Nearly a quarter (23%) revealed they would be using laptops or desktop PCs.

One in ten (10%) expect to follow the action using a smart phone such as a BlackBerry. 

 The research reflects a surge in the numbers of Brits using the Internet to watch live TV and recorded footage since the last World Cup. Recent figures have revealed that BBC iPlayer, the first of the Internet TV services from the major broadcasters which launched just 2 years ago, now has over 70 million requests per month. 

But the screens are tiny, so why?

Being able to keep up with the action when on the move via mobile broadband and SmartPhone apps was revealed as being behind the appeal by four in ten fans (40%). Nearly half (48 %) are expecting to miss fewer games than in the 2006 World Cup. 

 Viewing on the move is believed to be behind higher demand for Slingboxes, which allow users to stream live TV to a laptop or mobile phone anywhere in the World via a broadband internet or WiFi connection. Sales of Nintendo Wii and Playstation 3, which can act as media streamers, have also seen increases.  

 The research also revealed that more replays of the games will be watched online than on televisions.   When questioned, over 10% more fans revealed they use the Internet to watch repeated footage online immediately after a game than wait for the highlights on TV and 11% of fans revealed they already use the Internet to watch footage at least twice after a game. World Cup games will be available for up to a week after each match and available to download for free from BBC iPlayer and iTV.  

Fans getting kitted out with the latest wireless gadgets ahead of the games are believed to be behind a 20% surge in Power line adapters over the last 2 weeks. The devices, which plug into a plug socket, use the household electrical circuit to create a wireless network. It allows fans to watch footage from the internet immediately after a game on the main household TV.

The survey also showed record numbers of fans are planning on using social networking forums to keep in touch and comment on the action during the games. Feedback revealed that Facebook and Twitter were the most popular way to stay in touch for nearly a quarter (24%) of fans during football games. Neither Facebook nor Twitter was available in the UK at the time of the 2006 World Cup. The Support England in World Cup 2010 Facebook fan site currently has nearly 110,000 members.