The quickest way to keep up on the World Cup may be Google.
People in the U.S. searching for countries playing in the World Cup will see, at the top of the results, links to highlight videos from the country's most recent match.
Clicking takes users to the website of ESPN, the exclusive domestic English-language broadcaster of the world's premier soccer tournament. The first-of-its-kind partnership between ESPN and Google gives Google an edge among competitors Yahoo and Bing on World Cup searches. All three search engines are trying to make it easy to get the latest scores and scheduling details by typing in a country's name or even just "World Cup."
But watching the early-round games, most of which are in the afternoon or early evening in the U.S., is difficult for those without access to ESPN. Watching the highlights doesn't require any television subscription, and ESPN said that the highlight clips will show up on search results "as they happen."
"As befits the world's biggest sporting event, ESPN and Google are teaming up for the first time to make ESPN FC video highlights available instantly to millions of fans and to make it easier to find live games on WatchESPN within Google Search," John Kosner, ESPN's executive vice president for digital and print media, said in a statement.
Based on searches for Thursday's Brazil-Croatia game, Google also beats the other two main search engines in terms of information available about matches. Yahoo, for example, was still linking to a preview story of the match Brazil won, 3-1.
Google charts various team statistics and lists lineups for both squads. The links to highlight videos also run along a timeline of key events in the game, mirroring the look of the official FIFA mobile app.