The Rio Summer Olympics are right around the corner, kicking off with the opening ceremony this Friday, August 5, at 7 p.m. EST — which means a solid 17 days of doing nothing but watching back-to-back sports coverage. In previous years, that meant that those of us confined to a life without a TV had to spend all our time in sports bars, or mooching off our fancy TV-owning, cable-subscribing friends. Luckily, it’s 2016, and there has never been this much live coverage, nor as many ways to watch it — with or without cable, there’s no longer an excuse to miss the games. For a full debrief on how to watch, check out our comprehensive list.
With cable TV or a satellite provider:
NBCOlympics.com will have a livestream of all Olympic events (4,500 total hours of content) except for the opening ceremony. You can check out their livestream schedule, and can set reminders for events you don’t want to miss. If using a connected TV or mobile device, you can download the NBC Sports app to Apple TV, Roku, Android TV, Xbox, or Android, iOS, and Windows phones. Keep in mind that to stream both online and via the NBC Sports app, you still need to have a cable-service provider; you’ll be asked to provide login credentials for your cable subscription before you can start streaming. If you have PlayStation Vue, you can use those credentials instead.
You can, of course, watch the Olympics on your television the old-fashioned way, and most of it will be live coverage since Rio is only one hour ahead of Eastern time. Eleven different networks under NBCUniversal will provide Olympic coverage:
Bravo will cover tennis from August 6 to August 14. Coverage will go all day — 9:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. — for the first five days, followed by reduced coverage from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. for the remaining four. They will air the women’s singles final August 13, followed by the men’s match the next day.
CNBC will air coverage of elimination-round basketball and volleyball. They will also cover beach volleyball, rugby, cycling, wrestling, archery, and other sports. Coverage will take place from August 6 to August 19, with weekday coverage from 5 to 8 p.m.
Golf Channel will be covering men’s golf from August 11 to August 14 and women’s from August 17 to August 20.
MSNBC will air its coverage August 6 through August 20, covering men’s basketball, beach volleyball, volleyball, rugby, soccer, water polo, and other sports. Most of the network’s Olympics coverage will take place between 12 and 5 p.m. EST.
NBC Sports Network will cover the Olympics from August 3 until the closing ceremonies on August 21, offering more programming than any other network. They will serve as the showcase network for women’s soccer in addition to men’s and women’s basketball. They will also cover track and field, archery, judo, boxing, cycling, fencing, field hockey, open water swimming, shooting, weightlifting, synchronized swimming, and other sports.
NBC UNIVERSO will offer Spanish-language Olympics coverage from August 3 through August 21, highlighting the performances of athletes from the United States and Latin America.
USA will cover the Olympics from August 3 to August 21 with weekday coverage from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Their coverage will include men’s basketball, volleyball, beach volleyball, cycling, rowing, synchronized swimming, water polo, and other sports.
NBC will run more than 260 hours of Olympics coverage between the opening and closing ceremonies, covering major sports including swimming, gymnastics, track and field, diving, volleyball, beach volleyball, and the finals for men’s and women’s basketball. Coverage will take place throughout the day, with daytime coverage from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., prime-time coverage from 8 p.m. to midnight, late night from 12:35 a.m. to 1:35 a.m., and replays from 1:35 a.m. to 4:35 a.m.
Telemundo will offer Spanish-language Olympics coverage from August 3 through August 21, highlighting the performances of athletes from the United States and Latin America.
With the NBC Sports app and a Samsung Gear VR, virtual-reality streaming of the Olympics is now available. The app will provide 100+ hours of VR programming, including the opening and closing ceremonies, the men’s basketball final, gymnastics, track and field, beach volleyball, diving, boxing, and fencing. Keep in mind that you’ll need to have both the VR headset as well as a Samsung Galaxy smartphone to access VR content.
Sling TV is a subscription service that allows you to stream live TV onto your television or portable devices, and offers every major channel that will be covering the 2016 Rio Olympics including NBC, NBCSN, Bravo, USA, and MSNBC, plus more than 40 other channels.
Here’s how to do it: Sign up for Sling Blue, a $25 package that gets all the Olympic coverage channels. If you’re a major golf fan, you can add the Sports Extra package for $5, which gives you the Golf Channel and means tons of extra Olympic Golf coverage. You can use Sling to watch the Olympics via Apple TV, Roku, Xbox One, Chromecast, Amazon Fire TV, mobile phones, tablets, and computers. If you’re not down to spend $25–$30, you can try a seven-day free trial for a week of Olympics streaming.
Sony PlayStation Vue
Like Sling, PlayStation Vue offers streaming of NBC, NBCSN, Bravo, USA, and MSNBC. Unlike Sling, you can only use Vue to stream in your own home — not on the go — but you can get around that by using Vue’s login info on the NBC Sports App. You can use Vue with PlayStation Consoles, Chromecast, Roku, Amazon Fire TV, and iOS and Android devices. Vue starts at $30 for a basic package or $35 for the Core programming package, which includes the Golf Channel. PlayStation Vue also offers a seven-day free trial.
If you’re less interested in around-the-clock coverage and just want to catch most of the major events, invest in a digital antenna. The antenna itself is a one-time investment, and then you can watch over-the-air broadcast networks like NBC, CBS, ABC, and Fox for free. NBC will have the majority of live Olympic coverage, although you’d be missing out on the extra specialized channels like NBC Sports Network or the Golf Channel.