As parts of the world struggle to return to normalcy, the Olympics returns to our screens as the first major global sports gathering in over a year. The COVID-19 pandemic delayed the Tokyo 2020 Olympics last year, and even now, spectators can attend only specific events at the rescheduled Olympic Games. The events began on July 20—though the opening ceremony didn’t takes place until July 23—and run through August 8.
Even if you have ditched your cable subscription, you can still watch the Olympic Games, from the lighting of the torch to the closing ceremony. Our guide covers all the information you need to choose the best streaming service for watching the rescheduled Tokyo 2020 games.
How to Watch the Olympics Without Cable
NBC is the home of the Olympics in the US, so you should check out your local NBC station for prime-time coverage. Your live TV streaming service probably includes NBC, since it’s one of the major broadcasting channels in the US. Olympic sports will also air on CNBC, Golf Channel, NBCSN, Olympics Channel, and USA. Peacock, NBC’s movie and television streaming service, is another place to find Olympic coverage, including the “Tokyo Live” show featuring highlights from multiple sports. If you have a Roku device or Roku TV, you can stream all of NBC’s coverage of the Olympics from the NBC Sports channel or Peacock channel. If you don’t want to use a streaming service, you can also pick up NBC over the air with some effort and an antenna.
NBCOlympics.com is another place to watch the Olympics. The website shows highlights from all 33 sports along with the Opening and Closing Ceremonies and medal ceremonies.
The Olympics Event Schedule
The Opening Ceremony for Tokyo 2020 is scheduled for July 23 at 6:55 a.m. EST on NBC, but we’ve been watching Olympic coverage since the softball started on July 20 on NBCSN.
Below are some highlights from popular events featuring Team USA from the summer Olympics television schedule for the next week, along with the channel you need to watch the events. You can keep up with the results and medal counts, plus view complete scheduling information on NBC’s Olympics website.
Women’s Beach Volleyball @ 8 p.m. EDT on CNBC
Gymnastics, Diving, Swimming @ 8 p.m. EDT on NBC
Volleyball: United States vs. China @ 12:05 a.m. EDT on NBC
Gymnastics, Diving @ 2 a.m. EDT on NBC
Gymnastics, Swimming @ 8 p.m. EDT on NBC
Diving: Synchronized Springboard @ 2 a.m. EDT on USA
Swimming @ 6 a.m. EDT on USA
Surfing: Finals @ 10:30 a.m. EDT on USA
Men’s Gymnastics, Swimming @ 2 a.m. EDT on NBC
Canoe/Kayak: Whitewater Slalom @ 2:10 a.m. EDT on USA
Track & Field, Swimming @ 8 p.m. EDT on NBC
Golf: Men’s Individual Stroke Play @ 6:30 p.m. EDT on Golf Channel
Track & Field, Swimming @ 2 a.m. EDT on NBC
Swimming: Men’s 50m Free @ 6 a.m. EDT on USA
Baseball: United States vs. Israel @ 10:30 a.m. EDT on NBCSN
Track & Field: Women’s 400m hurdles @ 8 p.m. EDT on USA
Water Polo: United States vs. Hungary @ 1 a.m. EDT on USA
Fencing @ 12:45 a.m. EDT on CNBC
Archery @ 2:15 a.m. EDT on CNBC
Baseball: United States vs. South Korea @ 6 a.m. EDT on NBCSN
Judo, Boxing, Weightlifting @ 2:15 a.m. EDT on USA
Beach Volleyball, Swimming, Cycling @ 2 a.m. EDT on NBC
Tennis: Gold medal matches @ 7 a.m. EDT on Olympic Channel
Field Hockey: Men’s quarterfinal @ 11:30 a.m. EDT on NBCSN
Cable and Over-the-Air Options
You can also watch much of the Olympic coverage with a cable plan that includes the NBCUniversal family of channels. A cable plan is typically more expensive than live streaming alternatives, but it’s great for people who want to get the largest possible variety of cable TV networks for one price.
Want to watch other sports? Check out our roundup of the best sports streaming services. The other major sport airing right now is baseball. MLB fans should read our guide to the best MLB streaming services.
Watching Foreign Olympic Coverage With a VPN
NBC has, in the past, come under criticism for overly talky, sometimes uninformed coverage of some Olympic events. Maybe you’re looking to avoid this sort of thing, or maybe you come from another country and just want to see the coverage in your home accent or language. You may also want to watch events or earlier heats that NBC just doesn’t cover.
Whatever the reason, your most realistic option is probably to stream coverage from an overseas provider, using one of our top-rated VPNs (we’ve tested scores of them) to make the streamer in question think you are located in the country in which it is located. There are plenty of technical and ethical issues involved in doing so, however, which we cover in our article on spoofing your location with a VPN.
Our 6 Top Picks
$64.99 per month
Hulu + Live TV’s lineup includes all the channels you need to watch the Olympics, including CNBC, Golf Channel, NBC, NBCSN, Olympics Channel, and USA. Other sports channels in Hulu’s lineup are BTN, CBS Sports Network, ESPN, and FS1. The optional Español add-on ($4.99 per month) gets you international sports coverage via ESPN Deportes.
50 hours of DVR storage comes with your subscription, but the Enhanced Cloud DVR add-on increases this limit to 200 hours. With the Unlimited Screens Add-on, you can stream on an unlimited number of devices on your home network and up to three mobile devices away from it. The pair of add-ons cost $14.98 per month, or you can purchase them separately for $9.99 per month. Hulu has 1080p/60fps live streams on select platforms. Ad-supported access to Hulu’s on-demand library of shows and movies is included in the subscription price. You can pay $70.99 per month for live TV plus ad-free access to the on-demand library.
You can stream Hulu + Live TV on the web or download apps for mobile platforms (Android and iOS), media streaming devices (Apple TV, Chromecast, Fire TV, and Roku), smart TVs, and game consoles (PlayStation, Xbox, and the Nintendo Switch).
$64.99 per month
YouTube TV has all of the channels you need to watch the Olympics: CNBC, Golf Channel, NBC, NBCSN, Olympics Channel, and USA. The service also includes channels like the MLB Network, NFL Network, and Tennis Channel. FOX Soccer Plus and NFL RedZone are available in the $15-per-month Sports Plus Add-On.
You get unlimited cloud DVR storage (with recordings available for up to nine months), up to three simultaneous device streams, 1080p live streams on select platforms and channels, and support for six user profiles. You can also buy the 4K Plus Add-On for $19.99 per month which unlocks 4K UHD playback for supported live and on-demand shows and events.
The service is available on the web, mobile platforms (Android and iOS), media streaming devices (Apple TV, Chromecast, and Fire TV), smart TVs, and game consoles (PlayStation and Xbox). Google and Roku are locked in a dispute, so the availability of YouTube TV on that platform may be in trouble. Right now, Roku users can access YouTube’s live TV offering through the regular YouTube app.
YouTube TV Review
$64.99 per month
A subscription to fuboTV gets you all the channels you need to stream Tokyo 2020. The service offers CNBC, Golf Channel, NBC, NBCSN, Olympics Channel, and USA. Other sports channels on FuboTV are CBS Sports Network, FS1, and NFL Network.
A fuboTV subscription includes 250 hours of DVR content, which you can keep forever. It offers a Cloud DVR add-on to increase that amount to 1,000 hours ($16.99 per month). FuboTV also has add-ons to expand simultaneous stream limits from three devices (the default) up to ten devices on your home network. The service includes two excellent playback features: Lookback, which allows you to watch some sports events up to 72 hours after they aired, and Startover, which lets you start some live programs over from the beginning.
Most of fuboTV’s live streams are limited to 720p/60fps, though the service does air some live programming in 4K, which is a rarity. FuboTV features on-demand content in 1080p, with some 4K titles available. This service is available via the web or with a dedicated app for mobile platforms (Android and iOS) and media streaming devices (Apple TV, Chromecast, Fire TV, and Roku devices), and XBox game consoles.
$5 per month
Locast includes local broadcast affiliates such as ABC, CBS, FOX, and NBC, but not traditional cable channels. Much of the prime-time Olympics programming will air on NBC, so this is an excellent option for people who just want to watch highlights or high-profile events like gymnastics and swimming. Locast also notably includes local PBS channels.
You should know that Locast is currently facing legal challenges from the major broadcast networks over its right to broadcast live feeds for free.
Locast supports four simultaneous streams per account but lacks DVR recording capabilities. The Locast app is available on mobile platforms (Android, iOS, and Fire OS) and media streaming devices (Android TV, Apple TV, Roku, and TiVo). Alternatively, you can stream Locast from a web browser.
$52 per month
You can stream most of the Summer Olympics with Sling TV’s Blue plan, which includes NBC, NBCSN, and USA. You need to pay a little more for CNBC, Golf Channel, or Olympics Channel. CNBC is part of the $6-per-month News Extra add-on, while Golf Channel and Olympics Channel are part of the $11-per-month Sports Extra add-on.
Sling TV’s included Cloud DVR feature offers 50 hours of storage, but you can pay for the Cloud DVR Plus add-on ($5 per month) to get 200 hours of cloud storage and the ability to save recordings from being auto-deleted if you reach storage capacity.
Sling TV is available on media streaming devices (4th-Generation Apple TV, Chromecast, Fire TV, and Roku), mobile platforms (iOS and Android), and Xbox consoles.
Sling TV Review
$94.99 per month
AT&T TV’s Ultimate package includes all of the channels you need to watch the Olympics, including CNBC, Golf Channel, NBC, NBCSN, Olympics Channel, and USA.
AT&T TV’s Lookback and Rewind features allow sports fans to watch previously aired content (up to 72 hours in the past) and restart live streams from the beginning of the broadcast for certain channels. The service keeps DVR recordings for up to 90 days, but it offers just 20 hours of DVR storage.
AT&T TV is available on the web, streaming devices (Apple TV, Chromecast, Fire TV, and Roku), mobile platforms (Android and iOS), but not gaming consoles. The service supports three simultaneous streams per account.
AT&T TV Review
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