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How to watch the 2016 Rio Olympics online

The opening ceremony was Friday, August 5, and competition begins in earnest on the 6th. Let the games begin!

There will be more live coverage of this year’s Olympic games than any other year in the event’s history. NBCUniversal is set to present more than 6,000 hours of programming directly from Rio, 4,500 hours of which will be streamed online. There are a lot of ways to catch the action, the easiest of which is just turning on your television. Those without access to a pay TV or even an HD antenna aren’t out of luck, however. There are plenty of ways to watch the 2016 Rio Olympics, and we’ve laid it all out for you below.

From bunny ears to cable streams

Of course, there are the traditional ways to see your favorite events: Since NBC is airing the bulk of the main events, you can simply use an HD antenna. Keep in mind, though, that Comcast-owned NBC is breaking up its coverage given the sheer amount of events, which means only cable subscribers can get coverage across networks such as USA, Bravo, and others broadcasting various coverage throughout the month of August. NBC offers a complete list of the networks that will cover this year’s Olympics, along with a basic events schedule.

If you’ve got access to a cable subscription, but not an actual television, you can also use your computer, tablet, or smartphone to watch the Olympics. And even if you have a television, competitions that don’t make it to air there are likely to come to the network’s live streams. You’ll find the Olympics live-streams on the NBC Olympics website and on the NBC Olympics app, which is available on the devices listed below.

These will only work, however, if you’re able to sign in with your paid cable account. NBC does allow folks to watch for 30 minutes before a login is required, and if you’re a U.S. service member or retiree, you’ll be able to watch the Olympics live-stream for free on the official website or via the NBC Olympics app. You’ve just got to choose Exchange as your provider, and login with your active Exchange account.

Apple iPad Windows Phone
Apple iPhone Roku devices
Apple iPod Touch Amazon Fire TV
Android phones Android tablets
Apple TV Google Chromecast

Download the app now for:

iOS Android


Spanish-language coverage of the event will be broadcast on NBC’s Telemundo, as well as through the Telemundo Desportes app. There, you’ll find more than 720 hours of event footage, but as with the English-language coverage, you’ll have to use your paid television credentials to access the content.

Download the app now for:

iOS Android

Cord cutter options

Sling TV

If you don’t have cable and an HD antenna can’t get you what you need, Sling TV is a great option. The online television streaming service prides itself on providing only the channels you want, with features like video replay on select programming and on-demand entertainment. Sling TV currently offers a package called Sling Blue, which offers 40+ channels, including NBC and its affiliate cable channels (and there are lots of broadcasts available this year on NBC’s affiliates).

While the slimmer Sling Orange is $20, Sling Blue (recommended for Rio) is $25 a month, along with an available 7-day free trial. Pay an extra $5, and you’ll also get the Sports Extra package, which will host the Olympics’ golf events. Sling TV usually requires its users to pay a little extra for MSNBC and CNBC, but for the Olympics, the streaming service is adding it into Sling Blue for free.

If you can make due with watching just the first half of the Olympics, simply cancel your subscription as your trial period ends and you won’t have to pay a dime. Sling TV doesn’t lock its users in for an extended contract either, so if you’re interested in keeping the service for the month, it’ll be easy to cancel once the Olympics end. Sling TV is currently available via the platforms below.

Apple iPad Xbox One
Apple iPhone Roku (LT or higher)
Apple iPod Touch Amazon Fire TV
Android phones Android tablets
Mac OS (10.7 or higher)  Chromecast
Apple TV (4th gen)  Windows (7 or higher)

Start your free 7-day trial

PlayStation Vue

PlayStation Vue is the other side of the internet TV coin. The service starts at $30 a month and has a similar channel lineup, including NBCSN, Bravo, USA, and MSNBC. However, NBC isn’t available except as an on-demand option, which makes Sling TV the real service of choice for seeing Rio 2016’s main stage live. It’s also available as a 7-day trial, and comes with one minor advantage over Sling’s package: You can use your PlayStation Vue login to access the NBC Sports App. However, if you’re a golf fan, you’ll have to pay $5 extra for the Golf Channel, which again would make Sling TV a bit more desirable for you. If you do decide to go with Vue, it’s offered on the platforms below.

Apple iPad Google Chromecast
Apple iPhone Roku devices
Apple iPod Touch Amazon Fire TV
Android phones PlayStation 3
Android tablets PlayStation 4

Other methods …

The United Kingdom’s BBC and Canada’s CBC are offering free coverage of the 2016 Rio Olympics for domestic viewers, however, that means only those who live in a network’s region can watch the free coverage of the event. Outside of these methods, you’ll have to become a bit craftier. While we don’t ever recommend circumventing the law, outside-the-box options include accessing a sketchy live-stream or masking your location with a VPN service.

The 2016 Rio Olympics will air from August 3 through the 21. The official kickoff begins with the Opening Ceremony on Friday, August 5.