Where, when and how to watch the 2016 Rio Olympics


With more than 6,700 hours of coverage planned for this year’s Rio Olympics — 1,200 more than what it produced for the London Games in 2012 — NBC’s coverage has grown into a marathon unto itself.

By the time the opening ceremony for the Rio Olympics airs Friday at 8 p.m. (on a four-hour tape delay for the West Coast), NBC will have already started airing coverage of the Games, which began with men’s and women’s soccer matches Wednesday and Thursday on NBCSP and USA.

Those are just two of 11 TV networks scheduled to air more than 2,000 hours of Olympics coverage to go along with 4,500 hours of streaming on the NBC Sports app and the network’s website,, which will continue until the closing ceremony on Aug. 21.


Full coverage of the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio »

As in previous years since the advent of streaming, dedicated cord-cutters mostly will be shut out from watching the live broadcast; NBC’s online resources require an existing cable subscription, though an initial 30-minute trial is available, followed by five additional minutes each subsequent day for those who truly want to cherry-pick their Olympics moments.

While the website is being offered by the network as a comprehensive resource for event times and networks, even executive producer Jim Bell sounded overwhelmed as to how viewers should parse so many schedules and viewing options (“Good luck,” he joked during a presentation via satellite at Tuesday’s Television Critics Assn. press tour).

The first city in South America to host the Olympics, Rio de Janeiro also offers a significant time zone advantage for airing live events, which stands in contrast with Sochi, Russia, in 2014 and Beijing in 2008. The city is only an hour ahead of East Coast time in the U.S.

NBC will also be compiling coverage into a block of prime-time programming hosted by Bob Costas, which will typically run from 8 p.m. to midnight and cover events that have traditionally drawn big ratings such as track and field, gymnastics, beach volleyball, platform diving and swimming. Expect the usual features about Olympic athletes as well.

The network will also air daytime events from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. with host Al Michaels as well as late nights from 12:35 a.m. to 1:35 a.m., with host Ryan Seacrest, followed by taped replays of the day’s action scheduled to stretch almost until dawn. Some of the NBC networks will also target specific events, with tennis primarily being aired on Bravo and golf events moving to the Golf Channel. Telemundo and NBC Universo will also offer nearly 275 hours of coverage from Rio in Spanish.


Some of the standout story lines for this year’s Games include U.S. gymnast Simone Biles, who is favored to win multiple gold medals, as well as the return of a pair of athletes who have already earned something akin to immortality on the global stage: U.S. swimmer Michael Phelps and Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt. The U.S. will also look to continue its recent run of dominance in women’s soccer, men’s basketball and women’s beach volleyball.

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