The Olympic Summer games are about to start in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and plenty of U.S. sports fans are once again flocking to the internet to catch the action live while in the office or away from their TV. This time around, NBC is promising to stream 4500 hours of live programming on its website and apps — but you’ll have to subscribe to pay TV to tune in.
Still, cord cutters and others without access to traditional TV aren’t necessarily out of luck. The advent of new online TV services has resulted in more options than ever to tune in. Here’s our handy guide on how to watch the XXXI Olympics online:
NBC’s website and apps: NBC will stream 4500 hours of programming, including all of the competitions — even the ones that don’t make it to TV. And there will be concurrent streams during competitions where there’s more than one thing going on at the same time — think track and field, or tennis, where up to five courts are being streamed in real-time.
Streams will be available on NBCOlympics.com as well as via the NBC Olympics app, which is available for iPhones and iPads, Android phones and tablets, Windows phone, Roku streaming boxes, sticks and TVs, Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV sticks, the new Apple TV via the device’s app store, and Chromecast via the NBC Sports iOS or Android app.
However, viewers will have to sign in with their pay TV account information in order to start watching. Can’t find the username and password your cable company assigned you years ago in time for the action to start? No worries, NBC is giving viewers a one-time 30 minute grace period to watch before the stream requires a login. Also worth noting: This is the first time that U.S. service members overseas will be able to stream the Olympics through the NBC apps by authenticating with their Exchange account.
Telemundo’s website and apps: NBC-owned Telemundo will stream more than 720 hours with Spanish-language commentary through its website as well as its Telemundo Desportes apps on iOS and Android. But just like NBC’s own site and apps, Telemundo also requires viewers to log in with their pay TV credentials.
Sling TV. Don’t have cable? Sling TV to the rescue: The Dish-owned online TV service is streaming much of what’s airing on NBC and its sister networks to its customers — with some caveats: Sling recently started to stream NBC and Fox broadcast TV in select markets as part of its new Sling Blue package. Viewers in Chicago, New York, San Francisco/Oakland/San Jose, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Dallas/Fort Worth, Washington, DC, Miami/Fort Lauderdale, San Diego, and Hartford/New Haven can subscribe to Sling Blue for $25 per month, and access NBC, Bravo, NBC Sports Network and USA.
Golf fans who shell out an extra $5 for the “Sports Extra” add-on package get to see another 130 hours of Olympic golf coverage. Sling is usually charging Sling Blue subscribers another $5 for access to MSNBC and CNBC, but the service will wave that fee until the conclusion of the games. Sling TV is available on mobile devices, PCs, Apple TV, Roku, Fire TV, Xbox, Chromecast and more.
PlayStation Vue. Sony’s online TV service is another good option for cord cutters that want to stream the Olympics without resubscribing to cable. PlayStation Vue’s base package, dubbed Access, costs $40 a month and includes access to NBC, CNBC, MSNBC, Telemundo, NBCSN, Bravo and USA, which carry many of the game’s main events. $10 more gets viewers access to the Core package, which includes the Golf Channel. PlayStation Vue is available on — surprise — the PlayStation 3 and 4, as well as Roku, Fire TV, Chromecast, iOS, Android and Fire tablets. However, the actual channel line-up varies from location to location, so customers should check the PlayStation Vue website before subscribing.
Tablo. Many of the Olympic’s main events will be available for viewing on NBC’s main broadcast network, with others being aired on Telemundo. Both channels can be received for free with an over-the-air antenna, which opens the door for another streaming solution: Tablo’s DVR allows cord cutters to record and relay broadcast TV, and stream it to connected devices like Apple TV, Roku and Chromecast, or watch it on iOS and Android while on the go. Tablo’s base model retails for $200 and still requires users to bring their own antenna and hard drive, but it’s still an interesting option for consumers who don’t have access to or don’t want to pay for Sling TV or PlayStation Vue.