A Complete Guide to Watching the Olympics, With or Without a Cable Subscription

Wondering where to catch swimming? We have answers.

Wondering where to catch swimming? We have answers. (Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Over the next 19 days, athletes from all over the world will compete in the 2016 Rio Summer Olympics, making up thousands of hours of programming for you to binge.

We’ve put together a guide of how to watch the games, and don’t worry, cord-cutters. You can still take in the action, and if you’re really ambitious, check it out in virtual reality.

How to watch without cable:

The easiest way to tune into the games without a cable subscription is definitely to borrow a login from a generous friend or family member. But if that isn’t possible, you can easily watch by doing a little digital border hopping. If you have friends who brag about watching cool shows only available on British Netflix, this is how they do it.

All you have to do is download a virtual private network (VPN) extension for your browser, which will allow you to visit another country’s broadcasting website (BBC, for example) by tricking it into thinking you’re visiting from within. Hola, MediaHint and ZenMate are popular choices you can use with Chrome or Firefox. Simply click on the link of the one you want, click download, run the installation and you’ll be set. Most have free versions or free trials, so you should be able to watch the games without buying an expensive VPN. Here’s a list of the networks broadcasting the games around the world.

Also, if you’re a Playstation Vue user, you can use those credentials to login to the NBC Sports app.

Zulema Arenas #548 of Peru competes in the women's 3000 meter steeplechase during the Ibero American Athletics Championships - Aquece Rio Test Event for the Rio 2016 Olympics.

Zulema Arenas #548 of Peru competes in the women’s 3000 meter steeplechase during the Ibero American Athletics Championships – Aquece Rio Test Event for the Rio 2016 Olympics. (Photo: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

How to watch with cable:

The reason you can’t easily watch the Olympics without a cable subscription is because NBC pays a whole lot of money to hold exclusive broadcast rights. If you still have cable, however, the games will be easy to watch. NBC will present 2,084 hours of games across 11 networks on broadcast TV and 4,500 hours that can be livestreamed on NBCOlympics.com and the NBC Sports app. The full streaming schedule is available after your sign in with your cable provider.

Here’s what you can find on each channel:

NBC

NBC will air the opening and closing ceremonies, swimming, gymnastics, track and field, diving, beach volleyball, volleyball and the men’s and women’s basketball finals. The network will also air athlete features, segments on the host city and country as well as interviews with newsmakers and medal-winning athletes.

In total, 260.5 hours of coverage will air beginning on Friday, August 5 and concluding on Sunday, August 21. On most days, daytime programming will air from 10 AM to 5 PM and primetime programming will air from 8 PM to midnight midnight. Late night programming will run from 12:35 AM to 1:35 AM, with replays following until 4:30 AM ET.

NBCSN

NBC Sports Network will serve as the showcase network for Team USA women’s soccer and Team USA men’s and women’s basketball while also airing track and field, archery, boxing, cycling, fencing, field hockey, judo, open water swimming, rugby, shooting, soccer, synchronized swimming, table tennis, weightlifting, wrestling and more.

In total, 330 hours of coverage will air beginning Saturday, August 6 and concluding Sunday, August 21. On most days, events will be televised from 8 AM to midnight ET.

Kassidy Cook of the United States competes in the semifinal of the women's 3m Springboard during the FINA Diving World Cup - Aquece Rio Test Event for the Rio 2016 Olympics.

Kassidy Cook of the United States competes in the semifinal of the women’s 3m Springboard during the FINA Diving World Cup – Aquece Rio Test Event for the Rio 2016 Olympics. (Photo: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

Bravo

Bravo will be the home of Olympic tennis, broadcasting 94.5 hours beginning Saturday, August 6 and concluding with the women’s and men’s singles finals on Saturday, August 13 and Sunday August 14, respectively.

For the first five days, programming will run from 9:30 AM to 10 PM ET. For the final four days of tennis coverage, broadcast will be from 11 AM to 7 PM ET.

CNBC

CNBC will broadcast elimination-round coverage of basketball and volleyball, as well as archery, beach volleyball, cycling, rugby, water polo, wrestling and others.

Coverage will start Saturday, August 6 and conclude Friday, August 19. On weekdays, the network’s Olympic coverage will take place from 5 to 8 PM ET.

Golf Channel

The Golf Channel will present 300 hours of golf tournament coverage, analysis and recapping.

Live coverage of the men’s tournament will air Thursday, August 11 through Sunday, August 14. Coverage of the women’s tournament will air Wednesday, August 17 through Saturday, August 20.

Brazil players celebrate as Monica scores their first goal during the Women's Group E first round match between Brazil and China PR during the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium on August 3, 2016.

Brazil players celebrate their first goal during the Women’s Group E first round match between Brazil and China PR during the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium on August 3, 2016. (Photo: Buda Mendes/Getty Images)

MSNBC

MSNBC will air 78.5 hours of programming including men’s basketball, beach volleyball, rugby, soccer, volleyball, water polo and more.

Coverage will begin Saturday, August 6 and conclude Saturday, August 20. On all but five days of the networks 15 days of broadcast, coverage will air from Noon to 5 PM ET.

USA

USA will air 110.5 hours of men’s basketball, beach volleyball, cycling, rowing, synchronized swimming, volleyball, water polo and more. Coverage began Wednesday August 3 (two days before the opening ceremony) with women’s soccer, and will conclude Sunday, August 21.

On most weekdays, USA’s Rio broadcast will be from 9 AM to 5 PM ET.

Telemundo and NBC Universo 

More than 274 hours of Olympic programming will be broadcast in Spanish on Telemundo and NBC Universo. This programming began prior to the opening ceremony with women’s soccer and will continue throughout the entirety of the games.

A Complete Guide to Watching the Olympics, With or Without a Cable Subscription