How to watch The Olympics live online for free—without cable

July 22, 2021, 5:26 PM UTC

Delayed by a full year and clouded in controversy as COVID-19 cases grow, the Tokyo Olympics have already seen more drama and surprises than most Summer Games in recent memory. But now the focus shifts to the athletes.

The Games of the XXXII Olympiad will always be known as the Olympics that took place during a pandemic, but there’s another distinction: They’re also the first Olympics that allow fans to legally stream them without a cable subscription.

NBC’s Peacock streaming service plays a big part in the network’s coverage, but you won’t be able to watch everything there. And there are other ways to catch the Games if you’re not a Peacock subscriber.

Whether you’ve cut the cord, won’t be in front of a TV, and want to keep up with the Games’ results without waiting for the tape delayed prime time broadcast, there are plenty of alternative ways to view. Here are a few.

When do the Olympics occur?

Technically, the Games are already underway. The first matches began on Tues. July 20 (The U.S. beat Italy 2-0 and Japan beat Australia 8-1 in softball). But the official start of the Games takes place Friday, July 23. They’ll run through Sunday, Aug. 8.

When is the Opening Ceremony airing?

The Opening Ceremony is one often many people’s favorite part of the Olympics, filled with pageantry and often-breathtaking forms of entertainment. For the first time, NBC will broadcast the Opening Ceremonies live in non-Prime Time hours.

You can catch the four-hour event on Fri. July 23 starting at 6:55 a.m. ET on NBC. If you’ve got to work or don’t want to wake up that early (especially on the West Coast), don’t worry. NBC will rerun the event at 7:30 p.m. ET on Friday, and again at 12:35 a.m. ET on Sat. July 24.

What TV channels are airing the Olympics?

NBC has sole rights to air the Olympics in the U.S. and will be utilizing many of its channels. You can catch events on the USA Network, CNBC, NBCSN, the Olympic Channel, and the Golf Channel. Telemundo and Univision will provide Spanish-language coverage.

What sort of time delay is there with the 2021 Olympics?

Tokyo is 13 hours ahead of U.S. Eastern time, 14 hours ahead of Central time, 15 hours ahead of Mountain time, and 16 hours ahead of Pacific time. As a result, most events (and finals) will take place early in the morning U.S. time. So if you’re trying to avoid Olympics spoilers, it’s going to be challenging. It’d be a good time to go on a digital diet and avoid social media.

What Olympic events will air on Peacock?

Peacock will have its own hosts and programming during the Olympics, rather than simply simulcasting NBC’s coverage. That means you won’t see everything that airs on the networks on the streaming platform.

The service will air five hours of live coverage each morning, as well as a later show with highlights of the day’s events. If you pay $5 a month for the Premium service, you’ll also get to see USA men’s basketball (as well as on-demand replays of the games).

You won’t, however, be able to watch the Opening Ceremony and on-demand coverage will be delayed by 24 hours. So don’t count on Peacock to cover all of your Olympic watching plans.

How can I watch the Olympics for free?

You won’t be able to watch every event, but NBC’s broadcast channel is the nexus of the network’s coverage. The best way to watch that for free on a big screen is with a good HD antenna. Be sure to test the antenna in multiple locations in your home to find the most reliable signal.

How can I stream the Tokyo Olympics live online if I don’t have a cable subscription?

You’ve got a number of other streaming options to choose from – some free, some with free trial periods and some requiring a log-in from your cable or satellite provider.

NBC has set up the website and offers the NBCSports app with the widest variety of options. All totaled, between live and on-demand offerings, they’ll have nearly 5,500 hours of Olympic activities available.

There are other options, though.

This free service lets you watch local broadcast channels with no monthly fees or contracts. The hiccup is: It only services select part of the country.

Hulu with Live TV

You can try the service free for a week. Once that’s up, you’ll pay $65 per month.

YouTube TV

After a two-week trial, you can expect monthly charges of $65.

Sling TV

Dish Network’s Sling has an extensive selection of channel options in its lower tiered “Orange” plan. That will run you $35 per month—and you’ll have access to more sports channels by subscribing to Sling’s “Blue” plan, which bumps the cost to $50-per-month.) You’ll have a 3-day free trial first.


Formerly known as DirecTV Now and AT&T TVNow, AT&T’s streaming service will run you $70 per month and up. There is no longer a free trial option.

Fubo TV

This sports-focused cord cutting service carries many NBC channels in most markets. There’s a seven-day free trial, followed by monthly charges of $65-$80, depending on the channels you choose.

Is the Olympics airing in 4K?

For the first time, certain Olympic events will, in fact, air in ultra-high definition. Not everything is covered, but the big draws—swimming, gymnastics, track and field, diving, beach volleyball, and soccer—will air in 4K. Just be sure your cable service offers the feed. (Alternatively, YouTubeTV will stream the Games in 4K, but there’s an added fee.)

What new sports are debuting in the Tokyo Olympics?

The Tokyo Games will debut five new sports: skateboarding, surfing, sport climbing, karate, and 3×3 basketball.

When do the swimming events take place in the Tokyo Olympics?

Heats in the men’s and women’s 400m individual medley, women’s 100m butterfly and women’s 4x100m freestyle begin on Saturday, July 24. They’ll continue for nine days, wrapping up on Sunday Aug. 1 with medals awarded in the men’s and women’s 50m freestyle, men’s 1500m freestyle, women’s 4x100m medley relay, and men’s 4x100m medley relay. (See NBC’s Olympic schedule for a complete breakdown of events.)

When do gymnastics take place in the Tokyo Olympics?

The men’s teams begin their events on Saturday July 24 with the women’s teams starting the following day. Those will run through Thursday, July 29, then take a two-day break. From Sunday Aug. 1 through Tuesday Aug. 3, individual events are scheduled to take place.

When do the track and field competitions take place in the Tokyo Olympics?

The start of track and field events mark the unofficial half-way point of the Games. This year, they’re scheduled to begin on Friday July 30 and will run through Sunday Aug. 8, concluding with the men’s marathon.

Where is the next Olympics taking place?

Assuming there are no health obstacles, the next Olympics are right around the corner, actually. The next Winter Games are scheduled for Feb. 4-22, 2022 in Beijing. That’s just a seven-month gap between the Summer and Winter Olympics.

The next Summer Olympics are slated to take place in Paris in 2024.

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