Arts & Entertainment

How to watch the Rio 2016 Olympics online, on TV — and without cable

File: Brazilian football fans react as they watch the London 2012 Olympic men's soccer final match between Brazil and Mexico in Sao Paulo, Brazil on Aug. 11, 2012.
File: Brazilian football fans react as they watch the London 2012 Olympic men's soccer final match between Brazil and Mexico in Sao Paulo, Brazil on Aug. 11, 2012.
Yasuyoshi Chiba/AFP/AFP/Getty Images

It remains to be seen whether Los Angeles will win the bid to host the 2024 Summer Olympics, but plenty of Angelenos are still hyped up to see this year's Games in Rio. And there's going to be plenty of coverage.

According to NBCUniversal, they'll be running 6,755 hours of programming between their networks and digital channels — which equals 356 hours of coverage per day, and enough content to last 281 days if it were on one channel.

So clearly you're not going to be able to watch everything, but here's where to find what you do want to see.

Opening/closing ceremonies | How to watch | Watching in person in LA | If you don't have cableSchedule/TV listings | Olympics playlist

Opening and closing ceremonies

The opening ceremony airs Friday night on NBC (KPCC media partner NBC4 here in L.A.), though it's being slightly delayed to put it in U.S. primetime — and an extra three hours delayed here on the West Coast for our primetime. NBC's coverage airs from 7:30 p.m. to midnight. It's not even being shown live on the NBC Sports app, which has live coverage of almost everything else.

On the bright side, there's going to be less of a delay this year than previous Olympics, since Rio is just one hour ahead of the Eastern Time zone. You can come back for the closing ceremony on Sunday, Aug. 21.

On the internet/mobile

You'll be able to choose from 4,500 hours of Olympics coverage on and the NBC Sports app. If you can't watch live, you can also watch full replays of events.

To watch through those outlets, though, you're going to need to be an authenticated pay TV subscriber. That means you need a subscription to cable or another pay TV service that NBC has an arrangement with. Without that, you'll get a whopping 30-minute free trial — followed by five extra minutes each day after that.

While you'll need a cable subscription to watch online, you'll be able to see results and video highlights in the NBC Olympics: Rio News & Results app (iOS or Android), as well as in the NBC Sports app.

A bonus of watching online: you'll be able to see most of the events live, rather than waiting for time-delayed coverage on television, particularly with the West Coast delay.

Along with the normal coverage, NBC is also going to be offering some events in virtual reality, using the NBC Sports app and Samsung's Gear headset, which works with Samsung phones.


There are a grand total of 11 NBCUniversal TV networks providing live Olympics coverage:

NBC itself will feature some of the most popular sports, including swimming, gymnastics, track and field, diving, beach volleyball, volleyball and the men's and women's basketball finals.

Their coverage airs in primetime from 8 p.m. to midnight, throughout the day from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and additional late night coverage between 12:35 a.m. and 1:35 a.m. They're also showing replays between 1:35 a.m. and 4:30 a.m. And all that coverage, as noted above, is delayed for us here on the West Coast.

NBC will also be distributing some coverage in 4K Ultra HD.

Watching in person in LA (especially if you don't have cable)

Even if you don't have a cable subscription, you still have options. Head over to any of these L.A. joints to catch the opening ceremony — and maybe a drink or two to celebrate — some of which will have Brazil's national cocktail, caipirinhas, on hand. Some venues will also be showing events throughout the Games.

Apart from the following bars and restaurants, you can always rely on chains like Yard House, BJ's or Wingstop — although you might have to put in a request to change the station. 

Paley, Hollywood

This Friday, the Hollywood restaurant will project the ceremony on a wall of the Columbia Square Courtyard from 7-10 p.m. Transport yourself to Rio as you sip on $10 Caipirinhas and other seasonal cocktails. You can also get Red Ale and select wines for $7.

ESPN Zone, Downtown Disney

Make a day out of watching the Olympics by visiting the ESPN Zone in Downtown Disney. They will be showing events throughout the Games. Have dinner in the screening room while watching your favorite event, then head upstairs to play some games of your own in the sports arena arcade. ESPN Zone is open 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday to Thursday and 11 a.m. to midnight on Fridays and Saturdays.

Messhall, Los Feliz

Although the Games will be displayed on the restaurant's more moderate TVs, you can chug down the specialty Olympic Cup cocktail for $10 to compensate for the lack of a giant projector screen. Messhall has happy hour from 4 to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 4 to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. 

Taste on Melrose, West Hollywood

As you watch the Games on their giant screens starting at 8 p.m. Friday, choose between two new cocktails, depending on who you're rooting for — a red, white and blue drink for Team USA diehards or a take on Rio's signature drink with mint and mango. The restaurant will be showing events in its Atrium Bar throughout the Games. 

Public School, locations vary

Locations in L.A., Culver City, Thousand Oaks and Sherman Oaks will be hosting Gold Medal nights throughout the entire Summer Olympics. Watch the Games, sip on a Gold Medal cocktail and try your hand at Olympic Bingo to win free snacks. 

Rivalry Sports Bar, L.A. 

Rivalry already got its viewing parties started for Rio 2016 with a happy hour showing of the U.S. vs. New Zealand women's soccer match. They plan to keep the Olympic coverage going nonstop throughout the Games. Rivalry is open from 11:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m., with happy hour from 4 to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday. 

Rocco's Tavern, Pasadena 

The brick, TV-lined walls will play the games throughout the entire Olympics, sans-Caipirinhas — but their daily drink specials should make up for that. Happy Hour is Monday-Friday, 11 a.m.-7 p.m., and on Saturday-Sunday, 3-7 p.m. — and for late-hour wanderers, 10 p.m. to close Sunday-Thursday. They also have locations in Culver City and Studio City. 

Ye Olde King's Head, Santa Monica

This British pub only boasts a couple of modest screens to watch the games on, but cozy seating and an extensive list of brews are on tap for your celebratory needs. Happy Hour is from 4-7 p.m. 

Casey's Irish Pub, DTLA

Thirteen TVs spread throughout the pub's various rooms (complete with billiards and darts to play in between games) should make the go-to spot, in the heart of L.A., throughout the Olympics. 

Where do you cheer on your favorite team during the Olympics? From pubs cheering on England to sports bars where it's all U.S.A. all the time, tell us where you watch the Games on Twitter, Facebook or in the comments below. 

Other options if you don't have cable

While NBC is making it hard for the cable-less out there, here's a reminder: you can get a digital antenna and watch NBC for free over the air as well.

You also have other online options, using services that include NBC channels. One is streaming TV service Sling TV — they offer a seven-day free trial, and their service starts at $20 per month.

Another option is the PlayStation Vue service. They offer a free trial, too, with options starting at $40 per month.

As mentioned above, you can also watch highlights in the NBC Sports and NBC Olympics apps, as well as at and the NBC Olympics Facebook page.

Unfortunately, even an online service that NBC has a big stake in won't be streaming the games — you won't be able to watch the Olympics on Hulu.

Schedule/TV listings

There's a lot to see, but you can find it all in charts put together by NBC. You can find the full live stream schedule here, plus the current TV listings here.

Help us create our Rio Olympics playlist

There’s plenty of fanfare to go around, but just in case you’re looking to get a little more pumped up, we’ve got something for you: the KPCC 2016 Olympics playlist.

Staffers picked out a few songs that got us in the mood for this year’s games. It’s a bit of a grab bag — we’ve got swelling Olympics anthems, some samba flair, old-school odes to Brazil and yes, even a song about Zika.

Hear the full YouTube playlist, or scan below for a few highlights of what we’ve started with. Have any songs to add? Let us know in the comments and we’ll include our favorite suggestions.

Thiaguinho feat. Projota — “Alma e Coração” (“Soul and Heart”)

The official anthem of this year’s Olympics features all Brazilian artists (samba star Thiaguinho, rapper Projota and electronic duo Tropkillaz, who produced the track) to kick off the games with a heart-pounding rhythm.

Peter Allen — “I Go to Rio”

This rollicking ‘70s hit may not exactly be athlete motivation material, but we’ll be humming it throughout the games.

MC Pikachu — Choque (Semana Maluca)

This baile funk song has an infectious beat. Plus, the artist’s name reminds us that Pokemon Go just launched in Brazil this week, providing something for fans to do while waiting for the next event — as well as a potential distraction for our Olympic athletes.

Dr. Michael Abrahams and the Jamaican Ministry of Health – “We Nuh Want ZIKV”

Yes, there’s a song about Zika. The Jamaican Ministry of Health released this song as a public service announcement earlier this year to encourage the public to ward off virus-spreading mosquitoes — a particular risk for Brazilian residents and visitors right now. It’s sung by Dr. Michael Abrahams, an OB-GYN who sings and does stand-up comedy outside his day job.

Stone Gods — “Don’t Drink the Water”

With multiple warnings about the heavily polluted waters of Guanabara Bay, where Olympic sailing and other open-water events are taking place, this British heavy metal band offers some sound advice.

Whitney Houston — “One Moment in Time”

This iconic song already had its Olympics moment as one of the anthems for the 1988 Games in Seoul, South Korea. But can you ever have too much of a classic? Whitney today, Whitney tomorrow, Whitney forever.

What songs do you want to add to the list? Let us know in the comments, on Facebook or on Twitter.

Where will you be watching the Olympics? Let us know on social media@KPCC!

This story has been updated.