Arts & Entertainment

How to watch the 2018 Winter Olympics

The Olympic rings are pictured on Feb. 8 at the biathlon shooting range ahead of the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in South Korea.
The Olympic rings are pictured on Feb. 8 at the biathlon shooting range ahead of the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in South Korea.
Franck Fife/AFP/Getty Images

It's the biggest smorgasbord on TV. NBC and its related platforms are serving up more than 2,400 hours of Olympics coverage through the closing ceremony on Feb. 25 — a record for a Winter Olympics. It's all there in front of you, but figuring out what you want and when you want it is a challenge. Here are a few ideas on sorting through it all:

How to watch on TV

In past Olympics, grousing about the time-delayed coverage of big events was almost a sport of its own. NBC has dodged that pothole, aided by a 14-hour time difference between Pyeongchang, South Korea, and North America's East Coast. That time difference allows the network to broadcast the most popular events live in prime time, hence their tagline, "Most live Winter Olympics ever." (That said, the opening and closing ceremonies won't air live.)

If you have a digital TV antenna connected to your set, you can watch NBC's free broadcast coverage.

If you have a cable or satellite TV subscription, you'll find events like snowboarding, alpine skiing and figure skating on NBC daytime, prime time and overnight coverage. NBC Sports Network handles short track speed skating, women's ice hockey and bobsled. CNBC gets the surprisingly popular curling broadcasts, while USA Network has more curling and hockey. (Here's the complete channel-event breakdown.) There's also the Olympic Channel on cable, which is mostly news, highlights and feature stories.

How to watch through streaming

NBC is streaming 1,800 hours of coverage on NBCOlympics.com and the NBC Sports app, including stuff during prime time that they used to make you watch on the TV network. But there's a big catch: You need a cable or satellite subscription that includes NBC channels; otherwise, you'll be limited to 30 minutes of free viewing on your first visit and 5 minutes each day thereafter. Connected TVs with technology from Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV and a few other services will also be able to access the NBC Sports app for authenticated viewing.

If you want to watch the opening ceremony live, NBCOlympics.com and the NBC Sports app will live stream it minus commentary.

Other online fare consists of three digital-only programs, including Gold Zone, a two-hour daily show summing up all the results and top moments from that competition day.

Members of the armed services can watch live streaming on U.S. military bases worldwide.

How to stream the games if you don't have a digital antenna, or cable or satellite TV subscription

Accessing Olympics coverage without a cable or satellite TV subscription is a bit trickier. There are some streaming TV services that offer access to NBC stations and would also provide access to Olympics programming.

YouTube TV, for instance, offers access to all the channels featuring NBC's Olympics coverage and is now available to much of the country; Sling TV, however, doesn't offer access to live NBC broadcasts in all locations (like the Tampa Bay area of Florida, where I live.) Hulu's TV service also comes with a DVR option, so you don't have to watch every event live. Before signing up for a service, make sure it offers the channels and features you desire in your location. The good news for first-timers: Services such as YouTube TV and Sling TV also offer weeklong free trial periods, so you can easily drop or change platforms if they don't provide what you want.

And if you want help keeping track of results and when the best competitions are coming up, there's the NBC Sports Scores app, with personalized notifications and an "enthusiasm rating" to identify which events are most popular. Seriously.

How to watch through virtual reality

VR nerds will be happy to know there's more than 50 hours of programming available through Intel True VR technology and viewable through the NBC Sports VR app (yeah, you still have to be an authenticated user). The headsets include Windows Mixed Reality, Samsung Gear VR and both Google Cardboard and Google Daydream. Coverage includes the opening and closing ceremonies, along with skiing, snowboarding, figure skating and curling.

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