First, the bad news: Thanks to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, organizers behind the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo recently declared a ban on foreign spectators traveling to Japan to attend the 2020 Games (yes, they’re still being called the 2020 Games even though it’s 2021) in person.
“We share the disappointment of all enthusiastic Olympic fans from around the world,” IOC President Thomas Bach said in a statement after the decision was announced. “We know that this is a great sacrifice for everybody… But we have also said that the first principle is safety.”
Now, the best news: When it comes to watching the 2020 Games at home, you’re going to have more options than ever before. As Bach has promised, “Together with our rights-holding broadcasters, we will make every effort so that the fans from around the world will be able to experience the Olympic spirit.”
That hopefully means that this year’s Olympics—which run from Friday, July 23, through Sunday, August 8—will be custom-made for some truly Must-See TV, as well as countless opportunities for streaming and online viewing that you absolutely won’t want to miss. To help you get the most nonstop entertainment out of this year’s Games, here’s everything you need to know about when, where and how to catch every unbelievable moment of Olympics action.
Where can I watch the Olympics on TV?
NBC will once again be the exclusive Olympics broadcaster on network television in the U.S.—and according to The New York Times, the network is planning an amazing 7,000 hours of Olympics coverage over the Games’ two weeks across its many broadcast, cable, digital and streaming platforms. On just the first day of the Olympics alone, NBC stations will air a whopping 18 total hours of coverage, including their first-ever live morning broadcast of the Opening Ceremony. Tune in to your local NBC station starting at 6:55 a.m. ET/3:55 a.m. PT to see the ceremony, then keep watching for a special, two-hour, Olympic edition of TODAY starting at 11 a.m. ET/8 a.m. PT, followed by three hours of daytime Olympic coverage and a rebroadcast of the Opening Ceremony starting at 7:30 p.m. ET/4:30 p.m. PT.
To help you plan your viewing as the Games get underway, the official Olympics website has a handy competition schedule that makes it easy to see which sports will be holding a competition on which days, as well as when all medal events will take place. For more specific details about when and where NBC will be showing your favorite sports, check out the schedule page at NBCOlympics.com.
Where can I watch the Olympics on cable?
NBC has yet promised that “Tokyo Olympic programming will be available across the networks of NBCUniversal,” which include USA Network, CNBC and the NBC Sports Network. You can check back at the NBC Olympics online viewing guide as the Games draw closer to get specifics on which sports will be shown on which networks.
Where to watch the Olympics without cable
The NBC Sports app and NBCOlympics.com are two more places where NBC will stream thousands of hours of live coverage during the Games; however, access to those platforms often means you need to be a paid subscriber to an NBC-partner satellite, cable or streaming service.
How to watch the Olympics on Roku and Amazon Fire
If you don’t subscribe to cable but you do pay for Amazon Fire TV, Roku, Apple TV or Android TV, you should be able to connect to the official Olympic Channel app for free through your device or your platform’s mobile or phone app, at no extra charge and without a separate subscription. According to Olympics.com, “The official Olympic Channel app is available on connected TV devices for Android TV, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, and the Roku platform (as well as apps for mobile and tablets)… for free and without subscription.”
Meanwhile, Olympics2021info.com states, “If you use Amazon Fire TV, you need to download and install the Olympic Channel app to enjoy the content. The collection of programming includes the Rewind of PyeongChang 2018, which features top moments including the opening and closing, documentaries, and many more.”
How to watch the Olympics on Fire TV
Starting July 22, Fire TV customers can access a dedicated landing page on the Fire TV home screen that will guide them through all the different ways they can watch the Olympics, whether or not they also have cable. However, a subscription to one of the following will also be necessary for access to that coverage: NBC Sports, Peacock, SLING TV, YouTube TV or Hulu + Live TV subscription via the Hulu app.
Once Fire TV customers are in, they can stream more than 5,500 hours of total coverage over the course of the Summer Games, including all 339 medal events across 41 sports, via the NBC Sports app.
In June, the NBC streaming service Peacock announced it would also be offering live, streaming coverage of sports like track and field and men’s and women’s gymnastics. Peacock will also offer live men’s basketball coverage on its paid Peacock Premium platform. (Read below at “How to Watch the Olympics for free” to learn more.)
How to watch the Olympics in Spanish
The Telemundo Deportes website and app will stream all of the Olympics programming that will also air on the NBCUniversal Spanish-language networks Telemundo and Universo.
How to watch the Olympics for free
Peacock, NBC’s year-old streaming service, is going to offer free Olympics streaming coverage starting with some pre-Games action on July 15. Once the Games get underway, according to a press release, “Peacock will feature live coverage every morning, including major events like men’s and women’s gymnastics and men’s and women’s track and field.” The streamer has promised to offer women’s gymnastics coverage “in every single event, live from Tokyo.” As for track and field, you can catch the fastest men and women in the world competing in the 100M sprint on Peacock on July 31 and August 1. Other track and field events that will be streamed on Peacock include the 4 x 100M relay, 4 x 400M relay, 200M and 400M.
Peacock is also planning four daily, live studio shows that you can watch at no charge on Peacock’s Tokyo NOW channel.
Tokyo NOW’s coverage will include:
Tokyo LIVE on Peacock, 6-11 a.m. ET daily
This program will feature “live competition, interviews, highlights, medal ceremonies and athlete profiles.”
Tokyo Gold on Peacock, 11 a.m.-12 p.m. ET daily
Tokyo Gold will “showcase outstanding moments with in-depth packages, expert analysis and compelling athlete interviews.” It will also be shown on repeat throughout the afternoon.
On Her Turf at the Olympics on Peacock, 7-7:30 p.m. ET Mon.-Sat., 6-6:30 p.m. ET Sun.
This news magazine will “celebrate female athletes competing at the Tokyo Olympics with features, interviews and timely coverage.”
Tokyo Tonight on Peacock, 7:30 p.m.-12 a.m. ET Mon.-Sat., 6:30-11 p.m. ET Sun.
This primetime program “will put the viewer in the middle of the competition day in Tokyo with fast-paced highlights of events as they happen. Interviews, features and live reports from the host city will all be used to make the viewer feel like they are at the Games.”
Another option you can try for free, live Olympics coverage is Olympics.com, otherwise known as the Olympic Channel. That platform (as well as YouTube’s official Olympics channel) should be offering select coverage of certain Olympics events at no charge. (In the weeks before the Olympics officially begin, those two outlets will also be streaming live qualifying events coverage.)
Can I stream the Olympics on Hulu?
If you are a Hulu Live TV subscriber, then you’ll be able to access all of NBC’s broadcast coverage.
Can I watch the Olympics on Sling TV?
Yep! Sling TV will have its “Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA” available for subscribers, which will include some live coverage.
Need more Olympics knowledge? Look back at Parade’s Olympics covers through the years.