This article was originally published on Jan. 5, then updated with further announcements by NBC on Jan. 12.
For the first time ever, viewers don’t need a cable subscription to watch all of the action at an Olympics.
NBC will stream all of the upcoming Winter Games in Beijing on Peacock, the network’s streaming platform that is separate from pay-TV subscriptions. Full replays of all events will be available as soon as they end.
The offering will include every event of every competition, live broadcasts of the Opening and Closing Ceremonies, simulcasts of NBC’s marquee prime time show on the broadcast network, medal ceremonies, highlight packages, studio shows, and more coverage beyond that.
Everything will be on Peacock’s premium tier, which costs at $4.99 per month or $49.99 per year — but is free to any Comcast Xfinity cable subscribers with a X1 box. If you’re a subscriber who hasn’t used Peacock before, you just have to sign up for an account online and link it to your cable account. Once you do that, the streams will show up on the Sports tab of your X1 screen. (As will Peacock’s live streams of NBC’s Sunday night NFL games, English Premier League soccer, British Open golf, and other sports events that don’t make it to TV.)
If you’re only an Xfinity internet subscriber, you can also get Peacock Premium (as it’s officially called) for free if you have a Flex streaming box. And if you’re not an Xfinity internet subscriber but buy one of the company’s new XClass TV sets, you get Peacock Premium free too.
In addition to Comcast’s arrangements, Cox cable subscribers in other parts of the United States have the same free access to Peacock Premium. Spectrum TV subscribers — of which there are many in big cities such as New York and Los Angeles — can get a year of the premium tier through their Spectrum accounts, and Spectrum internet subscribers can get a 90-day deal.
Peacock also offers everything on its own website and apps for phones, tablets, and connected TV devices such as Apple TV, Roku, and Amazon Fire Stick. And you can pay extra to get everything ad-free: $9.99 per month ($5 on top of the regular plan) or $99.99 per year ($50 on top of the regular plan).
NBC has been streaming Olympics action online since 2008, free of charge to subscribers of the network’s cable channels. (Which isn’t really “free,” of course, because one had to be a cable subscriber.) There wasn’t any way for cord-cutters to legally access that coverage unless they borrowed someone else’s account, and NBC eventually developed the technology to track some of that down.
This past summer, NBC broke away from that for the first time by putting coverage of some high-profile events in Tokyo on Peacock: gymnastics and track and field on the free tier, and U.S. men’s basketball games on the paid tier.
For the Beijing Games, there won’t be standalone streams of live events on Peacock’s free tier. But there will be some live event coverage for free on the daily studio shows available through the “Channels” tab of Peacock, which is easily accessed through the top bar on the home screen.
NBC will also continue its tradition of offering all live streaming free with authentication to pay-TV subscribers. That means cable and satellite customers and cord-cutters alike will be able to watch all the action.
There will be just short of 700 hours of TV coverage spread across NBC’s main broadcast channel and cable channels USA Network and CNBC. Remember that NBCSN went off the air at the end of 2021, which means a lot more coverage on USA -- and by the way, USA has always been in many more homes than NBCSN.
NBC’s main channel will have around 200 hours of coverage, headlined by the traditional flagship prime time show live in all time zones. The channel will also televise the Opening Ceremony live on Friday, Feb. 4, starting at 6:30 a.m. ET. It’s the second straight Olympics in which NBC is televising the Opening Ceremony live, after not having done so since Vancouver in 2010.
There will be a twist to NBC’s coverage this year because the network has the Super Bowl on Feb. 13. On that day, Olympics coverage will air from 8 a.m. to noon, then resumee after the football post-game coverage is over.
USA Network will have around 400 hours of coverage, with NBC saying the coverage will be “round-the-clock” on “most days.” Coverage will start on Feb. 2, two days before the Opening Ceremony, with broadcasts of curling, women’s ice hockey, and men’s downhill skiing practice sessions.
CNBC will have around 80 hours of coverage, mostly at night after the network’s daily business coverage ends. Most of the channel’s broadcasts will be ice hockey and curling.
The time zone diffence between Beijing and Philadelphia is 13 hours.