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Winter Olympics 2018: How to watch on TV and without cable (online)

The robots of the Winter Olympics
The robots of the Winter Olympics 01:23

NEW YORK -- The 2018 Winter Olympic Games are being held in South Korea for the first time in three decades and have officially begun. Day five saw the U.S. team acquire their 100th Winter Olympics gold medal when grabbed the gold for his halfpipe performance.

Then on day 6, Team USA's Mikaela Shiffrin earned a gold in the women's giant slalom (after having to wait out weather delays).

For the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, NBC and its cable networks will cover popular sports such as figure skating and skiing. Because of the 14-hour time difference, not every Olympic event will be broadcast live. For that, you need to watch an online stream.

Here are various way to catch all the events of the 2018 Winter Olympics:

Watching The 2018 Winter Olympics

More than 1,800 hours of online coverage of the games in Pyeongchang begins Wednesday evening in the U.S. with preliminary curling matches. Friday's opening ceremony will be shown live online starting at 6 a.m. ET, and on NBC's prime-time broadcast on a delayed basis at 8 p.m. NBC also plans live streaming of the closing ceremony on Feb. 25.

Watching the Olympic Games: TV coverage

In addition to NBC's over-the-air network, the sports network NBCSN will be the main overflow channel, carrying events such as biathlon, bobsled and luge. Coverage on CNBC and USA Network will be limited to curling and ice hockey. The Olympic Channel will have medal ceremonies, news and highlights, but not event coverage. All four of these cable channels will also be streamed online.

Much of the online coverage will come from the International Olympic Committee's Olympic Broadcasting Services. That means the spotlight will be on all athletes, not just Americans. In addition to live events, you can get streams of some training and practice runs. NBC also plans digital-only shows, including a daily two-hour wrap-up starting at noon ET (2 a.m. the next morning in Pyeongchang).

Some cable companies plan special features. Comcast, which owns NBC, will include online coverage on its TV set-top boxes and TV coverage on its mobile apps to offer viewers one-stop access to the Olympics. Comcast and other cable providers will also offer the opening ceremony and other events in sharper 4K resolution, though with a day's delay.

Here's a list of all the Winter Olympics events on TV this week. All times Eastern.

Monday, Feb. 19

  • 3:30-7 p.m. -- Ice Hockey Game of the Day (Replay), Ice Hockey Game of the Day II (Replay)
  • 5-8 p.m. -- Women's Curling: U.S. vs. China, CNBC
  • 7-8 p.m. -- Olympic Ice
  • 8–10:10 p.m. -- Figure Skating (ice dancing gold medal final), NBCSN (LIVE)
  • 8–10:10 p.m. -- Women's Alpine Skiing (downhill training), NBCSN
  • 8-11:30 p.m. -- Figure Skating (ice dancing gold medal final), NBC (LIVE)
  • 8-11:30 p.m. -- Women's Freestyle Skiing (halfpipe gold medal final) NBC (LIVE)
  • 8-11:30 p.m. -- Two-Man Bobsled (gold medal final runs), NBC
  • 10:10 p.m.-12:30 a.m. -- Men's Hockey (Elimination round), NBCSN (LIVE)

Tuesday, Feb. 20

Here's all the Winter Olympic events you can catch Tuesday:

  • 12:05-1 a.m. -- Men's Freestyle Skiing (halfpipe competition), NBC (LIVE)
  • 12:30 a.m.-2:40 a.m. -- Men's Curling: Canada vs. Japan, NBCSN
  • 1-4:30 a.m. -- Primetime Encore, NBC
  • 2:40-5 a.m. -- Men's Ice Hockey (elimination round), NBCSN (LIVE)
  • 5-7:10 a.m. -- Women's Curling: USA  vs. South Korea, NBCSN
  • 7-9:30 a.m. -- Men's Ice Hockey (elimination round), USA (LIVE)
  • 7-9:30 a.m. -- Men's Ice Hockey (elimination round), NBCSN (LIVE)
  • 9:30-10:30 a.m. -- Men's Nordic Combined (individual large hill/10km gold medal final), NBCSN
  • 10:30 a.m.-noon -- Biathlon (mixed relay gold medal final), NBCSN
  • Noon-12:45 p.m. -- Men's Nordic Combined (individual large hill/10km gold medal final), NBCSN
  • 12:45-2 p.m. -- Short Track (women's 3000 relay gold medal final, women's 1000 qualifying, men's 500 gold medal final), NBCSN
  • 2-5 p.m. -- Women's Curling: USA vs. South Korea, NBCSN
  • 3-5 p.m. -- Biathlon (mixed relay gold medal final), NBC
  • 3-5 p.m. -- Men's Nordic Combined (individual large hill/10km gold medal final), NBC
  • 5-7 p.m. -- Ice Hockey Game of the Day (replay), NBCSN
  • 5-8 p.m. -- Men's Curling:USA  vs. Switzerland, CNBC
  • 7–8 p.m. -- Olympic Ice, NBCSN
  • 8-10:45 p.m. -- Figure Skating (ladies' short program), NBCSN (LIVE)
  • 8 p.m.-12:30 a.m. -- Women's Alpine Skiing (downhill gold medal final), NBC (LIVE)
  • 8 p.m.-12:30 a.m. -- Figure Skating – Ladies' Short Program, NBC (LIVE)
  • 8 p.m.-12:30 a.m. -- Women's Bobsled (competition), NBC
  • 8 p.m.-12:30 a.m. -- Men's Snowboarding (big air competition), NBC (LIVE)
  • 10 p.m.-12:30 a.m. -- Men's Ice Hockey (quarterfinal), CNBC (LIVE)
  • 10:45 p.m.-2:40 a.m. -- Women's Curling: Canada vs. Great Britain, NBCSN

Wednesday, Feb. 21

  • 12:30-2:40 a.m. -- South Korea vs. Olympic Athletes from Russia, NBCSN
  • 1:05-2 a.m. -- Men's Freestyle Skiing – Ski Cross Gold medal final, NBC
  • 1:05-2 a.m. -- Short Track – Gold medal final, NBC
  • 2-4:30 a.m. -- Primetime Encore, NBC
  • 2:30-5 a.m. -- Women's Ice Hockey (bronze medal game), USA (LIVE)
  • 2:40-5 a.m. -- Men's Ice Hockey (quarterfinal), NBCSN (LIVE)
  • 5-7:10 a.m. -- Men's Curling: USA vs. Great Britain, NBCSN
  • 5-7:10 a.m. -- Men's Curling: Sweden vs. Norway, USA
  • 7:10-9:30 a.m. -- Men's Ice Hockey (quarterfinal), USA (LIVE)
  • 7:10-9:30 a.m. -- Men's Ice Hockey (quarterfinal), NBCSN (LIVE)
  • 9:30-10:45 a.m. -- Women's Bobsled (gold medal final runs), NBCSN
  • 10:45 a.m.-1:30 p.m. -- Speed Skating (men's and women's team pursuit gold medal finals), NBCSN
  • 10:45 a.m.-1:30 p.m. -- Cross Country (men's and women's team sprint gold medal finals), NBCSN
  • 1:30-2 p.m. -- Medal Ceremonies, NBCSN
  • 2-5 p.m. -- Men's Curling: USA vs. Great Britain, NBCSN
  • 5-7 p.m. -- Ice Hockey Game of the Day (replay), NBCSN
  • 7-8 p.m. -- Olympic Ice, NBCSN
  • 8-10:45 p.m. -- Women's Curling: Canada vs. Olympic Athletes from Russia, NBCSN
  • 3-5 p.m. -- Speed Skating (team pursuit gold medal finals), NBC
  • 3-5 p.m. -- Men's Cross Country (team sprint gold medal final), NBC
  • 5-8 p.m. -- Women's Curling: USA vs. Sweden, CNBC
  • 8-11 p.m. -- Men's Alpine Skiing (slalom, first run), NBC (LIVE)
  • 8-11 p.m. -- Men's Freestyle Skiing (halfpipe gold medal final), NBC (LIVE)
  • 8-11 p.m. -- Women's Bobsled (gold medal final runs), NBC
  • 8-11 p.m. -- Women's Cross Country (team sprint gold medal final), NBC
  • 10:45 p.m.-2 a.m. -- Women's Ice Hockey (gold medal game), NBCSN (LIVE)
  • 11:35 p.m.-12:30 a.m. -- Men's Alpine Skiing (slalom gold medal final run), NBC (LIVE)

Watch the Olympics without cable on digital streaming devices

If you've already given up on traditional cable or satellite TV, you can sign up for an online streaming service such as PlayStation Vue or YouTube TV, both of which have free trial periods. To watch online for longer than 30 minutes, you'll still need to be a paying cable or satellite subscriber. As with past Olympics, NBC is requiring proof of a subscription. The subscription requirement also applies to coverage on virtual-reality headsets.

For the most part, access to an online TV service -- one that streams many of the channels you'd get from a cable subscription -- will also let you use the NBC apps for streaming and VR.

Google's YouTube TV has the lowest price for all five Olympic TV channels, at $35 a month. Google says the service is available in more than 80 U.S. markets, covering more than 80 percent of households, though a local NBC station isn't available everywhere.

In excluded markets, you could check out a rival streaming service. What works best will depend on your needs: 

  • DirecTV Now also has a $35-a-month offering. But the Olympic Channel is part of a higher tier, at $60 a month, and DirecTV Now generally won't let you record programs for viewing later (a DVR feature is still being tested among some subscribers).
  • Hulu with Live TV is $40 a month for all five channels and DVR. As with Comcast, Hulu is blending TV and online video on its app.
  • PlayStation Vue, Sling TV and FuboTV are all $45 for comparable packages. But you can bring Sling TV's bill down to $30 for just the two main Olympic channels and DVR. PlayStation is $40 without the Olympic Channel.

Free trials are available, and you can cancel after the Olympics. Most services let you enter your ZIP code to check whether the NBC station is available. NBC's live broadcast stream won't be available on the NBC app if you don't get the local station.

Olympics in Virtual reality (VR)

Intel is working with the Olympic Broadcasting Services to produce virtual-reality coverage of 30 events. Eighteen events, or 55 hours, will be live.

During the Rio Olympics in 2016, VR coverage typically wasn't live and required Samsung's Gear VR headsets with a Samsung phone. This time, VR is available on Google Daydream and Microsoft Mixed Reality headsets as well. Those without a headset can still watch on web browsers or Apple and Android mobile devices. In the U.S., you'll need the NBC Sports VR app.

VR isn't meant to replace television. While Intel's VR productions of baseball and other sports had their own announcers, the Olympic coverage will rely on regular television coverage embedded in the VR experience. And most of the VR video will be in 180 degrees -- you'll see the action in front of you and a little bit to the sides, but not what's behind you. Videos in 360 degrees will be limited to non-competition features such as a demo run down the bobsled.

But VR will offer more leaderboards and stats than television, along with the ability to choose camera positions. For downhill skiing, for instance, you might prefer watching from a particular location on the mountain, the way a spectator would, rather than have the camera shift the skier goes down. For figure skating, one camera will be near the judges so you can get their vantage point. There will be no cameras on the rink or on any athletes, however.

Time difference: What time is it in South Korea?

Pyeongchang is in the Korea Standard Time zone, which is UTC+9. That means South Korea is over half a day ahead of U.S. Eastern Time. You have to stay up late to catch the action live. Here are the time differences for all time zones across the United States:

  • Eastern Time zone: 14 hours ahead
  • Central Time zone: 15 hours ahead 
  • Mountain Time zone: 16 hours ahead 
  • Pacific Time zone: 17 hours ahead 
  • Alaska Time zone: 18 hours ahead
  • Hawaii–Aleutian Time zone: 19 hours ahead

Catching up on what you miss

The NBC Sports app and the NBCOlympics website offer highlights, interviews and features on athletes without needing a subscription. You'll also have full access to scores, schedules and guides to understanding obscure events.

Samsung, an Olympic sponsor, developed the official Apple and Android app for the games, called PyeongChang 2018. It has schedules, news and 3-D and drone views of the venues.

Traditional media organizations will also cover the event, even though extensive video from the official venues are restricted to the rights-holding broadcasters. CBS Sports has an entire section dedicated to full Olympic Coverage, including a full TV schedule. The Associated Press has a Winter Games hub with traditional text, photo and video coverage alongside graphics breaking down complicated moves in figure skating and snowboarding and daily illustrations from sketch artist Dan Archer. The AP will also have 360-degree video and drone views of the venues.

Olympics Medal Tracker

As of Wednesday afternoon, Norway leads the medal count with 22. Germany is second with 17, but have the most gold medals with 9. Here are the current Olympic medal counts by country:

Olympic medan count by country, courtesy of CBS Sports
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