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The Winter Olympics are underway, and there’s plenty of excitement already. As always, there are a lot of events to watch, which will take place at different times of the day. There are 109 medal events across 15 sports this year — that’s quite the haul! But watching the Winter Olympics can be tricky for some; between watching the games live or streaming and the significant time zone difference between Bejing and the U.S. — figuring out exactly how to watch the Winter Olympics can be a bit confusing.
This year’s Winter Olympics are in Beijing, home of the 2008 Summer Olympics. It was a close race, but in the end, the Chinese capital won the rights to host the games over Almaty, Kazakhstan and Oslo, Norway (which eventually pulled its bid due to a lack of support).
However, when the games go down, it won’t just be Beijing serving as host; the events will be spread out in the surrounding areas. Curling, figure skating, hockey and speed skating occur in the city center, while sliding sports and skiing will be an hour northwest. Are you looking for snowboarding? You’ll have to go about two hours northwest, to another city named Zhangjiakou.
So how do you watch this year’s Winter Olympics, anyhow? Scroll on for all of the important information and ideas on how to watch the 2022 Winter Olympics online for free.
When Are the Winter Olympics?
The Opening Ceremony took place at the National Stadium in Beijing on Feb. 4. The Closing Ceremony will also take place there on Feb. 20. These are the only two events at the Stadium (also known as The Birds Nest) this year. Beijing is 13 hours ahead of the East Coast and 16 hours ahead of the West Coast, so you can expect to catch many events at odd hours of the day. You can check out a detailed schedule on the Olympics website or the NBC website.
How to Watch the Winter Olympics Online
The 2022 Olympic schedule is a doozy. Coverage began on Feb. 2, two days before the Opening Ceremony, with non-medal competitions.
If you haven’t done so already, now is the time to take advantage of the network’s streaming service, Peacock. You can catch various Olympic events across NBCUniversal properties if you have cable, including USA Network, CNBC and NBC.
The streaming service will air all of NBCUniversal’s coverage of the Olympics, including every live minute that airs on broadcast and cable. Not only that, but it will also have curated clips, virtual channels and exclusive daily studio programming, not to mention the Opening and Closing Ceremonies and live streams across all 15 participating sports. That makes it a one-stop-shop for everything and anything Olympics.
To access all of this content (more than 2,800 hours worth), you’ll need to subscribe to the Premium tier. That will cost you $4.99 per month, and you’ll still have to watch the ads. Are you looking for an ad-free experience? Opt into the Premium Plus tier for $9.99 per month instead.
If you already have an NBC subscription, you can also stream events directly through NBCOlympics.com and the NBC Sports app. USA Network will also host more than 400 hours of Olympic-related programming, while CNBC will have about 80 hours of coverage.
A subscription to Hulu Live + TV or YouTube TV may give you access to some of those channels as well, but they’ll cost you more than a basic Peacock subscription. So if you’re just looking to watch the Olympics online, the ad-based Peacock subscription is probably your best bet.
Where to Stream the 2022 Winter Olympics
- More than 2,800 hours of coverage
- Lots of extras and bonus content
- You’ll also access all Peacock originals and NBC next-day content
- Only select coverage available with the free plan
- The Premium subscription is still ad-based
- It gives you access to local channels broadcasting events
- Can stream three concurrent streams with Blue access
- The more expensive price point
- You’ll be limited to which events you can watch
Hulu Live + TV
- Includes access to all channels you need to watch events
- You can also access a vast show library
- More expensive price point
- No bonus content
- Impressive DVR function
- Access to three simultaneous streams
- No longer carries all NBCUniversal channels (some of which air the games)
- The more expensive price point
- Carries all games broadcast on NBC, USA Network and CNBC
- Free seven-day trial
- DVR functionality
- 4K coverage will only be available in New York, Los Angeles and Boston
- Costly base package with expensive add-ons
Can You Watch the Winter Olympics For Free?
FuboTV and Sling offer free trials, but only for seven days. If you don’t want to subscribe to any streaming services or cable services, you can watch the Olympics on NBC using an antenna. You’ll obviously need to buy one if you don’t have one, but antenna TV doesn’t require a subscription and is always free.
NBC previously bought the exclusive broadcast rights to every version of the Games through to 2032. They paid good money for those rights, too — $7.75 billion to be exact — so ensuring that you have access to NBC or Peacock is your best bet for full coverage. You can watch highlights and past events for free from the NBC Olympics website, but this is somewhat limited.
If you want to buy an antenna to watch the 2022 Winter Olympics on NBC, now’s a good time to do it. The games are in full swing, and the Super Bowl is coming up (with both airing exclusively on NBC). An antenna will allow you to catch many Olympic events on NBC without a cable subscription. This amplified HDTV antenna has a lot of positive reviews, and it has a discrete design for mounting to the wall. There’s the upfront cost to buying an antenna, but you never have to worry about monthly fees.
Countries and Athletes To Watch During the Olympics
The Winter Olympics are always exciting, and they’re dominated by pretty dangerous sports like slalom, ski jumping and skeleton, as well as oddities like doubles luge, curling and aerials. And while the Summer Olympics generally have significant representation by big countries like the U.S., China and Great Britain, the stars of the Winter Olympics are often, unsurprisingly, cold countries. For example, Norway is the all-time Winter Olympic medal leader, with 368 in total as of the 2018 Winter Olympic games. There’s a long way to go, but leaders include the Netherlands, Norway, Austria, and Sweden right now.
At the top of the heap is not a country, but the ROC, representing the Russian Olympic Committee. In 2017, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) punished Russia for the widespread use of performance-enhancing drugs. However, individual Russian athletes are still allowed to compete, and this unusual moniker groups them. The Russian anthem will not play when a Russian athlete wins, and the Olympics will not display their tricolor flag.
Team USA has struggled a little bit, at least so far. Mikaela Shiffrin, touted as one of the greatest alpine skiers of all time, shocked commentators and viewers when she failed to finish her qualifying run for the second time in as many days. It was a heartbreaking moment, as Shiffrin sat by the side of the course after her error. Nina O’Brien had a terrifying fall on the grand slalom, sustaining a compound fracture in her leg, and returning to the States. So far, the U.S. has picked up a few medals but no gold.
After a brutal first run, in which he fell on a landing, Shaun White redeemed himself for his second qualifying run. White ultimately finished fourth in the men’s halfpipe qualifier, well within the top 12 needed to advance to the finals. Conversely, Chloe Kim fell on her second run, but her incredibly solid first score was enough to keep her first-place standing intact. Kim will advance to the medal competition and is the one to beat for gold. The women’s final will take place on Wednesday, Feb. 9, at 8:30 p.m, whereas the men’s competition will take place on Thursday, at 8:30 p.m (all times EST).
In addition to the exciting athletes worth watching, there are also new events to watch. The seven new Olympic events at the 2022 games are Women’s Monobob, Men’s and Women’s Big Air (Freestyle Skiing), Mixed Team Snowboard Cross, Mixed Team Aerials, Mixed Team Short Track Relay and Mixed Team Ski Jumping.
How to Watch Olympic Documentaries
Once you have a subscription to Peacock, you’ll also have free access to some new Olympic documentaries that the streaming service offers to generate buzz and excitement around the games.
This four-part docuseries revolves around the 2002 Olympic figure-skating scandal involving Canadian pair Jamie Salé and David Pelletier in Salt Lake City. Many believed their long program skate should have earned them the gold, so it was shocking when Russian duo Anton Sikharulidze and Elena Berezhnaya received that honor instead. Watch the first episode for free on Peacock.
Follow Olympic skier Lindsey Vonn as she recounts the story of her childhood hero, alpine skiing icon Picabo Street.
American Rock Stars
Curling, but with a Nick Offerman narration? Sign us up. This doc revolves around the 2018 gold-winning U.S. men’s curling team as they prepare for the 2022 games. Watch the first episode for free on Peacock.