Want to watch the Olympic Games online? You’re in luck: NBC is streaming more competitions than ever live to web browsers, iPads, iPhones and Android devices. Plus, there are plenty of second-screen apps that help you to get the most out of the games.


All eyes are on London these days, where athletes of the world are getting ready to compete in the 2012 Olympic Games. And there’s some good news for sports fans: Not only are the main competitions scheduled to happen during times when most of us in North America are actually awake, you’ll also be able to watch almost everything in real-time online – as opposed to the hours of tape delay that are common for traditional TV coverage of the games.

However, there’s a bit of a caveat: NBC will be streaming more footage than ever before – but only to viewers that can authenticate themselves as pay TV subscribers. How does that work, where can you watch once you’re authenticated, and what else can you do with your iPad, iPhone or Android mobile device?

Check out our definitive guide to watching the Olympics online:


How to get access: To watch any of NBC’s live streams, you’ll have to first authenticate yourself as a pay TV subscriber with access to both CNBC and MSNBC. That should cover most cable and satellite customers, but you might be out of luck if you have an analog basic package that doesn’t include both of those channels.

Viewers need to authenticate before they can access NBC’s live streams online.

Authentication is fairly simple, and can be done even before the games start: Just go to NBCOlympics.com or launch NBC’s mobile app, start the authentication process and select your pay TV provider. You’ll then be forwarded to your TV provider’s website, where you’ll need to log in with your username and password.

Don’t have those at hand, or maybe you never signed up for an online account with your cable provider before? No worries, NBC will give you a break in form of a four-hour viewing pass. This feature is rolling out on NBCOlympics.com on Saturday, 7/28.

Don’t pay for TV? Here’s how you can watch the Olympics without cable.

Live streams

Watch on NBCOlympics.com: Once authenticated, NBC is going to stream every competition on every sport, totaling more than 3,500 hours of live coverage on its website. The streams will be available as 1080p HD, if your Internet connection can sustain it. Viewers will even be able to watch specific parts of an event. Really love the long jump, but don’t care about all the running during track and field competitions? NBC has a live stream for you.

A live stream on the NBC iPad app.

Watch on your iPad or iPhone: The live stream will also be available through a dedicated app for iPads, iPhones and iPod touch devices. The app does require authentication, so get your pay TV credentials ready, and then head over to iTunes.

Watch on your Android device: NBC will also provide live streams through an Android app, which essentially mirrors the look and functionality of the iOS app. And of course, viewers will need to authenticate as well. However, there’s one big downside for Android users: the app will only work with a limited number of devices. How can you know if it will work for you? Just go Google Play, log in with your Google account, and check the green box under the install button on the left.

Second-screen apps

Of course, watching live video feeds isn’t the only thing you can do with your tablet or mobile phone. Here are some of the apps that deliver additional information to your second screen as you’re watching the games unfold:

The other NBC Olympics app: NBC and Adobe built a separate app to keep track of the performance of athletes in London and show highlight videos. This app doesn’t require any authentication, but can be used in concert with the live video app. And there’s a so-called Primetime Companion mode that can be used to receive additional information synced to competitions you’re watching on TV. It’s available for both iOS and Android, but the Android version doesn’t work on all handsets.

Shazam: The sound-tagging app will offer check-ins, up-to-the-minute results, polls and other extra features throughout the Olympic Games. Shazam knows which competition you’re watching by listening to your TV’s audio feed, and is available for both Android and iOS.

BuddyTV wants to help you find the the games on TV.

BuddyTV: Online TV guide BuddyTV wants to make it easier to find the competitions you like when they air on TV, which is why the company introduced an Olympics-specific quick-lists feature to tell you exactly what’s airing where and when. BuddyTV also comes with a bunch of social features, and is available for iOS, Android and Google TV.

PlayUp: Sports fans who want to geek out while watching their favorite artists compete can use the new version of PlayUp’s sports-centric second screen app to chat live with like-minded viewers. PlayUp also ropes in relevant Twitter feeds and live results, so you won’t miss any of the action. PlayUp is available for iOS devices in the iTunes store.

ConnecTV: Olympic gold medalists Greg Louganis, Aaron Peirsol, Amanda Beard, and Eric Fonoimoana are contributing to the Watercooler section of ConnecTV’s second-screen companion app, chiming in on this year’s games while the app provides you with live results, top tweets and background info. ConnecTV is monitoring what you’re watching on TV, so it knows exactly what to tell you at which times. ConnecTV is available for Windows, OS X and the iPad.

We will update this list with additional apps and information as the games unfold.

Image of Olympic rings courtesy of (CC-BY-SA) Flickr user  davehighbury.

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  1. Great write up on the Olympic coverage Janko. You can also catch the entire Olympic Live on BBC iPlayer streaming via UnoDNS

  2. Michael Essany Thursday, July 26, 2012

    Personally, I think Android is going to deserve a gold medal itself after the Olympics. Between media outlets and enterprising developers, the amount of material, news, and video content mobile users have access this year with the Olympics is unprecedented. And I think the Android user experience is going to be the big winner by the time the ceremonies come to a close. Developers and mobile advertisers – like those who have killed it lately through Airpush.com – are also having a lot of success with their respective Olympic-themed app creations and advertisement tie-ins. Overall, mobile is going to dominate the Olympics over the next two weeks and the outcome could be extraordinary for the industry as we presently know it.

  3. I have to criticize this article slightly: The only real options suggested here are all on NBC. I appreciate the comment from UnoTelly saying you can also watch the Olympics through BBC’s iPlayer.

    I’ll be outside the US for part of the Games and I’d love to know a few other places I can watch them live on my computer!

  4. electrical course Friday, July 27, 2012

    thanks you so much for the information :)

  5. Ashton Darby Friday, July 27, 2012

    Great Olympic TV!

  6. I think it is outrageous that one has to subscribe to pay television in order to watch the Olympics!!! How unamerican is that? It is the most shortsighted snobbish elitist thing I have ever heard of. I guess only the well off deserve to watch. Hate to remind everyone but often good athletes are not wealthy. Guess those up and coming kids can’t watch either. Where is the outrage over this sheple?!!

    1. NBC is still broadcast over the air. Anyone with an antenna and a tuner can watch for free.

      1. They can watch replays and highlights hours after the event has occurred. Not live, results are already posted on websites and television. What’s the point?

    2. I wouldn’t mind paying for olympic television. But I’m not willing to pay for a full cable or satellite package, which requires a long term contract. I’m also not sure why Americans have not protested the way we are forced to buy television entertainment, especially now with the ability to stream specific content. I don’t mind paying but I only want to pay for what I watch. The way things are arranged now, how I would have to pay for Fox News for a year or more so that I could watch olympic soccer for 2 weeks on NBC sports. I won’t do it.

  7. People everywhere around the globe will watch the opening ceremony live except us in the US! Thanks NBC, and the author for not mentioning that! I will be watching some foreign channels!

  8. I don’t have cable tv

  9. We have Dish America’s Top 120 package ($45/month), which doesn’t contain MSNBC and do contain CNBC. I tried and cannot watch http://www.nbcolympics.com/

  10. I was looking for the opening ceremony too. It’s not on NBC. I can’t stream it, apparently, since I don’t have cable. What a load of crap is that? Not that big of a loss to anyone I suppose, but I won’t seek it out again.

  11. Is there an option where I don’t give some company the password to an email address that has my credit card info, because I trust NO ONE with my password. Why the heck should I trust these guys with such an important password?

  12. Go #Olympics2012 #London2012!

  13. I would rather use 5theye tv

  14. Jenni Bradley Friday, July 27, 2012

    My apartment complex provides cable. So I’m paying in the form of rent, but yet I don’t count as a “subscriber”. Bull hocky

  15. Silver Fang Friday, July 27, 2012

    Join my boycott of the 2012 London Summer Olympics so we can show our displeasure to NBC for requiring a cable subscription for something that should be freely accessible to all. Hopefully next time, CBS will get the games and stream it online with no restrictions or requirements.

  16. hey guys you might as well just put one link nbcolympics.com and get over with instead of this entier post

  17. London 2012 is pretty pathetic, I’d rather have Beijing re-host the olympics, that was unmatched live HD streaming coverage of all events through the internet, could even watch 4 events at the same time through their player, and that was 4 years ago. Look how far we’ve come since then? Coverage is live to 60 nations not including the US, all the 2nd and 3rd world countries get free coverage and not the US. POS countries.

  18. o whom It may concern,

    I am being blocked from signing in to liveextra after choosing time warner as provider.
    At the 2-sign page, no box appears (a blank box where the ACME appears in the video) to
    allow entry of my valid t/w user ID and password.
    I have spent considerable time verifying my info and doing “support with time warner”
    and feel your website is not funtioning with them.


    Please help and allow me the chance to watch all that I can!


  19. Guess what? I don’t own a tv!! I just want to sit and watch the sports, and I can’t do that! I have asked all my friends and relatives, and here is an even larger shocker, they don’t have tv either! So what about us who don’t have any sort of cable or satellite? You can’t watch any of it off the nbc website, because trust me, I have been trying for the past half hour!

  20. Ummm you need to check the definition of cord cutter mr. author. Doesn’t include authenticating with a cable subscription credential.

  21. NBC…YOU SUCK and are so UNAMERICAN! I guess we’ll got to a freakin hotel lobby to watch!

  22. @Half: What’s your user name and password. If you have your credit card number & expiration date that’d be great. ;-)

  23. http://www.terra.com is the only portal that is covering the full games withs at least 36 live channels. If you live in US, Mexico, Brazil our Latin America you can watch for free and in HD! For sure is the best place to watch It

  24. Emily Fhe Domingo Sunday, July 29, 2012

    you can also watch it at gatvercom

  25. Ok so, I’ve been TRYING to watch the Olympics live on NBC’s website but it’s really bad. There isn’t any commentating at some of the events. There isn’t even event coverage on the events. I know I’m in the USA but I want to find out about how the other competitors are doing. Finally like a few others have said regarding your article it seems pretty biased and feels like NBC is paying you to write the article.

  26. Emily Fhe Domingo Tuesday, July 31, 2012

    watch it for free at GATVERcom

  27. I’m using another subscriber’s Directv account
    while staying at their home and don’t have their
    account info in order to watch. Although I had
    pre-registered with NBC to watch the Olympics
    live. They didn’t have any notification that I
    needed account information until the Olympics
    started and I tried to log on. Seems deceptive.
    Now they have all my info for their advertising
    and vendors and I’m not getting the service I
    registered for. I’m so disappointed that I haven’t
    been able to watch the events I wanted to watch
    and now unable to watch Phelps in his last event
    for another medal!!

  28. How in the Heck do you have the Olympics on your network and not show it LIVE all day, everyday. Everyone does not have cable, especially in these economic hardships, and you can’t even avoid the news, from news paper to peple posting who won to people just ramdomly saying who won. I also tried to do the LIVE online thong and if you don’t have cable you’re still out of luck. NBC SUCKS and I will keep this in mind for NOW ON. Greedy bastards. I assumed what I was watching was live. Now I just feel stupid screaming at the TV during the swim competitions. Guess I’m gonna miss Track and Field and the rest, I’ll just read about it.

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