2 Ways to Watch the 2018 Olympics for Free Without Cable

Don't waste money on traditional pay TV to watch the Winter Games.

2 Ways to Watch the 2018 Olympics for Free Without Cable Photo by andriano.cz / Shutterstock.com

If you’ve cut the cable TV cord, we congratulate you on all the money you’re saving.

Of course, you now might find it a little more difficult to catch the Olympic Games in South Korea without cable or satellite TV. But you can find a free workaround if you know where to look.

It helps to understand the basics of Olympic broadcast rights. The media company NBCUniversal paid billions of dollars for broadcast rights to the Olympic Games across all media platforms through 2032, as we detailed before the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games.

So, if you want to watch the Pyeongchang Games this month — whether on TV, online or on an app — you must go through NBCUniversal. More specifically, this means you must follow these rules for watching the 2018 Olympics:

  • On TV: You must have access to an NBCUniversal channel — such as NBC, NBCSN, CNBC or USA. Only NBC can be accessed without a pay-TV service.
  • Online: You must use NBC’s Olympics website or the NBC Sports app — both of which will ask you to enter the username and password you use to access your pay-TV provider’s website.

If you don’t have cable or satellite TV, this basically leaves you two options: an antenna, or a free trial for an internet-based streaming TV service.

The antenna option

NBC is a broadcast network. That means you can catch anything aired on that channel with only a digital TV antenna.

This is how my household watches local news despite not paying Comcast for even a basic TV package. (We just pay for internet access.)

You can find inexpensive digital antennas at stores like Best Buy and online-only retailers like Amazon. Wherever you shop, just note the return policy in case the antenna doesn’t work out for your location.

The streaming option

Many internet-based streaming video and TV services offer packages that include NBCUniversal channels — and they tend to be cheaper than packages from traditional pay-TV providers. Many internet-based streaming services also offer free trials.

The following are examples of internet streaming services that offer packages with NBCUniversal channels and free trials:

So, you can take advantage of one of these service’s free trial to catch the Olympics for however long the trial lasts. Just be sure, if you don’t want to subscribe, to cancel before the trial expires so your credit card does not get charged.

Are you watching the Olympics? Let us know how by commenting below or on Facebook.

Karla Bowsher
Karla Bowsher
I’m a freelance journalist and former newspaper reporter who has covered both personal and public finance. I've worked for a top 50 major metro daily and a community newspaper as well as ... More

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