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Watch the 2012 Olympics Live Online for Free

by Joe Kukura on June 8, 2012

Watch 2012 Olympics Live Online

UPDATED JULY 24, 2012: Details on watching the Olympic Torch Relay online, mobile apps available, and exclusive content for Facebook added.

The Olympic Games date back to the 6th Century BC, but this summer’s London 2012 Olympics mark the first time you can sit at the computer and watch the Olympics live online. NBC Sports will be streaming every London 2012 Olympic event live on the Internet, in real time, without waiting for the evening’s primetime tape-delayed coverage.

When NBC says “every event,” they do mean every canoe race, judo match, and rhythmic gymnastics competition will be streamed live over NBC Olympics Live Extra, and most of those Olympic events will be available on demand afterwards. NBC will stream an average of 291 hours of Olympic coverage daily.

Just be aware the games are being played on London time. That means streams to watch Olympics live online will begin daily around 3am EST and the games will run until around 7pm EST.

Watch Your Favorite Olympics Videos

Download your favorite Olympics videos online and save them in your personal video cloud. Then you can watch the video on your phone, tablet, and even TV.


If your Olympics-watching binge just can’t wait for the actual games to begin, then check out a free, live webcast of the Olympic Torch Relay. The official website of the London 2012 Olympics is hosting live video of the Olympic Torch Relay as the torch makes its way to Olympic Park in London. No cable subscription verification is required, but the stream is only shown live – not on demand. Torch carriers begin at about 3am EST and continue until about 12 Noon EST each day until July 27. If that doesn’t work with your schedule you can always catch highlight videos of the Olympic Torch Relay on a dedicated YouTube channel.

There has already been quite a few memorable and amusing moments in the Olympic Torch Relay as the flame traveled from Athens, Greece through England. Two pint-sized schoolboys in the English city of Coventry actually managed to hop on course and steal the Olympic Torch for all of about two seconds. Another British torch carrier proposed to his pregnant girlfriend while running with the torch – it was quite a heartwarming moment captured on video.


NBC’s live Olympics webcast is available at no cost – provided that you have a valid cable subscription. Unlike ESPN’s online streams of the NBA Playoffs, video will be available to all cable and satellite subscribers regardless of carrier. As long as your cable package includes CNBC and MSNBC, you have met the minimum criteria to watch Olympics live online.

The streams are free and completely legal, but you will be asked to verify your cable account first. This entails more than just a quick click – you’ll need to produce your account number, then create a username and password for this account, then log in with your new account (that’s the account you just created). It’s a new concept called TV Everywhere, and this is how cable networks and movie channels will stream movies and premium video online without allowing access to non-subscribers.

Viewers without a cable subscription can watch the Olympics live online free., for example, will stream a few live Olympic events that will not be behind the subscription verification firewall, but these are unlikely to be the more popular Olympic events. If you want to stream the debut of Women’s Olympic Boxing on July 28th, or Paul McCartney performing at the Olympics opening ceremony on July 27th plan on having proof of that active cable or satellite TV subscription.


If one screen is just not enough to satisfy your Olympic cravings – and NBC is hoping that it’s not – there will be two official Olympics apps for smartphones and tablets. Mobile device and tablet viewers can get in on the games with the NBC Olympics Live Extra app that provides the same universal streaming video access of all Olympic games and a cable subscription is still required. If you don’t have a cable subscription, there’s a loophole through which you can watch the Olympics on a cellphone or tablet. GigaOM reports that mobile device users can watch the Olympics free for a one-hour grace period before cable subscription verification is required. The grace period for non-cable subscribers lasts only one hour and can only be used once, so choose that hour wisely.

The second Olympics app is simply called NBC Olympics and will provide brief highlight videos, news, photos, real time stats, and medal counts. The NBC Olympics app delivers “second screen” capabilities for the nightly broadcast on NBC that provides interactive analysis of the athletes competing in the evening’s tape-delayed broadcast, plus a Facebook plug-in for posting, and some Twitter features for a more interactive watching experience. Both apps are free and available for Android and Apple iOS.

Speaking of Facebook, the social networking site has partnered with NBC to provide exclusive content and online tools. You’ll see Olympic-themed online polls popping up on your Facebook feed frequently during the games. Facebook is also launching a new tool called Talk Meter for the Olympics, designed to highlight the Olympic athletes and events that are trending among your friend network. Rest assured the NBC announcers of the games will provide reminders often to check out these Facebook features.


Web viewers will be able to watch Olympics live, but for recaps and highlights they’ll still need to tune into NBC’s primetime broadcast that airs on NBC that evening. The primetime shows will feature interviews and highlights interspersed with tape-delayed competitions, while the Internet streams will simply show the live competitions. Though, you will not get all the available NBC camera angles in your online viewing. Broadcast announcers will still describe the action, but these may not be U.S. or NBC announcers to whom you’re accustomed. That said some sports may have multi-screen feeds available, but which Olympic events haven’t been announced. After all, NBC still wants you to tune in for the slick and superbly edited primetime broadcast replay that evening. The event that is on NBC that evening, you will not get on demand access to that video until after it has aired on NBC.

London is five hours ahead of Eastern Time, and eight hours ahead of Pacific Time. This means the highest-profile Olympic events will stream live in the U.S. late in the morning on the East coast of the U.S., and early morning on the West coast. The Men’s Basketball Gold Medal Game, for instance, will stream live at 10 a.m. EDT and 7 a.m. PDT on Sunday, August 12.

Mobile device and tablet viewers can get in on the games as well, with the NBC Olympics On The Go app that will provide the same universal streaming access of all Olympic games. This will also be the first Olympics broadcast in 3D, though 3DTV viewers will only get next-day tape delay broadcasts of certain select events.

The London 2012 Olympics will begin with the opening ceremony on Friday, July 27, and the games will run through Sunday, August 12.

What Olympic sport are you looking forward to watching live? For me, it’s definitely canoe slalom.

{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Kampüs June 16, 2012 at 12:37 pm

i will watch. When will it start?

2 gjgniearg June 25, 2012 at 9:44 am

“NBC’s live Olympics webcast is available at no cost – provided that you have a valid cable subscription.”

Which cost, so what is the point of having it online.

3 SO MAD!!!! July 6, 2012 at 5:03 pm

i can’t believe that something so amazing can only be seen on “nbc”. “You can watch it free” if you have cable or something of the sort. NOT REALLY FREE. I always thought free was when you didn’t have to pay for it, like most fireworks shows.
I am way past, probably not watching any of it. I hate watching all the talking that the talking heads think they MUST do.
With all that is going on here in the USA. Maybe it is time to just move to Great Britian and watch it on the BBC. The BBC is truly FREE. they seem to know what that word means.

4 PM July 19, 2012 at 7:56 pm

I refuse to re-subscribe to cable TV, which I recently dropped, especially MSNBC. How sad there’s no other way to even subscribe for online only. What dinosaurs.

5 Cozzy July 22, 2012 at 12:45 am

I signed up to a VPN service from that allow you to watch BBC live streams no matter where you are located. I will be able to watch every event olympic event live including soccer. Woo Hoo!!

6 Barb July 22, 2012 at 9:41 am

I agree with all of these comments. I dropped cable TV because it was so expensive and now to be able to watch the Olympics I have to re-establish a cable connection. That is not what I call free. I think there will be a lot of disappointed people out there who cannot afford your version of “free.”

7 Sammy July 23, 2012 at 1:33 am

It’s really annoying that you have to be subscribed to cable to watch NBC’s Olympics telecast. (It says above that your cable package needs to include CNBC and MSNBC!)

If you don’t want to subscribe to cable and pay those ridiculous monthly charges, but still don’t want to miss this Olympics, you can find out how to do that, step-by-step, at

8 Me July 23, 2012 at 10:01 am

OK. So there is NO FREE live webcast then. What am I expecting. This is America. People will sell their own mothers if they can make a penny.

9 Joe Kukura July 23, 2012 at 10:40 am

PM, Barb, and Me…. There will be some events webcast for free at without a cable subscription firewall. They haven’t said which ones yet, and I suspect these will not be the bigger or more popular events. There will be *some* free events streaming at that site each day of the Olympics, though, even for viewers without a cable subscription.

Cozzy… Yep, I hear the BBC is streaming everything for free on 24 (count ‘em!) 24 available channels.

Sammy… That appears to be a pay site. But the infographic is totally cool!

10 Bradley July 23, 2012 at 1:22 pm

So where do I watch the olympics online for free? I don’t have cable anymore. Can you post a list or something?

11 Anonymous July 23, 2012 at 7:06 pm

The bbc isn’t actually free… Granted it is way cheaper than cable in the us, but there is a license fee that has to be paid. Download the bbc app… This may work!

12 Joe Kukura July 24, 2012 at 10:29 am

Bradley… There will be multiple free live Olympic events streaming at each day which do not require cable verification — but only those which have been passed over by NBC’s networks (MSNBC, CNBC, Bravo, etc). In other words, not the most popular events.

Anonymous — Sneaky! I found the app on Google Play, which says the app is incompatible with my phone. I cannot verify that the app works in the U.S…. but it is certainly worth a try!

13 Clifford July 26, 2012 at 7:15 am


Those of you who really believed that the Faciist Corporate United States actually would have FREE coverage of the cash-cow Olympics should now have some idea of what is the United States. When I lived in Maine, I watched the Winter Olympics via Quebec, NO ADVERTISING, on TV. However, I paid for the TV but not at the Mafia Contract rates of today. I do not doubt that all Canadians will watch the 2012 Olympics free of charge, and with no ADVERTISING. They also have free health CARE or so reasonable sa as not to break them or have them lose their homes. .

Ask yourself, how many of the Fascist Executives of the vicious Capitalism United States are among those who have twenty one trillions of dallars socked away in tax-free havens, The EUORPEAN broadheets run many article about this, the United States run none. The Plutocrats pay no taxes on those trillions, yet you pay taxes through the nose, and you still cannot warch the Olympics unless you pay to do so.. You also pay through the nose of Health INSURANCE. Tell me, just what is so great about the United States?

14 Joe Kukura July 26, 2012 at 11:25 am

cheaper gasoline?

15 angelina July 27, 2012 at 3:22 pm

Watch Summer Olympics London 2012 Live Streaming Online

16 Naseebullah July 29, 2012 at 11:20 am

Jan teri name

17 Paul Taylor July 29, 2012 at 12:21 pm

As an Englishman, recently decamped into upstate New York, I can tell you that living in the UK is very hard with high taxation on everything and where gas costs in excess of $9/gallon! The BBC is a paid-for service which costs about $220 a year to view first class, quality programmes without interruption from advertisers. Both BBC 1 & 2, will have live coverage together with highlights toward the end of the day’s action.

What annoys me is that although being a UK taxpayer & TV licence-holder and despite being advised beforehand that in order to be able to see live UK TV online or via iPlayer, I needed to download the software whilst in the UK, which would identify me in the USA when I logged-on. You can imagine my disappointment to find now that the only coverage in the USA is via NBC which is stuffed with advertising and only centres on the American contingent rather than taking a wider perspective of the GAMES AS A WHOLE!

18 Aden July 31, 2012 at 9:04 am Uk VPN service recommended by Quora member Julie Stanford. Watch live Olympics on BBC. Works like a charm

19 Shannon Russell July 31, 2012 at 8:49 pm

I am with you! I am also mad that I can not watch the olympics. Wow it would have been eazyer to just go there then it is to try to watch it on your lap top. I am very dissapointed in all these web sites that say watch free then when you get on there it does not work. All they want is your email address which makes me even mader. So much for modern technology..

20 Neal August 1, 2012 at 3:33 am

I can see, the beginning of the end of NBC.

21 Mike August 9, 2012 at 7:09 pm

I tried to give NBC feedback about the problems with their “not free” streaming. No response. I don’t have cable myself, so I got very little breadth in what I was able to see and significant frustration.

What can we do to make NBC accountable?

22 Ondemand video hosting September 1, 2012 at 12:11 pm

Thanks for the sharing the resource.Nice and useful information.Now I’ll be able to view channels live.

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