2018 Winter Olympics Media Guide: How to Watch, Changes in Coverage and Everything Else You Need to Know

What is the biggest change for PyeongChang coverage versus Sochi? How will NBC's coverage look on a given day? The answers to those questions and more in our media guide to the 2018 Winter Olympics.
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Competition has already started at the Winter Olympics — mixed doubles curling is heating up! — but tonight’s Opening Ceremony always marks the de facto start of the Olympics. To help you with your viewing choices over the next two weeks, here’s a broadcasting answer guide to viewing the PyeongChang Games.

What is the time difference for these Olympics?

PyeongChang is 14 hours ahead of New York, 15 hours ahead of Chicago, 16 hours ahead of Denver and 17 hours ahead of L.A.

Does the time difference work for an American audience?

It does if you are an Olympic viewer who primarily watches the primetime coverage. “Contrary to popular belief, the 14-hour time difference works very well for live primetime coverage,” said Jim Bell, President, Production and Programming of NBC Olympics. “People initially think it’s all the way on the other side of the world, but the time difference is 14 hours, so that means that 8 p.m. Eastern is 10 a.m. the next day in South Korea. When many of the marquee events—figure skating, alpine, snowboarding—will be taking place."

What sports will be featured in primetime?

Figure skating, alpine skiing or snowboarding will be featured live in primetime every night on NBC from Feb. 8 to Feb. 25, excluding the night of the Opening Ceremony.

What new sport has the best potential to breakout as a television play?

I think the Big Air is pretty cool,” Bell said. “I think it’s visual and I think it’s young. It’s funny to think that there was an Olympics before where there wasn’t snowboarding, because it has become such a key part of the coverage. So if I had to pick one, I’d probably say the Big Air in snowboarding has the best chance to catch on.”

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Is there a comprehensive television guide you would recommend?

Yes. NBC Sports PR put out a very helpful day-by-day guide here. I’d recommend it. 

Can you send us a link that highlights the must-watch event each day?

Indeed, thanks to my SI colleague, Richard Demak.

What is the biggest change for PyeongChang coverage versus Sochi?

Well, it’s the first time in history that NBC will air its primetime show live across all time zones. On most nights of the 2018 Olympic Winter Games, NBC’s primetime broadcast will begin at 8 p.m. ET, 7 p.m. CT, 6 p.m. MT, and 5 p.m. PT. It will be followed by local news, and then primetime plus—consisting of live continuing coverage from PyeongChang, which will air until 2 a.m. ET on many nights. A replay of the primetime program will then follow.

What should I know about the Opening Ceremonies?

The good news is you can for the first time watch the ceremonies online live as they are happening. The live coverage from PyeongChang will begin Friday at 6 a.m. ET on NBCOlympics.com and the NBC Sports app. That coverage won’t include NBC’s production; it will have the world feed graphics and the event’s natural sound (without commentators). To be honest, it might be better watching it this way given NBC’s tendency to over-maudlin the ceremonies.

NBC’s fully-produced presentation of the Opening Ceremony will be co-hosted by Mike Tirico and Katie Couric. It will air at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT on NBC.

How many NBC employees will be working in PyeongChang?

There are 2,500 NBC employees in South Korea and 1,000 employees working on the Olympics at NBC Sports Group’s International Broadcast Center in Stamford, Conn.

What should I know about the commentators?

NBC has 89 broadcasters working the games, the most ever for a Winter Olympics. Here is the list of all the assignments

Any commentators you are looking forward to?

I’m a big fan of the figure skating trio of Terry Gannon, Tara Lipinski and Johnny Weir. Lipinski and Weir talked about how they approach broadcasting in a recent 50-minute conversation I had with them on the SI Media Podcast. Having covered speed skating for SI, I’m interested in how Olympic gold medalist Joey Cheek debuts as a speed skating analyst. Bode Miller, the most decorated skier in U.S. Olympic history, has joined the alpine skiing team coverage and he’ll get attention as he works alongside alpine skiing voice Dan Hicks, former World Cup skier and on-course reporter Steve Porino and reporter Heather Cox.

Is NBC bringing along any outside-the-box broadcasters?

Yes. NASCAR icon Dale Earnhardt Jr. is traveling to PyeongChang to explore the culture, people and traditions in South Korea, and experience Olympic competitions.

How many hours total will NBCUniversal be airing?

The networks of NBC Universal will air more than 2,400 hours of coverage across NBC, NBCSN, CNBC, USA Network, NBCOlympics.com, and the NBC Sports app. The 2,400 hours are the most ever for a Winter Olympics. The network breakdown: NBC (176 hours), NBCSN (369), CNBC (46), USA Network (40.5) and NBCOlympics.com/NBC Sports app (1,800+).

How does the coverage breakdown on a given day?

NBC’s schedule is divided into three day parts—daytime, primetime and primetime plus—for a total of 176 hours over 18 days. The coverage breaks down per network:

NBC (176 hours)

NBC's schedule is divided into three day parts—daytime, primetime and primetime plus. Primetime begins each night at 8 p.m. ET, except for Sundays (7 p.m. ET) and will be highlighted by live coverage of alpine skiing, figure skating, snowboard/freestyle skiing and short track. Eleven of 18 nights of primetime will feature live alpine skiing—likely featuring Mikaela Shiffrin and Lindsey Vonn—and all alpine skiing will air live either in primetime or primetime plus on NBC. Figure skating will be prominently featured during NBC's primetime coverage, airing on 12 of 18 nights. NBC's Olympic daytime coverage will air from 3-5 p.m. ET on weekdays, and 3-6 p.m. ET on weekends across all time zones. New to this Winter Olympics is NBC's late-night primetime plus window. Olympic coverage will air live across all time zones every night following primetime and local news. Primetime plus will feature many of the same events airing in primetime.

NBCSN (369 hours)
The cable network will air live primetime coverage of a Winter Olympics for the first time, as well as 10 days of 24-hour programming. Gold medal finals on NBCSN include bobsled, hockey, snowboarding, short track and luge. 

CNBC (46 hours)
CNBC will air 46 hours of coverage, highlighted by evening curling telecasts. 

USA Network (40.5 hours) 
USA Network will air 40.5 hours of hockey and curling coverage throughout the Games, the majority of which will be shown live.

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NBCOlympics.com/NBC Sports app (1,800+) 
PyeongChang will be the first Winter Games to offer live streaming of the NBC broadcast network, including primetime and primetime-plus programming. NBC said its digital coverage will include live streaming of all competition on NBCOlympics.com

and the NBC Sports app across desktops, mobile devices, tablets, connected TVs for authenticated users and TV simul-stream coverage of five television networks. Viewers will also have access to three digital-only programs, live streams of practices and a news desk regularly publishing Olympic updates throughout each day. Users will be able to stream 30 minutes of coverage prior to authentication on their first visit, and 5 minutes each subsequent day. PyeongChang will be the first Winter Games in which streaming coverage will be available for connected TVs. All Amazon Fire, Apple TV, Chromecast, Roku, Win10, Comcast X1 and select Samsung authenticated pay TV customers will be able to watch NBC Olympics’ 1,800 hours of streaming coverage on the NBC Sports app via TV Everywhere. NBC Olympics will offer fans streams to practice sessions for select sports, including figure skating.

Olympic Channel Coverage
If your cable system gets the "Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA," the channel will air 20 hours of news and highlights provided daily by Olympic Broadcasting Services, live Olympic medal ceremony coverage from the PyeongChang Medal Plaza and a daily studio show featuring Jimmy Roberts.

What kind of digital-only programming is NBC offering?

NBC Olympics is producing three digital-only programs, a social-focused video franchise and a news desk that provides regular updates during the Games for NBCOlympics.com and the NBC Sports app.

How was the viewership for Sochi?

Not good. Primetime coverage of the Sochi Olympics averaged 21.4 million viewers on NBC, down 12% in viewership from Vancouver in 2010 (24.4 million). It was the second-lowest rating and viewership ever for the Olympics in primetime, just ahead of Turin in 2006.