Olympics on TV: How to watch the Opening Ceremony

Chuck Barney, The Mercury News on

Published in Entertainment News

For television viewers, following the Olympics can be a baffling experience.

You hear and read that the Tokyo Games start on Friday with the Opening Ceremony. But why then did certain events like softball and soccer start earlier in the week?

And then you’re told that NBC will televise the Opening Ceremony live — which in the U.S. means a 6:55 a.m. ET wake-up call. So what, exactly is the network presenting at night?

To help you get with the program, let’s break down exactly how NBC is approaching the first OFFICIAL day of the Olympics:

— There is a 13-hour time difference between Japan and the East Coast of the U.S. In the past, with such vast time differentials, NBC would have recorded the Opening Ceremony and presented it on a delayed basis hours later in prime time. But for the first time ever, the network will deliver live morning coverage. On the East Coast, it’s a 6:55 a.m. start with coverage running through 11 a.m. On the West Coast, that coverage begins at 3:55 a.m. and runs through 8 a.m.

— For viewers who don’t want to wake up that early — or have to work — NBC will present its traditional prepackaged coverage of the Opening Ceremony for prime-time viewers. This coverage, hosted by Mike Tirico and Savannah Guthrie, will air at 7:30 p.m. on the East Coast and runs until midnight. On the West Coast, the timing is 4:30 p.m. through 9 p.m.


NBC is referring to its nighttime broadcasts as the “comprehensive” version of its Opening Ceremony coverage — complete with all the performances, pageantry and Parade of Nations.

— Apparently realizing that 4:30 p.m. is still too inconvenient for some West Coasters, NBC will then re-air its prime-time package out West from 9:10 p.m. to 1:10 a.m. And then it will encore again from 2:30 a.m. to 5 a.m. PT.

The morning coverage of the Opening Ceremony will be followed by special editions of the “Today” show, which will be Olympics-centric with reaction and athlete interviews.

The “Today” show then will be followed by actual daytime coverage of Olympic events.

©#YR@ MediaNews Group, Inc. Visit at mercurynews.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.