The Summer Olympics kick off in Rio de Janeiro on August 5 as the opening ceremonies put the “pomp” back in pomp and circumstance. The ehe event will attract an absolutely massive number of viewers ready to say catty things (in many languages) about the national outfits and have a good laugh about the awkward vibes between Team Russia and, well, everyone really. The show starts at 7:30 PM eastern time, which means that things will have gotten silly and samba-oriented before 8:00. That’s probably about the time most chord cutters will be scrambling to find the right link.

For people who rely on Netflix, HBO Go, and Amazon for their wireless entertainment, the Olympics present a bit of a puzzle. It’s the rarest of rare things: a network event worth watching. So how does a person without cable bill tune in?

China moves as one. Join them in a cable free opening ceremony.
China moves as one. Join them in a cable free opening ceremony.

Over-the-Air Broadcast

NBC is broadcasting this year’s Olympics. A lot of the actual sports, games, and contests will be spread throughout its cable or subscription based properties, but the party that starts the show will be on their flagship channel. This is important because as one of the original broadcast networks, NBC still has a transmission tower and sends its programming over the air, for free. All a person needs to access it, is the right antenna. This is a choice best made based on location, and unfettered access to the sky. Go to AntennaWeb.org, provide them with an address, and the site will show what channels are available, easiest way to get good reception, and what antenna best suits your needs.

Bumming Your Parents’ Cable Login

NBC followed in the footsteps of both ESPN and HBO. The network has a site dedicated to streaming all the Olympics a person can handle, but in order to access it, they require proof that users have a paid subscription from a legacy provider. This is where mom and dad or a particularly behind-the-times and very trusting friend can come in. If you know someone who still has cable or satellite subscription, ask them for the login information for their account. It may be necessary to explain to them that it’s where they go online to pay their bills, or just as likely, you may have to register their online account for them. Once that’s done, download the NBC Sports App plug in the information used to log on to their cable or DirecTV account, and enjoy.

Branded Online Streaming Services

If consistent, high definition images are important enough for you to spend a little scratch, but your moral compass or pocketbook urge you to avoid cable, you could try streaming services like Playstation Vue or Sling. The individual offerings range in price from $25 all the way to $100. A basic subscription will provide the most popular events — of which the opening ceremonies are included. According to cordcutter.com each of these services offers 7 days for free, the opening ceremonies are only an hour tops, so that’s something right there.

Other Online Video Services

Youtube has a dedicated Olympic channel. But the official channel is unlikely to have events branded by NBC. That said, with a little advance searching techniques, you may be able to find a less than altruistic Youtube user broadcasting the event. As for Twitch, that more for the fake Olympics, specifically, retro video game Olympics. If that’s more your style, head on over, you’re sure to find lovers/users of the Powerpad.

Social Media

Twitter is bound to have some text coverage. Hashtags like #Rio2016 or #Olympics2016, will lead to some useful comments about the style a manner of Rio’s offering. Facebook accounts like RioOlympics or Rio2016 are already up and users posting on them may provide some insight or clues as to where one can actually watch a video stream of the event. Short of providing a place to watch, users will provide a laugh or two.

The Ethical Grey Area Approach

Be warned, this last path has a high likelihood of producing unending pop-ups with unclear closeout buttons. It could show video with foreign language narration, and there’ll certain to be a fair share of pixelated, frame-buffering streams that cut-off or stop for no apparent reason. That said, sometimes, there’s a diamond in that rough, and thanks to services like SopCast and AceStream, that diamond may even be in HD. Wiziwig was shut-down last year, but the Hydra-like nature of Internet piracy means that if one is cut down, two come back to take its place. A simple search on Reddit or Google for “Wiziwig alternative” should garner useable results, and, if you’re able to find a site offering streams in either SopCast or AceStream protocols, which require additional applications, just make sure you’re downloading those programs from trusted sites.

Whatever your poison, make sure to choose it early because there’ll be a learning curve no matter which path you choose. Once you get it right though, sit back, relax, and soak in all the over-the-top nationalistic fervor you can handle.

Oh yeah, that's some sweet uncut pride in nation and culture.
Oh yeah, that's some sweet uncut pride in nation and culture.

Photos via CCTV via Youtube, SNL via Giphy

W. Harry Fortuna is a science and tech journalist in New York City. He comes to journalism after a long career in film and TV production on the West Coast. He is particularly interested in the organ between our ears and how our increasingly expansive understanding of it will affect our future.