How to Watch the Olympics Online
The Olympic games in Rio, Brazil are about to begin, but unless you are in Brazil, watching the different sporting events might be challenging due to TV channels only having the right to broadcast some of the sports, and in some cases none at all. Usually, you will have some coverage of the most popular sports for each region, but if you want to watch an unrestricted amount of Olympic events online, the way to do it is by utilizing a VPN to connect to different countries where you can enjoy live online streaming of all the events. It is very simple to do, and I will cover all the steps in this guide.
Essentially a VPN allows you to connect through an encrypted server tunnel that can make it seem as if you are located in any country. At the same time, it also privatizes and secures your data by being encrypted from point A to point B. Sounds great right?
How to Watch Olympics Online Using a VPN
- Subscribe, download and install the VPN client of your choice.
- Connect to a server in the country where the online stream is available.
- Open the online stream of your choice and it will no longer be geographically restricted.
That’s it. That is all you really need to do to access live online Olympics streams. Some streaming services require a paid subscription, while others are completely free, or provide partial coverage of the Olympics at no cost. Below, I will go over the important considerations before choosing a VPN, as well as some of the major online streaming services that will be covering the 2016 Rio Olympics.
VPN Speeds for Streaming Olympics Online
If you’re not familiar with VPN services, there are some things to know before you jump in. The first is the fact that a VPN service will often slow down your internet connection speed, due to encrypting the web traffic, but especially if the server you select is located far away. For example, if you are in Japan and attempt to connect to a server in Brazil, that is one of the longest distances possible to have data travelling back and forth from, and will inevitably affect your speed to a higher degree than connecting at a shorter distance. Connecting from Japan to the UK for example, is only half the distance and would have a much smaller impact on bandwidth speed.
However, distance is not the only factor that you should consider. The VPN service itself is responsible for providing quality servers with direct routes, creating the shortest possible data tunnels between countries, and thus only reducing your internet speed by a small amount.
Why is this all important? Because streaming high quality video content requires a good amount of bandwidth. Netflix recommends 5 Mbps per second for standard 720p HD streaming, anything above usually requires 15 to 25 Mbps for Ultra HD content. When it comes to sports streaming, the last thing you want is a jittery feed that keeps lagging or dropping frames, possibly causing you to miss the most exciting moments. Therefore using a VPN to stream the Olympics online can become frustrating and useless if the service has poor speeds. There are hundreds of choices available on the market, but truly, only some 30 or so providers truly offer a good service, and from those I have my favorites which I will gladly share with you.
Unfortunately, free VPN services do not cut it for video streaming. They often impose a speed cap limit, usage limit, or a combination of both, making them a poor option for streaming any kind of video. It is important to note that a truly secure and dependable VPN cannot be free of cost and remain in operation. Any unrestricted free service is likely to be untrustworthy and perform poorly. Free options are usually used to provide a basic service or trial before buying. In the end, the cost is small and the investment provides a list of valuable advantages beyond unrestricted web access.
Where to Stream the Olympics Online
Now that we’ve covered the basic workings of a VPN, I will explain exactly why you need on in order to watch the Olympic Games online. As mentioned, a Virtual Private Network service (VPN) allows you to connect to available servers across many different countries. Not all services are equal and some only provide access to a small amount of countries. The services I will suggest actually cover most of the world, so you will be able to use them for many other uses as well.
Now let’s jump into why these country locations are important. There are a few different media TV channels that are broadcasting live streams of the Olympics online. However, these streams are restricted to their country. This means if you try to stream on BBC iPlayer, but are located in Canada, you will get a message that the stream is not available for your country. This is where the VPN comes into play, as all you have to do is connect to a server in the UK, and it will spoof your location and make it seem as if you’re connecting from whichever city you chose, allowing you to access UK BBC sports streams from anywhere in the world.
I also mentioned how some sports are covered more popularly in specific countries or regions, so you may need to look at more than one source if you’re interested in many different events. Besides actually watching events on cable channels, below are some of the major sources for streaming and watching the Olympics live online, but there are more streams available all around the world, and you can find a stream in virtually any language.
- NBC Sports will be broadcasting a large amount of the Rio Olympics. You can visit NBCOlympics.com for the full schedule, and they also provide apps for iPad and smartphone devices. NBC will also notably be providing 4k and VR content for this summer’s Olympics.
- BBC Sports has full coverage from the UK and the schedule can be accessed here. BBC iPlayer is available on all platforms and promises to have fantastic HD coverage of the games.
- CBC Player is broadcasting the Olympics live from Canada.
- Seven will be providing live coverage and online streaming of this year’s summer Olympics directly from Australia. This is the first time an Australian free-to-air broadcaster will charge for the complete Olympics sports streaming over mobile apps available on iOS and Android.
- SKY acquired all Olympics broadcasting rights for New Zealand and Pacific Island Territories. This means all residents need to either have a cable subscription or a paid subscription to their online streaming service to watch the Olympics locally. Alternatively, you can use a VPN and opt for any of the other English streams as well.
- Both SABC and SuperSport will be providing English online live streaming of the Olympics directly from South Africa.
- RTVE will stream from Spain for Spanish speaking audiences, and will be providing full coverage on their website for easy streaming. Simply connect to a server in Spain and visit their page.
Portuguese – Brazil
- GLOBO Of course, if you are Brazilian and living abroad, or simply wish to watch the events in Portuguese or directly from the host country.
Besides alternatively watching some of the available events on cable television, there are certainly dozens more online streaming services, both paid and free, in various languages across the world. Alternative options include ROKU or Sling TV subscriptions. For expats looking to watch in their native language, the process remains the same. First you purchase a VPN with good speed performance and value that has coverage of the country or countries you wish to stream from, connect to the servers of that country, and now you should be able to load online streaming apps and websites with no geographical restrictions.
Best VPN for Watching Olympics Online
Winner – If you want the best possible speeds, ExpressVPN will not disappoint. It seems that no matter what server you select, the speed loss is truly minimal and negligent. For those users that have ultra-high speed internet lines and don’t want to sacrifice a chunk of it in favor of using an encrypted VPN, I highly recommend this service. They provide a 30-day money back guarantee that truly stands behind the service quality, and you can use the service on up to 3 devices at the same time. Although a bit pricier than competitors, you get access to over 130+ cities in 87 countries. The coverage is ways growing but the speeds remain great year after year. Great choice for watching the Olympics and gaining access to massive global coverage. They now offer a VPN router app so you can run the service easily off your Wi-Fi.
Runner Up – NordVPN makes an excellent provider to watch the Olympics online thanks to having great speeds across their network of more than 500 servers in close to 50 countries. They not only provide solid coverage, but also have dedicated video streaming servers in the UK, US, and Germany, which provide minimal speed loss for even the fastest of internet connections, allowing for ultra HD streaming where available. The price is also very competitive, coming in as low as $48 a year or $5.75 per month, or you can try 1 month for $8. The service also offers a 30-day money back guarantee and allows up to 5 devices to connect simultaneously. Great value, great speeds, and continuously growing. I also like the fact that they have a couple dedicated IP servers in the US, and other specialized servers such as Anti-DDoS for gamers, as well as Tor over VPN or Double VPN servers for those looking for maximum security.
Staying at the same level of quality and speed, IPVanish proclaims to have the fastest VPN service available. I have to be honest, I cannot tell the difference between their service and the two stated above, but that’s a good thing. I consistently used IPVanish on my network router used for my TV media center and have never been disappointed with service quality. They provide coverage in more than 60 countries with over 500 servers to provide the best possible speeds. Up to 5 devices can use a single account, and they provide a 7 day money back guarantee that allows you to try the service risk free. The cost is a little lower than the two previously suggested providers making them a good valued deal.
For the Rio Olympics, IPVanish is offering a 25% discount on new annual plans. The deal is good until August 15th and you need to enter the coupon code SECURESUMMER at checkout to apply it.
Private Internet Access
Even cheaper than IPVanish, with a smaller coverage of 24 countries, Private Internet Access has been able to remain one of the most popular VPNs by ensuring great speeds with an ever growing amount of servers. They cover the most important countries and instead of growing globally, they have over 3000 servers that handle the heavy loads of subscribers to ensure minimal speed loss. They make a great choice for streaming the Olympics, but also won’t break bank, with yearly plans costing only $3.33 per month, or monthly plans starting at $6.95 per month with a true 7 day money back guarantee. Each account allows up to 5 simultaneous devices. Not top of the line, but certainly best value for your money with PIA, highly suggested for not only streaming but all VPN related needs.
If none of the options above fit your budget, a very cheap but reliable provider is PureVPN. Speeds do fluctuate more form one server to another, however they provide a larger coverage than most VPN services on the market with more than 500 servers across 141 countries. At the moment, they have aggressive 2 years for the price of one, bringing cost down to $2.49 per month. That’s $59.99 for two full years of service. However, their 7-day money back guarantee is very limited, and is voided if you use more than 500 megabytes of data, so it barely lets you speed test a few servers to make sure you’re satisfied. This is why I place PureVPN last, great deal, but practically no refunds unless you’re careful and limit usage to a couple speed tests or so.
Honorable Mention – A recent provider that caught my attention has also proven to have very little speed loss across most of their server locations. Buffered has a smaller global coverage of around 33 countries, but counts all the most important locations such as United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Spain, France, Australia, and Brazil. They also provide a rock solid no hassle 30-day money back guarantee, and allow up to 5 devices to connect to a single account at the same time. As far as speed, performance, and reliability goes, testing Buffered across the last three months has put them in my top 5 favorite services to date. The only downside is that price is on par with ExpressVPN for less global coverage. If we compare the amount of features and extras, ExpressVPN wins again, but Buffered is a younger company and needs more time to grow their network.
Conclusion on Streaming Rio Online with VPNs
I hope I have covered all the information needed for you to find a method to watch the Olympics no matter where you are located. Every VPN service I have recommended has server locations for the best streaming sources, but if you require a specific country, make sure to check that the service you chose has that location available. I also made sure to only suggest services that I have tested over long periods of time, and that have consistently provided good performance and negligible speed loss over my internet line.
Additionally, all these services provide full encryption of your web traffic. This not only makes your device more secure, but it also adds a layer of privacy between you and your web activity. Even your Internet Service Provider (ISP) will not know that you’re watching the Olympics online from a streaming service in another country, which is why VPN services are so effective at unblocking online streaming services that would otherwise only be available in their native country. Some places in the world have limited to no coverage of certain events or sports, including the Olympics, but luckily no matter where you are, you can access web content through a virtual private network tunnel with just a few clicks or taps.