If spending a small fortune to venture to Sochi, Russia for the 2014 Olympic Winter Games is not in your budget, fear not. NBC has you covered.
Overall, the network and its properties will air 1,539 hours of Olympic coverage, the most ever. If you can’t make it to your TV, or if you don’t have the NBC Sports Network, MSNBC, CNBC or USA Network as part of your TV package, NBC is airing more than 1,000 hours of live streaming of all competition on NBCOlympics.com.
Must See TV From Sochi
With games airing at all hours of the morning, you might not want to torpedo your sleep schedule by waking up early every day during the Olympic tournament. Here are a few dates you’ll want to mark down on your calendar (All start times are Eastern Standard Time):
Saturday, Feb. 8 @ 3 a.m.
The puck drops on the women’s tournament with the U.S. taking on a tough Finland team, and Canada facing off against Switzerland five hours later.
Wednesday, Feb. 12 @ 7:30 a.m.
The women’s gold-medal rivalry heats up with the U.S. and Canada facing off with first place in Group A on the line. The men’s tournament begins at noon with a pair of games, including the Czechs taking on Sweden.
Thursday, Feb. 13 @ 7:30 a.m.
The U.S. Men’s Team hits the Olympic ice with a tough opening battle against Zdeno Chara and the Slovaks.
Saturday, Feb. 15 @ 7:30 a.m.
The U.S. men have their most difficult test of the preliminary round against a talented Russian squad playing on home ice. The last time the U.S. and Russia met in the Olympics was 2006 in Torino, a 5-4 victory for the Russians.
Sunday, Feb. 16 @ 7:30 a.m.
Slovakia looks to play spoiler for the second straight Olympics, taking on the Russians a day after what should be a draining game against the U.S. The Americans wrap up the preliminary round against Slovenia starting at 7:30 a.m.
Thursday, Feb. 20 @ noon
The women’s gold-medal game. Canada and the U.S. have combined to win seven of eight gold and silver medals in the Olympics. If there was going to be a rematch from their preliminary round game, this is likely when it would be.
Sunday, Feb. 23 @ 7 a.m.
The Olympic competition wraps up in style with the men’s bronze- and gold-medal games. The U.S. has never won a gold on international ice, and hasn’t won any medal overseas since a silver medal in Sapporo in 1972.
With every hockey game starting between 3 a.m. and noon Eastern Time, office productivity may take a bit of a hit.
“The world we live in now is instantaneous, so it’s a little different than it was [in past years],” said Eddie Olcyzk, who will return to the broadcast booth for his second straight Olympics.
“The idea is to bring all the games, both men’s and women’s, to everyone. The time change makes it difficult for viewership, but the games are there. People have access to it, and that’s the important part about selling the game.”
Feel like catching the U.S. Men’s Team opener against Slovakia before heading off to work? Tune into the NBC Sports Network on Feb. 13 at 7:30 a.m. Eastern, 4:30 a.m. Pacific, to watch the action as it happens.
In fact, you won’t have to avoid social media all day and wait until the evening to watch any of the games. In addition to live streaming, NBC Sports Network will have live broadcasts of each of the three U.S. Men’s and Women’s preliminary round games.
Why stop there? Sixteen men’s games will be carried live on NBC Sports Network, and the remaining preliminary, qualification, quarterfinal and semifinal games will be carried live on CNBC, MSNBC or USA Network.
If you’re interested in keeping up with our neighbors to the north, all three Team Canada men’s games will ironically be carried live on the USA Network.
In addition to the three U.S. women’s preliminary games, NBC Sports Network will carry four live women’s games, through the bronze-medal game. Both the men’s and women’s gold-medal games will be broadcast live on NBC.
NHL fans will be familiar with the team of broadcasters NBC brings to Sochi. Play-by-play men Kenny Albert, Dave Strader and the venerable Doc Emrick will call the games. They are joined by NHL color analysts Brian Engblom, Pierre McGuire and Olcyzk for the men’s games.
U.S. Olympians Natalie Darwitz and A.J. Mleczko will provide expert color commentary for the women’s games. Liam McHugh and Kathryn Tappen will be the pre-game, post-game and intermission studio hosts, with Keith Jones, Mike Millbury and Jeremy Roenick serving as studio analysts.
With 300 men’s players from 12 countries, and 168 women’s players from eight countries, the broadcasters should have fun learning names like Krisjanis Redlihs and Anders Bastiansen on the fly. And with Olympic hockey not allowing for commercial breaks, it should lead to an NHL playoff-like atmosphere for all 60 (or more) minutes of each game.
“Those are things that kind of work themselves out,” Olcyzk said. “You can study all you want, but for me [as a color analyst] it’s more about seeing the body language of the player and knowing the style. A high percentage of these guys are NHL players, but you’re seeing them in different uniforms and numbers. Those are things you have to get used to in a short period of time.”
That will make things challenging for NBC’s broadcast crew and its production team. And while you may not be at the 12,000-seat Bolshoy Ice Dome or the 7,000-seat Shayba Arena, NBC’s ever-expanding Olympic coverage will make you feel just as close to the action, with only the cost of ordering a game-time pizza. Or, in the case of these Olympics, a cup of coffee.