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Watch the Olympics Online Without Cable

The 2016 Summer Olympics (also known as Rio 2016) take place in Rio de Janeiro Brazil. The Event starts on August 5th, with closing ceremonies wrapping up the Olympic games on August 21st. In the United States all 2016 Summer Olympic events will air on NBCUniversal owned networks. While you can watch events on NBC using a TV antenna, a majority of these events will air on their cable networks. This is an inconvenience to cord cutters like myself. Fear not fellow breakers of cable cords. Today, I will explain how to watch the 2016 Summer Olympics Online without requiring a cable TV login.

Update:Sling TV now offers NBC owned cable channels over the internet. You can sign up for a 7 day free trial here.

The way to watch the 2016 Summer Games is similar to the blackout work-around I described to watch baseball online. Canada will be streaming Olympic events online through their CBC website. Likewise The Games will be streamed online in The U.K. through the BBC website. The catch, however, is that the device you are streaming on must be located in Canada for the CBC and The U.K. for the BBC.

Both networks use your IP address to discover the location of your device. Therefore, all you need to do is use an IP address that makes it appear your device is in The  U.K. Then you will be able to watch the 2016 Olympics Online through the BBC website. While this may seem complicated it can easily be accomplished using a Smart DNS or online VPN service.

I think the cheapest and easiest way to do this is through Overplay SmartDNS. It’s the service I use in situations where I want to unlock content on the web I am blocked from to to regional constraints. To get this set up follow these steps:

  1. Start the signup process using this link. There you choose between the basic SmartDNS service and their SmartDNS with VPN service. I use the VPN for peace of mind when it comes to security and anonymity when surfing the web, but if you are only using this for the 2016 Summer Olympics then you use the standard Smart DNS Option.
  2. Setup your account information and agree to the terms of service.
  3. Provide your billing information. There is no contract and you can cancel after The Summer Games have concluded if you like.

Personally I just use the SmartDNS on my Mac and PC. To give you an idea of how simple it is to set up, you can check out their video instructions below.

Overplay SmartDNS on Mac

Overplay SmartDNS on Windows

Overplay documents the setup steps for almost any device you can think of.  The documents to change your DNS settings on various devices is found here. In some cases the device setup is a bit more difficult then setting this up on a laptop or PC. If you want to watch the Summer Olympics on your television, I recommend just setting your computer to use the SmartDNS and then connect it to you TV. You can follow the instructions in my post on How To Watch Netflix on TV to do this. Once your DNS settings are properly set complete the following steps to finish setting up the service.

  1. Log into your account at Overplay and click “My Account”
  2. Click on “SmartDNS”
  3. You may see a button requesting you update IP address. If so click it. You should see the message below if everything is properly set.

Once you see the message above, the SmartDNS is working. You can then look at the various channels  and websites and set the location for each. By default, many are set for you to open up content as you can see in the image below.

You can click on “View More Channels” to get an idea of all the streaming sites that are supported by Overplay SmartDNS. To watch the Olympics, scroll down to “BBC” and make sure the dropdown is set to “United Kingdom.” Once that is completed simply navigate to BBC Live Page and you should be able to stream events.

Please let me know of any issues you experience in the comments and I will use them to improve the instructions on this page.

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Categories: Guides
Dennis Restauro :Dennis is the founder of Grounded Reason. He also hosts the Grounded Reason Podcast. Follow him on Twitter: Follow Dennis on Twitter

View Comments (15)

  • Dennis,

    AWESOME discussions...thank you! I'm almost ready to cut the cord...just trying to learn about internet phone options (VOIP?).
    If you'd ever like a tour of NASA/GSFC, I'd be happy to oblige. Kind of my way for saying "thank you!"

    I'll go through your website and then see if I have any questions remaining.

    Many thanks,


    • Joe,

      That would be awesome! My 9 year old girl wants to be an astronaut so I may take you up on the offer at some point. Did you check out my post on VOIP options? Let me know if you have any questions, I'll do my best to get you an answer.


  • I'd like to add the following:

    1) Canadian CBC will also provide free streaming to Canadian IP's, and works with using a SmartDNS. Just like BBC will focus a little more on the British athletes, CBC will put more focus on the Canadian athletes, and both BBC and CBC will provide un-edited, full coverage of events.

    2) RTE in Ireland will also broadcast Olympic coverage in English, and can also be viewed the same way as BBC or CBC. RTE's coverage will not be as extensive as CBC or BBC, but it may serve as a backup or to see things from an Irish perspective.

    3) There are a number of other European (and other) countries whose state-owned broadcasters have gotten the rights. A few examples are ARD/ZDF in Germany and NOS in The Netherlands, but there may be others. With so much coverage coming in from CBC and BBC there is probably no reason to use any of these, but just in case a stream isn't working for whatever reason, its good to have a backup. Or, if you are abroad and happen to speak those languages. :)

    4) If you have a device that does not allow you to change the DNS servers on the device itself, you can use a router to distribute the SmartDNS servers over DHCP on your local network.

    I am actually an Overplay customer, have been for 2+ years, ever since I cut the cord and cancelled DirecTV in Feb, 2014. I like the service, and it has not let me down yet.

  • Hi.

    I followed your steps for adding the two IP addresses. Excellent video btw, really thorough.

    I pulled up OverPlay in my browser (chrome), opened a 1-month account for SmartDNS, created a user name and password, then logged in.

    I clicked on the SmartDNS button but I did not get the "All systems go. Everything is working perfectly." message

    It says "It appears our DNS settings are not set up on this device - Learn How"

    What to do? I have windows 7 and followed the steps to enter the DNS and backup DNS.

    Thx Michael

    • That should have done it. If you are having issues, they have great support.

  • Hi there,
    Ok before I sign-up for SmartDNS I want to make sure that SmartDNS is going to work for me. I'm currently living in Mexico City and want to watch the Rio Olympics in English. I set up (HMA Pro VPN) about a year ago (to hide my location) but when I change the VPN # and try to watch something (from another location) often I get an error message " not available in your geographic location." If I do manage to connect to another channel the program is often interrupted with buffering. Is SmartDNS going to work for me here in Mexico or am I going to have the same problems?
    Dying to watch programs in English,

    • It should. That being said, I've never tested from being in Mexico City, so I can't Guarantee it. It's only a few bucks for the first month, test it out and then cancel if it's not working for you.

  • Have you tried the US TV Now free desktop service for the major networks that includes an NBC feed from Pennsylvania for the Olympics?

  • Best place to watch typical olympics. ScreenVariety immediately turns your fun to maximum. Also the best quality from all televisions I tried.