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How To Watch All Of The Games: Step 1, Prove Yourself Worthy

Rebecca Torr of New Zealand competed Thursday in the women's slopestyle qualification at the Winter Olympics in Sochi.
Mike Ehrmann
Getty Images
Rebecca Torr of New Zealand competed Thursday in the women's slopestyle qualification at the Winter Olympics in Sochi.

Now that the Winter Games have begun, it's time to remind fans in the U.S. about how to watch them.

As NPR TV critic Eric Deggans said earlier this week:

"You can just sit back and watch the good stuff in prime time, edited by NBC into familiar stories just like they've always done. There's a nine-hour time difference between Sochi and the East Coast, so they won't even place [Friday's] opening ceremonies on the Internet until a pre-taped delayed version airs in prime time."

There will also be, Eric noted, "some live daytime coverage, especially on the NBC Sports network." In addition, NBC will use its USA Network, MSNBC and CNBC to broadcast some events. The network has a webpage devoted to its TV schedule.

Now, as Eric also said, "you can watch every competition live on NBC's Olympics website or smartphone app." That's more than 1,000 hours of events.

But he pointed out that "there's a catch."

That brings us to the "prove yourself worthy" part of our headline.

Before being able to watch on your PC, tablet or smartphone for more than a 30-minute trial, "you have to prove you're a cable or satellite TV subscriber," Eric said. That means you need to register online with your cable provider or Direct TV and have your username and password from those companies at hand.

One possible way to avoid some of the hassle, according to USA Today:

"NBC says that starting Thursday, some cable and telecom customers will be verified automatically when they use their devices at home. That would be nice if it works as promised — there were authentication hassles during the London Olympics."

The good news, as SBNation says, is that "NBC will stream every single event live this year." So if you can provide the right credentials, you should be able to see just about anything you want. Click here to get to what looks to be an exhaustive schedule of events. It can be sorted by your local time zone.

Note: We do know that there is a way to work around the online restrictions. Forbes explains here how to "mask your local IP address" so that you can stream the live coverage being webcast by the BBC and Canada's CBC.

"Is this legal?" asks Forbes. "It's a bit of a gray area." It's unlikely, Forbes adds, but "possible for charges to be brought against an individual, as a public example to discourage the practice."

We're not encouraging such behavior, of course.

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Mark Memmott
Mark Memmott is NPR's supervising senior editor for Standards & Practices. In that role, he's a resource for NPR's journalists – helping them raise the right questions as they do their work and uphold the organization's standards.
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