Peggy Shinn Blog - TV Viewers: Start Your Engines

Aug. 06, 2008, 10:44 a.m. (ET)

Olympic TV coverage starts Wednesday, August 6, in the morning with women’s soccer on MSNBC, men’s soccer on Thursday morning, then the opening ceremonies on NBC Friday night.

With NBC and its six affiliated networks airing over 1,400 hours of coverage through August 24, it will pay to do some homework ahead of time, especially if I want to record coverage to watch later, and if I want to watch specific sports that aren’t normally part of primetime viewing.

First—the channels. When I watch TV, I usually flip through the channels, not paying attention to what stations I’m watching. I haven’t a clue what channel is NBC or CNBC, or for that matter, MSNBC, USA, Universal HD, or Oxygen — the six networks broadcasting Olympic coverage in New England (we don’t get Telemundo here).

Plus, my husband regularly switches our TV service from satellite to cable and back — depending on which company is offering what and for how much. So even if I memorize the channels under one service, they change under the next company’s plan. At the moment, we have Comcast.

I went to and clicked on the “TV & Online Listings.” It asked for my zip code and TV provider. Then it helpfully listed channel numbers for my viewing area. But I had to dig deeper for the high-definition feeds. We get regular NBC on channel 5, but I had to click back-and-forth with the remote to figure out that NBC HD is channel 705. And hark, USA also has an HD version: channel 763.

Second—What’s on and when? Back I went to and again clicked on “TV & Online Listings.”

Note: Make sure you’re looking at the “All Listings” view, which shows the seven channels and time in hour-long increments for an entire day in one view. The “TV Listings” view requires much back-and-forth clicking to see an entire days’ worth of coverage.

Also, for an “old school” list of what sports are airing when and on what networks, the Associated Press put together a complete list that I found here.

Since I will be away this weekend, I wanted to see what was on each channel. So I clicked on the shaded areas depicting when each channel is airing Olympic coverage. Up popped a description of the sports covered on each network and the time. For example, on Saturday, during NBC’s 8 hours of daytime coverage, men’s cycling will air from 10-10:30 a.m., 12:30-1 p.m., and from 2:30-3:30 p.m. (So if that’s what you want to watch, you know when to mow the lawn or head to the grocery store.)

I repeated the process for Sunday. Alternatively, I could have clicked on the “By Sport” drop-down box at the top of the chart, but I’m interested in watching more than just cycling.

Next, I set up our digital video recorder (DVR) to record what I wanted to watch: the 12 hours of NBC HD Olympic coverage on Saturday and again on Sunday. Now I know what the red “R” button on the remote does.

But I soon learned this wouldn’t work. The HD recordings are huge files that would take up all the DVR’s drive space, my husband told me.

Back I went to the TV, deleted the HD recordings, found the same coverage on regular NBC, and selected it instead.

By the end of the Olympics, I’ll probably know what all the buttons on the remote do.

Until we switch back to satellite TV.


Peggy Shinn is a freelance contributor for This blog was not subject to the approval of the United States Olympic Committee or any National Governing Bodies.