The Tokyo Olympics are finally upon us, after the pandemic pushed back the competition by a whole year. It’s a chance to see a lot of incredible feats of physical achievement and athletics — and a butt-load of commercials.
NBC, the home of U.S. Olympics, is infamous for the way it broadcasts the Games, and commercial breaks are almost always the root cause. But fortunately, there are ways to either avoid those commercials, or minimize their disruption.
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How to watch the Olympics without commercials
Unfortunately, the majority of English-language Olympics broadcasts include commercials; for instance, in Canada, Australia, and Ireland the Olympics are all shown on channels that have commercials. Even the NBC-owned Peacock streaming service, which has ad-free Premium and Premium Plus subscription tiers, will be broadcasting commercials during its live Olympics coverage in the U.S.
In fact, the only channel broadcasting the Olympics in English without ads is the BBC — but only in the U.K. Because the BBC is funded by the U.K.'s TV Licence, it doesn’t feature any commercial advertising, and that means big events such as the Olympics can play on (mostly) uninterrupted. What's more, all of the BBC's various channels can be streamed online via BBC iPlayer.
Of course, watching a feed from the British broadcaster means that much of the focus will be on British athletes, and most of the commentary and many of the pundits will come equipped with several different kinds of British accent. Not all, though: former 200m and 400m World Champion Michael Johnson will be a mainstay of the Beeb's athletics coverage, bringing a U.S. perspective to events on the track.
How to watch BBC iPlayer from outside the U.K.
BBC iPlayer isn’t available for people outside the U.K., but that doesn’t mean those live streams are locked off. In fact a simple VPN (virtual private network) is all you need to watch the BBC’s coverage of the Olympics from anywhere you like. Just bear in mind that U.K. law states that you shouldn’t be using iPlayer without a valid U.K. TV licence.
Not sure which VPN is the right one for you? We've tested many different services and our pick for the best VPN overall is ExpressVPN (opens in new tab), which offers superb speeds and excellent customer service.
Speed, security and simplicity make ExpressVPN (opens in new tab) our favorite VPN right now. We were impressed by its ability to access more than 3,000 services across 94 countries and there's a 30-day money-back guarantee if you're not 100% happy with it.
Using a VPN couldn't be easier either. All you need to do is install the VPN of your choice — any will do, but we like ExpressVPN (opens in new tab) the best — then select the location you want to connect to from the list. In this case, you're going to want to pick the U.K.
Once connected, the VPN will let you access BBC iPlayer as if you were actually in the U.K. itself. So all you need to do after that is sit back, relax, and enjoy your commercial-free stream of the Tokyo Olympics.
- More: Everything you need to know about Peacock TV