There's nothing better than live sports — unless you're trying to watch the Tokyo Olympics as they happen. With anywhere from a 13- to 19-hour time difference between Tokyo and wherever you happen to be in the U.S., watching live events means a lot of wakeup calls in the dead of the night.
Case in point: If you wanted to catch the U.S. women's soccer team
boring pragmatic 0-0 draw against Australia, you would have had to rouse yourself at 4 a.m. ET. I'm a big fan of both soccer and the four-time World Cup winners, but I'm an equally big fan of a full night of sleep.
- Here’s how to watch Team USA gymnastics live online
- Best streaming services
- Plus: How to watch soccer at Tokyo Olympics
So what's a sports fan who wants to get at least six hours of sleep on a school night to do? Tokyo Tonight on the Peacock streaming service has become my go-to solution during the opening days of the Olympics. Even though I'm already paying $4.99 a month for Peacock's premium tier, Tokyo Tonight appears to be available to anyone who signs up for the free version of the service. So I suggest checking it out.
As our guide on how to watch the Tokyo Olympics details, there are plenty of ways to follow the action, including but not limited to just turning the dial to NBC here in the U.S. and throwing the remote out the window. But if you're just looking for a quick summary of the day's big events, Peacock's Tokyo Tonight offers exactly the kind of highlights to scratch your Olympic itch.
Even better, if you're like me and have cut the cable cord, Peacock's Olympic highlights give you a way to sample what's happening in Tokyo, now that NBC's assorted cable channels aren't an option.
Tokyo Tonight airs live every evening from 7:30 p.m. ET to midnight on Peacock with hosts Kenny Mayne and Cari Champion taking you through a round-up of event recaps and "live" look-ins (really, just rebroadcasts of stuff that already happened). If you grew up watching Olympic coverage in the 1970s and 1980s — hello, fellow oldsters — it's a format that will be entirely familiar to you.
There's a definite bias toward showcasing U.S. athletes and storylines, but if you're looking for more internationally focused coverage, grab a VPN and head for the BBC or Discovery+. What I appreciate about Peacock's approach is you'll get the popular events — gymnastics and swimming are well represented in the coverage — but Tokyo Tonight mixes in off-the-beaten path sports you only really get to see when the Olympics roll around. Last night's coverage included triathlon highlights, slalom canoe coverage, mountain bike riding and archery. That you hop to each event by zooming over a virtual map of Tokyo only adds to the you-are-there-feel.
Tokyo Tonight has maybe a few too many interview segments for my tastes, but for the most part, it skips the kind of feature stories that NBC's primary coverage tends to load up on — ideal, if those kind of up-close-and-personal features try your patience as the Olympics wear on. All in all, it's a well-produced show and perfect for staying up to date on what's happening in the Olympics without handing over your schedule for the next week or so to the International Olympic Committee. Tokyo Tonight lets you dip in and out of coverage, and I think that's the approach a lot of people prefer.
Is Tokyo Tonight reason enough to get Peacock? Since it's part of the free tier, probably! But ultimately, that decision depends on the size of your Olympics jones. I'm able to watch because I wound up subscribing to the service anyhow, so that I could see the remaining Girls5Eva and Rutherford Falls episodes after the first few installments on the free tier of Peacock got their hooks into me. That also gets me extra Olympics goodies, like on-demand replays of some events and more extensive basketball coverage.
I would also point out that Peacock's premium tier costs just $4.99, and if you do decide to pull the trigger for that extra Olympics content, you can always cancel your subscription when Tokyo's cauldron gets extinguished for the closing ceremonies on August 8. In the greater scheme of things, $5 isn't much to pay for a week-and-a-half of Olympics highlights, especially since Peacock is the primary way to watch Team USA basketball games live.
Peacock gets some knocks, many of them well-deserved, for how it handles commercials and its different pricing tiers. But with Tokyo Tonight, it's absolutely delivering, and it gives cord cutters a way to avoid getting shut out of Olympics fever.
- Read more: the best streaming devices, ranked
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Philip Michaels is a Managing Editor at Tom's Guide. He's been covering personal technology since 1999 and was in the building when Steve Jobs showed off the iPhone for the first time. He's been evaluating smartphones since that first iPhone debuted in 2007, and he's been following phone carriers and smartphone plans since 2015. He has strong opinions about Apple, the Oakland Athletics, old movies and proper butchery techniques. Follow him at @PhilipMichaels.