Watching This Week #112
Listings for May 29 to June 4, 2023; Corus channels appear set to leave Eastlink.
Find out how to watch the Beijing 2022 winter games on TV and streaming in Canada.
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The XXⅣ Olympic Winter Games ("XXⅣ" being the Roman numeral for "24th"), better known as the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games or simply the 2022 Winter Olympics, will be held from Friday, February 4 to Sunday, February 20, 2022, with some preliminary events starting on Wednesday, February 2, in and around Beijing and other parts of the People's Republic of China.
The 2022 games come at a time where the host country is under increased scrutiny for a variety of reasons. Although Canada has decided to participate in a diplomatic boycott, Canadian athletes will be competing as usual, but they will be within a strict "bubble" environment due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
If you wish to watch the 2022 games in Canada, you should be aware that Canadian broadcast rights are held by CBC/Radio-Canada, the national public broadcaster, under a contract extension with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced in late 2015 which also cover the 2024 summer games.
Main English-language coverage will be available on CBC Television and will stream for free on CBC Gem and the CBC Sports website and mobile app. The CBC Gem / CBC Sports apps should also offer additional event-specific feeds which will also be free to stream.
The CBC will also produce coverage of select events which will be available on private-sector partner networks TSN and Sportsnet and their respective streaming apps. Current TV listings indicate that these networks (CBC, Sportsnet / Sportsnet One, and multiple TSN channels) will offer up to five simultaneous feeds of coverage while events are in progress each day. CBC coverage will also be available on third-party streaming platforms including FuboTV, Prime Video, and RiverTV, as well as various social media outlets.
In general during the Olympics, CBC provides coverage of the events and moments that they believe are of greatest interest to Canadians – sometimes whiparound-style – while TSN and Sportsnet focus on start-to-finish coverage of specific events like full hockey and curling matches (not always involving Canada), or a full session of (for example) figure skating performances.
However, we expect that all events on TSN / Sportsnet will also be available, as individual streams, for free on the CBC Gem and CBC Sports apps. That said, there may be some minor differences in the coverage between the event streaming feeds, which always use "world feed" commentary provided by Olympic Broadcasting Services (OBS), and the hosted TSN/SN broadcasts, which during the Tokyo Olympics would use either OBS or CBC event commentators.
French-language coverage will air on the CBC's French TV network Ici Radio-Canada Télé, and TSN sister channel RDS. The CBC has also indicated that its online offering will include versions of the opening ceremony with commentary in Eastern Cree, and another with American Sign Language (ASL) interpretation, as well as hockey broadcasts in Eastern Cree and in Inuktitut.
Coverage on the NBC broadcast network, which is part of the group that holds United States broadcast rights to the Olympics, is available on cable and satellite TV in Canada. Coverage on other NBCUniversal networks and its websites and apps, or for that matter other international broadcasters, will not be available in Canada.
We expect that, consistent with recent past games, on-demand coverage of the 2022 edition of the Olympics will be available in Canada, at least for a reasonable amount of time after each event, through:
Once the games have ended, we expect that selected event replays, including the opening and closing ceremonies, will be available to Canadians – and most of the world outside the U.S. – for an unknown period of time through the "Replays" section of the International Olympic Committee's official website.
Yes, on the NBC broadcast network only.
NBCUniversal, the media division of American cable company Comcast, controls the broadcast rights to the Olympic Games in the United States and its territories (such as Puerto Rico) until 2032. Coverage airs on its NBC broadcast network – which is widely available on most Canadian TV service providers – as well as several of its cable channels, including some that are normally available in Canada like CNBC.
Coverage on the NBC broadcast network is not subject to blackout in Canada, and is unlikely to be subject to simultaneous substitution. In other words, Canadians should be able to watch NBC broadcast network coverage as-is. Because the NBC network affiliates available in Canada all broadcast, in unencrypted (unscrambled) form, over publicly-accessible airwaves, and because those signals – at least those from markets like Buffalo, Detroit, and Seattle – cannot be stopped or blocked at international borders, Canadian TV service providers are allowed to import these signals as-is, without regard to any differences in programming rights in Canada.
The only exception to the rule about imported over-the-air signals is simultaneous substitution (simsub), a practice required by Canada's broadcasting regulator, the CRTC, which requires cable, satellite and fibre-based TV providers to replace a U.S. signal with a Canadian broadcast station if both are carrying the exact same program (i.e., only the commercials are different). However, simsub does not apply if the American and Canadian networks are covering the same event in different ways – whether it's different parts of the event, different camera angles, or just different commentators.
Thus, barring the highly unlikely event that the CBC chooses to directly simulcast the NBC coverage including announcers – the CBC has never done it before, although CTV did it to a limited extent when it last had Olympic rights in 2012 (and even then we don't believe they resulted in simsubs) – there should not be any simsubs affecting Canadians' ability to watch the American coverage on the NBC broadcast network.
The situation is different for NBCUniversal's other TV channels, and for its streaming platforms. In short, Canadians will not be able to access long-form 2022 Olympics coverage through these venues.
CNBC – which will be carrying several hockey and curling events in the U.S. – is a "specialty" channel that does not broadcast over the public airwaves, but instead requires payments to NBCUniversal (typically paid indirectly through a cable provider) to access. As such, NBCU must provide the channel in a form that excludes programming that it does not hold rights to in Canada – such as Olympic Games coverage. (MSNBC and Golf Channel, which are also available in Canada, have been involved in NBCU's Olympic coverage in the past, but are scheduled to stick with regular programming in 2022.)
This is typically contractually required by copyright owners of the programs in question, such as – in the case of the Olympics – the International Olympic Committee (IOC), in order not to infringe on the exclusive rights that these owners have sold to other rightsholders around the world.
In regards to TV channels, this is also enforced by CRTC policy (emphasis ours):
Authorization for the services and stations on this [permitted foreign channels] list is subject to the following:
Providers of the non-Canadian pay and/or specialty services must have obtained and must remain in possession of all necessary rights for the distribution of their programming in Canada.
Thus, as NBCUniversal does not own broadcast rights to the Olympics in Canada, while it does not need to (and cannot) interfere with reception of its coverage by Canadians via the over-the-air NBC broadcast network, it cannot allow that coverage to be available in Canada through its U.S.-based specialty channels.
Indeed, this is true not only for the Olympics but for other sports coverage that have been occasionally carried on CNBC or Golf Channel that NBCU only holds American rights for, and other programs like repeats of Shark Tank that CNBC has only purchased U.S. rights for (as Bell Media owns the Canadian broadcast rights to that show).
For similar reasons – though in this case, solely due to the terms of its contracts with the IOC – NBCU is not permitted to stream coverage of the Olympics outside of the United States and its territories. Historically, this was hosted on NBCOlympics.com; going forward, it looks like most of NBC's bonus streaming content will be on its newer Peacock service, but that service is not available in Canada anyways.
If you are in Canada and tune into CNBC during its Olympic coverage hours, you will likely see European and Asian stock market coverage from CNBC World instead.
In the past, the CBC has sub-licensed Italian- and Spanish-language broadcast rights within Canada to TLN Media Group, owners of Telelatino and a few other specialty channels like Univision Canada and the Canadian version of Mediaset Italia. During the Tokyo Olympics, TLN mainly carried football (soccer) matches. No similar partnership has yet been announced for the 2022 games, either with TLN or any similar multicultural broadcaster.
With that being the case, authorized access to international coverage will likely be limited to the type of highlight coverage available on other non-rightsholding channels, which the IOC has attempted to set strict limits on. It's our recollection that in the past, some channels like TV Japan, the Japanese-language North American TV channel operated by that country's public broadcaster NHK, were able to offer short highlight programs focusing on their countries' athletes with special permission from NBC; this ended before last summer's Tokyo Olympics.
Discovery Inc., the parent company of European sports broadcaster Eurosport, does indeed own the European broadcast rights to the 2022 Olympics. As part of that package, the company's streaming service Discovery+ has streaming rights to the games throughout the continent, and so it's possible you'll occasionally see Discovery+ logos and microphone flags during athlete interviews at the games.
Although Discovery+ is also now available in Canada, its Olympic coverage will not be available in Canada or anywhere else outside Europe, as that would conflict with the broadcast rights the IOC has sold to the CBC, NBC, and other broadcasters around the world.
We are aware that there are other streaming or networking services that market themselves in Canada as ways to access sports programming like the Olympic Games. However, only CBC/Radio-Canada and its sub-licence partners are authorized to broadcast and stream the games within Canada, as can be confirmed on the IOC's official website. Similarly, the CBC does not have streaming rights outside Canada, and has made clear its disapproval of those trying to resell its coverage.
Other streaming sites may provide lower quality streams and can be subject to closure without notice or refund. Many international streaming services, even if they are authorized by the IOC for their own countries, are required to try to block out-of-country access through virtual private networks. Therefore, we cannot recommend these sorts of services, and any usage is purely at your own risk.
Just as NBC coverage cannot stream its coverage outside the United States, the CBC is similarly unable to offer streaming access to Canadian coverage outside Canada. We will refer you to the previous section in regards to services claiming to offer streaming access to the CBC's coverage outside Canada.
However, as the CBC has noted, if you happen to be in an area where CBC Television is regularly available on cable, including parts of upstate New York, Washington state, and Bermuda, you will be able to watch coverage that way – for the same reasons that NBC broadcast network coverage will be available in Canada as described above.
The CBC has prepared answers to a number of common questions related to Olympics coverage on the help section of its website, and we suggest you consult this first.
If you have any Olympics-related questions and comments not addressed by those answers, they can be sent to the CBC's audience relations team via the form at this link: https://cbchelp.cbc.ca/hc/en-ca/requests/new?ticket_form_id=259487
If that doesn't resolve your concerns, you could consider sending your thoughts directly to the IOC. However, this is unlikely to do much during the 2022 games; at most it would make the organizers aware of these issues and potentially affect future broadcasting contracts.
As a reminder, the website you're on right now, Where Can I Watch, is an independent website not affiliated with any broadcaster or event organizer. We unfortunately cannot assist with any specific issues you may have with the coverage beyond directing you to the CBC's contact page linked above.
Much of this article is based on a post about the Tokyo 2020 Olympics (held in summer 2021) which we first published in July 2021.
We intend to update this post if and when additional information is confirmed. Significant post-publication revisions to this article will be listed below.
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