Everything You Need to Know About Watching the 2012 Olympics… In Canada

In this post I hope to provide a quick primer of television coverage of the 2012 Olympic Games in Canada. Coverage can at times be, overwhelming. I hope to provide as much detail as possible, without making this post overwhelming.

Let’s start with the two questions everyone needs answered? Where can I watch the Olympics and when?

CTV will broadcast approximately 18 hours of first-run Olympic coverage per day. It is broken down into three windows.

  • Olympic Morning (hosts Dave Randorf and Catriona Le May Doan) will air from 4:00am ET until 12:00pm ET.
  • Olympic Daytime (hosts James Duthie and Jennifer Hedger) will air from 12:00pm until 6:00pm ET.
  • Olympic Primetime (host Brian Williams) will provide highlights of the top events of the day, including any Canadian medal performances. It will air from 7:00pm until 11:00pm LOCAL (8-midnight in Atlantic Canada). This broadcast will re-air following local news at midnight LOCAL (1:00am in Atlantic Canada).
  • CTV’s coverage will mainly focus on full coverage of the big events (athletics, swimming, diving, rowing and gymnastics), as well as live highlights of other big events taking place. It will be somewhat similar to CBC’s coverage of past Summer Olympics.

TSN will broadcast approximately 15 hours of Olympic coverage per day. It is also broken down into three windows.

  • Olympic Morning (host Kate Beirness) will air from 6:00am until 12:00pm ET.
  • Olympic Daytime (host Michael Landsberg) will air from 12:00pm until 5:00pm ET.
  • Olympic Primetime (host Darren Dutchyshen) will feature highlights from earlier in the day and usually air from 7:00pm-11:00pm ET. Some nights, due to conflicts with live CFL broadcasts, it will air on TSN2.
  • TSN’s flagship highlights show SportsCentre will also air live from London (host Jay Onrait) between Olympic Daytime and Primetime most nights.
  • TSN’s coverage will focus on some major events, as well as smaller ones. It will also include long-form coverage of many team sports like basketball, beach volleyball and soccer.

Sportsnet will also broadcast approximately 15 hours of coverage per day. Again, broken into three windows.

  • Olympic Morning (host Don Taylor) will air from 6:00am until 12:00pm ET.
  • Olympic Daytime (host Daren Millard) will air from 12:00pm until 5:00pm ET.
  • Olympic Primetime (host Brad Fay) will usually air from 7:00pm until 11:00pm ET on Sportsnet East and Ontario, MT on Sportsnet West and PT on Sportsnet Pacific. Check your local listings to confirm these times in your area.
  • Sportsnet Connected (host Ken Reid) will also air live from London from 5:00pm until 7:00pm ET every night of the Games.
  • Sportsnet’s coverage is similar to TSN’s with a big focus on long-form coverage of team sports.

OLN will broadcast live long-form coverage of outdoor events like equestrian on many days. Their coverage varies day-to-day, so check back for updates (or see CTV’s Viewers’ Guide).

NBC will broadcast approximately 11 hours of first-run Olympic coverage per day. Their coverage is also broken down into three windows.

  • Olympic Daytime (hosts Al Michaels and Dan Patrick) will usually air from 10:00am until 5:00pm Eastern and 9:00am until 4:00pm Pacific (a one hour tape delay for those who receive NBC from Seattle or Spokane). Daytime coverage will start early on the weekends for complete coverage of the road races in cycling and marathons in athletics.
  • Olympic Primetime (host Bob Costas) will usually air from 8:00pm until midnight ET/PT. It will begin, and end, an hour earlier on Sundays. It will also re-air at 1:35am ET/PT.
  • Olympic Late Night (host Mary Carillo) will usually air from 12:35an until 1:35am.
  • Most of the major events will only air on NBC on tape delay in Primetime. These include swimming finals, athletics finals, major beach volleyball games, gymnastics and diving. NBC’s Daytime coverage will feature live coverage of other sports, usually including USA water polo and/or volleyball matches.

CNBC and MSNBC are both American cable channels that are available in Canada. While they are showing Olympic coverage in the US, their coverage is usually blacked out here in Canada.

RDS, RDS2 and V are showing the Olympics in French. OMNI and ATN are showing coverage in other languages as well.

For those at work, the broadcasts for CTV, TSN and Sportsnet are streamed live online. CTVOlympics.ca will also feature world feed streams for many other events.

The Opening Ceremony will air live on CTV, TSN, Sportsnet and OLN Friday July 27 beginning at 4:00pm ET. It will re-air at 7:30pm ET on CTV, TSN2 and Sportsnet. It will also air for the first time on NBC at 7:30pm ET.

Each day during the Olympics the Canadian Sports Media Blog (in conjunction with Channel Canada) will post a daily TV schedule for English, French and third-language broadcasts in Canada. Check back every evening for that. I will also write a series of 3+ opinion pieces on television coverage of The Games every weekend beginning on Sunday evening.

21 thoughts on “Everything You Need to Know About Watching the 2012 Olympics… In Canada

  1. are you certain NBC is starting it’s daytime coverage at 10:00am pacific time? my local tv guide (TV Week) has it starting at 9:00am each weekday.

    • Seems you are correct. Begins at 10:00am ET, then 9:00am everywhere else. So only a 1 hour delay for those in the Pacific Time Zone. Not too bad really. This was a last-minute change, I believe. When I checked the other day it was how I originally posted.

      Thanks for the update.

      • The Seattle and Spokane stations emailed me to say that they (and other PT stations) preferred the 900h start in order to have local news and programming beginning at 1600h. That decision was better than having the Today show air for three hours as it is for all ET stations.

  2. NBC’s Olympic daytime in the PT zone with the Seattle and Spokane stations will actually be on a two hour time delay. Those who get NBC Minneapolis will get it at 9 CT, 10 ET.

  3. TSN prefers to show the CFL on their main channel, as opposed to the Olympics? Hilarious!

    • I believe TSN’s contract with the CFL states every game airs live on the main channel, plus, it wouldn’t be live Olympic events airing in the evening anyways.

  4. I can’t wait, I’m so pumped, for London. Also, an interesting note, even though RDS2 is showing coverage instead of RDS Info, the RDS Info logo is still displayed on the Consortium’s website! Keep up the great work, Josh, I am also looking forward to your opinion pieces! Happy Watching!

  5. With relatively few Canadian athletes in London compared to Vancouver, I’m thinking (hoping?) the coverage will be less “rah rah” than the 2010 Winter Games

  6. I didn’t know OLN was a part of this. How did its involvement come about?

    • They were in Vancouver too.

      Rogers must of wanted another one of their assets to broadcast the games too.

      It is a good idea to have another channel they can throw other events on if there is no room on the main networks (CTV, TSN & SN)

  7. Every 4 years I hold my breath hoping to see some coeverage of Team Handball from one of the networks…and every 4 years I am disappointed that this magnificent sport never gets any air time. I do hope to see some coverage from London…but I won’t bet on it.

  8. Interesting, the consortium doesn’t seem to have the sports of Sailing, Badminton, Fencing, Table Tennis and Shooting listed on their schedule. But, then again, in Canada these sports, are not mainstream, so will not attract the kind of viewership that glamour sports such as Athletics, Gymnastics, Swimming etc. are going to attract and the advertisers won’t want to pay to have their ads being played, when not many viewers will be watching.

  9. I’m disappointed with CTV’s coverage Way too much babble and not enough sports. And the guy doing colour for the rowing events is SO irritating! He’s constantly saying what this person is thinking or what that person is saying, and it’s always the most unlikely stupid things. And why only the same sports? There are a lot of events that I would be interested in seeing like judo or air pistol. These only happen once every four years, but instead it’s (yawn) tennis and (double yawn) basketball.

    • Completely disagree on the rowing commentator. Barney Williams is great at explaining the sport. Him and Rob Faulds work well together.

      Judo was on Sportsnet for a few hours this morning. Not too many fans of shooting in Canada. Lots of fans of basketball, tennis, swimming, rowing etc. CTV is gonna show what the majority of the people want (mostly).

      • Re: judo – yes I stand corrected – I caught the judo this morning. I agree that Williams knows rowing. I just think he peppers his commentary with way too many trite remarks.

        I understand why they focus on the popular sports (I couldn’t imagine them not showing hockey in the winter olympics). But I think that with 3 channels running 10+ hours per day, they could find just a little time for some of the more obscure sports too. Hopefully I’ll be proven wrong and CTV will sneak in a couple segments devoted to their highlights. How do we know that those sports wouldn’t be more popular in Canada if they’re never given a chance. After all, there has to be a reason why they’re popular elsewhere in the world. And the participants are the best in the world, so you’re going to see those sports at their finest.

        Yesterday’s coverage on CTV featured too many segments without any sports coverage at all – just rehash, talk, previews, social scene and profiles. I find it hard to believe that this is what people are tuning in for. But maybe I’m in the minority here…

      • Again …maybe most people want coverage of the “sexy” sports; tennis, rowing, basketball and the like, but there are so many other stories out there. We don’t need to be so ethnocentric as to devote the majority of coverage those events that Canadians are participating in. There are so many good sports deserving of at least a few short minutes of coverage. I have been watching the Olympic Games most of my 65 years and with the exception of Montreal I have not seen a total of 5 minutes devoted to Team Handball in the nine Olympiads since then. What a shame to continue to exclude this sport from your coverage….a team sport second only to soccer in the rest of the world!

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