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Viewers guide to the 2016 Olympics

🕐 5 min read

NBC’s 170-member roster is short of the United States’ athlete count of 555, but the network will need every one of ’em. With Rio 1 hour ahead of Eastern Time, many events will be live in prime-time. NBC is planning 2,084 hours of programming. If you aired that on one channel, it would take nearly 97 days to finish. And who has the time?

Aug. 5

Watch live: In 2,084 hours, they couldn’t spare a few minutes for the archery ranking rounds? They could not. Perfect time to watch those episodes of “Mr. Robot” clogging up the DVR.

Prime-time highlight: If the Opening Ceremonies are anything like Carnival, Bob Costas’s head is going to explode. Now that’s good television!

Aug. 6

Watch live: Try this: Men’s road race (8:30 a.m., NBC), epee semifinals and final (3 p.m., USA), U.S. women’s soccer (4 p.m., NBCSN), U.S. women’s rugby (5 p.m., CNBC), U.S. men’s basketball at 6 (NBCSN).

Prime-time highlight: Chase Kalisz and Maya DiRado in the 400-meter IM finals, plus the women’s 4×100 relay, in which the U.S. team will likely be racing for silver behind Australia.

Aug. 7

Watch live: Women’s gymnastics begins with qualifications. The U.S. team takes to the apparatuses (apparati?) at 4:30 p.m. (NBC). Brazil takes on Iraq in men’s soccer (9 p.m., NBCSN).

Prime-time highlight: Katie Ledecky gets her first crack at gold in the final of the 400-meter freestyle.

Aug. 8

Watch live: The U.S. women face Spain in basketball (11 a.m., NBCSN). Twelve hours later, Kerri Walsh Jennings and April Ross take on China in beach volleyball (NBC).

Prime-time highlight: Americans David Plummer and Ryan Murphy have the fastest times in the world this year in the 100-meter backstroke. Plus Ledecky should be in the 200 freestyle semifinals.

Aug. 9

Watch live: The team and individual show jumping portion of eventing (9 a.m., USA) will determine medals. The U.S. women’s soccer team takes on Colombia in its final group round-robin matchup (5 p.m., NBCSN).

Prime-time highlight: Lots of swimming (live) plus the team final in women’s team gymnastics (not live).

Aug. 10

Watch live: Start with the women’s road race time trial (7:30 a.m., NBCSN), then check out men’s rugby. It won’t take long: The U.S. plays Fiji in a prelim (12:30, USA), the quarterfinals begin at 4 and end by 6 p.m. (USA).

Prime-time highlight: Ledecky and Co. swim the 4×200 freestyle relay live, and men’s gymnastics all-around gold is determined, but not live.

Aug. 11

Watch live: Tired of flipping? Stay put on the Golf Channel as the men’s tournament begins (6 a.m.) or watch tennis all day (11 a.m., Bravo). Take a break with the women’s epee finals (4 p.m., CNBC).

Prime-time highlight: The women’s gymnastics all-around final. And . . . mic drop.

Aug. 12

Watch live: Women’s soccer quarterfinals (noon, NBC Soccer), U.S. women’s volleyball vs. Italy, 1 p.m., women’s skeet shooting final (2 p.m., MSNBC).

Prime-time highlight: Michael Phelps tries to add to his medal collection in the 100 butterfly and Katie Ledecky tries to repeat as 800 champion in her strongest event.

Aug. 13

Watch live: Grab bag time: The men’s soccer quarterfinals, in a soccer-mad country (noon, NBC Soccer), the women’s finals in team sabre fencing (4 p.m., MSNBC), and beach volleyball round of 16 matches (10 a.m., USA).

Prime-time highlight: At the track, the women’s 100 meters, and in the pool, the men’s and women’s medley relays.

Aug. 14

Watch live: It’s Sunday – stay in your PJs for the women’s marathon (8:30 a.m., NBC), U.S. vs. China in women’s basketball (11:15 a.m., NBC), U.S. men vs. France in basketball (1:15 p.m. (NBCSN) and the final round of men’s golf (6:30 a.m.).

Prime-time highlight: Gymnastics, diving, the men’s 400 – but the men’s 100 is the pièce de résistance.

Aug. 15

Watch live: Check out the individual dressage grand prix – fancy talk for the medal competition – (9 a.m., USA) and the women’s water polo quarterfinals (5-8 p.m., CNBC).

Prime-time highlight: As track goes, the men’s 800 and women’s 400 are hard to beat. Plus gymnastics apparatus finals in the men’s rings and vault and women’s balance beam will be tape delayed, but always worth watching.

Aug. 16

Watch live: Four medals will be awarded in canoe/kayak beginning at 8 a.m. (MBCSN). What can’t you watch live? The open water swim. Wonder why?

Prime-time highlight: This busy night will belong to Simone Biles, who will give a master class in floor routines as she goes for a gold medal.

Aug. 17

Watch live: All four of the men’s basketball quarterfinals are live on at least one channel (NBC Basketball) and elsewhere as well. Plus, the men’s steeplechase (10:50 a.m., NBC) is always worth watching.

Prime-time highlight: It’s an estrogen-y evening with gold medals awarded in the women’s long jump, women’s 200, women’s 100 hurdles, and women’s beach volleyball.

Aug. 18

Watch live: A cereal variety pack lineup – men’s triathlon, 10 a.m. (USA), men’s 400 hurdles final, 11 a.m. (NBC), women’s freestyle wrestling, 3 p.m. (NBCSN), women’s basketball semifinals, 2 and 6 p.m. (NBCSN). Watch with a bowl of your favorite.

Prime-time highlight: Lots of track – women’s 400 hurdles, men’s 200 – with the men’s beach volleyball gold medal match as a cherry on top.

Aug. 19

Watch live: Escape the marquee sports and enjoy freestyle wrestling (9 a.m., NBCSN), equestrian show jumping (9 a.m., NBC), men’s and women’s BMX races (12:30 p.m., NBC) and women’s soccer gold medal match (4:30 p.m., NBCSN).

Prime-time highlight: Enjoy two of track’s marquee events, the women’s and men’s 4×100 relays, plus men’s platform diving qualifying.

Aug. 20

Watch live: It’s a gold rush: women’s golf (6 a.m., NBC), women’s triathlon (10 a.m., NBC), men’s water polo (noon, NBC), women’s basketball (2:30 p.m., NBC), men’s soccer (4:30 p.m., NBCSN).

Prime-time highlight: Matthew Centrowitz in the 1,500 meters, Vashti Cunningham in the high jump, men’s and women’s 4×400 relays – and between track courses, the women’s volleyball gold medal match..

Aug. 21

Watch live: The last day is testosterone-y: men’s marathon (8:30 a.m., NBC), men’s basketball bronze medal (10:30 a.m., NBCSN) and gold medal (2:45 p.m., NBC), men’s mountain bike final (11:30 a.m., USA), wrestling (11:45 a.m., NBCSN) and boxing (1 p.m., NBCSN).

Prime-time highlight: Bid adieu to Rio. Or bid Tchau. Whatever. It’s over.

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