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#pounditMonday, September 20, 2021

Does NBC have an Olympics Red Zone channel to watch?

Directv Olympics mix

The Olympics viewing experience is still evolving, and the television coverage is as robust as it has ever been. However, cable and satellite TV coverage of the Olympics are lacking one thing many sports fans have grown accustomed to: the Red Zone Channel.

NFL fans are used to being able to watch the Red Zone Channel on Sundays. This channel allows viewers to see scoring opportunities as they are unfolding live throughout the NFL. The channel aims to show the most exciting plays — touchdowns scored during the day — and does so by showing fans when teams are in the “red zone,” which is inside the 20-yard line.

So, does NBC have anything similar to that? They used to have it for past Olympics, and it was called the “Gold Zone.” It was even hosted by Red Zone Channel host Andrew Siciliano.

The Gold Zone brought up a quad box of sports-viewing options. A press release this year said “NBCOlympics.com and the NBC Sports app will offer the Gold Zone feed, providing whip-around coverage that will guide viewers to the best live action happening at the Games at a given moment. On most days, Gold Zone will stream from 8 p.m. – 2 a.m. ET.”

Those are very specific times, and I haven’t seen anything on it yet. The Gold Zone’s Twitter account hasn’t been updated since 2018. The advertised website page is dead.

So what are the best alternatives?

If you search for “moments” on the NBC Olympics website, you should find a stream for “Team USA Moments 24/7.” That should take you to a live feed that displays multiple concurrent events.

For instance, viewing the feed showed me three events at one time, and two events at another time. However, there was no option to select which event you wanted to hear the audio feed of, so you were stuck with the default.

If you have DirecTV, you will have plenty of viewing options, but no Red Zone Channel-like channel. The closest you can come is channel 205 — the “HD Sports Mix” channel — which is currently the “NBC Olympics TV Experience” channel.

That channel has has six little boxes, each displaying a separate feed. The boxes display the content on:

– Local NBC affiliate
– 220 NBC Sports
– 242 USA
– 355 CNBC
– 624 Olympic channel

The Olympics have so many sports and events to pack into just two weeks, and only so many waking hours per day, that there can easily be 30 live sports happening concurrently. Much like the way Turner handles March Madness, NBC typically has full events airing live on a given channel.

One’s local NBC affiliate is generally the hub for Olympics content. That’s where features on spotlight athletes, stories, and premier sports events are aired. This is the channel that generally features editorial decisions on what viewers are most likely to be interested in. That’s also where you see host Mike Tirico most often.

On the Peacock app, NBC has some daily content they are offering for the Olympics.

The “Tokyo Live” program airs from 6-11am ET and says it features “live look-ins on the hottest athletes and events.” There is a “Tokyo Tonight” channel on the Peacock app that is supposed to be “your evening destination for the top global and breaking Olympic news.” Launching that program did not allow me to navigate forward or back, and it didn’t contain graphics to explain what you were watching. However, it’s supposed to be similar to the Red Zone-type experience. Peacock also advertises a “Tokyo Gold” program that airs from 11am-12pm ET that includes daily roundup of highlights, recaps, and must-see moments.

There are several viewing options, but there does not seem to be one solid destination where a viewer can go and have a host take them from one event to the next, while providing commentary. NBC should consider relaunching the Gold Zone and having it on cable and satellite TV, as well as the Peacock and NBC Sports apps. Perhaps the time difference from the major cities in the US and Tokyo made them feel it was not worthwhile, as many of the live events are occurring late at night/early in the morning.

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