The long-awaited “how to watch” article is here. I hear you — the season is a week away. What took so long?
Simply put, negotiating contracts with the various agencies that film and produce World Cup coverage is a complicated process. Olympic Channel announcer Chad Salmela used the word “cumbersome” to explain the process through which NBC secures the rights to these broadcasts. Cumbersome is not ideal when it comes to small niche sports that are not bringing in the same type of viewership or revenue as a sport like American football.
How this impacts this article: currently, no cross country or biathlon events are listed on PeacockTV. Until this week, the Davis U.S. Cross Country Ski Team Communications Director Tom Horrocks did not have conclusive information from NBC on scheduling. Similarly, Preston Noon who handles IT and Membership for the US Biathlon Association (USBA) did not receive a watch schedule from the Olympic Channel until last week, and NBC remains in flux. In short, it has taken us so long to present this information because we simply haven’t had it.
While last season, almost every cross country event could be watched through NBC’s PeacockTV streaming platform, this year will look a bit different. Events will be streamed live on either PeacockTV or on a new independent streaming site, Ski and Snowboard Live. Some weekends, races will be available on both platforms. An in-progress calendar indicating which streaming platform will feature each World Cup venue can be found here.
For example, the opening mini-tour in Ruka, FIN which begins next Friday, November 26th at 6:30 am Eastern can be streamed on both Peacock or Ski and Snowboard Live, however, the Lillehammer World Cup beginning December 3rd is only available on Ski and Snowboard Live. Based on the information available so far, these races will be a livestream only with no commentary.
Post-script update: After publication, U.S. Ski and Snowboard received information from NBC that all cross-country World Cup events will be available on PeacockTV. At this point, theNBC broadcasts will not include commentary, however, there will be English commentary on Ski & Snowboard Live.
As the Beijing Games grow nearer, we will run a separate article on viewing, which may require an additional subscription to access the Olympic Channel.
A premium subscription to Peacock TV is $4.99 per month plus an additional $5 per month for add-free viewing. If you are a customer of XFinity or COX, you have access to PeacockTV at no additional cost. On Ski and Snowboard Live, you have the option to either purchase a pass for a specific weekend of events for $2.99, or to subscribe for the whole season for $74.99. Subscribers also receive access to downhill, slalom, snowboard, and freestyle skiing events.
You can also expect timely individual race coverage and analysis from FasterSkier’s race reporting team as well as colorful commentary from our Canadian friend in Norway, Devon Kersaw. We hope this content enhances your experience as a fan of the sport.
On the biathlon side, at least the first four World Cup stops will be featured on the Olympic. This calendar begins in Östersund, SWE on November 27th and ends in Annecy, FRA on December 19th. These events will be streamed live with commentary; Salmela confirmed that he has been hired to call each of the events in Period 1.
(Read about the IBU’s plans to improve fan experience here.)
To view the Olympic Channel, you’ll need a subscription to a separate streaming service like Hulu Live TV or YouTubeTV. The cost of these platforms varies.
There you have it! As more information becomes available, we will provide updates to keep readers abreast of any changes or insights. In the meantime, see you here on Friday, November 26th for the opening cross country sprint races in Ruka!
Rachel is an endurance sport enthusiast based in the Roaring Fork Valley of Colorado. You can find her cruising around on skinny skis, running in the mountains with her pup, or chasing her toddler (born Oct. 2018). Instagram: @bachrunner4646