Friday, August 5, 2016

Olympic Games | Olympic Volleyball on Television

How to find live Olympic volleyball, both televised and streaming, for indoor and beach

Women’s National Team Schedule (all times Pacific)
  • Aug 06, 1:05PM vs. Puerto Rico
  • Aug 08, 11:00AM vs. Netherlands
  • Aug 10, 11:00AM vs. Serbia
  • Aug 12, 11:00AM vs. Italy
  • Aug 14, 1:05PM vs. China
  • Aug 16 Quarterfinals
  • Aug 18 Semifinals
  • Aug 20 Medal Finals

US Women's Olympic Team poses in their Rio Opening Ceremonies outfits
-photo courtesy USA Volleyball

As Olympic competition gets underway in earnest tomorrow, we’ve received several guides to try to help those who prefer to watch as much volleyball as possible. 

Here’s the best guide we’ve found so far:
USA Volleyball Viewers Guide to Rio

NBC and its many affiliates promise to provide a record amount of live coverage, via broadcast, cable and streaming. That’s the good news.

The bad news is finding live volleyball to watch amid all those outlets and all the other sports they cover.
  • Your access to live volleyball may depend on your level of access to various cable or internet services. Some of those channels or services cost extra.
  • Regular old over-the-air NBC may often list volleyball as part of its broadcast channel offering, but it’s likely to air just part of each contest, switching around to other sports during that time block.
  • In our home, we’re hoping the NBC Sports App will offer the most first-serve-through-last-serve volleyball coverage.

Paul Sunderland and Kevin Barnett in Rio
Indoor volleyball fans are lucky that NBC has once again paired Paul Sunderland and Kevin Barnett for the play-by-play and commentary. Both were Olympians themselves, both are smart as whips, and both have been broadcasting for many years. Sunderland can be crusty and outspoken, the perfect antidote to the Joe Buck/Jim Nance bland school of broadcasting. Barnett has a quick wit and—like Sunderland—really knows the game.

If NBC is smart, it will break the American networks’ tired tradition of putting too much attention on just four sports: gymnastics, basketball, track & field and swimming. Unlike volleyball, each of those sports offer plenty of commercial break opportunities. But here’s the deal: none of those sports merits outsized prime time attention at the expense of other sports.

  • Gymnastics? A niche event decided by judges with a long history of homerism. Does anyone understand the scoring system, short of when a gymnast falls? Is one performance really 0.01 points better than another? And, while the rest of us can actually run or swim or shoot hoops in our everyday lives, who among us has ever been on parallel bars or a pommel horse? Sure, these athletes are strong, talented and dedicated. But so are dancers. So are Cirque du Soleil performers. Not every form of art or entertainment is sport.

  • Track & field? Besides cycling, what other sport has been so discredited by doping scandals? Sure, it was the original Olympic sport, but do we need to see so many preliminary heats? Give that time to other sports.

  • Swimming? The only thing more boring than watching swimming on TV is watching from the stands. Measuring the difference between gold, silver and bronze by wall-touch sensors calibrated to hundredths of a second borders on silly. And ditto on the excessive screen time for preliminary heats.

  • Basketball? Sorry, Hard to get excited by NBA all stars vs. the world, especially when the Americans spend very little time practicing as a team, much less mingling with other Olympians. Cut more slack for women’s basketball, though, for whom the Olympics offer a rare chance in the spotlight.

NBC and its broadcast partners are all part of the Comcast conglomerate. I have no idea why golf is an Olympic sport, but it makes sense that Comcast’s Golf Channel will give it hours of airtime. It does not, however, make sense that Comcast’s Bravo Channel is offering wall-to-wall coverage of … tennis. Why is tennis an Olympic sport? And—like men’s basketball and golf—don’t these millionaires have enough exposure already?

You can be absolutely sure that the citizens of one particular country will be watching plenty of volleyball: Brazil. Brazilians love men’s soccer (not so much women’s), but don’t care all that much about Olympic soccer (World Cup is the real soccer event.) At these Olympics, volleyball is the hot ticket. Let’s hope NBC notices.


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