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Rio Olympics 2016 opening ceremony: time, how to watch, live stream, and what to expect

The Rio Olympics opening ceremonies get underway at 7 pm Eastern today in Rio de Janeiro’s famous Maracanã Stadium. But if you’re hoping to watch live on television, you’re in for a disappointment — NBC isn’t airing the ceremony in real time. In the Eastern time zone, coverage starts at 7:30 pm; the ceremonies themselves will begin airing at 8 pm.

The delays are staggered. If you’re in the Central and Mountain time zones, tune in for the beginning of the ceremonies at 7 pm. For the Pacific time zone, at 8 pm.

The ceremony will also stream online after the delay, although you’ll need a cable subscription to watch longer than 30 minutes.

How to watch:

On TV: The ceremony will air on NBC starting at 8 pm Eastern.

Streaming options: You can use the NBC Sports app on your phone or go to from a computer. After 30 minutes, both will require you to log in with a cable subscription.

What to expect:

One of Brazil’s most renowned filmmakers, Fernando Meirelles, will direct the opening ceremonies.

But for a ceremony traditionally meant to highlight the host country’s beauties, Meirelles is a somewhat surprising pick. He is best known for making 2002’s City of God, a gritty film featuring drug trade and violent crime in Rio’s impoverished favela neighborhoods in the 1980s. It’s still unclear how much the choreography will hint at Brazil’s wealth disparity.

Reports from the ceremony’s rehearsals reflect a show heavily focused on Brazil’s musical heritage, from samba to funk carioca, a type of dance music native to Rio. There will be notable appearances from Brazilian singers including Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil. Supermodel Gisele Bundchen is also reportedly making an appearance. Altogether, 4,800 performers and volunteers are involved in the opening ceremony.

While the ceremony will undoubtedly focus on the joyous aspects of Brazilian culture, the Olympics comes at a difficult time for Brazil, a country currently experiencing the worst recession in its history and unprecedented political turmoil. Hard financial times have taken a toll on the opening ceremony as well. While Brazil has not reported how much it is spending on the opening ceremony, its budget is reportedly half of the $42 million London spent for the same event in 2012.

"Athens was about the classics, Beijing was grandiose and muscular, London was smart, and ours — ours will be cool," Meirelles told Reuters.

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