How to watch Ball Drop 2021 online: live stream Times Square New Year's Eve anywhere

watch ball drop online 2021 times square
(Image credit: Roy Rochlin/Getty Images)

Now one of history's pre-eminent annus horribilis, 2020 is ready to squeeze one final ounce of joy out your year today, as spectators are barred from attending the spectacular New Year's Eve Ball Drop in Times Square, New York City. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to watch the Ball Drop online tonight - including options for those with without cable and even some free ways to tune in to the virtual action from the Big Apple!

Watch the Ball Drop online

The 2020 Times Square Ball Drop takes place in the heart of New York City at midnight tonight - January 31, or New Year's Eve. TV coverage is available on ABC, CNN and NBC and full details of how to watch your preferred channel without cable are below. You can do so for free, in some cases, and tune into your home coverage even if you're abroad - all you need is the help of a good VPN.

As usual, US TV network coverage of the event is comprehensive, with national channels ABC, NBC and CNN all hosting New Year's Eve coverage led by some of their biggest names and featuring A-list celebrity guests and musical appearances. All also feature the big 2020 Times Square Ball Drop at midnight tonight, which can't come soon enough for most people.

In addition, the official Times Square website is showing a free live stream of the Ball Drop - but it's a pure live feed and won't be hosted by your favorite TV personalities or feature the kind of star-studded lineups you'll get with ABC, CNN or NBC's New Year's Eve shows.

Ready to learn more? Follow our guide below as we explain how to watch the Ball Drop online tonight without cable, for free, and from anywhere in the world! Plus, we'll give you all the details you need about each channel's New Year's Eve 2020 offering, in case you're loyalties aren't already decided.

watch ball drop new year's eve 2020

How to watch the Ball Drop online: live stream Times Square New Year's Eve 2020 in the US

If you want to watch the Ball Drop without cable, you'll need an over-the-top streaming service that provides access to the channel whose coverage you want to follow tonight. Here's how the three main US New Year's Eve TV shows break down.

How to watch the Ball Drop on ABC without cable

ABC's Ball Drop coverage is part of its Dick Clarke's New Year's Rockin' Eve 2021 show hosted by Ryan Seacrest, which begins at 8pm ET/PT and runs through the big midnight moment in Times Square. 

The show will also reveal the first Powerball millionaire winner of the new year just after the Ball Drop. ABC isn't widely found on many streaming services, but you can get it on FuboTV with a FREE 7-day trial (plans from $59.99 thereafter, if you decide to keep it).

How to watch the Ball Drop on CNN without cable

CNN's NYE 2020 shindig is MC'd by Anderson Cooper and Andy Cohen. It too starts at 8pm ET/PT and the dynamic due will be joined by musical guests including John Mayer, Snoop Dogg, Patti Labelle, Kylie Minogue, and Jon Bon Jovi, among many others. 

Those wanting to watch CNN without cable could do worse than consider Sling TV, which includes Warner channels like CNN in its Sling Orange Package for tonight's Ball Drop. Try a FREE Sling TV trial to check it out for yourself - Orange is highly affordable at just $30 a month, if you like what you see.

How to watch the Ball Drop on NBC without cable

NBC's annual NYE spectacular starts a bit later than some of its competitors, going on air at 10pm ET/PT, and is hosted by Carson Daly. This year, as well as the Times Square Ball Drop at midnight, it also boasts performances from X Ambassadors, Brett Eldredge, Ne-Yo, Leslie Odom Jr., Blake Shelton, Gwen Stefani and more. 

NBC is available cheapest on Sling TV in most major metropolitan markets, while the most expensive FuboTV also has it across the board if your area isn't covered by Sling - but remember, both offered FREE TRIALS, as we've said.

How to watch the Ball Drop online: free live stream

The Square website is showing a free live stream of the Ball Drop, but it'll be a no-frills affair compared to what the major cable channels have on offer tonight.

Not in the US? Remember you can access all the same streaming services and content you would at home just by using a quality VPN.

How to watch the Times Square Ball Drop 2020 online from abroad 

If you find yourself stuck abroad in a country where the service you'd normally use to tune in to NBC isn't available or you can't get the Times Square website up and running for whatever reason, don't worry.

Downloading a VPN will allow you to watch the Times Square Ball Drop no matter where you are, simply by changing your IP address to one that's back in your country of residence. Here's how to get started with this essential bit of streaming software.

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James Laird

James is a technology journalist with nearly 10 years experience and currently Sports and TV Streaming Editor at Future, where he works across TechRadar, T3 and Tom's Guide. He is here to help you find the best ways to watch sports, TV shows and movies online. Previously, he was News and Features Editor at Trusted Reviews, Editor of Lifehacker UK, and Senior Staff Writer at ITProPortal.