New Year’s Eve live stream: How to watch the NYC ball drop and Times Square performances free

Goodbye, 2020. No one will miss you.

New Year’s Eve live stream: How to watch the NYC ball drop and Times Square performances free
Gwen Stefani rehearses for NBC’s New Year’s Eve 2021. [Photo: Chris Haston/NBC]

The most non-controversial thing to happen in 2020 is saying goodbye to it. And tonight, millions of people around the world will join together to do just that.


Although the coronavirus pandemic has put a damper on traditional New Year’s Eve celebrations, socially distanced events are still planned for major cities, including in New York City, where the ceremonial dropping of the ball will take place in Times Square, just as it has for more than a century. So we can all taste a little slice of normal pie as we ring in 2021.

Unlike in years past, the event will be closed to most visitors due to the pandemic, but it will still include a ton of live performances and festivities. And the good news is, it’s easier than ever to stream it for free on you TV, computer, or phone.

Stream the Times Square webcast

The Times Square Alliance, which organizes the official ball-dropping event, offers a free, easy-to-access webcast. It’s hosted this year by Andra Day and will feature performances by Gloria Gaynor, Anitta, Pitbull, the USO Show Troupe, and The Waffle Crew.

The event begins with the raising of the ball at 6 p.m. ET. You can access the stream live at the following links.

We’ll also embed a video of the webcast here when it becomes available.


Cable and network TV specials

As they do every year, many TV networks are offering their own coverage of New Year’s Eve, and will incorporate dispatches from various locations, including Times Square. Here’s a roundup of some of the most popular broadcasts:

  • ABC: Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest, headlined by Jennifer Lopez (start time: 8 p.m. ET)
  • NBC: New Year’s Eve 2021, hosted by Carson Daly (start time: 10 p.m. ET)
  • Fox:  New Year’s Eve Toast & Roast, with Ken Jeong and Joel McHale (start time: 8 p.m. ET)
  • CNN: New Year’s Eve with Anderson Cooper and Andy Cohen (start time: 8 p.m. ET)

Some of these broadcasts may require that you sign in with a pay-TV account before you can stream them on your computer or mobile device. If you don’t already have one, you can sign up for a bundled streaming service, where you can typically get a free promotion if you haven’t signed up before.

Please note that these services may not offer all networks in all areas, so check your zip code before signing up. If you just want to stream coverage from the broadcast networks, you might try Locast, a free nonprofit streaming service, which is now available in 25 markets.

On that note, it’s worth pointing out that broadcast networks are still available over the air for free, so if you have an OTA antenna, that could be your cheapest bet. See you in 2021!

About the author

Christopher Zara is a senior staff news editor for Fast Company and obsessed with media, technology, business, culture, and theater. Before coming to FastCo News, he was a deputy editor at International Business Times, a theater critic for Newsweek, and managing editor of Show Business magazine