Where to Watch the Ball Drop on New Year’s Eve
Get ready for a celebration! Here's where to watch the ball drop as you say goodbye to 2021 and usher in 2022.
Whether you attend a big New Year’s Eve party or just hang out at home watching New Year’s movies, chances are you tune in to the ball-drop ceremony shortly before midnight. Times Square crowds may have been missing from the 2021 celebration because of the pandemic, but New Year’s festivities will be back in full swing this year (though likely with masking and COVID-19 tests). If you just have to ring in 2022 with one of the most beloved New Year’s traditions, refer to this handy guide. It’ll help you figure out where to watch the ball drop—on TV and online—and explain when New Year’s is and the history of our celebrations.
On which channels can you watch the ball drop?
It wouldn’t be New Year’s without Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve. Ryan Seacrest will host, starting at 8 p.m. EST on December 31. He’ll share hosting duties with celebs like Billy Porter and Ciara. This year rings in a milestone: the celebration’s 50th anniversary. Performers include Chlöe Bailey, Journey, Måneskin, and Avril Lavigne.
There’s another important event this year. The first-ever countdown in Spanish will happen, along with a live broadcast from Puerto Rico hosted by Roselyn Sánchez and featuring a performance by Daddy Yankee. If you’re not one to burn the midnight oil (or need plenty of shut-eye for New Year’s Day shopping), you might be able to catch the Spanish countdown, happening at 11 p.m. EST (midnight Atlantic time). Stay tuned for announcements of the musical acts that’ll be taking the stage.
The beloved duo of Anderson Cooper and Andy Cohen ring in the New Year on CNN, starting at 8 p.m. EST on December 31. Performers haven’t been announced yet, but it’s sure to entertain right up to the big moment and through your New Year’s kiss. This celebration also includes coverage from Nashville with hosts Don Lemon and Brooke Baldwin.
Ken Jeong and Joel McHale will bring the party on December 31 with New Year’s Eve Toast and Roast 2022. If that sounds like your cup of tea (or glass of champagne), this live New Year’s Eve event runs from 8 to 10 p.m. and then picks up again at 11 p.m., running till 12:30 a.m.
Tune to NBC on December 31 for Miley’s New Year’s Eve Party, where superstar host Miley Cyrus needs no introduction. Saturday Night Live‘s Pete Davidson joins her as host, and the whole event is produced by SNL‘s Lorne Michaels. NBC’s special will air in two parts: prerecorded performances from 10 to 11 p.m., a break to report the news, and then the main event, which runs from 11:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m.
Where can you watch the ball drop online?
Streaming is the future, it would seem. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to watch the ball drop online, so you can dig in to your favorite New Year’s foods and watch the celebration without leaving your house (or PJs).
You can view the above programs online with ABC Live, CNNgo, FoxNow, and the NBC app, respectively. You may need to link to your service provider to watch.
You can also watch live TV online thanks to packages like Hulu + Live TV, YouTube TV, and FuboTV. If you don’t already have those, though, you’ll either have to see if there’s a free trial available or spring for a subscription.
Times Square itself offers a variety of online options for where to watch the ball drop. Its official website hosts a live broadcast, free of commercials. Not celebrating at home? Get mobile-friendly options at NewYearsEve.nyc and TimesSquareBall.net. If all else fails, you can watch the ball drop on Times Square’s Facebook and Twitter accounts. In the past, the Times Square webcast, which starts nice and early at 6 p.m. EST, has included rockin’ musical performances, hourly countdowns, and even a glimpse at the lighting of the ball.
Why do we drop a ball in the first place?
The history of the Times Square New Year’s Eve celebration began in 1905. For two years, folks at The New York Times set off fireworks and made the paper’s building the epicenter of all things New Year’s Eve. But the city banned the festive (and likely dangerous) display in 1907. Determined to find a new way to ring in the New Year, the paper’s owner, Adolph Ochs, arranged for the ball drop.
Ochs didn’t whip the idea out of thin air. He was inspired by the Western Union Telegraph’s time ball, a ball that was dropped from the top of the building at exactly noon each day. That ball was inspired by the time balls used by 19th-century mariners to calibrate their chronometers.
For the first time, on New Year’s Eve 1907, a 700-pound ball of steel and wood, adorned with a hundred light bulbs and built by a young immigrant metalworker named Jacob Starr, was dropped from the flagpole atop One Times Square. The crowd loved it, and the rest is history … the history of looking toward the future, that is. Now that you know where to watch the ball drop, find out why we sing “Auld Lang Syne” and what the phrase means.