How to watch shows together?
September 15, 2008 11:52 AM   Subscribe

How can my friends and I, all in different time zones, watch TV together during its FIRST airing? We're all tech savvy, but not nocturnal. Help us!

My friends and I are excited about some new TV series coming out this fall and would like to watch them as a group, connected via Skype to talk about the shows. However, we are all across the country, PST to EST. By the time the show is airing PST it's been 3 hours since it started EST; by the time a 9 p.m. 1 hour show is over it's only 10 p.m. PST but it's 1 a.m. EST and some of us have to work the next day.

So we're trying to figure out a way that we can all watch the show during its EST/CST premiere.

We are familiar with broadcating systems like, etc. but the best solution we've come up with is awful....point our webcam at a television and go. It would suffice primarily for audio, but the viewers watching on the webcam would not really get much in the way of visuals.

Is there any way to do this where the quality is better than "webcam pointed at TV"? I know it won't be broadcast HDTV quality, but...something?

(Also this is truly just for personal use among 5 geeky friends who want to watch sci-fi shows as a group, and it's on stations we all piracy is involved, we just want convenient timing).

Any help is appreciated.
posted by arniec to Computers & Internet (19 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Well, it seems pretty straightforward.

You want to watch the shows at the same time. The shows do not come on at the same time. You will need some kind of technology to record the show and play it back later.

Seriously, just record and then coordinate.
posted by splice at 11:59 AM on September 15, 2008 [2 favorites]

You've probably already considered it, but can you all record it and watch it the next day? Or, like, create a blog or wiki or something that you all contribute to the next day in lieu of discussing it during the actual broadcasting.
posted by lockestockbarrel at 12:00 PM on September 15, 2008

I'm sure you've considered it, but why not have those to the east time shift it via tivo, and all agree to watch during the most westerly broadcast... simple, good quality...
posted by HuronBob at 12:00 PM on September 15, 2008

posted by HuronBob at 12:01 PM on September 15, 2008

Response by poster: The problem is we're 5 geeks all anxious for the shows (Lost, BSG...standard salivate-until-you-see-it geek fare) so watching the next night isn't going to work (workplace talk will ruin the surprise) and given the late times for EST...the guys there want to be asleep before 1 a.m...
posted by arniec at 12:02 PM on September 15, 2008

Never tried one myself, but supposedly Hava is set up for this - multiple viewers at multiple locations. The last time I checked out Slingbox it was only able to do one viewer per box.

Someone (on the East Coast, probably) would have to be the 'keeper of the Hava', but you can work that out amongst yourselves.
posted by pupdog at 12:03 PM on September 15, 2008

"the guys there want to be asleep before 1 a.m"....methinks you are NOT true geeks... surly you all know about caffeinated drinks?
posted by HuronBob at 12:04 PM on September 15, 2008

I was going to recommend a Slingbox, but it looks like you'd need 4 slingboxes. At that point it might be cheaper to buy your west coast friend a plane ticket, or for the east coasters to DVR the show, stay up to watch with the west coasters and take the next day off work, especially since the HD version of the Slingbox isn't out yet.

or, have an east coaster build a MythTV box with HD and setup streaming with these directions

streaming this out 4 times is going to take a massive upload pipe I hope you have FiOS.
posted by jrishel at 12:10 PM on September 15, 2008

Most shows, and I'm not sure if this is one, will air simultaneously in Eastern, Central, and usually Mountain as well, with the Pacific broadcast being time-shifted.

Depending on the number of you in PST, a slingbox might actually do the trick. It really depends on how many people need to have their TV broadcast and how many can watching it on their own TVs given the time you want to see it.

You could also TiVo the show, TiVo2Go, unlock, convert to some public format, send to all participants, and watch it an hour after it came on, rather than 3 hours later. Not sure if the show is short enough that this would work or not.
posted by toomuchpete at 12:23 PM on September 15, 2008

If one of you has a TV tuner in a computer, you could use Orb.
posted by mccarty.tim at 12:42 PM on September 15, 2008

Response by poster: Note: we DON'T need HD. The bandwidth is too high and all these channels are non-HD as well... The East & Central coast people (and Mountain if it's the same time) can watch in HD live but the people seeing "early" don't need HD.

If one of you has a TV tuner in a computer, you could use Orb.


I should also mention we are a 50/50 Mac/PC split...any compatibility problems with these solutions? (The Mac folks can Boot Camp if they must, but they'll gripe about it)
posted by arniec at 12:45 PM on September 15, 2008

I don't use one, but I think that this is what a Slingbox does. I don't know how much you want to invest in this project though.
posted by jonah at 1:16 PM on September 15, 2008

Orb won't work, as only one person can be logged into the account at a time.
posted by shinynewnick at 1:25 PM on September 15, 2008

Do any of you have a TV tuner for your computer?

While my brother was here last year, he and his friend were trying to watch a football game on my terrible, fuzzy, desperately needs attention cable TV. It was not going well.

So the friend opened up a remote desktop connection to his computer at home, turned on the game there, and they watched it live over the internet via his home computer. It wasn't perfect, but it was certainly watchable and much better than bad cable. My monitor and my TV are basically the same size, which also helped.
posted by jacquilynne at 1:37 PM on September 15, 2008

Seconding the slingbox.... I set one up for my friend so she can watch the Red Sox with her mom. It's easy but you need good broadband....
posted by keep it tight at 1:52 PM on September 15, 2008

You can use a single slingbox - you just need one person with a slingbox set up on the east coast and multiple people can log on with the PC client software.

I work for a company that does set-top-box software and we use slingboxes a lot for coast to coast demos with multiple people watching.
posted by bitdamaged at 2:15 PM on September 15, 2008

I have DirecTV in Seattle.

Almost, if not all of the standard cable networks on DirecTV are the East Coast feed (so I can watch "The Daily Show" at 8pm). For BSG, the SciFi channel is the East Coast feed.

However, for the major networks, I get my local stations. I know there is some way to get a national feed, but if I recall it may only be allowed in only in places where there aren't any local network stations.

With HBO and Showtime it includes both the East and West Coast feeds.
posted by ShooBoo at 5:52 PM on September 15, 2008

Yeah, here in Canada when I had satellite TV I was able to get all the East Coast feeds of the networks.
posted by miles1972 at 12:15 AM on September 16, 2008

Since you didn't mark a best answer.....

try webcam setup using Tokbox.

I just answered another question about a technophobic mom similarly.

Problem with my mom is she's gets flustered easily. While I can remote into her PC to change settings and whatnot, I can't see live video via LogMeIn and other remote tools. She was getting flustered trying to play a video that my brother had sent to her (accessed via a website) so rather than try to step her through it (there were hardware issues as well) I just broguht up Tokbox, sent her an email link (video conference) and was able to just point my webcam at my TV (streamed the video to my XBMC) and let Mom and other technophobe relatives see Turkey day video of friends and family just by clicking a link and no need for downloads.

Not quite HD, but about as good as most streaming video you see on the web.
posted by emjay at 10:14 AM on December 1, 2008

« Older Advice on teaching programming to math genius 11...   |   Please recommend books on infant mortality rates... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.