Getting cable to watch the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Special at home
October 2, 2013 12:09 PM   Subscribe

We would like to watch "The Day of the Doctor" in our home on our TV during its initial broadcast on Nov. 23. We have a television. We do not have cable television. The only way we will be able to watch in our home during the simulcast is to get cable TV. (Optimum is the provider in our area; they provide our cable internet.) Is it possible to get cable TV for just one month? How simple is it to do?

It is worth it to us to pay for cable for this event (we're hoping to host some very good friends of ours and make a big deal out of it), but we'd prefer to sign up for the minimum amount of time necessary.
posted by ocherdraco to Grab Bag (24 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: To be clear: the answer to this question is not "watch it somewhere else." We want to know what we need to do to watch this at home on our TV.
posted by ocherdraco at 12:11 PM on October 2, 2013

Slightly dumb question: have you tried plugging your cable modem line into your tv? Some providers still send the "basic" tier of channels in analog over the line, you may be able to get them that way (although frankly I'm not sure if BBC America is covered under "basic")
posted by Oktober at 12:23 PM on October 2, 2013

Response by poster: BBC America's not on the basic tier for Optimum according to their website, but I'll try that when I get home.
posted by ocherdraco at 12:25 PM on October 2, 2013

Do any of your friends have cable from this provider (or any other provider, really)? Does the provider have a mobile app or website that allows subscribers to watch real-time streams of the channels?
If so, you could pipe the output of that to your TV (via HDMI, or with AppleTV+Airplay, or Chromecast, or a few other ways)
posted by jozxyqk at 12:28 PM on October 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

Comcast does offer month to month service, so its not unheard of. However I bet you don't get free installation without locking in for at least a year. So figure $200+ for installation, plus at least $50 for a tier with BBC. Is it worth $250ish to you?
posted by COD at 12:42 PM on October 2, 2013

You get a 30 day money back guarantee with Optimum.

Per their website:

30-Day Money Back Guarantee
Applicable upon request to new customer installations for recurring service fees and initial installation charges if service is terminated and all equipment is returned within 30 days of install. Upgrades not entitled to the 30-day money back guarantee. Other restrictions may apply.

posted by inturnaround at 12:48 PM on October 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

There may be a more practical solution here. Assume that the original broadcast is going to be "primetime" in the UK, which means it's going to early-middle afternoon here. If you're going to have a viewing party that evening, you'll have plenty of time to grab a copy online.
posted by Oktober at 12:48 PM on October 2, 2013 [2 favorites]

I know you specifically said "watch it somewhere else is not an answer". On the off chance that your opposition to watching it somewhere else is specifically to do with watching it on someone else's tv, I just want to mention that they just announced this morning that not only will the episode be simulcast around the world in at least 75 different countries, but it will also be played in movie theaters. They have not announced which theaters yet, and I have no idea if one will be anywhere near your home, but if that idea interests you at all you should keep an eye on the news for further announcements on that front. They said the details will be announced at when they have them.
posted by Lokheed at 12:49 PM on October 2, 2013 [3 favorites]

I did what jozxyqk suggested for the Breaking Bad finale, but depending on your friend's cable company, it can be a a little complicated to get right. For Time Warner, their app only lets you watch the majority of channels if you're on the owner's home IP address. I can give more detailed instructions if you want, but it involved:

Computer at cable-having friend's house, creating a network using Hamachi (unmanaged), and SOCKS proxy server using Charles Proxy.

Computer at my house connecting to said Hamachi network and adding the Hamachi IP as a SOCKS proxy in my network config.

In the end, it totally worked and we watched the finale on my projector.
posted by the jam at 12:58 PM on October 2, 2013

Oktober: BBC America is simulcasting the 50th anniversary. Can you find a
posted by pibeandres at 1:02 PM on October 2, 2013

Response by poster: Watching in the evening is a backup, but we'd prefer to do it live.

And I know about the theater screenings, but we're looking to host friends at home, so that doesn't apply.
posted by ocherdraco at 1:49 PM on October 2, 2013

You can watch it on the BBC iPlayer if you are not concerned with the gray legality of using a proxy or VPN service in the UK to get around the region restrictions. Then it's simply a matter of buying the right cable to hook up your TV as a big computer monitor.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 1:49 PM on October 2, 2013 [6 favorites]

You could possibly get a VPN account and watch it on BBC iPlayer online? Unlike a torrent, this is vaguely legal (or at least hasn't gotten anyone in trouble yet).
posted by miyabo at 1:49 PM on October 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

Lets go old-skool here - do you have any neighbours nearby (like in an adjacent apartment) who have cable and would be willing to split it temporarily and allow you to run a cable to your house for the event?
posted by cgg at 2:07 PM on October 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

To second tyler and miyabo, Media Hint for Firefox allows seamless access to BBC iPlayer and it's easy to install.

Unfortunately, the one or two times I've tried to use it (one being the 12th Doctor announcement), the video worked fine earlier in the day, but during the program I was trying to watch, it was slow and buffery to the point of being unwatchable, and I eventually gave up. So I'm not sure you should count on it. But my issues might have been due to the slowness of my own internet, so it's worth a try.

(And yes, it's questionably legal, but you won't get in trouble. And it's morally questionable since you aren't paying for a UK TV license, but it's up to you to decide whether that matters to you.)
posted by mekily at 2:16 PM on October 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

In summary, your options are basically:
a) expensive, or
b) technically illegal, complicated, and risking a poor quality stream.

It seems like you are adding the extra level of complexity with the absolute requirement of the event being at your house; can you clarify why you have this requirement to help out with answering the question?

The least-expensive, least-complicated answer (other than "go somewhere else") is probably to suck it up and sign up for cable TV for 1 or 2 years (whatever the minimum contract is with your cable provider).
posted by jozxyqk at 2:39 PM on October 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

You could also get a Slingbox and stream it from another home that will receive the live broadcast.

And to jump off Oktober's suggestion, I wish I could say with certainty but I think there's a good chance you can get a legal copy online after the afternoon broadcast.
posted by pokermonk at 3:03 PM on October 2, 2013

You could possibly get a VPN account and watch it on BBC iPlayer online? Unlike a torrent, this is vaguely legal (or at least hasn't gotten anyone in trouble yet).

This will work unless it's a popular VPN with people doing exactly that and their bandwidth is saturated by everyone with the same idea. It's more of a problem with free VPNs, you'll probably have better luck if you pay.
posted by BungaDunga at 4:31 PM on October 2, 2013

The OP has already stated that they'd like to have guests at their home, which is not an unreasonable requirement. A lot of people are doing something like this for the event (we're going to someone else's house ourselves!).

I don't know anything about Optimum personally, but their website claims they never require a contract. So that makes it sound like you could get it for just a month. Maybe you should just call and ask them about the lack of contracts, and whether that means you could try it for a shorter time.
posted by wintersweet at 8:53 PM on October 2, 2013

The OP has already stated that they'd like to have guests at their home, which is not an unreasonable requirement. A lot of people are doing something like this for the event (we're going to someone else's house ourselves!).

I do think this is potentially unreasonable if they want to host an event without already having the means to watch it.
But there may be legitimate reasons that they must host at their house -- such as being unable to leave the house for medical reasons, or even for childcare reasons -- which is why I asked for clarification on this point.
(Of course if it is too personal, I don't expect the OP to answer, but more information might lead to more useful answers)
posted by jozxyqk at 5:54 AM on October 3, 2013

Response by poster: I am looking for answers about how to do this in our home. Before I asked this question, I already knew how to watch this elsewhere. It is a specific question about a specific thing I didn't already know how to do. That is why I am asking other people, because they may have done something similar before.

Please, just answer the question that I asked. This is not a relationship question with many shades of meaning. It is a question about whether it is possible to watch a particular TV show on my television, in my home, and if it is possible, how do I go about it in the least expensive way.

I think I have been very clear, and I have no idea why my medical history or child having status would be remotely relevant.
posted by ocherdraco at 6:56 AM on October 3, 2013 [6 favorites]

If by chance you have a friend with Time Warner cable, it looks like one of the few channels which is NOT disabled by using the app outside of your home IP is BBC America. So my crazy proxy server setup may not be necessary.
posted by the jam at 11:41 AM on October 3, 2013

Response by poster: We have successfully gotten cable for the month of November. The cable box sits beneath our television, glowing blue, and looking sleek and slightly menacing.
posted by ocherdraco at 12:24 PM on November 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: The Anniversary Special screening was a total success at our place—I'll inform you if cancellation of cable is not successful. Otherwise, assume total success at every front. Thanks for your help, everyone!
posted by ocherdraco at 6:50 PM on November 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

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