2016 US Presidential Debate viewing options for cable cutters
September 20, 2016 1:57 PM   Subscribe

What are some alternative viewing options for the Presidential debates starting next week? I'd like to watch on our TV, not a browser window, but we don't have a device connected to our basic cable service. We do have an Apple TV and a Fire TV stick.

I have cable internet through Time Warner, and every time I've tried to cancel basic cable, they've found a package where it is cheaper for me to keep it, so I still formally have access to basic cable. However, I don't have a device that can access basic cable.

What I do have: a current generation Apple TV in regular use, and a current Amazon Fire TV stick that is not in use (and an active Prime subscription, and a Netflix subscription).

My biggest requirement for an alternative scheme would be reliability - once I set it up (and that could be finicky), it should run without fiddling so that we can focus on the terrifying spectacle.
posted by RedOrGreen to Grab Bag (19 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
All four major networks (ABC, CBS, FOX and NBC) are broadcasting it, so if you can get any over-the-air channels, you can watch it the old-fashioned way.
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 2:03 PM on September 20, 2016

It looks like they will be live streaming over Facebook (techcrunch on ABC News/Facebook team up).

It also looks like Facebook supports streaming over AirPlay (to appleTV).

So that's an option.
posted by sparklemotion at 2:04 PM on September 20, 2016 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: (Sorry, should have added that we have no over-the-air reception at all.)
posted by RedOrGreen at 2:07 PM on September 20, 2016

KODI (formerly XBMC) streaming is probably your best bet.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 2:10 PM on September 20, 2016

posted by roomthreeseventeen at 2:11 PM on September 20, 2016 [2 favorites]

This article lists some options. Including "PBS NewsHour is also known to live stream presidential debates on its YouTube channel; it's likely the outlet will do so again." So you should be able to get the PBS stream via the YouTube app on your Apple TV.
posted by dnash at 2:15 PM on September 20, 2016 [2 favorites]


That's actually a good suggestion. Just search for "Presidential debate live" within youtube a few minutes ahead of time and you'll likely have a choice of livestreams.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 2:15 PM on September 20, 2016 [1 favorite]

If you still pay for TWC service, maybe you can use their app on a iPhone or iPad (if you have one) to stream the debates and AirPlay that to the Apple TV? You can test it out with a live tv network now.
posted by zachlipton at 2:27 PM on September 20, 2016

Just search for "Presidential debate live" within youtube a few minutes ahead of time and you'll likely have a choice of livestreams.

Or hang out in the debate thread and see people share the ones that work for them in real-time.

You could also get a meetup in your area, as there seem to be a good number of people in your neck of the woods.

If all else fails, go to any public place with a TV (not necessarily a bar, if that's not your scene). It's bound to be on somewhere in public. But then you'll get to hear live commentary from other people, which might interrupt the event for you.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:39 PM on September 20, 2016 [1 favorite]

The four networks have apps you can download to your Apple TV. You can log into them with your cable password and watch the debates (and any other programming) streaming live.
posted by ejs at 3:49 PM on September 20, 2016

We watched the DNC convention via streaming from C-SPAN. According to news articles, they will also broadcast the next debate and perhaps others. It was crystal-clear and worked on every device we tried it on. It only needed to be restarted once or twice (about as often as over-the-air digital farts on us because of passing vehicles). Had the added advantages of A) no talking heads (I'll get my predigested opinions in print, thanks); B) full broadcast (not just select pieces — and they didn't do idiotic things like cut away from Cory Booker like PBS did); C) no commercials.
posted by Mo Nickels at 4:04 PM on September 20, 2016 [2 favorites]

Seconding Mo. C-SPAN usually live streams the debates, and they don't include inane, narrative-driven commentary like the news networks do.
posted by cnc at 4:11 PM on September 20, 2016

We watched the conventions using the ABC News app for our Roku. It looks like much the same content is available via the Apple TV app, and I can't imagine that they wouldn't cover the debates live.
posted by Johnny Assay at 4:19 PM on September 20, 2016

I usually watch on C-SPAN's website (no talking heads; full feed) and connect my laptop to the TV with a spare HDMI cable.
posted by melissasaurus at 4:40 PM on September 20, 2016

I would be surprised if the debates are not streamed on Youtube legitimately.
posted by so fucking future at 5:39 PM on September 20, 2016 [1 favorite]

My town's library is hosting a viewing party. Maybe yours is, too.
posted by The corpse in the library at 7:22 PM on September 20, 2016

Twitter is also streaming the debates live.
posted by Nelson at 8:04 AM on September 21, 2016

Today I ran into this summary of Youtube's debate live streams that was published last week.

The links to the streams for NBC News, PBS, Fox News, The Washington Post, Bloomberg, and Telemundo are in the second-to-last paragraph.

This is kind of a repeat of information that was provided by other answerers above, but I figured I'd drop it here because it is a convenient summary of the official Youtube options.
posted by sparklemotion at 12:32 PM on September 26, 2016

Response by poster: Just to close this out: there were a variety of choices on the Apple TV, and we went with the NBC app, which streamed the whole thing - no cable login required - interruption-free. (The debate participants, on the other hand...)

The talking heads came on after the debate ended, and I cut away after David Plouffe. Alternatively, the PBS or CNN apps also promised to have the live stream, and YouTube, as mentioned above, streamed it live too.
posted by RedOrGreen at 9:50 AM on September 29, 2016 [2 favorites]

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