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March 22, 2022 9:20 AM   Subscribe

I am a cord-cutting semi-luddite trying to figure out how to watch the Oscars this year, WITHOUT plugging in any additional thing to my TV or signing up for ANY "free trials" of any service. Help!

I gave up cable and network TV because 95% of my entertainment is classic movie DVDs (through Netflix) and things on Amazon Prime. I currently have an Amazon smart TV, AND I have a Roku stick plugged into it; the Amazon Smart TV lets me access Amazon Prime Video of course, and my DVD Netflix membership also comes with Netflix streaming. I do not have any other streaming channels (no Hulu, no Paramount, no DisneyPlus, etc.). This suits me fine most of the time - but once in a blue moon there is something on "Live TV" I would like to see, and usually my roommate and I kluge together some kind of solution for me. However, he won't be home in time to help me figure things out for Oscar night this year.

He has offered to loan me the digital antenna he got so he could watch the Super Bowl, but I'd rather avoid that because a) we'd have to hook it up earlier in the day, and b) it'd require him shimmying behind his TV to get it for me, which is in a somewhat precarious position. So I do have that access, but wanted to try to find something else first to spare him the trouble.

I also am a bit of a luddite, which means I do not have (nor would I even begin to know how to use) things like Twitch, torrent streams, or any other thing that requires hooking some other doohickey up to my TV. I'd also really like to avoid signing up for a free trial with Hulu or something, because I'm liable to forget to cancel in time.

So - given those constraints, is there any other way I can access a livestream of the Oscars for free, or is the digital antenna my only solution?
posted by EmpressCallipygos to Media & Arts (18 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
There's always articles that come out around this time about "How to watch LiveEvent for free," and they all say to get a digital antenna and/or get a free trial (or this year, I saw one for "get a VPN." Or look for something...not legal.) I have a digital antenna (several of them) and it's just plain AWFUL without cable. I usually can't get it to work at all and I live in the heart of my town, not in the boonies, or I can get ONE channel to come in and it's not the one I need that day. I pretty much can't watch live TV at all or I get it to work once a year at Thanksgiving. God, I hate digital TV.

So if you REALLY want the Oscars, go to someone else's house or cave in and use some service, probably.
Signed, Someone In The Same Sunk Boat.
posted by jenfullmoon at 9:39 AM on March 22 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I can assign one more family account on my YouTubeTV (you need a gmail account) for free. It's one app to install on your Roku stick, it's super straight forward. Memail me if you'd like to set this up.
posted by joycehealy at 9:40 AM on March 22 [2 favorites]

In same boat, for many many years now. Antenna is absolutely your best bet, and well worth the shimmy; or find an Oscar’s viewing party to crash.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 10:14 AM on March 22 [3 favorites]

Get a mohu leaf or similar amplified antenna. It will continue to be useful for similar stuff. Or find a bar that will be playing it, or where you can commandeer a screen away from sports. Honestly, I'd totally attend an Oscars nights at a bar, might see if I can round up some watchers.
posted by theora55 at 12:23 PM on March 22 [2 favorites]

Since your roommate isn't going to be home...would he let you watch it on his TV with his digital antenna?
posted by BlahLaLa at 12:32 PM on March 22

It sounds like the issue is more that roommate needs to be there to set up the antenna, and won't be. (And setting up the antenna really, really sucks.)
posted by jenfullmoon at 12:44 PM on March 22

A digital antenna is the easiest answer for this. They cost $20, so if you really don't want to put out anyone else, you can get your own. Mine was very easy to set up (plug in, run a channel scan via the TV).
posted by metasarah at 3:59 PM on March 22 [1 favorite]

Assuming your TV is on the same side of the building as your roommate's TV, with an antenna you should receive the same set of channels in roughly the same quality (barring a significant difference in the tuners in the two TVs or the views out the windows). This is worth thinking about because if your roommate's TV only gets two channels and neither of them is your local ABC affiliate, then an antenna won't help you. But if he gets ABC on his TV, just buy an antenna. You can probably get something OK for $20 (store brand or whoever licenses the RCA or Westinghouse brand names this year), or better than OK for $40 (like a Mohu Arc). If you really want to go all out, don't spend more than $100. We own our house so I have an earlier version of this thing on the roof that I got at Best Buy in an open box deal, and it has been fantastic. I see the new version has a tabletop stand if you do want that, but I can't say I'd actually want it next to my TV if I could help it.

If you do get an antenna, don't get an amplified model (like the Mohu Leaf Best Buy is currently selling). The amplifiers are usually trash and in NYC you're not far enough from the towers to need one anyway. Your big problem is just going to be with placement, which is generally best if you can see the broadcast tower out your window. If you're on the opposite side of the building, you may just be able to aim at another building and tune in on the reflected signal, which should work well enough most of the time if you can find a single strong reflector.
posted by fedward at 5:07 PM on March 22 [1 favorite]

I will note that at my place, I have the antenna closest to the window, as high as I can place it, and it still varies from day to day what channels, if any, it gets. The only ones that consistently come in are channels I don't want, like MeTV, and the major networks frequently fail out anyway. So, YMMV on that one. And yes, I'm bitter!
posted by jenfullmoon at 7:33 PM on March 22

Digital antennas are cheap and you can get a good one for $25, but for a REALLY good one (roof-mount) it'd go up quite a bit to well over a hundred, as you'd have to aim it at the nearest transmitter, and it seriously depends on if there's a hill or tall buildings in between up and them. Antennas need to be aimed for best result, and there are several websites that'll show you your closest transmitters based on your Zipcode. Then you look that way with your compass (your phone should have one, or download an app easily) you should be able to figure out what kind of antenna you need.

If that's too much trouble, one can always opt to pay for Youtube TV, but it's a month service and kinda costly if you just need it "occasionally".
posted by kschang at 7:54 PM on March 22

Response by poster: Adding some data points about my TV placement and the digital antenna the roommate has:

1. The room the TV is in has a single window that looks out onto the alley between my building and the building next door. I'm not certain how well the average antenna I would be able to get would work, and I haven't a clue how to hook it up.

2. As bad as it is for ME, though, my roommate has it even worse - he's in the basement. Yet he got an antenna good enough for him to watch the Super Bowl on his own TV.

Again, I'm trying to avoid using his, though, and I don't want to get an antenna just for the 1 or 2 occasions of the year I maybe would want to watch Live TV.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:15 PM on March 22

Just so you know, the type of antenna might matter. Here in Nashville, the NBC channel needs the old "rabbit ears" antenna and all the other channels come in great on the flat digital antenna. The good news is that the rabbit ears one is only about $10. What I'm saying here is that you'll probably want to test any setup that you plan on using well in advance of Sunday so you can get the other antenna if you need it.
posted by dawkins_7 at 7:44 AM on March 23

Hotel or AirBNB for the night?
posted by 10ch at 9:52 AM on March 23

Response by poster: At the risk of threadsitting:

A hotel room in NYC for the night seems like an unusually high price to pay just to be able to watch TV.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:17 AM on March 23

The problem here is that the only officially sanctioned way to watch the Oscars at home without paying for a subscription like cable or a cable-like streaming service is to use an antenna. You might be able to find somebody streaming it on something like Twitch, but that will only last until the producers and/or ABC learn about the stream and get it shut down, which might be in the middle of the broadcast. Similarly you may find an overseas TV network with a poorly configured geofence on their stream, but I don't know how you go about finding such a thing, or how reliable it would be if you found it.

Without a subscription, your options are to find a friend who has cable or an antenna and have a watch party at their place, find a bar showing the telecast as if it were a sport, or just get your own antenna. At least an antenna has the benefit of being a one-time expense, and it would be less than the cost of a month of something like YouTube TV. If you imagine using such a thing twice a year, it's definitely cheaper than a subscription.
posted by fedward at 11:52 AM on March 23

Also when I worked at the service desk at Target we got a lot of returns of TV antennas because people "couldn't get them to work" and we refunded 100% of the purchase price 100% of the time as long as there was a receipt and all the parts were there. Antennas don't tend to have moving parts and they either work adequately in your location or they don't, and the people at the average service desk don't have any reason to question that return (and, in fact, at Target the explicit training policy is "attempt every return"). You could easily buy an antenna, try it, and THEN nope out of the whole thing.
posted by fedward at 12:08 PM on March 23 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I have a lead on a YouTube TV account; marking this resolved.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:29 AM on March 24

Response by poster: (Although I also just literally now found a closeby viewing party which sounds AWESOME so I may end up doing that instead anyway, still making up my mind.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:34 AM on March 24

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