What To Watch On This Abnormal New Year’s Eve, From The Ball Drop To Steamy Historical Fiction

Photo: Michael Nagle/Bloomberg/Getty Images.
If there’s one thing the world can collectively agree on it’s that 2020 really needs to come to an end. Luckily, we can finally put this horrific year behind us once and for all. However, thanks to the ongoing pandemic, typical traditions are falling by the wayside this holiday season, forcing people to stay home and social distance. This unsurprisingly includes the annual New Year’s Eve ball drop, which typically takes place in Times Square.
Hundreds of thousands of people flock to the New York's busiest tourist destination each New Year's Eve to celebrate the start of a new year while the rest of the world tunes in to watch. That obviously can't happen this year. So, this is what will become of this joyous event now that we should be avoiding crowds at all costs... and what should you watch instead if the idea of a crowd-less ball drop is a little too 2020 for you.

Is The Ball Drop Happening In 2020?

If you crave routine, the New Year’s Eve ball drop is still happening this year, though it will prove to be a much different experience than we’re used to. Sure, you’ll still get to wear goofy hats and toss colorful confetti, but you have to do it at home. While the ball drop itself will be taking place in Times Square, witnessing that moment will have to be done like pretty much everything else this year: virtually.
“One thing that will never change is the ticking of time and the arrival of a New Year at midnight on December 31st,” President of the Times Square Alliance, Tim Tompkins, said in a press release, via Parade. “But this year there will be significantly new and enhanced virtual, visual and digital offerings to complement whatever limited live entertainment or experiences – still in development – will take place in Times Square.”

Where Can I Watch The NYE Ball Drop?

There's no crowd in Times Square, but we still have a handful of hosts to choose from this year as we await the sparkly orb's decent:
ABC’s Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve with Ryan Seacrest 2021
It wouldn’t be a true New Year’s Eve celebration without this event on the docket. The broadcast will kick off at 8 p.m. ET on ABC and be co-hosted by Ryan Seacrest, Lucy Hale, Billy Porter, and Ciara. Jennifer Lopez will serve as the musical headliner and will be joined by several other musical guests, including Brandy, Billy Porter, Cyndi Lauper, Machine Gun Kelly, Miley Cyrus, Nelly, Megan Thee Stallion, Lewis Capaldi, Ella Mai, Doja Cat, Maluma, and Jimmie Allen.
NBC's New Year's Eve with Carson Daly 2021
Daly will be co-hosting the event alongside Chrissy Teigen while Ne-Yo, Leslie Odom, Gwen Stefani, Blake Shelton, and more are slated to perform. This broadcast will be split into two sections throughout the night, the first airing from 10 to 11 p.m. ET and the second kicking off from 11:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. ET.
CNN’s New Year's Eve Live with Anderson Cooper and Andy Cohen
The dynamic duo will once again be ringing in the new year together on CNN starting at 8 p.m. ET. Special guests include the likes of John Mayer, Snoop Dogg, Patti Labelle, the Goo Goo Dolls, Jimmy Buffett, Carole Baskin, Josh Groban, Leslie Jordan, Dulce Sloan, Desus & Mero, Kylie Minogue, Jon Bon Jovi, and Aloe Blacc.
Fox’s New Year’s Eve Toast & Roast 2021
Though Fox usually nabs Steve Harvey for the role, former Community costars Ken Jeong and Joel McHale have been tapped for the hosting gig this year with the goal of paying tribute to “the highs and lows of 2020." The broadcast will air from 8 to 10 p.m. ET and 11 to 12:30 a.m. ET with musical performances by LeAnn Rimes, Gloria Estefan, John Legend, Ava Max, Green Day, and Gabby Barrett, just to name a few.

Are There Other NYE TV Specials?

The big network specials are just a sample of the many options at your disposal. For example, YouTube is hosting a New Year’s Eve event called Hello 2021, which will include performances by Dua Lipa and Demi Lovato. You can also stream the ball drop commercial-free on the official Times Square website, TimesSquareNYC.org or on its Facebook and Twitter pages. The online event will be hosted by Mean Girls star Jonathan Bennett with musical performances by Gloria Gaynor, Andra Day. So, in the end, it’s just a question of what you prefer to do.

What About Something Else To Watch On New Year's Eve?

Then again, maybe you decide that watching the ball drop over empty New York streets just isn’t the vibe. It's perfectly fine to ring in the new year with some new content instead.
The first season of the Netflix series became available to stream on Christmas Day and offers plenty of drama and sensual romance to keep you distracted throughout the entire evening. Maybe just don't watch this one with your parents.
The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Part 4
If you've already finished Bridgerton, there's always Sabrina Spellman’s (Kiernan Shipka) final journey through the mystical drama of Greendale. The final season of Netflix's CAOS drops December 31. You can close out the series and 2020 in one 8-episode swoop.
Wonder Woman 1984
The highly anticipated sequel was made available on HBO Max on December 25. There's been lots of debate over whether or not it's a worthy sequel, but it's got the return of Chris Pine and Diana Prince (Gal Gadot) in shiny, golden armor and that's New Year-ish, right?

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