Friday, 28 May 2010

Watching the Eurovision Song Contest in America, Doctor Who and BBC America

So how do you watch the Eurovision Song Contest in America?  Well, you don't.  Not on normal American telly channels, at least.  Previous experience suggests that the only way to get it legally is to stream it live over the internet, by going to  In previous years, the quality has been pretty high for an internet stream.  The main downside is a kind of eery silence where the commentary should be -- it is the direct, no-frills stream with no commentary, no phone-numbers to ring.

I have talked about this in the past over on The Americanization of Emily and so won't repeat myself here except to add that I am tempted this year to hold off a bit.  Sitting indoors and watching Eurovision live, with no British commentary, at three in the afternoon, on the first day of summer, when our pool opens tomorrow, does not somehow feel like the fun it once did, all the more so as this year, for the first time since its return, Doctor Who is not going to be cancelled on BBC1 for Eurovision.  Result!

Somewhat bizarrely, BBC America, on the other hand, which does not show Eurovision, is cancelling its showing of Doctor Who tomorrow night and instead showing repeats of previous episodes, so now creating a three-week time-lag compared to the two-week one they began with.  Who is able to explain the mysteries of BBC America?

Thursday, 27 May 2010

Watching the Cricket in America

America has very little interest in or knowledge about cricket and cricket lovers like me have to do a little extra work to bring the content into our homes.  This morning, the first English home test match of the summer begins. It is not exactly a thriller, England v. Bangladesh at Lords, but cricket lovers will enjoy it nevertheless, not least because of the joyous Test Match Special, which is streamed live on the website with no lock-down to international users like me, at least for the home tests like this.

But what about watching the Test Matches if you are in America?  There are two legal ways to do this.  One is to get satellite TV.  Direct TV have cornered the market here, but I think you can get hold of cricket on Dish too.  This is not an option for us after the trauma of trying to get satellite installed in order to watch the cricket four years ago, a story detailed on The Americanization of Emily.

The second legal option is the one that I go for: Willow TV.  It's pretty good and it is getting better all the time.  This year it is $150 for all international cricket for the entire year, test matches, one dayers, Twenty20, in all countries.  This is far, far cheaper than the equivalent satellite price, either here or back in England.  It streams at a reasonable quality, similar, say, to watching the BBC iPlayer live.  If you have a good internet connection and router, it will stream without interruption.  They have a choice of different feeds and the one I always go for is the feed that comes directly from Sky, which enables you to watch in wide screen when you plug the laptop into the TV, and which retains all the Sky adverts, which gives the Resident Alien a great taste of home.

One thing I like about Willow is that it is just username and password based, so you can watch on any computer you like, at home or at work (shh!), as long as you don't do anything daft like trying to watch it on two machines at once.  The only disadvantage is that the live feed has a delay of about 15-20 seconds, so you can't really watch it with the sound down while listening to TMS, unless, of course, you would like to hear the commentary first so that you know to pay special attention to the pictures when something really exciting happens.

I should add that I am not on commission here, but mention it because a lot of people do not realize that Willow TV provides such a good solution for the cricket lover out here.  I only discovered it by accident back in 2006.

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

BBC Election Coverage Continuing the Morning after the night before

Update (Friday, 10.47am): C-SPAN 3 coverage went right through to 10.45am, until BBC1 and BBC Election 2010 online coverage ended. 

Update (Friday, 8am): C-SPAN will resume coverage at 8.30am on C-SPAN 3. In the mean time, watch live here:

Update (Thursday, 8.21pm): C-SPAN moved the coverage over to C-SPAN 1 at 8pm.

The worry is over, at least for those with a good cable package: C-SPAN have just confirmed that they will be broadcasting the BBC Election Night Special on C-SPAN 3:

The British election is tomorrow, May 6th, and our coverage will include a simulcast of the BBC Election Results starting at 4:55pm ET on C‑SPAN3, comprehensive analysis of the returns from key constituencies, and interviews with leading politicians.
It's good to see that they are beginning coverage at 4.55pm ET, exactly as the BBC coverage begins. I realize that some will be disappointed because they don't have access to C-SPAN 3 on their cable packages, though my guess would be that most people who have BBC America will also have C-SPAN 3, and that should be most of the British expats and Anglophiles over here.   I must admit to being delighted that I will be able to watch the BBC Election coverage live on TV, really delighted.

Update (16.43): Jonathan has now blogged on this too, over at, Where to watch the British Election results in the USA on May 6, where he also provides a link to the live election news feed available on the BBC News Channel, which is not locked down to international users, BBC Election 2010, which may be a good source for those who do not have C-SPAN 3 on their cable packages.

C-SPAN show British Party Election Broadcasts

There is no official confirmation yet that C-SPAN will be broadcasting BBC's Election Night tomorrow, but the signs are good.  C-SPAN will release their schedules for tomorrow this evening.  In the mean time, they have added a feature on the British Party Election Broadcasts.  The first of them, the Labour Party one, is of interest to Doctor Who fans because it features Sean Pertwee, son of the third doctor, Jon Pertwee, mentioned at the beginning of the broadcast.  And the voiceover at the end is from tenth doctor, David Tennant.

Monday, 3 May 2010

BBC Election Night to show on C-SPAN?

In my previous post, Where to watch the UK election on Thursday?, I noted that the proper (BBC1) Election Night special would not be airing on BBC America and that the best bet was C-SPAN, who have broadcast all three of the leaders' debates live. With thanks to both David Hendrix and an anonymous commenter, there is some encouraging news in a Huffington Post article by Martin Lewis, UK Election: Conservatives Poised to give Britain a Good Flocking. The piece of interest is the following:

I just heard from a good pal at C-Span that C-Span will be presenting a feed of BBC TV's election night coverage. The reason this is not showing on the C-Span schedule pages yet is because they have not yet determined which of their three channels (C-Span 1, 2 or 3) will be used for the coverage. As soon as I hear more - I will post it here.
Lewis speculates that the coverage will begin with the British coverage, 10pm (5pm ET) and go through the night. As I mentioned previously, C-SPAN only update their schedules a day in advance so it may be a little before we have confirmation, but it is very good news that we may be able to watch the proper BBC election night coverage.

Update (23.32): confirmed by japascot on Twitter.

Saturday, 1 May 2010

Where to watch the UK Election on Thursday?

Well, the third of the leaders' debates is now over and there are only a few days left of campaigning before polling day on Thursday.  I'm an election junkie and always look forward to election night.  I'm a stay-up-all-night person and have been since 1987.  (I stayed up a bit in 83, but I was doing my 'O' Levels, so couldn't pull an all-nighter.)  This one is clearly going to be a cracker, the most interesting since 1997, perhaps the closest since 1992.  One of the things that I am looking forward to this time is being five hours behind, which means that all the juicy stuff should start happening long before the middle of the night.  So I've blanked out Thursday evening and night in my diary, I have got the beers in, and soon I will have everything ready for the toasted sandwiches, the traditional food of election night, at least in my house.

But there is a concern.  Where will I be able to watch it?  It is, of course, compulsory to watch Election Night on the BBC, with David Dimbleby and all.  There is simply no competition, and Dimbers is the only choice.  I had imagined that BBC America would be carrying the BBC1 coverage all the way through.  For the American presidential election, they did take the BBC coverage.  As of now, though, their schedule for Thursday just lists all the usual rubbish, Gordon Ramsay and the rest.  I wrote to BBC America about this and received the following reply:

BBC America is committed to providing the most honest, objective and straightforward news coverage from around the world. We are pleased to let you know that on May 6th 2010, the date of the UK General Election, the channel will present a special edition of BBC World News America focusing on all of the twists and turns of the day’s events, from across the party spectrum.
Unfortunately, this does not tell us anything much, unless the "special edition" of BBC World News America is in fact the live broadcast of the election coverage from the UK.

I have also asked C-SPAN if they are planning to carry some coverage direct from the UK since they have been the best of all the channels to this point in covering the election, e.g. they have broadcast all three of the leaders' debates live on C-SPAN 3.  I have not yet heard back from them, and they only update their schedules about twenty-four hours in advance.

I hope it won't have to be a case of plugging the laptop into the telly and streaming over the internet.

More as soon as I have it.

Update (Saturday, 14.23): More from BBC America in response to my wallpost on Facebook:
On May 6 at 7pm et/pt there will be special election coverage on BBC America's program BBC World News America. As the count begins to come in Matt presents a special Election Day program from the BBC’s Television Centre in London with Katty Kay in Washington DC. There will also be online coverage, which we will post about when there are more details.
I am afraid that this is bad news, for several reasons: (1) This confirms that BBC America are not showing the main BBC1 / BBC News feed from England. (2) They are not starting coverage until 7pm.  Coverage should start at 5pm (10pm British time). (3) There is no indication how long the coverage will last for.  The schedule has not changed on the BBC America site, so it looks like the "special election coverage" is not going to be lengthy, unless there are schedule changes to come.

So it looks like we may need to hope for C-SPAN, or go online.

Update (Sunday, 14.20): David Hendrix writes:
In past UK elections (certainly 2001 & 2005), C-Span HAS presented a live stream of BBC's election night coverage. Don't know why their website shows no listings yet for Thursday. As their UK debate coverage has been good I expect them to again carry the BBC feed.

It is no good trying to watch BBC coverage on the BBC website because the BBC iplayer detects if your IP address is outside the UK - and prevents US-based computers from getting the signal

However - the SKY TV website will probably be streaming their TV feed. If you can stand Adam Boulting's smirk...
David is right about the iPlayer. It will only work over here if you've found a good VPN or some other means of accessing it. Nevertheless, I am wondering whether the BBC will stream their election coverage from the website, as they did for the third leaders' debate. But that might be hoping too much. It is good to hear about the Sky possibility, and also to hear about the C-SPAN coverage last time. They have really come up trumps on this campaign so far, the only channel to carry all three leaders' debates live over here. I have emailed them to find out if they are planning to carry the BBC coverage this time too. Well, we should know by Wednesday evening, at the latest, when they update their schedules.

Update (Monday, 22.28): More news: BBC Election Night to show on C-SPAN?