The year is 2016, and the entire American political system is, like the apocryphal Chinese curse, going through interesting times. Why not tune in and tell your grandkids that you were there to watch the insanity as it happened? Between July 18 and July 21, Republicans from all around the country will gather in Cleveland to pick their nominee, and the way this election season has been going so far, anything could happen.
Will Donald Trump clinch the nomination, and if so, will he make America great again or tear apart the Grand Old Party? Will some incredible coup give the Republicans a new last-minute contender? Will the Lovecraftian god Cthulhu (who really does have a presidential campaign website) emerge and cause the entire city to descend into uncontrollable madness?
The good news is that you can find out, regardless of whether you have a paid TV subscription. Streaming the Republican Convention is both simple and inexpensive, and you probably already have at least some of the tools you need to do it. The bad news, of course, is that this grueling election cycle still has four more months to go.
The GOP has released an official schedule for all four days, which features a wide array of right-leaning speakers slated to give their thoughts on the upcoming election. If there’s a particular person you want to see, check the schedule for a rough idea of when he or she will be appearing.
Each day has a separate theme and roster of speakers to go along with it. Some of the highlights include:
Monday: Make America Safe Again (Beginning in the late afternoon)
Willie Robertson, star of Duck Dynasty on A&E
Rick Perry, governor of Texas
Scott Baio, movie and TV actor
Rudy Giuliani, former mayor of NYC
Tuesday: Make America Work Again (Beginning in the late afternoon)
Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky), Senate majority leader
Paul Ryan (R-WI), Speaker of the House
Tiffany Trump, daughter of Donald Trump
Donald Trump, Jr., son of Donald Trump
Ben Carson, neurosurgeon and former presidential candidate
Wednesday: Make America First Again (Beginning at 7 PM)
Laura Ingraham, conservative radio show host
Scott Walker, governor of Wisconsin and former presidential candidate
Marco Rubio (R-Florida), former presidential candidate
Eric Trump, son of Donald Trump
Newt Gingrich, former Speaker of the House
Thursday: Make America One Again (Beginning at 7:30 PM)
Reince Priebus, chairman of the RNC
Jerry Falwell, Jr., president of Liberty University
Peter Thiel, Silicon Valley entrepreneur
Ivanka Trump, wife of Donald Trump
Donald Trump, presumptive Republican nominee
RNC 2016: Official App
The simplest and most straightforward way to watch the Republican convention is to hear it straight from the elephant's mouth. The Republicans have whipped up the RNC 2016: Official App for iOS and Android devices, which will include, among other things, complete live streaming coverage for all four days. Those who'd prefer to watch the convention on a big-screen TV need only a screen mirroring solution: a Chromecast for Android users, or an Apple TV for their iOS counterparts. As a bonus, the app doubles as a tourist guide for those actually spending the four days in Cleveland.
Beyond its usage as a social media platform, Twitter has been experimenting with deep dives into hosting long-form videos. The company has partnered with CBS News to feature free "wall-to-wall" convention coverage from all four days, for users to watch either on computers or mobile devices. Because the coverage will initiate from CBS News, users can also make use of the CBS News app to watch on computers, smartphones, tablets, streaming players and game consoles. It's free to watch live coverage, even if you don't have a cable or satellite subscription.
Although ABC News will not broadcast the entire convention, it promises to cover all of the live highlights with a variety of newscasters, complete with analysis from statistician Nate Silver. ABC News is available as an app on just about every platform, including computers and mobile devices, and doesn't require any kind of cable or satellite login information. Because ABC News also records clips, users who don't (or can't) catch the convention in real time can also tune in afterward.
When it comes to streaming video platforms, there's nothing more ubiquitous than YouTube. It's appropriate, then, that Google's video site will play host to the Republican Convention, free of charge, and streaming constantly. Even when there's nothing to see, YouTube will show delegates and conventioneers milling about — which, to be fair, is still more interesting than most of the stuff on cable TV lately. You can find the stream on YouTube's front page, or else just do a search for "Republican National Convention Live Stream" on any computer, mobile device, streaming box or game console that supports the service.