A Homebound Viewers Guide to New Year’s Eve Television

TV is bringing the party to your couch with New Year’s specials, Sabrina, NCAA Football, and more.
  • Ryan Seacrest will hit an empty Times Square for this year's edition of Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve With Ryan Seacrest. (Photo: ABC)
    Ryan Seacrest will hit an empty Times Square for this year's edition of Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve With Ryan Seacrest. (Photo: ABC)

    Save for that one minute before midnight, television is rarely more than background noise on New Year’s Eve. Not so this year, with the ongoing pandemic set to keep most Americans at home. TV is meeting the challenge by rolling out a fair amount of new programming, including the final season of Chilling Adventures of Sabrina on Netflix, the Season 5 premiere of The Real Housewives of Dallas, and a slew of specials designed to bring the traditional New Year’s Eve party home.

    Here’s what’s new and noteworthy on TV this New Year’s Eve Thursday:

    SPECIAL PRESENTATION: Times Square will not be welcoming the usual throngs of revelers tonight, but that isn’t stopping Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest from ringing in 2021 with the traditional ball drop at midnight and nearly six hours of programming, including performances from Jennifer Lopez, Billy Porter, Cyndi Lauper, and Jimmie Allen. 8:00-11:00 PM ET and 11:30-2:00 AM ET on ABC

    SPECIAL PRESENTATION: For the fourth year running, BFFs Anderson Cooper and Andy Cohen are co-hosting CNN's New Year's Eve Live, featuring appearances from John Mayer, Snoop Dogg, Patti Labelle, Jimmy Buffett, Carole Baskin, Josh Groban, Leslie Jordan, Dulce Sloan, Desus & Mero, Kylie Minogue, Aloe Blacc, Goo Goo Dolls and Jon Bon Jovi. 8:00-12:30 AM ET on CNN

    SPECIAL PRESENTATION: Hoda Kotb and Jenna Bush host NBC's New Year’s Eve: Escape From 2020, a two hour special that's set to highlight the year’s most entertaining and talked about videos and trends that gave everyone a much-needed comedic break. 8:00-10:00 PM ET on NBC

    SPECIAL PRESENTATION: Carson Daly hosts NBC's New Year's Eve 2021 alongside Amber Ruffin, Stephen "Twitch" Boss and a star-studded line-up of musical guests, including Jason Derulo, Goo Goo Dolls, Kylie Minogue, Pentatonix, Bebe Rexha ft. Doja Cat, Blake Shelton, Gwen Stefani and Sting ft. Shirazee. 10:00-11:00 PM ET and 11:30-12:30 AM ET on NBC.

    SPECIAL PRESENTATION: Ken Jeong and Joel McHale are teaming up to co-host FOX’s New Year’s Eve Toast & Roast 2021, looking at the year’s highs and lows. The two-part live special is set to featuring performances from LeAnn Rimes, Gloria Estefan and Instagram favorite Doctor Elvis. 8:00-10:00 PM ET and 11:00-12:30 AM ET on FOX

    SPECIAL PRESENTATION: JoAnn Falletta conducts the National Symphony Orchestra in United in Song: Celebrating the Resilience of America, featuring performances from Joshua Bell, Yo-Yo Ma, Denyce Graves, Josh Groban, Patti LaBelle and Audra McDonald. 8:00-9:30 PM ET on PBS

    FINAL SEASON: It's Sabrina (Kiernan Shipka) times two as Netflix unfurls Chilling Adventures of Sabrina's final eight episodes. How will the two Sabrinas fare with the forthcoming final war that could destroy this coven? Watch trailer. Streaming on Netflix

    NCAA FOOTBALL: College football is closing out the year with four scheduled bowl games today:

    • Tulsa vs. Mississippi State at the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl at 12:00 PM ET on ESPN
    • San Jose State vs. Ball State at the Arizona Bowl at 2:00 PM ET on CBS Sports Network
    • Army vs. West Virginia at the AutoZone Liberty Bowl at 4:00 PM ET on ESPN

    SEASON PREMIERE: With LeeAnne Locken given the boot after the Season 4 reunion, The Real Housewives of Dallas is introducing new wife Dr. Tiffany Moon to the mix as it kicks off a brand new season that promises more texas-sized feuds (and hopefully less casual racism) than ever before. Watch preview. 8:00 PM ET on Bravo

    SPECIAL PRESENTATION: The pandemic may have brought stand-up comedy to a screeching halt this year IRL, but you'd never know it from Netflix's comedy special output. An ersatz playlist of the year's funniest bits, Netflix's Best of Stand-Up 2020 features the likes of Jerry Seinfeld, Leslie Jones, Kevin Hart, Hannah Gadsby, and many more. Streaming on Netflix

    SEASON FINALE: The Greyhounds attempt a three-peat for the 6-Man Football State Championship in the season finale of Texas 6. The eight-episode docuseries was recently renewed for a second season. Streaming on CBS All Access

    Jed Rosenzweig is the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Primetimer. 

    TOPICS: New Year's Programming, Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve with Ryan Seacrest, New Year’s Eve Live with Anderson Cooper & Andy Cohen