Gonna Have To Do It The Old Fashioned Way – How To Make The Best of Your Pope Watch Coverage…

… spending hours staring at a smoke stack. If you were relying on Pope Alarm to alert you of the appearance of white smoke, I am sad to report you may get the news as much as eight hours after the fact. My Pope Alarm text message was received at 10:34 PM EST. No pope, it said. Ya think? In all fairness, their servers might be overwhelmed.

So it’s back to staring at a chimney. It’s ok, though. This way is preferable. The sense of anticipation and hopeful longing as the Catholic community comes together to watch; that’s how the event should be enjoyed. Not with a joyless text message.

Crowds watch the first fumata last evening.

So if Pope Alarm is a tad unreliable right now then what do I suggest? There are several viewing options available online if you can’t camp out in St. Peter’s.


I’ll be honest, EWTN had me in fits after an hour of coverage. Raymond Arroyo and the other commentators they have seem to obsessed with an American pope. The plus side, it’s without all the other ridiculousness you typically find on MSM outlets – Like Diane Sawyer asking about women priests and garbage.

If you watch EWTN on your TV, having it on mute might work. However if you watch online things could get even a bit more frustrating. The viewing quality of their live streaming was poor. They lack the technical capabilities of the big time media outlets due to the stations small size and funds. The viewer is small and grainy and freezes up at times. I had to refresh several times. It was unfortunate because I really wanted to support EWTN over msm stations.


Surprisingly, NBC’s coverage wasn’t too bad yesterday morning. Fr. Robert Barron charitably answered all the nonsense questions thrown at him and was very informative. After the procession into the conclave; however, NBC checked out and left a single camera trained on the chimney. Once it got dark in Rome you couldn’t see the chimney anymore. The camera kept panning out to provide more light but the image got hopelessly pixelated. Good Lord, it was boring. At least give us some nice camera pans around St. Peter’s and the crowds. It looks this morning things have improved a bit but the camera is still static in one spot. Bor-ing!

Centro Televisivo Vaticano [Vatican TV streaming on You Tube]

Hands down, this online video streaming source wins! No idiotic commentary, excellent viewing quality, and great shots of St. Peter’s and the crowds to break up the monotony. It does freeze up for a second or two but you don’t have to refresh. I think it gets jumpy when the cameras and angles switch up.

The video feed even has a countdown clock so you can keep track of when the streaming will be accessible again. The live feed is only available around voting time which is an extremely helpful feature that eliminates confusion with time zone differences.

The Vatican live feed is there to serve one purpose and one purpose only, to allow you to watch for fumata. It’s not on all the time, like the above feeds, so there’s no station pressure to fill the gaps in air time with speculating gossip and idle chatter. Perfecto!

So now you know when to watch and hopefully this little guide will help you determine where to watch according to your preferences. of course, if you have another resource you’d like to add for me to check out I’m open to your suggestions.

UPDATED: Reader, Timothy Putnam, noted these slight variations in the feeds.

NBC is 3 seconds ahead of CBS.
NBC is about 20 seconds ahead of Salt + Light’s CTV feed.
NBC is almost 40 seconds ahead of the CTV live youtube feed.

But, after dark the NBC feed is ugly. CBS is clearer but still dark. CTV Youtube is the clearest (but the furthest back)


Also, I am pleased to report there is a spotlight trained on the smoke stack so it is visible in the evenings now.

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