After all the bad news -- the economy, jobless rates, poor housing sales,
layoffs and world events such as the horrific earthquake and tsunami in Japan
-- the television networks are banking on Americans wanting to watch something
with a happy ending. Even if it does air at 3 a.m. Friday.
That "happy ending" would be the fairy-tale romance come true of 30-year-old Prince William Arthur Philip Louis of Wales taking 29-year-old commoner Miss Catherine Elizabeth "Kate" Middleton as his bride on Friday.
The nuptials are set for 11 a.m. London time -- that's 5 a.m. Tulsa time. An audience of 2 billion is expected to be watching.
For those baby boomers who rose at something like 3 a.m. in July 1981 to watch Prince Charles marry Diana Spencer in the early days of cable TV, there are many more ways to watch this time around.
The networks will all have live coverage, as will numerous cable channels, plus the official YouTube royal wedding channel will be streaming the event live with commentary by members of the royal household.
BBC America is planning a commercial-free simulcast of the event with immediate repeats of the coverage.
There are even apps from the Associated Press and CNN, to name two sources, and a live viewing party planned for Times Square in New York City set up by cable channel TLC.
That doesn't count all those wedding-related specials that will lead up to and follow the royal event.
I'm thinking: DVR (my digital video recorder). Didn't have that back in '81.
Friday's TV coverage
NBC, channel 2, cable 9 -- 3-6 a.m. with additional coverage on the "Today" show through 11 a.m. Ann Curry will look back at the wedding on a two-hour "Dateline" at 8 p.m.
CBS, channel 6 -- Katie Couric will anchor from London beginning at 3 a.m. with coverage continuing with Erica Hill on the "Early Show" through 10 a.m. Couric will also host the highlight show "The Royal Wedding: Modern Majesty" at 8 p.m.
ABC, channel 8 -- Barbara Walters and Diane Sawyer will anchor live coverage starting at 3 a.m. followed by "Good Morning America" with Robin Roberts live from 6-9 a.m. from Westminster Abbey. The network will also air a special two-hour edition of "20/20" at 8 p.m. looking back at the day's events.
PBS, channel 11 -- Live coverage from Westminster Abbey starting at 2 a.m. and continuing through 7:30 a.m.
CNN, cable 41 -- Brit Piers Morgan and Anderson Cooper will host coverage starting at 3 a.m. with an assist from Cat Deeley, Richard Quest and Kiran Chetry.
MSNBC, cable 50 -- Martin Bashir and Chris Jansing will provide live coverage starting at 2 a.m. followed with continuing coverage at 4 a.m.
E!, cable 60 -- Guiliana Rancic will report live from London for "The Royal Wedding" from 3 a.m. to 1 p.m. with a rebroadcast of "Inside the Royal Wedding" at 5 p.m.; the special "Will and Kate: Road to the Altar" at 8 p.m.; and the "Fashion Police" will take on royal style at 9 p.m.
BBC America, cable 176, Dish Network 135, DirecTV 264 -- A direct simulcast 2 a.m.-2:30 p.m. with a rebroadcast of highlights 2:30-4 p.m. followed by wedding highlights through 4 a.m.
Fox News Channel, cable 52 -- Shepard Smith and Martha MacCallum anchor live coverage from Buckingham Palace starting at 3 a.m. with commercial-free coverage airing 4:30-7 a.m. Royal experts will include former royal butler Paul Burrell and former "Good Morning America" host Joan Lunden, who covered the wedding of Prince Charles and Princess Diana. FNC will also simulcast the United Kingdom's Sky News midnight-5 a.m. Wednesday and Thursday.
TLC, cable 56 -- Live coverage of the wedding starting at 4 a.m.
Reelz Channel, DirecTV 238, Dish Network 299 -- "Royal Wedding -- Live" coverage begins at 4 a.m.
Telemundo, cable 450 -- Live broadcast of the royal wedding and an hourlong wedding special that evening.
Official wedding day schedule
At 2:15 a.m. Guests start arriving at Westminster Abbey.
4:10 a.m. Bridegroom Prince William and his best man, Prince Harry, will depart Clarence House.
4:20 a.m. Mother of the bride Carole Middleton and James Middleton, brother of the bride, depart the Goring Hotel.
4:40 a.m. The royal family arrives with Queen Elizabeth.
4:48 a.m. Kate's bridesmaids and William's pageboys leave the Goring Hotel.
4:51 a.m. Kate Middleton leaves the Goring Hotel with her father in a Rolls Royce and drives to Westminster Abbey.
5 a.m. The bride-to-be enters Westminster Abbey, and the ceremony begins.
5 a.m. A press release will be sent out with the name or names of her gown designer, with sketches and photos.
6:15 a.m. The newly married couple departs in the 1902 State Landau carriage for a trip to Buckingham Palace as the bells of Westminster Abbey ring.
7:25 a.m. The newlyweds and royal families make an appearance on the palace balcony, where (hopefully) a kiss will be exchanged.
7:35 a.m. The royals watch a fly-by by the British Royal Air Force before returning inside for a reception hosted by Queen Elizabeth.
That evening there is an intimate reception for 300 close family and friends of William and Kate hosted by William's father, Prince Charles. The queen is expected to depart early so the younger set can party.
Note: All times converted to Central Standard Time
A few wedding-related specials
1 p.m. Sunday, April 24 -- "Prince William's Africa" looks at the Prince's other love -- conservation efforts in Africa. It's also the country where he proposed to long-time girlfriend, Kate Middleton. BBC America, cable 176
6 p.m. Sunday -- A one-hour "Dateline" with a preview of the wedding and a closer look at Kate Middleton's personal story. NBC, channel 2, cable 9
7 p.m. Sunday -- CNN takes a look at "The Woman Who Would Be Queen." The show will repeat Saturday. Cable 41
7 a.m. Wednesday -- Viewers will receive historical and contemporary insight into the royal tradition, pomp and circumstance in the documentary "Royal London." BBC America, cable 176.
10 a.m. Wednesday -- A two-part documentary "How to Be a Prince" documents Prince William's life so far and shows how he might, as an adult, avoid making some of the same mistakes his ancestors have made. Part 2 airs at 11 a.m. BBC America, cable 176.
7 p.m. Wednesday -- Go behind the scenes with "Inside the Royal Wedding" with "Today Show" hosts Matt Lauer and Meredith Vieira. NBC, channel 2, cable 9.
7 p.m. Thursday -- "The Making of a Royal Wedding" looks at what it takes to pull off the lifetime event on TLC, cable 56.
7 p.m. Thursday -- "The Royal Wedding: A Modern Fairytale" is a special edition of "20/20." ABC, channel 8.
8 p.m. Thursday -- "Countdown to the Royal Wedding" includes royalty experts and TLC personalities including Clinton Kelly and Randy Fenoli in a two-hour round table from New York and England lining out final details. Cable 56.
7 p.m. Friday -- TVGuide Channel has "Kathy Griffin's Insightful and Hilarious Take on the Royal Wedding." Digital cable channel 70.
Read about the royal wedding at tulsaworld.com/officialwedding and watch the wedding live on YouTube at the royal family's official site, tulsaworld.com/royalchannel
Find BBC's continuing coverage at tulsaworld.com/facebookwedding
Watch MSNBC's coverage of the wedding and surrounding events online at tulsaworld.com/windsorknot
Keep up with the latest news on Twitter at tulsaworld.com/nbcroyaltwitter or with the hashtag #rw2011
Download Westminster Abbey's own 3-D app for Android, iPhone and iPad for a tour of the abbey plus historical information. It's available at the Apple store for $4.94. Proceeds from sales will be split between the Prince William and Miss Catherine Middleton Charitable Gift Fund and Westminster Abbey Foundation, which handles the care and upkeep of the abbey.
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