How to watch the first presidential debate online and in VR with Al Roker

Perhaps you’re still among those few, proud and generally indecisive undecided. Or, more than likely, you’re just tuning in for the fireworks show. Whatever the case, tonight’s first head-to-head showdown between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump is certain to be a spectacle, whatever shape it takes.

In fact, tonight’s 90-minute, commercial-free affair is anticipated to draw as many as 100 million viewers, well beyond the current record-holding 1980 debate, which saw incumbent Jimmy Carter squaring off against California Governor, Ronald Reagan. That number would put the event within spitting distance of the 2016 Super Bowl, which racked up 111.9 million viewers – the third largest in history.

Tuning in won’t be tough. All of your major broadcast networks and some key cable ones will be offering the two-party smackdown uninterrupted, starting at 9PM ET/6PM PT (after, most likely, an hour or two of pregame) That list includes ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC (whose own Lester Holt has moderating honors), along with CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, Univision and C-SPAN. And, naturally, cord cutters will have plenty of ways to get in on the action.

Let’s do this in semi-alphabetical order, because it’s the semi-democratic way

CNN Online

CNN’s got offerings for just about every major mobile platform – though you’ll need a cable subscription log-in to take advantage. Your best bet is taking a gander at the CNN Go page. The channel is also offering a stream on its homepage.


Facebook has thrown in with ABC News for the evening’s event, through ABC’s Facebook page. The festivities will kick off on Facebook Live two hours prior to the beginning of the debate and will feature a post-debate breakdown courtesy of Nightline. The social media service will also take part in gathering questions for the second presidential debate scheduled for October 9th.

Fox News Online

A similar setup to CNN’s, requiring users to provide their cable subscription information. If you’ve got that, head here, or download the Fox News app on your preferred platform.


You’re going to be using/abusing Twitter anyway during tonight’s main event, so why not just go ahead and stream directly through the service? Twitter’s teamed up with Bloomberg Politics to offer a hashtag-heavy take on the big show, kicking off a half-hour ahead at 8:30PM ET.


Google’s video service is offering up more ways to stream the event than there will be presidential candidates on stage (which, to be fair, is a pretty low bar). Like Twitter, YouTube’s partnering with Bloomberg Politics. It’s also got deals going with NBC News and The Washington Post.

NBC Virtual Reality

Three words: virtual Al Roker.

Bonus: Facts

Also, if you care about facts, Politifact will be offering a live fact-check during the debate. That service arrives amid a pre-debate debate regarding the moderator’s role in fact-checking candidate statements. Oh, and PBS/Microsoft have teamed up for a bit of historical context for the big show.

Even more!

Because elections should be all about choice, other options include Time, Sirius-XM and The Wall Street Journal.