When ABC started experimenting with online streaming of the Democratic and Republican national conventions on Facebook this summer, they got a whopping 28 million video views. Whether that was an influx of cord-cutters or just a hungry public that does more browsing than TV watching, the success was proof enough for the network to go bigger for the next phase in the election. They will broadcast the presidential debates on Facebook Live advertisement-free, beginning with the first one on September 26th.
As we pointed out when ABC partnered with Facebook for the conventions, creating material specifically for an online audience is a huge step up from rehashing TV coverage. On the days of, network anchor commentary will precede and follow the 90-minute main events. ABC will fill up its Facebook page with supplementary coverage, including on-the-ground reporting in the debates' host cities. Just like they did at the DNC and RNC, they will will incorporate viewer questions and discussions into their commentary.