BY GEOFF WEISS
As live video platforms continue to make a play for the distribution of high-profile events, ABC News announced today that it will partner with Facebook to broadcast the four general-election debates, which include three presidential debates and one vice presidential duel.
While each of the 90-minute debates will air on ABC News’s Facebook page without any advertising (they will also air on TV without commercial breaks), ABC will precede the debates with two hours of analysis from contributors Matthew Dowd, Elzie Lee “LZ” Granderson, Dan Harris, and Amna Nawaz, according to Variety. On each debate day, ABC News’s Facebook page will also feature streams from viewing parties across the country, as well as from inside spin rooms (where reporters can interface with debaters and campaign reps).
ABC is still in the early stages of experimenting with Facebook Live, per Variety, and is testing how viewers engage with content there. Viewer comments and questions will also be incorporated into coverage. ABC News and Facebook previously partnered for live coverage of the Democratic and Republican National Conventions, which, all told, generated 28 million views.
“Given the tremendous viewership we saw across the ABC News Facebook pages throughout the conventions, we’re thrilled to continue the partnership and bring ABC News’ wide-ranging live coverage direct to users’ News Feeds for the debates,” Colby Smith, ABC News’ VP of digital, told Variety. “As we move further into the election cycle, there continues to be a voracious appetite for live content and we know many users turn to Facebook to engage and participate in the conversation.”
The presidential debates—scheduled for Sept. 26, Oct. 9, and Oct. 19—as well as the vice presidential debate, which takes place on Oct. 4, will also air on ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and C-SPAN.