ABC News Pacts With Facebook to Live-Stream 2016 Presidential Debates

Todd Spangler

ABC News is turning again to Facebook as an outlet for extended 2016 election coverage — off traditional TV — with the companies unveiling a partnership to deliver live video programming from the four 2016 general-election debates.

The network’s Facebook Live broadcasts will cover the three debates between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton and the VP face-off between Mike Pence and Tim Kaine. ABC News earlier this summer teamed with Facebook for live coverage of the 2016 Democratic and Republican conventions, which produced more than 28 million video views across ABC News’ main Facebook page and other accounts.

ABC News remains in experimentation mode with Facebook Live — its debate programming on the social platform won’t carry any advertising. The news org wants to see how viewers engage with the content on Facebook to deliver enhanced political reporting and analysis.

Two hours before each debate, ABC News contributors Matthew Dowd and LZ Granderson will kick off evening coverage on Facebook Live with original series “Strait Talk” at 7 p.m. Eastern. That will be followed by anchored coverage from “Nightline” co-anchor Dan Harris along with Granderson and digital host Amna Nawaz through the completion of the debates, which are scheduled to run from 9-10:30 p.m. each night. The Facebook Live broadcasts will include the debates themselves.

In addition, throughout each debate day, ABC News’ Facebook feed will offer live streams from around the debate host cities, inside the spin room, and from watch parties across the country. The coverage also will include commentary from anchors and correspondents at ABC News headquarters in New York. ABC News will incorporate viewer comments, questions and discussions in its Facebook Live coverage.

The debates kick off next Monday, Sept. 26, with Clinton and Trump squaring off at Hofstra U. in Hempstead, N.Y., moderated by NBC News anchor Lester Holt. They will reconvene Oct. 9 at Washington U. in St. Louis for a debate held in a town-meeting format moderated by ABC News’ Martha Raddatz and CNN’s Anderson Cooper, and Oct. 19 at UNLV in Las Vegas with Fox News’ Chris Wallace moderating. The Oct. 4 vice-presidential debate at Longwood U. in Farmville, Va., will be moderated by CBS News correspondent and CBSN anchor Elaine Quijano.

“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,” said Colby Smith, VP of digital for ABC News. “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.”

Each of the 90-minute debates will be broadcast live on networks including ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC, CNN, Fox News Channel, MSNBC and C-SPAN without commercial breaks.

Related stories

Fandango Teaming With Facebook on Movie Ticket Sales

Jimmy Kimmel Emmys Monologue Will Get Facebook 360-Degree Video

Facebook Blocks Historic Photo of Nude 'Napalm Girl' in Vietnam, Then Does An About-Face

Get more from Variety and Variety411: Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Newsletter