Update: You can watch the MSNBC YouTube livestream of tonight’s debate below:
The US 2016 presidential election is less than two months away, but Democrat nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican candidate Donald Trump still have to duke it out in three debates that will ultimately help determine who succeeds Barack Obama in the Oval Office.
Clinton made history in July by becoming the first female candidate for a major political party. Now, for the first time ever, a woman and man will take the stage for a US presidential debate.
Trump, meanwhile, has gone from unlikely candidate to one of the two major-party nominees for the US presidency. The candidates have gone after each other on the campaign trail and on social media, but now they’ll spar before a national audience.
With the latest opinion polls putting Clinton and Trump virtually neck and neck, the presidential debates will give voters the opportunity to learn more about the candidates and their policies, and ultimately help them decide who will earn their vote in November.
US presidential debate dates, time and locations
The first US presidential debate is tonight, September 26, and will take place at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York. Like the other debates to come, Monday’s debate will run for 90 minutes and will air from 9pm to 10:30pm ET (8pm-9:30pm CT, 7pm-8:30pm MT, 6pm-7:30pm PT).
For viewers in the UK and Australia, that’s 2am-3:30am on Tuesday BST, or 11am-12:30pm on Tuesday AEST.
The second presidential debate is on Sunday, October 9. Clinton and Trump will go head-to-head once again at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri.
The third and final presidential debate will be held on Wednesday, October 19. Debate season wraps up at University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
Not to be forgotten, the vice-presidential debate between Tim Kaine and Mike Pence takes place on Tuesday, October 4. The veep meet will take place at Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia.
Presidential debate moderators
NBC Nightly News and Dateline NBC anchor Lester Holt is set to moderate the first presidential debate. This will be Holt’s first time moderating a general election debate, after he moderated one of the Democratic Party primary debates earlier this year.
Anderson Cooper, anchor for CNN, will moderate the second presidential debate, and the third and final presidential debate will be moderated by Chris Wallace, anchor for Fox News Sunday.
Presidential debate topics
We’ve already had a taste of what each candidate’s policies are, but tonight’s debate will be the first time we see them side-by-side, arguing and defending their positions live on stage. Clinton and Trump will have to respond quickly and off-script, making compelling arguments while trying to deflect attacks from their fellow nominee.
The first debate will focus around three topics, which were released to the Commission on Presidential Debates: America’s Direction, Achieving Prosperity, and Securing America.
The debate will be divided into six time segments of approximately 15 minutes. Holt will open each segment with a question, after which each candidate will have two minutes to respond.
Trump and Clinton will then have an opportunity to respond to each other. Holt will use the balance of the time in the segment for a deeper discussion of the topic.
Topics for the vice-presidential debate and second and third presidential debates haven’t been announced yet. We’ll update this post as information becomes available.
How to watch the debates on TV
Each debate will be broadcast simultaneously on C-SPAN, ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC, as well as on cable news channels, including CNN, Fox News, MSNBC and others. You literally can’t miss the debate if you turn on your TV in the US tonight.
In the UK you’ll be able to watch the debate live on the BBC News Channel, which will also stream it online, and on Sky News.
In Australia Seven News will be covering the debate live.
How to stream on YouTube, Twitter and Facebook
All the major news networks will offer a free livestream, as will YouTube and Twitter.
If you’re watching on YouTube, you’ll have plenty of channels to choose from. PBS, Fox News, The Washington Post, Bloomberg and Telemundo will all have livestreams there. Even YouTube-only channels like The Young Turks and Complex News will have a livestream with on-the-ground reporting.
Facebook is livestreaming the presidential debates. Thanks to a partnership with ABC, live coverage will be streamed on ABC’s Facebook Page, following pre-debate programming. Facebook and ABC previously partnered to stream both the Democratic and Republican National Conventions earlier this year.
If you’re watching on Twitter, you can watch alongside curated tweets. The stream will be available on various Twitter apps, including on the Apple TV. Alternatively, you can watch on the web atdebates.twitter.com.
How to watch in VR
As it’s 2016, you’ll be able to watch the presidential debates in virtual reality. NBC is partnering with AltspaceVR to bring viewers a number of election-themed virtual reality events leading up to and during the presidential debates, such as a Q&A with political experts, political comedy shows and more.
AltspaceVR created a ‘Virtual Democracy Plaza’, which is a VR recreation of the real Democracy Plaza at the Rockefeller Center in New York City, so you can feel like you’re there.
Viewers can hop into the Virtual Democracy Plaza by using the AltspaceVR app for the Oculus Rift,HTC Vive or Samsung Gear VR. Unfortunately, generic VR headsets like Google Cardboard won’t work. If you don’t have a compatible VR headset, you can watch in lame 2D via AltspaceVR’s website, altvr.com/nbcnews.
The best apps and devices to stream the presidential debates
If you plan on watching the debates on your smartphone or tablet, you’re probably best using the YouTube app to stream. Alternatives include the Twitter and Facebook apps.
If you want to stream the debates to a television, you have plenty of options, since many apps are available on multiple platforms. Here’s a full list of devices and apps:
Amazon Fire TV: CBS News, CNNgo, Fox News, NBC News, YouTube, BBC iPlayer
Apple TV: ABC News, CBS News, CNBC, CNNgo, PBS, YouTube, BBC iPlayer
Google Chromecast: ABC News, YouTube, BBC iPlayer
PS4: YouTube, BBC iPlayer
Roku: ABC News, CBS News, CNBC, CNNgo, Fox News, NBC News, YouTube, BBC iPlayer
Xbox One: ABC News, CBS News, YouTube, BBC iPlayer
We’ll keep this post updated as more information on the debates is revealed.