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How to Watch Donald Trump and Joe Biden's First Presidential Debate

Here's how the major networks are covering the event

Allison Picurro

As we enter the final weeks of the 2020 presidential campaign cycle, the day is finally here. On Tuesday night, Americans will finally get to see the two major presidential candidates take the stage for the first debate. The first debate between incumbent president Donald Trump, the Republican nominee, and former vice president Joe Biden, the Democratic nominee, is set to take place on Tuesday, Sept. 29 at 9/8c. 

Ahead of the general election, which takes places on Tuesday, Nov. 3, Trump and Biden will debate a total of three times. Vice President Mike Pence and Senator Kamala Harris, Biden's running mate, are also scheduled to debate before day-of voters hit the polls. The first Trump-Biden debate will take place in Cleveland, Ohio, at Case Western Reserve University and Cleveland Clinic. The moderator, Fox News' Chris Wallace, selected the six topics that will be covered throughout the commercial-free broadcast, including Trump's and Biden's records, the Supreme Court, COVID-19, the economy, race and violence in U.S. cities, and the integrity of the election, though the Commission on Presidential Debates has indicated that the subjects could change.

Trump vs. Biden Presidential Debates: Everything You Need to Know 

If you're looking for information on how to tune in, here's a look at how various networks will be covering the presidential and vice presidential debates. We will continue to update this post with network-specific tune-in information as it becomes available. And head here for more details on all of the upcoming debates -- including when to watch, what topics the candidates will be discussing, and who will be moderating.

ABC News

ABC News will air and live-stream the first Trump-Biden debate on its YouTube channel, with pre-debate coverage expected to begin Tuesday, Sept. 29 at 8/7c. ABC will stream the debate on ABCNews.com as well as the ABC News and ABC mobile apps, and standalone ABC News Live apps on Amazon Fire TV, Android TV, Roku, and Apple TV. After the debate has concluded, post-debate coverage will begin at 10:30/9:30c on ABC News.

CBS News

CBS's primetime coverage of the debates will begin at 5/4c, with CBS Evening News' Norah O'Donnell anchoring from Washington. She'll be joined by Gayle King, John Dickerson, Valerie Jarrett, Reince Priebus, Ed O'Keefe, Weijia Jiang, Paula Reid, and Ben Tracy. The debate will also air live on CBS's free streaming service CBSN, with a pre-debate show beginning at 8:30/7:30c, anchored by Elaine Quijano, with Caitlin Huey-Burns providing field coverage. 


CNN's coverage of the first debate will begin on Tuesday, Sept. 29 at 7/6c, with Erin Burnett and Anderson Cooper kicking off the network's pre-debate show. They will be joined at 8/7c by Wolf Blitzer, Jake Tapper, Dana Bash, and Abby Phillip, who will also contribute to post-debate coverage starting at 10:30/9:30c. John King will also be working at the "Magic Wall," and Kaitlan Collins, Arlette Saenz, and Jessica Dean will report from the ground in Cleveland, Ohio. Analysis will be provided by Gloria Borger, Nia Malika Henderson, Jeff Zeleny, and Mark Preston. Additional commentators will include David Axelrod, Van Jones, Kirsten Powers, Rick Santorum, Michael Smerconish, Andrew Yang, Scott Jennings, and David Gregory. Chris Cuomo and Don Lemon will continue to cover the debates from 1 a.m. - 3 a.m. ET. CNN's digital platforms will also provide coverage across all platforms, including CNN Politics and CNN Audio. 


C-SPAN will air the debate live on its TV channel as well as on YouTube, C-SPAN's debate site, and the C-SPAN Radio app. Following the debate, C-SPAN will open its phones for viewer calls and reactions.

Fox News

Fox News will present live coverage of the first debate on Sept. 29, with Special Report's Bret Baier and The Story's Martha MacCallum co-anchoring outside of the debate venue. They will be joined by a team of commentators, including Brit Hume, Dana Perino, and Juan Williams, and additional analysis will be provided by contributors Donna Brazile, Karl Rove, and Katie Pavlich. Fox affiliates will provide coverage from Bill Hemmer. Fox News Radio will provide live coverage with an hour-long pre-show beginning at 8/7c, led by Jared Halpern and Josh Kraushaar. Fox's pre-debate coverage includes a one-hour special, FOX News Democracy 2020: Debate Preview, co-anchored by Baier and MacCallum, which will air on Sunday, Sept. 27 at 10/9c on Fox. Fox will also provide uninterrupted coverage of the debate through Fox News Audio and live blogs on Fox News Digital.

FOX Business Network

 FOX Business Network will also provide live coverage of the debate featuring pre and post-debate analysis, as well as live coverage of the debate itself.  FOX Business Network Presents Democracy 2020: The Presidential Debate will be hosted by senior vice president and managing editor of business news Neil Cavuto as well as a rotating panel of business and political experts. Debate coverage will begin at 8/7c on Fox Business Network and FOXBusiness.com will also feature live updates throughout the evening.


MSNBC will provide live coverage of the first Trump-Biden debate on Sept. 29 beginning at 8/7c, an hour before the nominees take the stage. Rachel Maddow, Nicolle Wallace, Joy Reid, and Brian Williams will anchor MSNBC's special "Decision 2020" coverage, and they will be joined by a team of political correspondents and experts throughout the evening. Steve Kornacki, NBC News' national political correspondent, will provide updates on the latest polling data. Maddow, Wallace, Reid, and Williams will provide coverage and analysis once the debate concludes at 10:30/9:30c. At the end of the week, Ali Velshi will get voters' reactions to the first debate in Velshi from Ohio.

NBC News

NBC News will begin coverage of the debates on Sept. 29 beginning at 9/8c, with Lester Holt and Savannah Guthrie anchoring from New York, while Chuck Todd and Andrea Mitchell will anchor from Washington, D.C. At 8/7c on NBC News NOW, Todd will host a debate pre-show, joined by Kasie Hunt, that will stream live and on demand on Peacock. NBC News and MSNBC correspondents and reporters, including Hallie Jackson, Peter Alexander, Ali Vitali, Mike Memoli, Chris Jansing, Kate Snow, Alex Seitz-Wald, and Allan Smith, will contribute to the debate coverage across both networks and online. Vaughn Hillyard and Shaquille Brewster, along with correspondents Dasha Burns and Ellison Barber, will be reporting live from battleground states across the U.S. NBC News will live-blog the debate, with analysis from Jonathan Allen and fact-checking by Jane C. Timm and Adam Edelman. NBC News will also cover major highlights via Snapchat. 


Newsy will air uninterrupted, opinion-free coverage of the debate on its cable channel and streaming platforms. The network is available through cable providers, including Xfinity, Spectrum, DISH, AT&T U-verse, Cox TV, and Verizon Fios. It is also available on several streaming services, including YouTube TV, Sling TV, and FuboTV. The app is available on the major streaming platforms, including Roku, Amazon FireTV, Vizio, Apple TV, Pluto TV, and the Roku Channel. 


Peacock announced that it will stream the debate for its subscribers. NBCUniversal's ad-supported streaming platform will kick off live coverage of the debate at 8/7c on its NBC News NOW channel, beginning with a special pre-show before Trump and Biden take the stage.