On Monday, September 21st, the highly-anticipated first presidential debate will air, broadcast live from Hofstra University on Long Island. How long will the debate be, and will there be commercial interruptions?
The first presidential debate will be approximately 90 minutes long, running from 9:00 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. Eastern Time. It may go slightly later than 10:30 depending on how long the moderator takes for followups or how long Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton go beyond their allotted time.
That hour-and-a-half is divided into six segments, each consisting of 15 minutes each. The moderator, Lester Holt, will open with a question, after which candidates have two minutes to respond, according to the Commission Presidential Debates. They can then respond to one another, and Holt will spend the remaining time asking followup questions.
Questions are written by Holt and Holt alone, with the CPD having no involvement.
The event will be 90 minutes of pure debating, too, because it will air without commercial interruption. You have virtually unlimited ways of watching it, as the debate will be broadcast on C-SPAN, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, NBC, ABC, CBS and Fox. It will also be streamed online via Facebook Live.
Ratings are expected to be huge on Monday night; the first presidential debate between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama drew 67 million viewers, but according to The Wall Street Journal, viewership is expected to reach at least 80 million this year. Even though no commercials will air during the debate itself, there is a high demand for ads airing before and after the debate; these 30-second spots cost between $200,000 and $250,000.
The first presidential debate is hosted by NBC’s Lester Holt. After tonight, there will be two more debates, airing on October 9th and October 19th. The moderators for those events will be Anderson Cooper, Martha Raddatz and Chris Wallace.