clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Second presidential debate 2016: How to watch and stream tonight

This one could be another record-breaker.

John Sommers II & Drew Angerer / Getty
Peter Kafka covers media and technology, and their intersection, at Vox. Many of his stories can be found in his Kafka on Media newsletter, and he also hosts the Recode Media podcast.

The second presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump starts Sunday at 9 pm ET (6 pm PT), at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri.

If it happens, that is: The presidential campaign has been thrown into turmoil following the release of a 2005 video where Trump makes vulgar boasts about accosting women. A slew of Republican leaders, including Sen. John McCain, now say they won’t vote for Trump, and some have called for him to quit the race. But Trump has told news outlets and Twitter that he’s going to continue.

So if Trump does show up, he’ll be participating in a 90-minute, commercial-free event, just like the first debate.

One big difference is that this one will be a “town hall” debate. That means audience members will ask some questions, and moderators Anderson Cooper and Martha Raddatz will ask other questions plucked from social media and the internet.

But like the last debate, this one will be easy to watch on TV and on the internet. Three of the four major broadcast networks — ABC, CBS and Fox — as well as cable news outlets like CNN and Fox News will carry the debate live. You can also stream free, live coverage of the debate on many digital platforms, including Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, which says it attracted two million viewers for its stream of the first debate.

You won’t be able to watch the debate on NBC, which is carrying the “Sunday Night Football” game between the New York Giants and the Green Bay Packers instead. NBC is telling viewers they should watch the game on TV, and stream the debate via at the same time.

Last month’s debate attracted a record-breaking 84 million viewers. Given the drama around Trump, this one could generate huge numbers as well, even with the competition from the NFL. The current record for second debate viewership is 69.9 million, set in 1992, when Bill Clinton, George Bush and Ross Perot faced off.

Here’s a guide to some digital options, listed by platform and by network:

YouTube: Free access to livestreams from networks including NBC News, PBS, Fox News, the Washington Post, Bloomberg and Telemundo.

Facebook: Free streams, via Facebook Live, from news organizations including ABC News, C-SPAN, Fox News, PBS, CNBC, Telemundo, Univision and BuzzFeed.

Twitter: Free streams of Bloomberg’s coverage will be available on Twitter’s apps, as well as Twitter’s site; users won’t need a Twitter password to watch.

CBS: Free streams via CBSN, the network’s digital outlet, available via, apps on devices including Roku and Apple TV and mobile apps for Android and iOS.

ABC: In addition to Facebook, free streams via ABC News apps. Some pay TV customers can also watch on the ABC app.

NBC: In addition to YouTube, free streams via sites including and, as well as NBC News apps for iOS, Android, Roku and other devices.

Reuters: Free streaming coverage via the Reuters TV website and iOS and Android apps.

Bonus: While you wait for the debate to start, you should listen to my podcast interview with GQ commentator Keith Olbermann from last week:

This article originally appeared on