Mark Zuckerberg wants to make one thing absolutely clear: “[Facebook is] a tech company, not a media company.” That may or may not explain why Facebook is partnering with one of the largest news organisations in America to cover three of the biggest nights in US television history.
ABC News and Facebook are partnering up to deliver live video coverage of the 2016 US presidential debates between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump on Facebook. The companies previously worked together during the Democratic and Republican debates, where ABC News (the US one, not the Australian one) used Facebook Live to rake in more than 28 million video views across ABC News’ various Facebook pages.
This time, the partnership will allow ABC News to broadcast three debates between Clinton and Trump on Facebook Live, the company’s new video-streaming platform. Additionally, ABC News will stream coverage of the vice presidential debate between Mike Pence and Tim Kaine.
Two hours before each debate, ABC News contributors Matthew Dowd and Elzie Lee Granderson will host an original series on Facebook Live called “Strait Talk“, in which the two will provide analysis of the campaign season.
For most broadcasters, including ABC News, Facebook Live is still mostly a huge experiment. ABC News will not be carrying any commercials or advertising on its live stream, something that could have possibly prevented the partnership from happening at all. As Gizmodo reported previously, journalists are in an uneasy alliance with Facebook and question whether the relationship is mutually beneficial when it comes to advertising revenue. For this particular experiment, at least, that won’t be an issue.
The first 2016 US presidential debate takes place Monday, September 26 at Hofstra University in New York and will be moderated by NBC News anchor Lester Holt. The second debate will take place October 9 at Washington University in St Louis and will be hosted by ABC News’ Martha Raddatz and CNN’s Anderson Cooper. The third debate will take place on October 19 at UNLV in Las Vegas with Fox News’ Chris Wallace moderating.