Finally, presidential debate season is upon us, and the election cycle is truly kicking off, but you're probably wondering how to stream the Republican debate online, especially if you don't have cable. The first official debate is being held on Thursday in Cleveland and is sponsored by Fox News and Facebook, which means the cable news channel will be airing the debates live. And this year we have double the fun as Fox brings us two debates to ensure the entire Republican field gets a chance on the stage.
If you miss the first debate, held at 5 p.m. ET, it's alright — the early debate will include the seven Republican candidates who are not polling high enough to be included in the main debate. That means that Rick Santorum, Carly Fiorina, Bobby Jindal, Lindsey Graham, George Pataki, and Jim Gilmore will have about an hour to make themselves heard. The main event starts at 9 p.m. ET and will feature the 10 candidates who were polling the highest in an average of five national polls.
On Tuesday, Fox News announced Donald Trump, Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, Mike Huckabee, Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, Chris Christie, and John Kasich made the cut for the official debate, which will be moderated by Fox News anchors Bret Baier, Megyn Kelly, and Chris Wallace. The debate will last until roughly 11 p.m. ET so each of candidate has ample time to debate.
If you have a cable package and TV, you're in luck — you can watch both debates live via your television at your leisure. Those who have the cable package but lack the TV will also be fine, as Fox News will offer a live stream of the debate online. But without a cable package, things get rough. Although Fox will be offering updated coverage and clips throughout the debate, they will not be offering a free live stream.
But if you're dying to watch the debates live, there are still a few options. The best solution, in my opinion, is to find a friend with cable and volunteer their house for a debate party. Bring GOP-themed snacks! Play a drinking game! Everyone needs a reason to party on a Thursday, and the Republican Party is happy to provide that reason. If you are located in the D.C. area, The Washington Post has compiled a helpful (if rather grumpy) round-up of bars that will be showing the Republican debate.
If you like to watch your politics in private, your options are a bit more limited. While some services may illegally stream the debate, there is no legal Fox News-endorsed way to watch it live without a cable subscription. However, Facebook is co-hosting the debate, which means there will be plenty of live updates throughout the night on Fox News' page. Facebook is also encouraging users to interact with the debate, to submit questions (via written word or video), and to share photos of how the economy has impacted your family.
Although it may be frustrating for those who have cut the cord on their cable package, Fox News is pushing the debate heavily on Facebook and their website, so the up-to-date coverage is likely to be pretty thorough. They will likely be posting videos on Facebook throughout the event, and they've also released a smart phone app that allows viewers to interact during the debates, and get live updates. There is also a neat function that will let app users rate the candidates during Thursday's debate, which means we get to vote on Trump already. Which is honestly worth the effort of downloading the free app, in my opinion.