What Channel Is The GOP Debate On? The Seventh Head-To-Head Will Feature An Interesting Partnership

On Thursday, Fox News Channel will be hosting the last Republican primary debate before the Iowa caucuses on Feb. 1. The undercard debate featuring the least popular candidates will be held at 7 p.m. ET, with those performing best in recent polls taking the stage at 9 p.m. ET. Viewers will be able to watch the televised debate live on Fox or livestream on a computer or mobile device at FOXNews.com. But we can do more than just watch this debate — Fox's partnership with Google will create opportunities for viewers to participate in different ways.

Google's partnership with Fox means a few things for Thursday's debate. First, some of the questions posed to candidates by moderators Bret Baier, Megyn Kelly, and Chris Wallace will be determined by Google Trends data, meaning the searches conducted by people around the country will influence the issues that arise during the debate. Thursday's event will also feature questions to candidates from YouTube stars.

Viewers will also be able to get on the Google Trends homepage, which "will feature real-time insights on candidate search interest, key issues and topics covered throughout the night," according to Fox's press release. Writing for The Verge, Nick Statt noted that NBC News teamed up with Google for the Jan. 17 Democratic debate, and not all its features reaped profound fruit. Statt pointed out that the Google Trend autocomplete feature revealed some less-than-insightful results of weird things people were searching (one such gem: the search term "Donald Trump is" yielded "your drunk neighbor" as the first autocomplete).

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Whether or not Fox uses the autocomplete feature, users might still find other Google Trends features useful. For example, the site will feature real-time data on how many people are searching each candidates' name, which gives a feel for who is sparking the most interest (though not necessarily who is the favorite). Google Trends also offers a geographic breakdown of which candidates are being searched the most in different parts of the country.

Fox News will also be using Google Trends during its post-debate analysis. This will provide viewers yet another opportunity to influence the conversation via searches.

The first Republican debate of 2016, put on by Fox Business Network, got the lowest ratings of all GOP debates in the race so far, clocking in at 11 million viewers according to CNN. Only 3 million viewers in the 25 to 54 age bracket — the demographic most likely to watch cable news — watched the debate. It is possible that Google's participation in Thursday's debate will boost viewership numbers, particularly among younger people.