When the nation tunes tonight for the first of three presidential debates, it won’t be “must see TV,” said Dom Caristi, a telecommunications professor at Ball State University.
“This year’s presidential debates are unlikely to set any records for audience size, despite the fact that all the broadcast networks and cable news networks will be carrying it live,” Caristi said. “There will still be plenty of viewing choices for those seeking to avoid the event. The proliferation of streaming services has created a world where absolutely nothing qualifies as ‘must see TV’ anymore.”
President Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden will debate for the first time from 9 to 10:30 p.m. from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. The moderator will be Chris Wallace, the anchor of Fox News Sunday.
Caristi believes the first debate is likely to draw the largest crowd with numbers declining for the second debate.
“In this highly polarized time, it’s hard to imagine an undecided voter tuning in to make up their mind,” he said. “The fact is that most who view the debates will be doing so largely to cheer for their candidate and looking for validation that they have made the correct choice. In theory, the debates ought to help voters decide, but in reality, they will only serve to reinforce the attitudes that people already have.”