Republican Mike Pence and Democrat Tim Kaine square off tonight in the first and only vice presidential debate, but no one is expecting viewership to come close to the record-breaking 84 million television viewers who tuned in for the first presidential debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.
CBS News reporter Elaine Quijano will moderate the debate, which will begin at 9 p.m. ET and run for 90 minutes, commercial free. Quijano follows in the footsteps of NBC's Lester Holt, who drew a mixture of praise and criticism for his performance moderating last week's presidential debate.
Those watching tonight's debate will have plenty of viewing options, either on broadcast or cable TV, or streaming online. Like last week's presidential debate, tonight's face-off will air live on all of the major broadcast networks (ABC, CBS, FOX, and NBC) as well as C-SPAN and cable news channels such as CNN, Fox News, Fox Business Network, and MSNBC. Spanish-language networks Telemundo and Univision will also air the debate.
Most of those cable news networks will also stream the debate live from their websites, while those without cable can also stream the debate directly on Twitter as well as on YouTube, which is carrying live streams of many of the TV channels' broadcasts. ABC News has also partnered with Facebook to stream tonight's debate, along with the three presidential debates.
The most recent vice-presidential debate—between Biden and Paul Ryan, in 2012—pulled in a decent 51.4 million viewers, marking the third-highest total ever for a VP debate, according to The Hollywood Reporter. (Second place belongs to the historic George H.W. Bush-Geraldine Ferraro debate of 1984, with 54 million viewers.) The 2008 matchup between former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin and current VP Joe Biden brought in a record 70 million viewers.
Still, there has been considerably heightened interest in the current election cycle. And, even though Donald Trump's one-man media circus won't be in attendance at the debate in Farmville, Va. tonight, tens of millions of Americans are still expected to tune in to see Kaine and Pence duke it out.