CNN will offer a live stream of its first Republican presidential debate, becoming the first cable network to make such an offering this election season.
On Tuesday, the network announced it would make the debate on September 16 available to stream free via the CNN website and its mobile and tablet apps without forcing users to authenticate with a cable or satellite subscription.
The move comes after the first presidential debate several weeks ago drew 24 million viewers for the FOX News Channel. Unlike CNN, FOX did not offer a free live stream of the debate, though some Internet found a loophole in that Sky News, a network co-owned by FOX’s parent company, streamed a majority of the debate on YouTube (FOX eventually had the feed pulled on copyright grounds).
CNN is hoping to take advantage of the huge online interest, particularly since billionaire real estate mogul Donald Trump is expected to appear at their debate. Trump is widely credited with drawing millions of viewers to the FOX debate, which broke the network’s own record for the most-viewed program in the channel’s history.