The easiest way to watch, save and share your videos.

Where to Watch the 2012 Presidential Debates Online

by Joe Kukura on October 16, 2012

obama romney debatesIt’s the thick of the presidential debate season, and President Barack Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney will be taking questions from a live audience in a Town Hall format on Tuesday, October 16, 2012 at 9 p.m. EST / 6 p.m. PST. Don’t miss a historic moment — even if you’re away from the TV, you can still watch the presidential debates live online, on your tablet, or via your smartphone.

The Obama-Romney debates are turning the 2012 election into a real nail-biter and thanks to the Internet there’s no reason to miss a single minute. The debates are available via a live webcast for free. Internet viewers can also watch each 2012 presidential debate on-demand and in its entirety after the debate has finished. Plus, the previously-concluded 2012 debates are also available online to watch for free. Similarly, this past year’s complete Republican debates are also available to watch for free in various online archives.


Each of the 2012 presidential debates is being broadcast live online on a wide array of different sites. You can watch the Obama-Romney debate on YouTube via the YouTube politics channel. The debates are also available on YouTube in Spanish. Click on the Univision logo on the YouTube Politics page to watch the live debate webcast with real-time audio translation into Spanish. Viewers can also watch the debate live on Ustream, with no commercials.

Debate watchers who want a little more information and some political commentary have quite a few other online options available. The Sunlight Foundation, an advocacy group, will be webcasting the presidential debates with live fact checking onscreen. Several online news channels will also stream the 2012 presidential debates with immediate analysis from well-known political commentators. The Fox News Presidential Debate broadcast and a CNN Presidential Debate livestream will show the debates live online, and then stream their respective TV broadcasts online for free after the debate complete with instant response from the most popular (and unpopular) political spin doctors and pundits.

Tablet and second screen viewers can watch the presidential debates on a tablet via Ustream’s PBS Newshour page – with no additional third-party app required for viewing. If you’re tuning in on a smartphone, you can listen to live audio of the presidential debate using the NPR mobile app. The debate webcast on the NPR mobile app is audio-only, but also your lowest-bandwidth option to hear the entire debate live on a smartphone or mobile device.


Interested in watching the Obama-Romney debates that have already aired? A few of these sites and others archive the previous 2012 presidential debates online for viewing after each debate has concluded. The YouTube Politics channel has video of the complete presidential debates right after they’re over, plus the Oct. 11 vice-presidential debate and video of the complete Republican and Democratic conventions. For debate video from the campaign trail, 2012 Election Central has the complete 2012 Republican primary debate videos archived together on one easy-to-navigate chronological page

You can also watch previous debates on, which also offers video of presidential debates going all the way back to 1980. If you need a break from the politicians running for office and are craving a bit of humor, the Jon Stewart-Bill O’Reilly debate from early October pits the two entertaining cable TV superstars against one another in a no-holds-barred political slugfest on the topic of the 2012 election. The archived video webcast costs $4.95 to watch, but proceeds go to a host of charitable organizations.


After Tuesday night’s debate, there is one more upcoming presidential debate. The third and final Obama-Romney debate will be on Monday, October 22, 9 p.m. ET / 6 p.m. P.T.  That final debate, moderated by CBS’ Bob Schieffer, will be streamed live from Boca Raton, Florida on all the same sites named above that are webcasting the debates live.

When it comes to watching the 2012 debates, the Internet is clearly better prepared and a more articulate candidate than its rival, the television set. What’s your position on the best site for watching the debates? Who do you think is winning the debates? Would you rather watch the debates online or on a TV? You have as many minutes as you need for your rebuttal in the Comments below.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 bradley October 16, 2012 at 1:10 pm

Is there a way I can save the new presidential debates and the previous debates using RealPlayer? I want to watch them on my plane ride home tomorrow.

2 Joe Kukura October 16, 2012 at 3:20 pm

bradley – You can download the videos at the YouTube Politics channel or Ustream, the previous debates are already up and Tuesday night’s debate should be up pretty quickly after it’s conclusion. If you have RealPlayer, just start the one of those videos and click on the “Download This Video” button. These videos are for public use, whereas the CNN and Fox News debate broadcasts are the property of those networks.

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: