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How to watch the Democratic National Convention and what to expect

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and his running mate Senator Kamala Harris participated in a virtual grassroots fundraiser in Delaware last week.Carolyn Kaster/Associated Press

The 2020 Democratic National Convention begins Monday night, a four-day event when delegates of the Democratic Party officially choose the party’s nominees for president and vice president, marking the formal start of the general election between former vice president Joe Biden and President Donald Trump.

The event, a spectacle that traditionally draws in thousands, will be held almost entirely online this year due to the coronavirus pandemic. Instead of spanning a duration of nearly 24 hours as it has in years past, strict time limits will condense this year’s convention to eight hours total.

The slimmed-down convention will be a mix of live and prerecorded speeches, featuring Bernie Sanders, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Hillary Clinton, Barack and Michelle Obama, Kamala Harris, and Joe and Jill Biden. Speeches will be limited to only two minutes, aside from the five major addresses expected from the Bidens, the Obamas, and Harris. None of the leading participants will actually appear from Milwaukee, where the convention is being held.

Here’s how to watch the convention, a look at the schedule, and what to expect:


How to watch the Democratic National Convention

The convention will air Monday, August 17, through Thursday, August 20, from 9 to 11 p.m. EST daily.

The major broadcast networks such as NBC, ABC, and CBS plan to carry an hour of the convention live from 10 to 11 p.m. Cable news channels will show the two-hour event in full.

There will be an official livestream from the party, and the proceedings will also be available on the DNC’s Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook sites, as well as on other streaming services. The DNC will also be available on Twitch or on the Littlstar app on PlayStation 4 or PSVR.

Convention schedule

Monday, August 17: “We the People”


Bernie Sanders and Michelle Obama are the headline speakers for the convention’s opening night. According to the DNC, the day will focus on the country’s three crises: COVID-19′s continued rampage, tens of millions of people out of work, and America’s racial reckoning “that has marginalized too many people,” according to a DNC statement.

Other speakers will include Senator Catherine Cortez Masto, Governor Andrew Cuomo, Governor Gretchen Whitmer, Representative Jim Clyburn, Convention Chairman and Representative Bennie Thompson, Representative Gwen Moore, former Ohio governor John Kasich, Senator Doug Jones, and Senator Amy Klobuchar.

Tuesday, August 18: “Leadership Matters”

Former President Bill Clinton and former second lady Jill Biden will headline Tuesday’s convention, which focuses on leadership. The night will also include a keynote address, and the Roll Call Across America, which will take viewers to 57 states and territories in 30 minutes.

Other speakers Tuesday will include former Acting US Attorney General Sally Yates, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, former Secretary of State John Kerry, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Representative Lisa Blunt Rochester.

Wednesday, August 19: “A More Perfect Union”

Vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris and former President Barack Obama will headline Wednesday’s event, where Harris will have her largest audience yet.

Other speakers will include former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Senator Elizabeth Warren, Governor Tony Evers, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham, and former Representative Gabrielle Giffords.

Thursday, August 20: “America’s Promise”

Former Vice President Joe Biden will close the convention on Thursday alongside his family and running mate Harris. Other speakers will include Senator Cory Booker, Governor Gavin Newsom, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, former Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Senator Tammy Baldwin, Senator Tammy Duckworth, and Senator Chris Coons.


Material from Globe wire services was used in this report.

Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated the frequency of the party convention. It’s held every four years.

Brittany Bowker can be reached at brittany.bowker@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @brittbowker and on Instagram @brittbowker.