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The Democratic National Convention has gone virtual. Here’s how to watch

Joe Biden invites Sen. Kamala Harris  to the stage to deliver remarks at the Alexis Dupont High School in Wilmington, Del.
Joe Biden invites Sen. Kamala Harris to the stage in their first in-person appearance together as the Democratic ticket on Aug. 12 in Wilmington, Del.
(Getty Images)

Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez had predicted Milwaukee would be the place to be this summer.

“Don’t forget, folks, 490 days and this place will be hopping,” Perez said last year at a news conference announcing the city would host the 2020 party convention.

Things have certainly changed.

Instead of welcoming more than 50,000 party members — including politicians, delegates, activists and protesters — Democrats in Milwaukee will be watching the convention on their TVs, computers and phones just like everyone else.

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In April, Democrats pushed the convention from mid-July to mid-August. Two months later, the event was moved to a smaller location and delegates were asked not to attend. This month, organizers announced that none of the speakers — including presumptive presidential nominee Joe Biden — would travel to Wisconsin.

The list of speakers has been cut down dramatically compared with past events to fit into a shortened schedule of two hours a night. Party leaders will be addressing Americans live and on video from sites across the country. And there will be no celebratory balloon drop as Biden formally accepts the nomination — the former vice president and his running mate, California Sen. Kamala Harris, will speak from his hometown of Wilmington, Del.

“This will be certainly different than any other convention,” Perez told the New York Times. “You’ll see fewer podiums but you’ll see more people in living rooms. You’ll see them on factory floors and schools and communities.”

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Here’s how to watch (or stream) the convention this week:

When is the convention?

The Democratic National Convention will be held from Monday, Aug. 17 to Thursday, Aug. 20. It will air for two hours each night, from 6 to 8 p.m. Pacific time.

Each night has been given a theme: Monday is “We the People,” Tuesday is “Leadership Matters,” Wednesday is “A More Perfect Union” and Thursday is “America’s Promise.”

Political theater without the roar of the crowd? The stakes are high as Democratic and Republican conventions come to a screen near you.

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How do people tune in?

There are more than a dozen ways to watch the entire DNC schedule, including breakout panels, on TV, through smart devices or online.

The official livestream of the convention will be available at DemConvention.com. The convention will also stream online on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Twitch, Amazon Prime Video and Microsoft Bing and on smart devices such as Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV and Roku TV.

For TV viewers, it will be available on AT&T U-verse, DirecTV and Comcast Xfinity.

And The Times will have a livestream on its homepage at latimes.com.

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Will the networks be covering the convention?

Oh, they will indeed. The major news networks have all planned special convention coverage that can be viewed on air, online, and through various social media and devices such as Roku and AppleTV. Here’s what the stations have planned:

  • ABC News will air an hour of the convention from 7 to 8 p.m. (all times Pacific); digital coverage will stream on ABC News Live starting at 4 p.m.
  • CBS News will begin covering the event on its streaming platform starting at 2 p.m. The network’s TV coverage will air from 7 to 8 p.m.
  • CNN will air convention news from 5 to 11 p.m.
  • Fox News will air an hour of the convention, from 7 to 8 p.m.
  • MSNBC will air it from 4 to 11 p.m.
  • NBC News will show an hour of the event, from 7 to 8 p.m.

Who’s speaking when?

With the convention cut down to just two hours a night, there will be fewer speakers. And instead of live speeches, the convention will rely more heavily on videos to prevent technical glitches, including for the most popular figures. Former First Lady Michelle Obama was recording her speech from the family’s vacation home in Martha’s Vineyard, according to the New York Times.

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who was Biden’s final rival for the nomination, will be featured the first night. Former President Bill Clinton will speak Tuesday. Harris’ speech is set for Wednesday, as is Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s. She is among several of the woman considered in Biden’s running mate search who are scheduled to give convention speeches. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will also speak the third night, as will gun control advocate Gabrielle Giffords, a former Arizona congresswoman who was critically injured in a mass shooting nearly a decade ago.

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The speaker list has already drawn some controversy over who was and wasn’t included. Some Democrats have argued the schedule favors moderate Democrats and Republicans over progressives and Latinos. Organizers granted speaking slots to former Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a Republican. And former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg tweeted that he’s “honored” to be speaking at the convention, though he’s not listed on the official schedule.

Former Housing Secretary Julián Castro was not included — though other former Democratic presidential candidates were. And progressive Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York has reportedly been granted just one minute.

In addition to its political stars, the convention will feature performances from musicians including Billie Eilish, the Chicks and John Legend.

The official list is subject to change, but here’s who is scheduled to address the convention so far:

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Monday, Aug. 17: Michelle Obama; Sanders; Sens. Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada, Doug Jones of Alabama and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota; Govs. Andrew Cuomo of New York and Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan; Reps. James E. Clyburn of South Carolina, Bennie Thompson of Mississippi and Gwen Moore of Wisconsin; and Kasich.

Tuesday, Aug. 18: Former acting U.S. Atty. Gen. Sally Yates, Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer of New York, former Secretary of State John F. Kerry, Ocasio-Cortez, Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester of Delaware, former President Clinton and Biden’s wife, Jill Biden.

Wednesday, Aug. 19: Harris, former President Obama, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco, Hillary Clinton, Warren, Giffords, Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers and New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham.

Thursday, Aug. 20: Biden and his family; California Gov. Gavin Newsom; former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg; Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms; Sens. Cory Booker of New Jersey, Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, Tammy Duckworth of Illinois and Chris Coons of Delaware; and former presidential candidate Andrew Yang.

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