The Big Three networks — ABC, CBS and NBC — plan to pre-empt their usual entertainment programming at 10 p.m. each night for an hour of live coverage. Anchors like Norah O’Donnell of CBS, Savannah Guthrie of NBC and George Stephanopoulos of ABC will guide viewers through the proceedings, including highlights from earlier in the night and real-time pundit analysis.
CNN and MSNBC are expected to carry the entirety of the Republicans’ 2.5-hour program live. Both networks aired the Democrats’ convention relatively unfiltered, with few interruptions from anchors and analysts. PBS and C-SPAN also plan to air this week’s events in full.
Fox News’s live coverage starts at 10 p.m. each night, led by the anchors Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum. Last week, Fox News’s 9 p.m. host, Sean Hannity, occasionally dipped into the Democrats’ convention during his show, for the most part chiming in with his own critical commentary. This week, it will be up to Mr. Hannity’s discretion — and that of his 8 p.m. lead-in, Tucker Carlson — how much of the Republicans’ convention airs during his program.
A convention designed by the programmer in chief
Mr. Trump, an experienced hand at live television — he relished participating in the live season finales during his years on “The Apprentice” — is well aware of what plays, and what doesn’t, on the small screen.
His decision to appear in the 10 p.m. hour each night of the convention is no coincidence. That’s when ABC, CBS and NBC all start their prime-time coverage, kicking in a few extra million viewers to the convention audience. While the cable channels CNN and MSNBC attracted the biggest ratings for the Democrats last week, the 10 p.m. broadcast audience is likely to stretch beyond political die-hards and voters who have already made up their minds.
Trump aides are also promising another reality-TV staple adored by the president: the element of surprise. “There are going to be some breakout stars, some people that you would not expect to be supporters of the president,” Jason Miller, a senior adviser to the Trump campaign, told NBC’s Chuck Todd on “Meet the Press” on Sunday. “We have some big surprises lined up. Make sure you’re tuning in.”
To achieve the spice and suspense of an “Apprentice” episode, Mr. Trump’s team turned to a series veteran: Sadoux Kim, a longtime “Apprentice” producer who worked closely with the show’s creator, Mark Burnett. Mr. Kim, a lead consultant on the convention, has worked on other Trump television properties, including a Miss Universe pageant for which he served as a judge. Also on the convention payroll is Chuck LaBella, a former NBC entertainment executive who helped produce “The Comedy Central Roast of Donald Trump.”