Americans are expected to be glued to the television on Monday night, with two big events overlapping. The first presidential debate takes place a 9 p.m. ET, while the New Orleans Saints host the Atlanta Falcons in an NFC South matchup, starting at 8:30 p.m ET.
The debate will be commercial-free and last about 90 minutes, meaning it will end at 10:30 p.m. ET. Meanwhile, NFL games last over three hours, and "Monday Night Football" on ESPN should conclude at about 12 a.m. ET, so there will be time to catch much of the first and fourth quarters.
While Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are considered political heavyweights, the Saints and Falcons are both longshots to reach the Super Bowl. The Falcons are listed as 40-1 favorites to reach the Super Bowl, while the Saints are 60-1 favorites. The Falcons are 100-1 favorites to win the Super Bowl, compared to the Saints, who are 125-1 favorites to win it.
In the summer, Trump openly questioned the debate schedule.
"I got a letter from the NFL saying, 'This is ridiculous.' Why are the debates against ... because the NFL doesn't wanna go against the debates. Because the debates are gonna be pretty massive, from what I understand, okay? And I don't think we should be against the NFL. I don't know how the dates were picked," Trump told ABC's "This Week" in July.
The NFL later denied they sent a letter to Trump.
President Obama, an avid football fan, will be watching the debates, but he can still turn the channel for the conclusion of the Falcons-Saints game.
"I think the one difference will be instead of 'Monday Night Football,' there'll be a little more politics being discussed in the context of the debate," White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Monday.
The debate, which will air on each cable-news network and the major broadcast networks, is expected to draw better ratings, with some experts estimating 100 million will be watching. In the season opener of "Monday Night Football," the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Washington Redskins had a total live audience, which includes television and live streaming, of 13.3 million average viewers.
An ESPN executive told Sports Illustrated “it’s going to be a rough night” for football viewership.