There’s a reason we call it March Madness. From the first tip-off, the tournament inspires the entire nation to be a little fanatical about D1 Men’s basketball. Teams compete in the single elimination tournament every year, but watching it has gotten a bit more complex. Without a cable subscription, how are you going to watch 68 teams compete in seven rounds for the National Championship?
Fifteen digital platforms stream March Madness games. All of the major ones like Apple, Android, and Windows OS, devices like Roku, Apple TV, and Chromecast and video game consoles Xbox and PlayStation 4. In addition to all of those, you can watch it on a run of the mill browser on a computer or the app. That gives you a lot of opportunities to find a way that works for you.
Every single game will stream
Regardless of what channel broadcasts the game, you can watch all 67 games online or in the NCAA March Madness Live app – as long as you have cable TV. Subscribing to an online TV service should give you the same access. Either cable or an online pay TV subscription service gives you the credentials to watch, or the option to view it through the March Madness Live app and website.
The March Madness Live app went live on March 11th. You can download it from whichever store serves your device, like the Amazon Appstore, the Apple App Store, Roku Channel Store, Windows Store, or Google Play.
If You Already Cut the Cord
Those of us who have cut the cord need a strategy to make sure we don’t miss a minute of the games in the next 21 days. To see every game, including the Final Four, you’ll need access to CBS, TNT, TBS, and truTV channels. The National Championship airs on Monday, April 2nd on TBS, and watching it will require a password for a pay TV service that subscribes to the three Turner channels.
Use an Over-the-air Antenna
CBS is televising 21 games, including two of the quarterfinals. These games won’t require pay TV authentication. The easiest way to watch the games broadcast on CBS is to use an antenna and watch the games for free over-the-air.
Watch on the App on Your Phone or Tablet
The March Madness Live app only allows viewers to stream the 21 games CBS is broadcasting without a password from a pay TV service. Beware though – not all subscription streaming services include access to the local CBS station.
If you don’t have a subscription TV service and don’t want to install an antenna, you can always subscribe to CBS’ OTT service called All Access. It costs $6 per month after a free seven-day trial.
Watch on a Browser on Your Computer
If your pay TV service includes CBS and the Turner channels, you can watch through your browser at work. The March Madness Live website has a Boss Button that you configure ahead of time. With one click, it displays a fake screenshot that makes it look like you’re working. If you need to multitask, you can open multiple browser tabs or watch simultaneously on a phone and a personal computer.
Fast Break Switches Games in First Round
Fans have responded favorably to NFL Redzone and the Olympics’ Gold Zone. So this year, March Madness introduces a feature called Fast Break that switches from game to game during the first round when multiple games play simultaneously. This special stream in the March Madness Live app or on a browser will automatically promote the most desirable moments.
If you don’t have a pay TV subscription, you can get free access to TNT, TBS, or TruTV for three hours. After your free three-hours, you’ll need a subscription to a service that carries TBS, TNT, and truTV to watch the Turner network games on the app, including the semifinals and championship game.
Check out the following options to see if your pay TV service delivers all of the channels you’ll need to watch every game.
YouTube TV is available in the top 100 US markets, which covers about 85% of US households. TBS, TNT, and truTV are included, and CBS live channels are included in more than 90 markets. The service also includes an unlimited cloud DVR in case you can’t watch a game live.
Hulu Live TV
You can use your Hulu Live TV credentials to access the March Madness Live app. The service carries 141 CBS affiliates and all of the Turner channels. Once you choose your favorite teams, Hulu Live TV will automatically record all games involving those teams and send you phone alerts to update you with news and highlights.
Sony’s streaming service has all of the Turner channels you need and CBS for 78% of the US households. If your local CBS affiliate isn’t included, the simplest solution is to add an OTA antenna. A special feature for PS4 viewers is the ability to watch three channels at the same time. Lucky viewers can watch three games simultaneously during the first round, or share with a non-basketball fan in the house.
Sling TV has the Turner channels but not CBS; easily solved with an over-the-air antenna. To see all of the Turner stations broadcasting games, you’ll need the combination Sling Orange (TBS, TNT) + Sling Blue (truTV).
The fuboTV service is actively expanding programming and now has more than 60 channels. CBS is covered, but not TBS, TNT, or truTV. Consider a one-month YouTube TV or Hulu Live TV subscription to make sure you don’t miss any games.
Stay Connected without a Subscription
If you don’t want to commit to a service subscription, but want to keep up with the tournament, there are still a few ways to be there for the play-by-play.
Westwood One’s radio coverage of all games will be available with no password needed. With about 8,000 affiliated broadcast radio stations, there is likely one in your area. You can also stream the audio broadcast online.
Westwood One also released an Alexa skill to live stream and broadcast a post-game show. Enable the skill on Amazon or by saying, “Alexa, enable the Westwood One Sports skill.” Then you can just ask Alexa who is winning the Carolina game, or who beat Duke. You can also tune into a livestream of the current game.
If you miss a game entirely, Alexa can give you the final score and play an optional audio recap of the game.
Another option you can use on Alexa is the NCAA March Madness Skill available in the Alexa skill store on Amazon. Enable the skill by saying, “Alexa, enable the March Madness skill.”
Once the skill is enabled, you can ask Alexa for the Tournament schedule, live score updates and streams of the games’ radio broadcasts from Westwood One. Alexa will recognize school nicknames and common terms in your request, for example, you can ask Alexa what the score is in the Tarheels game, the Carolina game, or in the UNC game.
Intel will be producing some games in virtual reality that will run on Samsung’s Gear VR and Google Daydream headsets. Expect this to be similar to the Olympic VR coverage, which was unique and exciting, but didn’t replace traditional broadcasting.
Convenient Way to Stay on Top
The key to watching every March Madness game is to make sure you have access to the four broadcasters. Maybe it was simpler in the old days before games were streamed over internet, the radio, multiple platforms, and many different devices. But it is convenient knowing that you can watch the games from anywhere, on any device. With fifteen digital platforms and multiple services, it’s easy to find a way to watch. With all of the possible combinations of device and service, you’ll most certainly find a convenient way to stay on top of each game.
Megan Southard is a writer, mom, technology enthusiast, and movie junkie. She dreads the day her kids have to explain gadgets to her and is old enough to say, “I was the remote for our TV growing up.”
Disclaimer: This article may have had additional images, links or data that was added by this site’s editor.