How to watch March Madness on TV & Stream |

How to watch March Madness on TV & Stream

March Madness is a wonderful time of year for sports fans, presenting the best that college basketball has to offer. It is captivating action, regularly throwing out shock upsets and plenty of buzzer-beaters. This attracts millions of fans across the nation, making it one of the biggest sporting events to grace our calendars every year.

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The tournament features the 64 best teams arranged into four regional brackets, with each team being ranked from 1 to 16 in their bracket. The highest-placed seed will play the lowest-placed seed, with the winners progressing each round and the losers going home. The winner is the last team standing at the end, crowning them the national champions of the college Basketball season. In this article, we will explore the various ways you can get stuck into the action, including the use of streaming platforms, free trials and local broadcasts.

March Madness Broadcast Rights

The Broadcast rights for March Madness are primarily held by CBS Sports and Turner Sports. These two networks struck a deal with the NCAA over 10 years ago, making them the home of March Madness. It has been a match made in heaven for all involved, as the deal has become the NCAA’s biggest source of income, whilst also earning a fair chunk for both networks. The partnership is locked in until 2032.

TV and Streaming Options to Watch March Madness

As a result of the successful partnership detailed above, the best place to find the games will be on channels such as CBS, TBS, TNT and truTV. Most of those channels are only available through paid TV packages, but if you are lucky to have an antenna, you can tune in to watch the CBS games for free.

With the games split across these four different broadcasters, it does make life quite tricky when it comes to not missing a game. To ensure you catch every point, you will need to have access to every broadcaster, which can get expensive.

If you aren’t able to benefit from an antenna, Paramount+ will give you access to CBS. However, Paramount+ does not give you access to the other channels, which means you'll need to subscribe to one of YouTube TV, Hulu, Sling TV (which doesn’t have CBS) or DirecTV. These packages all cover the channels we need for March Madness, but they come at a cost. We have some tips about how to navigate around this coming up later.

  • Paramount Plus: Allows live streaming of all games broadcast on CBS for $12 a month.
  • Hulu with Live TV: Streams all four channels at $76.99 per month.
  • YouTube TV: Provides access to CBS, TNT, TBS, and truTV for $72.99 per month.
  • Sling TV: Offers different subscription packages starting at $40 per month, providing access to TBS, TNT, and truTV.
  • DirecTV Stream: Offers a base Entertainment package for $75 per month, providing access to TBS, TNT, and truTV.

Your final option is to consider the March Madness Live Platform, which the NCAA has produced itself. It will be live streaming every single game and allows you to watch via desktop, mobile or through some Smart TVs.

Watch March Madness for Free - Introducing Free Trials

With March Madness lasting just over a month, there is an option to try and be sneaky with the various free trials kicking around to get through a good chunk of the tournament without paying a penny. The idea is that you stack your free trials back to back, starting a new one as soon as another one finishes. PLEASE NOTE, it is very important that you remember to cancel your free trial when it ends, otherwise you will be charged, and it’s not cheap.

We have already discussed the streaming services that are broadcasting the games, and here is a list to tell you which broadcaster is showing which games:

  • First Four - TruTV
  • Round 1 - CBS, TBS, TNT, TruTV
  • Round 2 - CBS, TBS, TNT, TruTV
  • Sweet 16 - CBS, TBS
  • Elite Eight - CBS, TBS
  • Final Four - TBS
  • National championship - TBS

Now, let’s run through the free trials for each service:

YouTube TV

  • Free Trial Length: Traditionally, YouTube TV offers a 7-day free trial, allowing users to explore the platform for a week.
  • Process: To sign up for the free trial, users need to visit the YouTube TV homepage, click on the "Try It Free" button, choose a Google account, submit their zip code, and click on "Start Free Trial." During the trial period, users can access features like recording programs and adding premium channels. If users decide not to continue after the trial, they can cancel anytime before it ends, but you will lose access immediately.

Hulu + Live TV

  • Free Trial Length: Hulu + Live TV typically offers a 7-day free trial. You can get a 30-day free trial for the basic Hulu package, but it is the ‘Live TV’ one we need, which is just the 7 days.
  • Process: Users can sign up for the free trial by visiting Hulu's website or app, selecting the Hulu + Live TV plan, creating an account, and providing payment details. After the trial period ends, users will be charged unless they cancel their subscription before that time. If you cancel during the trial, you will lose access to your content immediately.

Sling TV

  • Free Trial Length: Sling TV likes to keep us on our toes by constantly mixing up their offer. Sometimes there is a free trial, but often not. You simply have to check it out and cross your fingers.
  • Process: To access the free trial, users need to visit the Sling TV website, choose a subscription package, create an account, and provide payment details. The trial period allows users to explore the platform's features and channel offerings. Users have the flexibility to cancel their subscription at any time during the trial, but you will lose access immediately.

Paramount Plus

  • Free Trial Length: Paramount+ offers a free trial period of 7 days
  • Process: Users can sign up for the free trial by visiting Paramount+'s website or app, selecting the free trial option, creating an account, and providing payment details. The duration of the free trial may vary based on promotional offers. Users can enjoy access to Paramount+'s content during this period and decide whether to continue with a paid subscription after the trial ends. If you cancel during your free trial, you will still get to enjoy the content until the end of the billing cycle.

Tips for a Better Viewing Experience

Of course, the process of setting up endless free trials is cumbersome, so for many people, the best bet is to simply make the best of the situation as it is. Sport is best enjoyed with friends, so viewing parties can come in very handy. Whether that is to arrange to meet at a house, which has the appropriate package, or by collectively buying a package or antenna.

If you do go down the antenna route, make sure to buy a good-quality one. Nothing is more annoying than a mis-timed glitch at the most crucial moment. The same goes for the internet. If you have multiple people in the house, then extra demand could be placed on the WiFi. The best way to get around this would be to either connect the streaming device directly to the router via an ethernet cable or simply ask everyone to disconnect from the WiFi.


March Madness is a spectacular time of year. There is so much basketball going on, and the on-screen action should be captivating. Finding a way to keep up with every game can be tricky because of the different broadcasters, but hopefully, this guide has given you a helping hand in navigating around it.

Subscribing to a platform such as YouTube TV, Hulu + Live TV, DirecTV or Sling TV should cover you for the whole tournament, but if you would rather not pay the fee, hopefully our tips about utilizing the free trials might come in useful.

Watching with friends is always a good option, as you might be able to reduce the cost between you. Just make sure that you do so responsibly and legally, as there are cybersecurity and legal issues that can arise from being tempted by illegal streams. Here’s to a fantastic March madness!

Author: Dan Anderson