The NCAA men’s basketball tournament is well underway, and there are plenty of games to watch between now and the championship matchup on Monday, April 2. There are several ways to watch the tournament, whether it’s on a TV, smartphone, laptop or streaming device.
Credit: Tony Quinn/Icon Sportswire/GettyYou’ll find games spread across four TV channels over the next three weeks. Nowhere near a TV? The NCAA is bringing its streaming app to a record 16 platforms. And even cord cutters can get their hoop fix if they subscribe to the right service.
Here’s a closer look at the many ways you can watch men’s college basketball crown its national champion.
March Madness Live
There’s an app that carries all of the games that would otherwise air on CBS, TBS, TNT and truTV in one convenient place. That would be the NCAA March Madness Live offering, which is accessible both through a website and a downloadable app available for many different devices.
March Madness Live features all 67 tournament games. There’s a 3-hour free preview in which you can watch games airing on TBS, TNT and truTV, but after that time expires, you’ll need to log in via your cable provider. That means cord cutters will need to subscribe to a streaming service that includes any of the four channels featuring tournament games if they want to watch more than just 3 hours of hoops this March.
You should also be aware that games airing on CBS can’t be streamed on set-top boxes like Apple TV, Roku, Fire TV and Xbox One. You’ll have to watch those games on a mobile device or web browser.
What platforms does the March Madness app worth with?
Name a device, and there’s a pretty good chance there’s a version of March Madness Live that will run on it. Supported platforms include iOS, Apple TV, Apple Watch, Android, Amazon Fire tablets and TVs, Chromecast, Roku players and TVs, and Xbox One, in addition to web browsers. The NCAA says select tournament games will be available in virtual reality, with an app available for Samsung Gear VR and Google Daydream View headsets.
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March Madness Live also works with Amazon’s Alexa-powered speakers. Supported skills include reminding you when specific games are on and checking scores. With the Westwood One app, you can also stream radio broadcasts of games through your Alexa speaker.
Here’s where you’ll find downloadable versions of the March Madness Live app for various platforms.
What’s new with the March Madness app?
This year’s big addition is called Fast Break, and if you’re familiar with the Red Zone channel and how it cuts away to the most dramatic moments of football games as they happen, you pretty much know what to expect from Fast Break. The feature will work primarily during the first round of games, jumping to wherever the action’s heating up.
Apple TV owners will be able to enjoy a multigame viewing feature that lets them view up to three games at once. Similarly, if you’re a PlayStation Vue subscriber — more on that option in a moment — you can also watch up to three games at once if you’re streaming through a PS4 console.
What about streaming services?
As noted above, the March Madness Live app requires you to log in with a cable provider after your 3-hour window of free coverage has slammed shut. If you’ve done away with cable, you still can catch the bulk of NCAA tournament games provided you’re now getting TV through a streaming service.
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CBS’ $6-a-month streaming service — CBS All Access — will feature all of the tournament games airing on that network. (There’s a seven-day free trial of CBS All Access available before that monthly fee kicks in.) Unlike with the March Madness Live app, you’ll be able to watch games on set-top boxes. However, you’d still need to scramble to find games airing on other channels, especially the Final Four matchups, which will be on TBS.
Other streaming services include access to all four channels showing games. But in the case of CBS, you’ll want to confirm that the service of your choice includes your local CBS affiliate. Here’s a list of your options, all of which include seven-day free trials.
- DirecTV Now, $35 a month (CBS, TBS, TNT, truTV)
- Hulu with Live TV, $40 a month (CBS, TBS, TNT, truTV)
- PlayStation Vue, $40 a month (CBS, TBS, TNT, truTV)
- Sling TV, $20 a month (TNT and TBS), $25 a month (TruTV), $40 (TBS, TNT, TruTV)
- YouTube TV, $40 a month (CBS, TBS, TNT, TruTV)
Note that YouTube TV’s price just went up by $5 a month this week to $40. (YouTube announced the price change last month, but it’s still ill-timed for hoops junkies.)
When do the games begin?
CBS and Turner Sports are splitting the coverage of this year’s tournament. The opening-round games slated for Tuesday and Wednesday this week — don’t you dare call them “play-in games,” the NCAA warns — will air on truTV, starting at 6:40 p.m. ET.
You’ll find a full list of when all 32 first-round games tip off on the NCAA’s website, but here’s an overview of when and where the games take place.
First Four Games
These games are done and dusted, having been played on Tuesday and Wednesday this week. UCLA, LIU-Brooklyn, North Carolina Central and Arizona State — we hardly knew ye.
Thursday, March 15 and Friday, March 16, 12:15 p.m. ET on CBS, TBS, TNT and truTV
Saturday, March 17 and Sunday, March 18, 12:10 p.m. ET on CBS and TBS
Thursday, March 22 and Friday, March 23, 7:09 p.m. ET on CBS and TBS
Saturday, March 24, 6:09 p.m. ET and 8:49 p.m. ET on TBS
Sunday, March 25, 2:20 p.m. ET and 5:05 p.m. ET on CBS
Saturday March 31, 6:09 p.m. ET and 8:49 p.m. ET on TBS
Monday, April 2, 9:20 p.m. ET on TBS
Who’s going to win?
We’d tell you, but then we wouldn’t be the only ones with a perfect bracket, would we?
Updated at 4:13 p.m. ET with additional information about PlayStation Vue.
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