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March Madness: Stream Every Match Live Without Cable [2024]

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Starting Tuesday, March 19th, the top NCAA men’s and women’s basketball teams compete in a series of knock-out games toward the goal of winning the national championship. And cord-cutters can watch March Madness online, even without cable. Read on to learn how!

In a hurry? Not all streaming services provide all the channels you need to see everything. But these do that and much more.

  • DIRECTV STREAM: Get a great channel lineup with the best selection of RSNs in the industry. A 5-day free trial is now available for DIRECTV STREAM.
  • Sling TV: This low-cost service allows you to select just the channel lineup you want. Save 50% on Sling TV now.
  • Hulu + Live TV: This total entertainment streaming service provides a great on-demand selection and all the essential live TV channels.

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March Madness is one of the most popular sporting events in the United States. In fact, the Men’s Final Four sometimes draws higher television ratings than any NBA Finals game played that year.

However, the men’s and women’s tournaments are not just focused on Finals weekend. You’ll see office March Madness pools springing up everywhere with three weeks of thrilling do-or-die play by 68 men’s and 68 women’s teams.

Quick March Madness Streaming Guide

CBS and Turner Sports will broadcast the men’s tournament while ESPN oversees the broadcasting of the women’s events. Options to stream most if not all of both tournaments include Sling TV ($40.00/mo), DIRECTV STREAM ($79.99/mo), and Hulu + Live TV ($76.99/mo), .

Jump to our full March Madness streaming guide.

Try Hulu + Live TV Today!

Auburn vs LSU Basketball
Cropped from Chuma Okeke (Auburn) Kavell Bigby-Williams (LSU) by Scott Clause under CC BY 2.0.

Unblock Your Favorite Events & Teams With a VPN

If you can’t watch your favorite events or teams because of your location, a VPN will allow you to get the access you are entitled to, plus extra security and unequaled privacy. Check out our VPN Guide for everything you need to know, including our top pick ExpressVPN.

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Other brands worth checking out include Hotspot Shield and CyberGhost.

TV Channels for March Madness

The NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament is televised on CBS, TBS, TNT, and truTV. CBS and TBS essentially receive equal billing, rotating broadcasting the Final Four and the regional semifinals and finals. TNT and truTV alone show the First Fours as well as some of First and Second round games.

The NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Tournament is featured on ESPN channels. This year, we know games will be featured on ESPN and ABC as well as the streaming service ESPN+. We also expect to see games ESPN2, ESPNews, and ESPNU.

Try Hulu + Live TV Today!

South Carolina vs UConn - NCAA Women's Basketball
Cropped from South Carolina vs UConn Women’s Basketball by Danny Karwoski under CC BY-SA 3.0.

How to Watch March Madness Online

Several streaming TV providers offer partial or complete coverage of these two tournaments. You can also see a number of games on CBS via an antenna. See below.

DIRECTV STREAM Channels For March Madness

DIRECTV STREAM

The base DIRECTV STREAM (formerly AT&T TV) plan ($79.99/mo) will give you all of the channels that will broadcast the men’s games (CBS, TBS, TNT, truTV) and most of the women’s games (ABC, ESPN, ESPN2). If you also want ESPNU and ESPNews, you will need to go up to the Choice plan ($108.99/mo). At this level, you will also get access to its outstanding selection of RSNs, which are essential for MLB, NBA, and NHL fans.

All plans come with unlimited DVR storage as long as you sign-up online and unlimited simultaneous streaming at home and 3 on the road. For more information, see our DIRECTV STREAM review.

Get DIRECTV STREAM Free for 5 Days

Watch the Tournament on Hulu + Live TV

hulu logo

Hulu + Live TV ($76.99/mo) is an outstanding option for watching all of the March Madness possible as it carries CBS, TBS, TNT, truTV, ABC, ESPN, ESPN2, and ESPNU in its base plan.

It also provides access to the ACC Network, Big Ten Network, CBS Sports Network, Fox Sports 1 (FS1), Fox Sports 2 (FS2), and SEC Network. All of these are great for watching teams battle to get into these brackets.

Finally, Hulu Live includes the Hulu Bundle: its great on-demand library, Disney+, and ESPN+!

The plan comes with unlimited cloud DVR (9-month storage) and streaming on up to two devices at once. See our Hulu + Live TV review for more details.

Try Hulu + Live TV Today!

Sling TV’s March Madness Plan

Sling TV Logo (2021 100x50)

Sling TV does not provide complete coverage of March Madness because it does not offer CBS. (See below for a free way to get CBS!) However, combining Sling Blue ($40.00/mo) with a Paramount+ Premium subscription provides the cheapest way to watch every game.

ServicePrice
Sling Blue$40.00/mo
Paramount+$11.99/mo
Total$46.99/mo

If you are looking for the women’s games, Sling Orange ($40.00/mo) provides you with most of what you need: ESPN, ESPN2, and ESPN3 — the last of which airs games that are on ABC. You also get TBS and TNT, so roughly half the men’s games as well. Adding the Sports Extra for $11/mo gives you ESPNews and ESPNU — in addition to 10+ others.

If you want access to all the games, you can do it with the Sling Orange & Blue plan. But note that the Sports Extra is $15/mo with this plan:

ServicePrice
Sling Orange & Blue$55.00/mo
Sports Extra$15.00/mo
Paramount+$11.99/mo
Total$81.99/mo

Although this is more than other streaming services, it includes a lot of channels as well as Showtime. See our complete guide and schedule for March Madness on Sling TV for more info.

Save 50% on Sling TV Now

March Madness on TNT via Sling TV featuring Northwestern vs UCLA in Round One (2023)
March Madness on TNT via Sling TV featuring Northwestern vs UCLA in Round One (2023)

Watch the Tournament With Sling and CBS via Antenna

Since CBS is an over-the-air (OTA) channel, an alternative is to combine a Sling TV subscription with an antenna. This can be done without a streaming service, of course. See our antenna guide for details.

But with Sling TV, you can set it up so that it all works seamlessly through the app. And if you pay for 3 months upfront, Sling will give you the equipment at a ridiculously low price — low enough that it pays for the streaming.

For more information on all this, see our Sling TV review.

Fubo’s March Madness Channels

fubotv logo

Fubo ($79.99/mo) is probably our favorite overall streaming service. But it isn’t great for March Madness as it is missing all Turner Sports channels, so no TBS, TNT, or truTV and no Men’s Final Four in even years. Plus, even if you are solely focused on the women’s tournament, you will need to pay for either its Fubo Extra add-on ($7.99/mo) or its Sports Plus with NFL RedZone add-on ($10.99/mo) to also garner access to ESPNU and ESPNews.

But if March Madness is just part of your live sports diet, Fubo is worth a look given that it features 150+ channels that are especially good for international events. Its plans come with 1000 hours of cloud DVR and streaming on up to ten devices. Our Fubo review has more information.

Sign Up for a Free Fubo Trial

NCAA Tournament on YouTube TV

youtube tv

YouTube TV ($72.99/mo) is a solid option as it offers access to CBS, TBS, TNT, truTV, ABC, ESPN, ESPN2, and ESPNU, ensuring that you can watch every men’s and women’s tournament game. Meanwhile, if you are looking for regular-season coverage of college basketball, note that it carries the ACC Network, Big Ten Network, SEC Network, FS1, and FS2 as well.

Paramount+ Options to Watch March Madness

Paramount+

If you do not have an antenna, for $11.99/mo, you can get Paramount+ With Showtime. It is an on-demand streaming service but it does feature live sports and will allow you to stream CBS-broadcast NCAA Tournament games.

However, note that that is where its usefulness ends as it does not have the rights to show any of the games airing on TBS, TNT, or truTV, which sometimes includes the Men’s Final Four as TBS owns those broadcasting rights in even years.

See our Paramount+ review.

Try Paramount+ for Free!

Watch the NCAA Tournament With the March Madness Live App

The NCAA March Madness Live app allows you to watch men’s tournament games, but you do need to sign in with log-in details for an applicable streaming service that offers the relevant channels.

Try Hulu + Live TV Today!

Superpower Your Sports Streaming With a VPN

For the sake of privacy, security, and access, you should be using a VPN. They are low-cost and easy to use. We’ve been using them for years and our top pick is ExpressVPN. Other brands worth checking out include Hotspot Shield and CyberGhost.

i Our VPN Buyer’s Guide provides a complete introduction and all you need to know to choose the best VPN for your needs.
Xavier vs Providence
Cropped from Image (Xavier vs Providence) by Ken Jancef under CC BY-SA 2.0.

Devices to Live Stream March Madness

All of the services we’ve discussed support the major streaming devices in use today. DIRECTV STREAM has the weakest support, but it includes all of the following:

  • Amazon Fire TV
  • Android smartphones/tablets
  • Android TV smart TVs
  • Apple TV
  • Chromecast
  • iOS (iPhones/iPads)
  • Roku
  • Samsung TVs.

The other services (including Fubo, Sling TV, and March Madness Live) also support LG and VIZIO smart TVs as well as Xbox gaming systems. Hulu, YouTube, and Paramount+ also support PlayStations.

Other devices are supported. You can find complete lists in our reviews.

Try Hulu + Live TV Today!

About NCAA Basketball Tournaments

The NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament has a storied history that starts in 1939, when University of Oregon outlasted Ohio State, 46-33. This first national title game was played on the Northwestern campus in Evanston, Illinois.

It has always had a single-elimination format although the size of the field has increased over the years. Just eight teams competed in 1939 compared to 68 schools that will take part in 2023.

The history of the NCAA Division I Women’s Tournament is not as lengthy, but that has a lot to do with the NCAA only taking women’s basketball under its umbrella as recently as the 1981-82 season.

Women’s sports, in general, became more prominent in the early 1970s. The first AIAW Women’s Basketball Tournament was played in 1972 and featured Immaculata kickstarting a three-peat.

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Kehinde Bello (Minnesota) looks for a rebound and is guarded by Mael Gilles and Arella Guirantes (Rutgers)
Kehinde Bello (Minnesota) looks for a rebound and is guarded by Mael Gilles and Arella Guirantes (Rutgers) by Lorie Shaull under CC BY 2.0.

How Do the College Basketball Tournaments Work?

Starting in 2022, both the men’s and women’s tournaments will once again have the same format. They had both been 64-team affairs from 1994-2000, but the men’s increased to 65 through 2010 and has been at 68 since. Similarly, the women’s field stayed at 64 through 2021 before increasing to 68 for the 2022 tourney to belatedly put the women’s teams on equal footing with the men’s.

The men’s tournament expansion to 68 teams was presumably done in connection with the agreement of a new television contract at around that time. More games result in more revenue for CBS and Turner Sports. Some coaches have voiced happiness that more schools receive the opportunity to participate in the bracket.

The First Fours

The First Fours, the stage of the tournament featuring the last eight teams into the brackets, will take place mid-week the first week of March Madness, Tuesday and Wednesday for the men and Wednesday and Thursday for the women.

The next four days for each will be the first and second rounds as the fields get whittled to 16 apiece. These men’s games will be at neutral sites with the women’s contests at the top 16 seeds.

Tournament Semifinals and Finals

Exactly a week after those four days will be the regional semifinals and finals. All March Madness games will be played at predetermined sites. That will be followed by the Final Fours the week after, the women playing on that Friday and Sunday and the men on that Saturday and Monday.

When the Brackets Are Set For March Madness

However, before any of that happens, the brackets need to be filled with these 136 teams. That is done the Sunday that precedes the opening contests. Thirty-two men’s and 32 women’s teams earn automatic berths after winning their respective conference tournaments, and the remainder are chosen as at-large teams with most of those coming from Power 5 conferences.

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2024 March Madness TV Schedule

Games start on March 19th and run through the first week of April, with the National Championships airing on April 7th (women’s) and April 8th (men’s).

Men’s March Madness

  • Selection Sunday: March 17
  • First Four: March 19 – 20
  • First/Second Rounds: March 21 – 24
  • Sweet 16/Elite 8: March 28 – 31
  • Final Four: April 6
  • NCAA Championships: April 8
  • Channels: CBS, TBS, TNT, and truTV

Women’s March Madness

  • Selection Sunday: March 17
  • First Four: March 20 – 21
  • First/Second Rounds: March 22 – 25
  • Sweet 16/Elite 8: March 29 – April 1
  • Final Four: April 5
  • NCAA Championships: April 7
  • Channels: ESPN, ABC, ESPN+

Complete Game Schedule

  • Schedule will be here as soon as it is announced...

Try Hulu + Live TV Today!

March Madness on ESPN with Sling TV East Carolina vs Texas
March Madness on ESPN with Sling TV East Carolina vs Texas

Wrapping Up

If you are looking to receive streaming access to all men’s and women’s tournament games, your best option is Hulu + Live TV ($76.99/mo). DIRECTV STREAM ($79.99/mo) and Sling TV ($40.00/mo) — either with an antenna or Paramount+ — will also work.

Try Hulu + Live TV Today!

FAQs

What channels are March Madness on?

The men’s March Madness games will air on truTV, TBS, TNT, and CBS. This year, the final three games (Final Four and Championship) will air exclusively on TBS. The women’s March Madness games will air on the ESPN family of channels. These are primarily ESPN, ABC, ESPNU, ESPN2, and ESPNews. The Final Four and Championship will air on ESPN, ESPNU, and ABC — with all three games streaming on ESPN+.

Can I watch March Madness live for free?

You can watch many of the men’s March Madness games for free with CBS. You will need an OTA antenna, which cost little money (roughly $30) and are easy to install. The games that do not appear on CBS will be on one of the Turner channels (TBS, TNT, truTV) and so you will need to get them through a streaming service like Sling TV. Last year, there were 22 games that could be watched for free on CBS. This year should be roughly the same.

The women’s March Madness games will air on the ESPN family of channels. In general, you will need a streaming service for these. But a small number games will appear on ABC, which you should be able to watch for free with an antenna. These include First Round, Second Round, and Championship games.

Can I watch March Madness on the NCAA.com app?

You can watch all the games on the NCAA March Madness Live (the NCAA.com app). To do so, you will need a provider like Sling TV that allows you to log in via TV Everywhere. It isn’t a free service. Ironically, you will probably want to watch live games directly through your provider. But the app gives you access to a lot of other content on demand like highlights, analysis, and classic games.

What is the March Madness bracket?

The bracket for March Madness is the list of matchups that culminate in the selection of the two teams who will play in the finals. The bracket is used to track each team’s progress through the tournament via wins (advancement to the next stage) and losses (elimination). Additionally, the term “bracket” is often used to describe the teams a person selects when participating in a March Madness pool.

How can I watch March Madness on my phone?

All of the streaming services that carry the NCAA Basketball Tournaments have apps that you can install on your Android or iOS devices, including Hulu + Live TV, DIRECTV STREAM, Sling TV, and YouTube TV. You can download the apps on the Google Play store or the iOS App Store. Additionally, channels like CBS and ESPN have standalone apps that you can use to watch the games on your device.

What were the results of the 2023 NCAA Basketball Tournaments?

On the men’s side of March Madness, the Final Four came down to contests between Florida Atlantic (71) vs San Diego State (72) with the Aztecs squeezing by the Owls 72-71. Additionally, the UConn Huskies dominated the Miami Hurricanes in the first half for a final score of 72-59. In the Championship, Huskies did much the same to the Aztecs with a final score of 76-59.

On the women’s side of March Madness, the Final Four featured two close games with LSU Tigers (79) stunning Virginia Tech Hokies with a fourth quarter surge to win 79-72 and the Iowa Hawkeyes defeating the South Carolina Gamecocks in a closely-fought 77-73 game. But in the Final, first-half dominance gave the Tigers a 102-85 victory over the Hawkeyes.

How can I watch my favorite team throughout the regular season?

Looking for team-specific streaming info? Here are guides for the most popular college basketball teams:

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