The NCAA's March Madness is one of the most-watched events in collegiate sports. It has transcended the college-sphere and become a national event throughout the years.
How Does NCAA March Madness Coverage Work?
Before getting into the various ways to watch March Madness free, it's crucial to understand how the coverage for March Madness works. With 68 teams playing multiple times, it can get confusing trying to track each event.
Four main channels collectively cover March Madness. You'll want to keep these in mind when considering various streaming packages. They are CBS, TBS, TruTV, and TNT.
Historically, TBS and TruTV share coverage of the First Four contests, and the First/Second Rounds will air on all four of the channels. TBS then shares TV coverage of the Elite Eight with CBS, and the Final Four plus Championship Game gets broadcast by either TBS or CBS.
Because they alternate years, TBS will broadcast the final games this year.
How to Stream March Madness Online For Free
To watch March Madness, typically, you'd need to purchase a cable package or find some other streaming solution. Unfortunately, these services can often be pricey and put quite a dent in your wallet.
Here are some creative solutions and workarounds that you can use to watch March Madness for free this year. If you use them all together, you might be able to watch the entire tournament free of cost.
YouTube TV is a live streaming service that offers over 85 channels of entertainment, live sports, news, and more.
Though some may find it lacking in specific categories, YouTube TV is an excellent option for March Madness because it includes CBS, TruTV, TBS, and TNT. With YouTube TV, you can catch every game of March Madness this year. Bonus: it offers recording without storage limits so that you can watch and rewatch all of March Madness.
Of course, like other mainstream streaming services, it also runs on a subscription model ($64.99/mo) and will cost you money. However, if you haven't signed up for YouTube TV before, you can access a 7-day free trial. This trial can go a long way in helping you watch the March Madness events you want.
The best way to watch March Madness without needing to purchase cable is to utilize antenna TV. Broadcast networks never went away, and in fact, have upgraded over the years to provide HD viewing options.
TBS, TruTV, and TNT are all cable channels, so you'll need to purchase a TV package to view those.
CBS, on the other hand, is a broadcast network. You can get everything on CBS for free as long as you're in the range of a CBS affiliate and set up an OTA (over-the-air) antenna. Over-the-air TV can be a great way to catch a large portion of March Madness without needing to buy anything other than the equipment to set up the antenna.
Hulu + Live TV
Hulu+ Live TV includes every channel required to watch all of March Madness (CBS, TBS, TNT, TruTV), so you can rest assured that you won't miss a single game with this package.
Although CBS is only available in select markets, this is true of even major cable companies, so you'll still have extensive coverage. You can even download the Hulu app and watch live games right from your phone. Hulu also comes with 50 hours of included cloud DVR storage, so you don't need to worry about missing any important games.
Similar to YouTube TV, the service costs money, but you can try it for seven days free of charge.
One of the oldest live TV streaming services on the market, Sling TV offers a great way to fill in the gaps of Over-The-Air TV. Though CBS is missing from Sling's offerings, they have all three other significant channels covering March Madness, TruTV, TNT, TBS.
Because some of the biggest games are on TBS this year, this means you'll be able to watch the critical parts of March Madness with just Sling TV.
Sling TV costs $35/month (or $50/month if you choose their Blue plan to gain access to even more channels), but you can try it for three days free.
Known initially as CBS All Access from CBS-Viacom, Paramount+ is a new streaming solution. With Paramount+, you'll have access to live-streaming and live sports from the CBS channel. You can even get a full feed of your local CBS station in some markets.
Paramount+, unfortunately, won't let you capture games covered by the three other channels but will get you access to big CBS broadcasts. If you don't want to go through the process of installing an antenna to catch the CBS games and are not a big fan of cable, Paramount+ could be a good alternative.
Paramount only costs $6 a month, which is relatively affordable compared to other streaming services. However, if you really can't make this payment, it has a one-month free trial you can use.
March Madness Live
The March Madness Live app is a good choice if you already have CBS and want to get in on some TruTV, TNT, and TBS action. Unlike certain other streaming apps, March Madness Live doesn't require you to sign in with any existing pay-TV information. Instead, you can stream up to three hours of March Madness entirely for free without needing to provide any cable login information.
Though three hours is not nearly enough to watch all of March Madness, it can go a long way when you want to fill in some gaps. Three hours is enough for a game or two and can be used with another solution if you're missing out on certain games.
FuboTV is an American TV streaming service that focuses on sports. You can stream NCAA basketball on FuboTV by accessing ESPN, ESPN2, FOX Sports 1, FOX Sports 2, and NBC Sports Network.
Plus, FuboTV lets you access CBS in most markets. Typically, FuboTV costs between $65 and $80 a month, but, like many other streaming services, they offer a free trial period of seven days.
How to Stream March Madness
If you're a sports fan on a budget, chances are you'll want to watch March Madness this year but also don't want to drop tons of money paying for cable and streaming subscriptions.
Luckily, there are many ways for you to watch segments of March Madness entirely for free.
If you get creative with how you implement all the services mentioned above, you may be able to watch all of March Madness without paying a single penny!
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This article was produced by Wealth of Geeks.
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Jeff is a current Harvard student and author of the blog Financial Pupil who is passionate about learning, living, and sharing all things personal finance-related. He has experience working in the financial industry and enjoys the pursuit of financial freedom. Outside of blogging, he loves to cook, read, and golf in his spare time.