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March Madness 2024: When and where to watch NCAA tournament

For the first time, all NCAA March Madness games will be available without a traditional cable or satellite package.

March Madness logo over ball
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For the best men’s college basketball teams, it’s time to win or go home.

The NCAA Division I men’s basketball tournament, better known as “March Madness,” kicks into full swing this week — and, for the first time ever, there is a new way to watch all the action on TV without subscribing to a traditional cable or satellite package.

For the uninitiated, the March Madness tournament pits 68 of the best college basketball teams against each other.

The tournament kicks off with “Selection Sunday,” when the NCAA committee selects 36 teams that will compete against the champions from 32 Division I conferences.

After a grueling multi-week tournament, two teams emerge as the best of the best, and one will be crowned the national tournament champion.

What channels will offer NCAA March Madness games?

Paramount and WBD logos over march madness banner
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Currently, Paramount Global and Warner Bros Discovery (WBD) hold the exclusive telecast rights to NCAA March Madness games in the United States.

Paramount’s CBS will air a handful of games on free broadcast TV, while the rest will be relegated to three WBD-owned cable channels: TBS, TNT, and Tru TV.

The first game of the first round will air live on CBS on Thursday, March 21 at 12:15 p.m. Eastern Time (9:15 a.m. Pacific Time), officially kicking off the start of the frenzy.

From there, games will be divided between CBS, TBS, TNT, and Tru TV for the remainder of the tournament. 

The “Final Four” games between the best four college basketball teams will air on TBS on Saturday, April 6, at 6 p.m. Eastern Time (3 p.m. Pacific Time).

The national championship game will air on TBS on Monday, April 8, at 9:15 p.m. Eastern Time (6:15 p.m. Pacific Time).

How can I watch the NCAA March Madness games for free with an antenna?

cbs logo march madness over antenna
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Those who have a conventional TV antenna can watch all CBS-broadcast games for free, simply by tuning to their local CBS station or affiliate.

If this is your first time watching free broadcast TV, you’ll need to pick up a reliable HD antenna (in my opinion, Mohu-brand antennas are among the best, and this is what I use), install the antenna into the back of the TV, then perform a channel scan to receive digital TV channels.

The steps to perform a channel scan vary by TV maker, so you’ll want to consult your owner’s manual for more information.

How can I stream the NCAA March Madness games without cable or satellite?

YouTube TV will allow streamers to watch up to four games from a single screen.
YouTube TV will allow streamers to watch up to four games from a single screen. (Image: YouTube TV / KnowTechie)

All CBS-broadcast games from the NCAA March Madness will stream on Paramount Plus with Showtime, which costs $12 per month or $120 per year after a free seven-day trial. 

For the first time, games airing on TBS, TNT, and Tru TV will also be available to stream without a cable or satellite package.

The games will be offered through Max, which starts at $10 per month or $100 per year (but is currently running a discount that saves streamers over 40% off an annual plan — good for new and existing Max customers).

All live games from TBS, TNT, and Tru TV will be offered through the B/R Sports section of Max, which is currently free for all subscribers (but will eventually cost a separate $10 per month).

What are some other options to stream the NCAA March Madness tournament?

streaming channel logos over march madness
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Several streaming cable TV replacements will also offer some or all of the NCAA March Madness tournament, including:

  • Sling TV: Offers TBS, TNT, and Tru TV in the “Sling Orange” or “Sling Blue” packages, which start at $40 per month. Sling TV does not offer CBS to subscribers.
  • YouTube TVOffers CBS, TBS, TNT, and Tru TV starting at $73 per month.
  • Hulu + Live TV: Offers CBS, TBS, TNT, and Tru TV starting at $76 per month.
  • DirecTV Stream: Offers CBS (in most areas), TBS, TNT, and Tru TV in the “Entertainment” package, which starts at $85 per month plus taxes. For a limited time, the “Entertainment” package also includes the Sports Pack add-on.
  • Fubo TV: Only offers NCAA March Madness games aired by CBS, starting at $80 per month plus taxes and a regional sports fee in most areas.

Some of the services include a limited-time free trial, so you can try them without a commitment. A few also include additional perks: Hulu + Live TV, for example, includes free access to the Hulu content library and the ad-supported versions of Disney+ and ESPN+. 

YouTube TV includes an unlimited cloud-based DVR that saves recorded shows for at least nine months and a new multi-view perk that allows subscribers to watch up to four live games at once. 

Where can I see a full schedule of NCAA March Madness games?

cbs sports march madness schedule
Image: KnowTechie

The full NCAA March Madness games schedule can be viewed on the CBS Sports website.

Have any thoughts on this? Drop us a line below in the comments, or carry the discussion to our Twitter or Facebook.

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Matthew Keys is an award-winning freelance journalist who covers the intersection of media, technology and journalism. He is the publisher of TheDesk.net and a contributor to KnowTechie, StreamTV Insider (formerly Fierce Video) and Digital Content Next. Matthew is based in Northern California.

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