March Madness 2016 is here, and it’s time for the NCAA Championship — Villanova vs North Carolina! Want to watch March Madness online? It’s arguably the most exciting sporting event of the year. Every game has the potential to turn into an instant classic, and every team believes they have a shot at capturing the National Championship. Simply put, it’s a sporting event that can’t be missed. That’s why there were 80.7 million March Madness live streams in 2015, up 17% over 2014, and even more people are expected to watch the NCAA Tournament online in 2016.
Although the majority of the 2016 March Madness schedule airs on cable TV channels, thanks to new streaming services, you can now legally watch March Madness online without cable. That means you can watch the the NCAA Championship online free in its entirety. Read on to learn how you can enjoy a legal March Madness live stream all throughout the tournament so you don’t miss a single game.
Sling TV Offers the Best Way to Watch March Madness Online
Sling TV (watch now with a free 7-day trial) is arguably the easiest way to watch March Madness streaming without cable. The streaming service gives subscribers live access to a number of cable TV channels, including TNT, TBS, truTV (normally an add-on channel but will be added to the base package during March Madness), and ESPN — all for $20 a month with no contract. Remember, the cable channels that show March Madness are TNT, TBS, and truTV, and TBS will even be home to the National Championship game, so Sling TV has you covered for roughly 70% of the games if you want to watch the NCAA Tournament online.
You can watch Sling TV on just about any device of your choosing. Want to watch it on your TV? If you have a streaming player, like a Roku, Amazon Fire TV, or Chromecast, you can watch March Madness online right on your big screen. Don’t have a streaming player? That’s okay, Sling is running a great promo right now. Sign up for 3 months of service and you can get a free Roku 2 or take 50% off the Roku 3 streaming player. That’s an excellent deal and a great way to enjoy a March Madness live stream on your TV. Sling TV is also available on smartphones, tablets, and computers.
Are you a T-Mobile customer? If so, Sling TV has a special deal you’ll want to consider — get the Best of Live TV package for just $14 a month for up to 12 months (you can still cancel service any time). That’s 30% off the regular price for all the same great channels when you sign up with your T-Mobile account. Also, now that T-Mobile has the Binge On feature, you’ll be allowed to stream Sling TV on your mobile devices without it using your data package. So, if you have T-Mobile, learn more about this special deal and start a free 7-day trial.
Sling TV is offering a free 7-day trial right now. That means you could sign up for a free trial the day the tournament starts and catch the entire first weekend (or a later round of the tournament if you so choose) of TNT, TBS, and truTV games at no cost. The service takes just seconds to get signed up for and start watching. This is a great way to watch March Madness online free and see what you think of the service.
If you decide you like Sling TV and want to keep it for the rest of the tournament, it’s $20 a month, and you can cancel at any time without any penalty. Check out our full Sling TV review for more details about the service.
Watch March Madness Games on CBS Free with Your Antenna, Mobile Devices, or Computer
CBS is the one station playing NCAA March Madness games that’s free for everybody. Every weekend, CBS will be showing a number of tournament games. In total, 21 tournament games will be aired on CBS, about 1/3 of the tournament.
The easiest way to watch March Madness on CBS is using your antenna connected to your TV. A good antenna (I personally recommend the Mohu Leaf) will get you the highest quality picture and sound (side note – cable companies compress their broadcasts due to limited bandwidth and infrastructure costs, that’s why OTA channels look better). To take the experience to the next level, you can add an over-the-air DVR to your setup so you can record all the games on CBS and not miss a thing. Some over-the-air DVRs, like the Tablo, even let you stream live TV and your recordings directly to your connected devices anywhere you go. This is just one more way to watch March Madness online.
Don’t have an antenna? In past years, CBSSports.com has always streamed the channel’s games on their website. Expect them to once again have CBS’ March Madness streaming on their site this year.
All Access Offers Most Viable Way to Stream March Madness Games from CBS to Your TV without Cable
Also worth noting, All Access subscribers (review) in over 132 markets (80% of the country) will be able to live stream the CBS games through the service as well. This is important because All Access is the only widely available service that will let you stream CBS games to your TV using a streaming player without a cable TV login. You cannot stream CBS games to your TV free using the March Madness Live app, so All Access is the best choice if you want to stream those NCAA Tournament games on the big screen. All Access is available on a number of streaming devices, including Roku, Chromecast, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Android, and Xbox gaming consoles.
PlayStation Vue Offers Another Way to Watch the NCAA Tournament Online
It’s also worth noting that Sony’s PlayStation Vue streaming service offers all four of the channels airing March Madness games this year (with some exceptions). Vue is similar to Sling TV in that it offers live TV channels streaming over the internet. There are, however, some important distinctions that need to be made.
First, full PlayStation Vue packages that carry live local channels (CBS is relevant in this case) are currently only available in a small number of select markets across the country, including Chicago, Dallas, Miami, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York. However, Vue does offer a new Slim Access package nationwide that includes the other 3 channels streaming March Madness (TBS, TNT, and TruTV) along with a number of other channels, starting at $29.99 a month. So, the price of Vue is a little more than that of Sling TV. And it’s not currently available on many devices, only PlayStation 3/4 consoles, Amazon Fire TV, Chromecast, and iPhones/iPads.
Check out our PlayStation Vue review for more details about the service.
Can You Use the March Madness Live App to Watch the NCAA Tournament Online?
As with previous years, the NCAA is really pushing their March Madness Live app as a way to stream the games online. The app will carry all 67 games of the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship for cable TV subscribers, and it can be accessed through and through all the top mobile app stores, including Apple, Android, Amazon Fire, Roku, and Windows platforms for mobile devices and streaming players (cable TV login required to watch any games on your TV).
Here’s the catch with the March Madness Live stream app, though. Without a cable TV subscription, you’ll only be able to watch the CBS games on the app on mobile devices for free. This will give you the ability to watch those CBS games on your phone, tablet, or computer from wherever you want. You won’t be able to watch the games on your TV using a streaming player unless you have a cable login. For the other games, a subscriber login for a cable provider is needed. It is worth noting, however, that the March Madness Live stream app will offer a “temporary preview period giving users access to live game streaming before login is required.” In recent years, this temporary preview period was only 3 hours, however, which is much shorter than Sling’s 7-day free preview period.
March Madness Schedule 2016
The full March Madness TV schedule will be added once it’s available, but for now, here’s the schedule of upcoming events so you can watch March Madness online in its entirety.
*All times listed in Eastern Time
Monday, April 4
Villanova vs North Carolina (TBS, “homer coverage” on TNT and TruTV)
March Madness FAQ
When does March Madness start?
Technically, March Madness starts with Selection Sunday. This is where the committee announces which teams will compete in the tournament and what their seeds will be. The first play-in games of the NCAA Tournament tip off on Tuesday, March 15 at 6:30 p.m. ET, and the full first round gets under way Thursday, March 17 at 12:15 p.m. ET.
How long does March Madness last?
The entire March Madness tournament runs for about 3 weeks, concluding with the National Championship game on Monday, April 4 on TBS.
What are the March Madness channels that will be showing games?
TBS, TNT, TruTV, and CBS are the only four channels that will be broadcasting March Madness games on TV. Both the Final Four and National Championship will air on TBS this year for the first time ever. In upcoming years, TBS and CBS will swap coverage every other year for the National Championship game.
How many people will stream March Madness online?
During the first week of the tournament alone, as many as 50 million people (around 20% up the workforce, up from 11% in 2014 and 15% in 2015) will live stream games during work hours, averaging just under 2 hours of March Madness streaming time while on the clock. When you that each of these workers also spends about an hour filling out their March Madness brackets while at work, the cost of loss productivity could reach as high as $3.9 billion according to some estimates — and that’s just during the first week!
Can I legally watch March Madness online free?
Yes! You don’t need cable to watch March Madness streaming. This year, there are legal NCAA streaming options, including Sling TV, which gives you live access to TNT, TBS, and TruTV. You can get a free 7-day trial to watch March Madness free. The March Madness Live app will let you watch the games on CBS for free with no cable login required, but only on mobile devices. Remember, CBS is also a free over-the-air channel, so if you have an antenna, that’s another way you can watch those games for free.
Which devices can I use to watch March Madness online?
This year, you’ll be able to watch March Madness online on just about every platform. Sling TV is available on computers, smart phones, tablets, Xbox One, and most streaming players, including Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Chromecast, Android TV, ZTE, and Channel Master devices. The March Madness Live app is now available on 12 platforms, most notably for 2016 now including Apple TV. However, you can only stream CBS games on mobile devices without a cable TV provider login. And finally, PlayStation Vue is accessible on PlayStation 3/4 consoles, Amazon Fire TV, Chromecast, and iPhones/iPads.
How can I watch March Madness on iPhone, iPad, and other mobile devices?
There are several easy, legal ways you can watch March Madness online on your mobile devices. Sling TV offers a mobile app for smartphones and tablets, allowing you to stream the games on TNT, TBS, and TruTV directly to your devices. The March Madness Live app is also on all mobile devices, but if you don’t have a cable TV login, you’ll only be able to stream the CBS games for free. There’s also the CBS Sports app for streaming those CBS games free.
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