Can I Watch March Madness Online for Free?

Can I watch March Madness Online for Free


As millions of people gear up to fill out their 2017 March Madness brackets and veg out in front of some kind of screen to watch the best college basketball teams in the country compete for a national championship, a lot of them may be wondering if they can watch March Madness online for free.

The answer to this question is “yes!” After last year’s broadcast on TBS, this year the championship game and Final Four will move back over to CBS, an over-the-air channel that you can pick up with an antenna. The rest of the games will still be broadcast on the same four channels as last year: TBS, TNT, TruTV, and CBS. The NCAA struck an agreement two years ago that will see the big dance alternate between CBS and TBS each year through 2024, so this year, you’re in luck!

That being said, there are plenty of opportunities for cord-cutters to watch March Madness online free.


Watch March Madness Online Free for a Week with DIRECTV NOW

watch march madness online free

DIRECTV NOW is a newer service offered by cable provider DIRECTV, but it does not require a satellite like cable does. In fact, DIRECTV NOW is a total streaming service, allowing you to watch March Madness online free of hassle for the majority of the games. This service offers TBS, TNT, and TruTV in its packages, which start at $35 for over 60 channels. Concerned about the price? Just think about all those channels you get! The complete DIRECTV NOW channels list is in our review if you’re curious about what else you’ll be getting.

In addition to its variety of channels, this service is also ideal for those who prefer to watch March Madness streaming on-the-go. It has no mobile restrictions like PS Vue does. You can also use DIRECTV NOW to watch March Madness online free for a week when you take advantage of the 7-day trial. Plus, they are always offering special deals such as a free streaming player when you opt to pre-pay for service.

DIRECTV NOW will be adding new features and packages as time goes on, so it’s a good bet that this service is a great option for future viewing needs long after the final buzzer sounds.


Use Sling TV to Watch March Madness Online

Sling TV


With Sling TV, for $20 and no contract, you get TBS, TNT, and truTV. Sling is available on a number of devices, including Roku, Amazon Fire TV and Chromecast. (There are also some rumors bubbling right now about a dedicated app coming to the new Apple TV.) Read our Sling TV review fore more information.

Sling does offer a free 7-day trial for first-time customers, which means you could watch the first week of the tournament for free, making it a great way to watch March Madness online for free.

If you’re satisfied with the service, pay $20 for the month and give it a full ride. Sling also offers ESPN channels, which is great for all your ongoing sports-coverage needs. Plus, you’ll enjoy access to 20+ channels in total, for a ton more than just sports!


Can I Watch March Madness Online for Free?


Another good way to watch March Madness online for free is with CBS, especially since they’re the network showing the championship game for 2017. Send some love toward CBS, because they’re the only network that allows you to watch a good chunk of March Madness games for free, either online or via an old-school antenna.

Because CBS is the official over-the-air broadcast network for the tournament, you can watch all games they broadcast on their family of apps and using the official NCAA March Madness Live App. Games are also available at If you want to stream CBS games on your TV without cable TV, the only way to do so is with CBS All Access in select markets (free 7-day trial).


Other Options

* The official NCAA March Madness Live App is also offering games to stream, but only CBS games are entirely free on mobile devices only. The games on TBS, TNT and truTV require a paid TV login. The CBS games are also available on the Web at

March Madness Live is available on most streaming players, including Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV or Roku, but without a cable login, you can’t stream any games on your TV.

* Sony PlayStation Vue is similar to Sling TV in that it offers the three cable networks airing the games, but it’s more expensive at $29.99 per month. Check out our PlayStation Vue review for more info.


Anything else? For those without cable subscriptions and who don’t want to pay a dime for the content, there’s absolutely no shame in watching the games the old fashioned way: At your favorite local pub. You can also read our March Madness streaming guide and our College Basketball guide for more.

Cheers! And enjoy this year’s tournament.

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Andrew Dodson

Andrew Dodson

Andrew Dodson is a journalist from Michigan who writes for, the state's top online news source. He previously worked as the technology editor for, a trade publication that covers the broadcasting industry, where he frequently wrote about cord cutting and taking advantage of over-the-air television. Email him at or follow him on Twitter at @AndrewDodson.
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Andrew Dodson