The NCAA First Four is the official kickoff to March Madness each season. Eight teams (Florida Gulf Coast, Fairleigh Dickinson, Vanderbilt, Wichita St, Holy Cross, Southern U., Michigan, and Tulsa) will face off across in four games to make it into the round of 64 of the NCAA Tournament. The first round has featured the four-game format since 2011 and has led to some exciting storylines and games each year. For example, VCU won its matchup in the first round in 2011 and ultimately advanced to the Final Four.
Whether you are an avid or casual college basketball fan, if you have cut cable you’ll want to make sure to watch as much of March Madness and the First Four live stream. Thankfully, there are great options out there and we go into all of the detail you’ll need in our below guide to watch the First Four online.
Sling TV- The Best Way to Watch The First Four Live Stream
Dish Network’s subscription streaming service Sling TV will be the best resource out there to watch the First Four online. Also, it will be the best option for watching March Madness without cable. You subscribe to the service on a monthly basis and no contract is required, so it is easier to cancel if you change your mind than the difficult cable subscriptions. For the introductory package, the cost is only $20 per month. That means for just $20, you can watch the NCAA First Four live stream and the majority of the NCAA Tournament live.
The basic Sling TV (review) package includes channels like ESPN, ESPN2, TBS, TNT, truTV, and ESPN3 (accessible via WatchESPN by logging in with Sling TV credentials), and more. truTV, where all of the NCAA First Four games will be broadcast, is available in the basic package only during the NCAA Tournament, but can normally be added by paying an additional $5 per month for the Lifestyle Extra package. You can also add the Sports Extra Package, featuring channels like ESPNews, ESPNU, and ESPN Goal Line, for the same additional $5 per month.
TBS, TNT, and truTV will broadcast 46 of the 67 March Madness games live, and are all included with Sling TV. This includes the entirety of the First Four, the Final Four, and the National Championship game for the first time. Games will be broadcast in all other round as well, but will be split with CBS. Learn more about watching the NCAA Tournament without cable in our March Madness guide. Sling TV can be watched online on your computer, streaming on your phone or tablet, or directly on your TV with a device like Roku or Chromecast.
You can actually watch the NCAA First Four live stream for free with Sling TV. If you time it right, you can start Sling TV’s free 7-day trial before the First Four games and also watch some of the full March Madness tournament online free.
If you are considering Sling TV, the ultimate deciding factor might be Sling TV’s new limited-time offer. All you need to do is subscribe to Sling TV for three months (a cost of $60) and you can choose between receiving 50% off a Roku 3 or a FREE Roku 2. The Roku 2 actually retails at $69.99, so on its own it is $10 more than you’d be paying for the Roku 2 and three months of Sling TV combined.
Watch The First Four Online with PlayStation Vue (in Select Cities)
In 2015, Sony launched a subscription streaming service, PlayStation Vue, which has been marketed as a full cable alternative. It is structured similar to Sling TV where you pay on a monthly basis with no contract, gain access to popular cable channels, and can stream the channels on multiple devices. truTV is included in PlayStation Vue’s starting package, so it will be another great way to watch a NCAA First Four live stream.
The starting package called Access on PlayStation Vue has more than 60 cable channels including ESPN, ESPN2, TBS, TNT, truTV, FOX, CBS, and CNN. The Access package now costs $39.99 per month, not too bad of a price to watch the First Four online and tons of other TV shows and live sports. In addition, there are package options for higher prices that include additional channels and even premium options. With PlayStation Vue, you can watch a First Four live stream on PlayStation Consoles, iPads, Chromecast, or Amazon Fire TV.
PlayStation Vue sounds great on paper, but the biggest setback is Sony has not made the service available across the United States. Currently, it is only available in seven cities. The cities that you can sign up and watch the First Four on PlayStation Vue are Chicago, Dallas, Philadelphia, New York City, Los Angeles, Miami, and San Francisco. If you are in one of these areas and want to learn more about signing up to stream the First Four, check out our detailed review on PlayStation Vue.
NCAA First Four Schedule
All games available nationwide on Sling TV
All times listed in Eastern Time (ET)
Tuesday, March 15
6:30 p.m. Florida Gulf Coast vs Fairleigh Dickinson (TruTV)
9 p.m. Vanderbilt vs. Wichita St. (TruTV)
Wednesday, March 16
6:30 p.m. Holy Cross vs. Southern U. (TruTV)
9 p.m. Michigan vs. Tulsa (TruTV)
If you want to learn even more about how easy it is to watch sports without cable, check out our full guide on watching college basketball online after you cut the cord. Read more March Madness news at NCAA.com.
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