How to Watch the NCAA Tournament Online: 2016 Live Stream Guide

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Men's College Basketball

The NCAA Tournament is the biggest event in college basketball. Want to watch the NCAA Tournament online?

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From the conference tournaments to Selection Sunday, to the early round games and then to the Final Four, the NCAA Men’s Division I basketball tournament kicks off this month. And following incredible, record-breaking viewership in 2015 that generated 80.7 million live video streams online, expect even more people to tune into the games from smartphones, tablets and computers, hoping their picks lead to a money-winning bracket. If you’re looking to watch the NCAA Tournament online, keep reading!

This year’s tournament, in a sense, is historical. After 47 years of being broadcast on a network that could be watched for free, over the air using an antenna, the championship game is moving to TBS, a channel that requires a cable subscription. (Don’t worry, it’s moving back to CBS next year and then alternating with TBS through 2024.) Still, there are ways to watch the NCAA Tournament online.

Thankfully for cord-cutters, there are plenty of ways to watch an NCAA Tournament live stream — including the Final Four — online. Let the madness begin!


What’s The Best Way to Watch the NCAA Tournament Online?

Sling TV

For the die-hard March Madness fans who don’t have a cable subscription, Sling TV is the answer. The streaming service, which costs $20 per month with no contract, includes TNT, TBS and truTV — the three cable channels that are also airing the games. Sling also offers ESPN, so you can flip over to the sports network for commentary and analysis following the games.

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 more about it in our Sling TV review.

Sling does offer a free 7-day trial, which means you could watch NCAA tournament streaming for free, making it a great way to enjoy March Madness online at no cost. If you’re satisfied with the service, pay $20 for the month to enjoy the rest of the tournament. If not, cancel and you won’t pay a dime!

Try Sling TV for FREE today!


How Does the Official NCAA March Madness Live App Work?

From Selection Sunday on March 13, to the Final Four on April 2, you can watch a good portion of March Madness tournament games absolutely for free through the NCAA’s official March Madness Live app.

Unfortunately, some of the games — specifically the ones broadcast on TBS, TNT and truTV — require a pay-TV login. So, unless you have a cable subscription, this is not the best way to watch the NCAA Tournament online as you’ll be fairly limited. Games broadcast on CBS are free to watch on the app.

That being said, there is a live preview available. It’s unclear how long that preview will be this year.

The app can send alerts to your phone or tablet, letting you know if an upset is brewing, allowing you to quickly tune in.

It’s available for free download from the iTunes, Google Play, Windows 10 and Amazon app stores, in addition to dedicated apps for Roku and the new Apple TV.


Can I Watch the NCAA Tournament Online for Free?

CBS is the official, over-the-air broadcast network for the tournament. That means one of the easiest ways to watch the games from your living room is by hooking up an antenna to your TV. We personally recommend starting with the Mohu Leaf, which can get you the highest-quality picture and sound. (Remember, cable companies compress their channels to squeeze their hundreds of channels in their limited bandwidth.)

If you’re on the go, streams the games that are scheduled to air on CBS on its website and dedicated app.

CBS All Access subscribers can also watch the games live on all of their devices, including the new Apple TV and Roku.


What is the NCAA Tournament Schedule?

Note: most games can be viewed using Sling TV

The tournament runs Tuesday, March 15, through Monday, April 4.

Thursday, March 24

7:10 p.m. Miami vs Villanova (CBS)

7:37 p.m. Texas A&M vs Oklahoma (TBS)

9:40 p.m. Maryland vs Kansas (CBS)

9:55 p.m. Duke vs Oregon (TBS)

Friday, March 25

7:10 p.m. Iowa State vs Virginia (CBS)

7:27 p.m. Wisconsin vs Notre Dame (TBS)

9:40 p.m. Gonzaga vs Syracuse (CBS)

9:57 p.m. Indiana vs North Carolina (TBS)

— Sweet 16 and Elite Eight —

* West Regional: Thursday, March 24, and Saturday, March 26, at the Honda Center in Anaheim, California.

* South Regional: Thursday, March 24, and Saturday, March 26, at the KFC Yum! Center in Louisville, Kentucky.

* Midwest Regional: Friday, March 25, and Sunday, March 27, at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois.

* East Regional: Friday, March 25, and Sunday, March 27, at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Channels: TBS and CBS


— Final Four, National Championship —

* Saturday, April 2, and Monday, April 4, at

NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas.

Channel: TBS


To learn more, you can always check out our complete college basketball streaming guide.

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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