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How To Watch March Madness without Cable (2018)


We are less than a week away from the start of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. “Selection Sunday” starting on March 11th. The First Round starts on March 15th. However, the first 4 teams square off on March 13th and 14th, ushering in what I consider the official start to March Madness.

The NCAA Tournament is one of those sporting events you can catch without paying a dime for cable or satellite TV. Nearly every game of the tournament is available through streaming or a TV antenna.

Watch Every NCAA Tournament Game Online

This year’s games will be aired on 4 different networks, CBS, TBS, TNT, and TruTV. At first, this may make you recoil but fear not. All these channels are available in most areas on a few streaming services.  The most affordable is DIRECTV NOW at $35 per month. However, you can test them out with a 1-week free trial.

Check Out a 1-Week Free Trial to DIRECTV NOW

Not only does DIRECTV NOW provide live access to TBS, TNT, and TruTV but they also provide live access to your local CBS affiliate in most of the country. With this service, you can watch CBS live in the following 53 cities:

  • Ames, IA
  • Atlanta, GA
  • Baltimore, MD
  • Boston, MA
  • Chicago, IL
  • Cleveland, OH
  • Columbus, OH
  • Dallas, TX
  • Dayton, OH
  • Denver, CO
  • Des Moines, IA
  • Detroit, MI
  • Ft. Lauderdale, FL
  • Ft. Worth, TX
  • Greensboro, NC
  • Hagerstown, MD
  • Houston, TX
  • Hutchinson, KS
  • Jacksonville, FL
  • Kansas City, MO
  • Knoxville, TN
  • Lexington, KY
  • Little Rock, AR
  • Los Angeles, CA
  • Louisville, KY
  • Miami, FL
  • Minneapolis, MN
  • Modesto, CA
  • Nashville, TN
  • New Orleans, LA
  • New York, NY
  • Oakland, CA
  • Oklahoma City, OK
  • Pheonix, AZ
  • Philadelphia, PA
  • Pine Bluff, AR
  • Pittsburgh, PA
  • Roanoke, VA
  • Sacramento, CA
  • Salem, NC
  • San Antonio, TX
  • San Francisco, CA
  • San Jose, CA
  • Seattle, WA
  • St. Louis, MO
  • St. Paul, MN
  • St. Petersburg, FL
  • Stockton, CA
  • Tampa, FL
  • Tulsa, OK
  • Washington, DC
  • Wichita, KS
  • Winston, NC

If you aren’t in or close to one of these markets, you can still stream TBS, TNT, and TruTV while using a TV antenna to catch your local CBS broadcast. Also be sure to check out our full review of DIRECTV NOW.

Other Ways to Stream March Madness

While DIRECT TV is the most affordable here are some other options to try.

Sling TV and CBS All Access – Sling TV provides access to TBS, TNT, and TruTV. Live TBS and TNT is available through the base package, while TruTV is accessible through their “Lifestyle Package” for an additional $5 per month. The best think about the service is there is no contract, so you can drop it at any time. You can get their service free for 1-week. Since Sling TV doesn’t offer CBS, you can still catch those games with CBS All Access or by using a TV Antenna.

YouTube TV – This service from Google provides access to your local CBS, TBS, TNT, and TruTV for $40 per month. However, it isn’t available in all parts of the country. Check out my review of YouTube TV for information on availability.

Hulu TV – This service starts at $40 per month and much like DIRECTV NOW and YouTube TV they offer access to all the channels you need for March Madness. Check out our review of Hulu TV for more information on availability. They also offer a free trial for their service.

PlayStation Vue –  PS VUE also starts at $40 per month. It also offers all the cable TV channels you need with CBS being available in specific markets. Check out our review of PlayStation Vue for more information.

Watch March Madness Online for Free

The NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament last three weeks, with the First Round of the starting on March 15th and wrapping up with the National Championship game on Monday, April 2nd. This means you can take advantage of 1-week free trials from three of the services I mentioned above and watch the whole tournament for free. Just be sure to cancel each service before your free trial ends.

2018 March Madness TV Schedule

  • The First Four square off on Tuesday, March 13th and Wednesday, March 14th on TruTV
  • The First Round is played on March 15th and 16th on CBS, TBS, TNT, TruTV
  • The Second Round starts on Saturday, March 17th and concludes on Sunday, March 18th with games aired on CBS and TBS
  • Thursday, March 22rd kicks off the Sweet Sixteen and plays into Friday, March 23th with games airing on CBS and TBS.
  • The Elite Eight start playing the next day on Saturday the 24th. They continue to play on Sunday, March 25th. Those games will air on TBS and CBS.
  • The Final Four is played on  Saturday, March 31st at 6 pm and8:30 pm ET. The games will air on TBS
  • The National Championship is on Monday, April 2nd at 9:00 PM ET on TBS

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Categories: Tech News
Dennis Restauro :Dennis is the founder of Grounded Reason. He also hosts the Grounded Reason Podcast. Follow him on Twitter: Follow Dennis on Twitter

View Comments (4)

  • Dennis
    Thanks for the update about March Madness.
    Thanks in part to your web site we have finally cut the cord and are generally pleased the alternative service of OTA and Amazon Fire Stick and a broad menu of apps.

    As a DSL provider we're trying to develp a business mdodel where we support the over the top IPTV culture for our customers. Oneof hte biggest obstilces i hae experienced is the missing on screen programin g guide fo the basis OTA 30+ programs.

    We have bought a Channel Master DVR that does incorporate an on-screen guide but we're looking for one that we can buy in volume and incorporate our own guild. Do you know of any manufactures that make a DVR that have a IP input and an on-screen API for a programming guide?
    It has been our experince that is the biggest obsticle for more cable customer not cutting the cord.
    Thanks for any advice you can render.

    James

    • Hi James,

      Have you looked at 3scale.net? They put together a TV guide API with tiered pricing to fit small to enterprise operations. Does that fit what you are looking for?

    • I was just researching that and couldn't find anything out there. Have any New Englanders out there find a way?