It’s officially March, which means it’s time to watch March Madness! In a few weeks, college basketball fans become obsessed with catching all the action, hoping their team will be cutting down the nets at the end of it all. Many fans want to know how to watch March Madness without cable, fearing they can’t watch games without a cable contract.
Thankfully, that’s not the case. You can watch March Madness live without cable. We cut the cord over three years ago, and this post explains how we watch March Madness every year and save buckets of money.
What Channel is March Madness on?
Most sports fans know you need ESPN to watch most games – here’s how to watch ESPN without cable. Unfortunately, ESPN does nothing to help you watch March Madness.
Here are the channels you need to watch March Madness:
Aside from CBS, all of the channels typically come with a traditional cable contract. Thanks to the best streaming providers, you can watch March Madness games live without a pricey contract.
If you work it right, you can even watch March Madness games for free, but it does take some work.
Best Ways to Watch March Madness without Cable
Are you obsessed with college basketball but don’t like a cable contract? Here’s how to watch March Madness without cable:
Not every streaming platform provides access to local channels. This can pose a problem for those who want to watch NCAA March Madness without cable.
Hulu Live is the best option to watch March Madness because they offer local channels. The service also offers TBS, TNT, and TruTV as part of their base plan.
This lets you watch all the action and not deal with other providers. Other things to like about Hulu Live are:
- 60+ live TV channels
- Cloud DVR, with up to 50 hours of storage
- Stream on two devices at once
- Access to their full library of original content
Hulu Live works on a wide array of devices, so you don’t need to worry about having a special device to access the platform.
Hulu Live costs $44.99 per month, with no contract. This provides you access to all of their channels, plus all of their original content and on-demand movies.
Check out our Hulu with Live TV review to learn more about how it works and what channels they provide.
Try the 7-day free trial to see if the Hulu Live platform is for you.
Sling TV is a close runner-up to Hulu Live to watching March Madness without cable. The Sling platform is the no-contract arm of Dish TV and gets you access to 30 channels for $25 per month.
As a part of the base package, you can get TBS, TNT, and TruTV. Please note you will need to select the “Blue” package to get TruTV. It costs the same as their “Orange” package but has slightly different channels.
You will notice Sling TV does not offer CBS, so you won’t be able to watch all March Madness games with Sling TV. In fact, Sling TV only offers CBS and other locals in a select few cities.
You will need other options to get games on CBS, which are detailed below.
Other things to like about Sling TV are:
- They’re one of the cheapest streaming providers in the market
- Stream on up to three devices at once with Sling Blue
- Ability to add customized channel packages for just $5 per month
- Cloud DVR, but costs $5 per month
Check out our guide on Sling TV packages to learn more about the platform and what channels they provide.
Try the 7-day free trial to see if the Sling TV is for you.
CBS All Access
CBS All Access is a suitable addition to watch March Madness without cable, particularly if you choose Sling TV as your streaming provider.
They let you stream any CBS content directly on your computer, phone, or smart TV. You can also live stream any of their content with the service.
This lets you watch March Madness games online – as long as they’re on CBS.
CBS All Access has two plan options. You can get it with limited commercials for $5.99 per month, or commercial free for $9.99 per month.
Try the 7-day free trial to see if CBS All Access is for you.
If you want a streaming provider to watch March Madness online, YouTube TV may be the option for you. YouTube TV, unlike Sling TV, offers CBS in most markets.
YouTube TV is also fully customizable, allowing you to have up to six accounts per household. The one downside is YouTube TV is not available in every market, although it is growing.
Other things to like about YouTube TV are:
- 60+ live channels
- Unlimited storage DVR
- Stream on up to three devices at once
One other thing to consider with YouTube TV is they’re lacking in some lifestyle channels such as HGTV. Here’s how to watch HGTV without cable.
YouTube TV also offers a 7-day free trial to test out the platform. After the trial period, YouTube TV costs $40 per month.
PlayStation Vue is a robust streaming platform; however, the one drawback is they’re among the most expensive streaming platforms in the space.
The cheapest plan – “Access” – costs $44.99 per month and provides access to TBS, TNT, and TruTV. Depending on your market you may also get CBS, but that is not a given.
Another thing to consider is PlayStation Vue only allows you to view content from what it considers your home base. It bases this off your IP address and is unique to streaming providers.
If you plan on watching content outside of your home, this may be worth considering.
While there are some concerns, there are things to like about PlayStation Vue:
- Base package offers 45+ channels
- Unlimited storage DVR
- Can stream on up to five devices at once
PlayStation Vue offers a 5-day free trial to test out the platform.
As you would imagine, DirecTV Now is the no-contract arm of DirecTV. DirecTV Now is a solid option to watch NCAA March Madness without cable as you can access TBS, TNT, and TruTV in their base package.
The base package, “Live A Little,” costs $40 per month and in many markets also provides access to CBS. If you live in a market without CBS, you will need an antenna or CBS All Access to get all games.
Other things to like about DirecTV Now are:
- Base package offers 60+ channels
- Cloud DVR, with up to 20 hours of storage
- Can stream up to two devices at once, add $5 per month for one more device
The one big downside to DirecTV Now is it gets expensive quickly, with the next plan costing $55 per month, and up to $75 per month. This can wipe out any savings from cutting the cord.
Check out our DirecTV Now review to learn more about the platform and the free trial.
The final way to watch March Madness without cable is with a digital antenna. A digital antenna is one of the best tools to get content when you cut the cord.
Through it, you can watch local TV without cable and without being held hostage by streaming providers who don’t offer local channels. Additionally, a digital antenna is only a one-time cost.
Most digital antennas are simple to install, and often cost $50 or less. A digital antenna will let you watch any March Madness games on CBS, so you’ll need a streaming provider for games on TBS, TNT, or TruTV.
Check out the best digital antennas on Amazon to watch local TV.
Watch March Madness Live Online for Free
Many people want to know how to watch March Madness online for free. Unfortunately, that’s not possible. Although the NCAA does offer a March Madness live stream from their website, you need a cable login to access the games.
You can access up to three hours for free through the NCAA Fast Break Stream, but it requires a cable login to get anything beyond that.
When is March Madness?
The March Madness schedule varies each year. Here is the schedule for March Madness 2019:
- Selection Sunday – March 17
- First Four – March 19 – 20
- 1st/2nd Rounds – March 21 – 24
- South Regional – March 28 and 30
- West Regional – March 28 and 30
- East Regional – March 29 and 31
- Midwest Regional – March 29 and 31
- Final Four, National Championship – April 6 and 8
As you can see, it’s nearly three weeks of college basketball at its best.
2019 March Madness TV Schedule
If you want to know where to watch March Madness, check out the March Madness TV schedule below:
- Selection Sunday – CBS
- First Four – truTV
- First and Second rounds – CBS, TBS, TNT, truTV
- Regional Semifinals and Finals – CBS and TBS
- Final Four and National Championship – CBS
As you can see, this year you don’t even need a streaming provider to watch the Final Four and National Championship. A digital antenna will get you those games with no recurring cost.
What is the best way to watch NCAA March Madness live?
Unfortunately, there is no good way to watch March Madness online for free. The streaming option provided by the NCAA does eventually require a cable login.
Thankfully, you can get most, if not all, of the 67 total games through a streaming provider. You can take advantage of free trials to find the best provider for your needs.
Don’t feel a need to stay saddled with your $110+ per month cable contract to watch March Madness. You simply don’t need it.
How to Watch March Madness without Cable: Bottom Line
I love March Madness! Many feel the same way and want to know how to watch March Madness without cable. There are several ways you can watch all the games without tying yourself to an expensive monthly plan.
Nearly all of the streaming providers above work on a wide array of devices. Many of them also offer free trials to let you test out their service.
Take it from a fellow sports nut; you don’t need cable to watch your favorite games. It’s possible to see all the action and save $50+ per month.
How do you watch March Madness without cable? What’s one channel that’s keeping you from cutting the cord? If you’ve cut the cord, how much are you saving each month?
Source: Frugal Rules