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March 14th marks the beginning of one of the most popular events in all of sports: the NCAA Division 1 Men’s Basketball Tournament a.k.a. March Madness. The tournament spans the entire second half of the month and culminates with the Final Four and Championship at the beginning of April.
For cord cutters, it’s never been easier to watch all the action. Here are the most important details.
While the exact schedule hasn’t been released yet, here’s an overview of dates for each round, as well as which networks will be broadcasting.
Last year, CBS broadcast 21 games throughout the March Madness tournament, but TNT had the most important matchups, including the Final Four and the Championship game. This year, CBS will carry plenty of action in nearly every round with one major difference—the Final Four and the Championship will be broadcast on CBS. Not only that, CBS will also broadcast Selection Sunday on March 12th, which will kick off the tournament festivities.
What does that mean for cord cutters? You can watch the most important action for free without even subscribing to a streaming service. And of course, if you want to record the action, skip commercials, or even stream on-the-go, simply pair your antenna with an over-the-air DVR like the Tablo. That way you ensure you don’t miss a moment of the action.
Not sure which antenna is right for you? Plug in your zip code for a recommendation.
CBS shares March Madness broadcast rights with Turner for all rounds of the tournament leading up to the Final Four. Turner divides its share of games among TNT, TBS, and TruTV. Unfortunately, none of these networks are available using your antenna. However, cord cutters can receive these channels on one of the following streaming services:
For $25 per month, Sling Blue will get you TBS, TruTV and TNT live streaming. If you have the Sling Orange, TruTV is available on the Comedy Plus Extra add-on package.
PlayStation Vue is the second cheapest way to watch the Turner-owned stations at $29.99 per month. You’ll also find that in some markets, Vue allows you to stream the CBS affiliate, which could be pretty enticing for some people.
DIRECTV NOW features all three Turner-owned stations you need in its $35 per month package. It’s worth noting that the service is not currently live on Roku devices.
The great thing about the services above is that each comes with a 7-day free trial. Theoretically, you could switch between free trials and catch all the rounds with TNT, TBS, and TruTV match-ups.
The NCAA does have its own official app for the tournament, the March Madness Live app. The app is available on most major streaming players and mobile devices. You can also access the web-based version here.
The bad part about the app is that it requires a cable login for all TNT, TBS, and TruTV games. However, it doesn’t require a login for CBS games, as long as you watch on your computer or mobile device. CBS games won’t be streamed for free on streaming players like Roku or Apple TV.
CBS does have its own streaming service, CBS All Access. The service is available in the majority of markets across the US with a live stream of the local affiliate, starting at $5.99 per month.
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A new report found that there are over 100 available over-the-air stations you can watch for free with an antenna.