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How to Watch March Madness 2024: Your Best Streaming, TV, and In-Person Options

How to Watch March Madness
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Updated March 17, 2024

It’s March once again, which means madness is upon us—a particular kind of madness caused by college basketball.

The road to the NCAA Division I Basketball National Championship is rife with madness indeed — for men, women, and fans alike. There are a total of 67 games played during the NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Tournament, and 68 played during the NCCA Women’s Tournament for a total of 135 games.

There are also quite a few ways for us spectators to experience the madness. Men’s games will air on CBS and Turner Sports, while Women’s games will be shown on ESPN and ESPN+. That means if you’re watching via cable channels, you’ll need ESPN, CBS, TBS, TNT, and TruTV. Any streaming platform will need to carry the same channels—YouTube TV, Sling TV, Hulu Live TV, and Paramount + are a few.

As William Shakespeare said, “though this be but madness, yet there is method in it.” Whether you’re filling out a bracket or watching for fun, here are the best ways to tune into all the madness.

Our top picks for how to stream March Madness 2024

Best streaming platform: HBO Max and Paramount +

Best streaming platform
Paramount +

If you’re not concerned with live television streaming access, the cheapest option to watch all the games is actually a combination of two streaming platforms—HBO Max and Paramount+. HBO Max will grant you access to all the games that air on Turner Sports, while Paramount + takes care of the CBS games.

HBO Max offers three plans—with ads, ad-free, and ultimate ad-free with 4K. The with ads plan will get you the access you need, and costs $10 per month. Unfortunately, HBO Max doesn’t offer a free trial. Paramount + offers one week free for new subscribers, and costs $11.99 per month after that.

Both HBO Max and Paramount + allow you to cancel at any time, so you could watch the entire tournament using these two platforms for only $22 total. Since the championship takes place on April 8th, you’ll just have to be sure you’ve signed up after March 8th to extend the subscription for the necessary days.

Specifications:

  • Price range: $22 per month
  • Access: All games
  • Introductory offers: One week (Paramount +)
  • Mobile app? Yes (both)

The bottom line:

HBO Max and Paramount + combine to allow access to all the tournament games for only $22.

Watch here: Paramount +


Cheapest live tv streaming option: Sling TV

Cheapest live tv streaming option
Sling TV

At $40 per month, Sling TV is the cheapest live tv streaming option; however, it does not offer access to CBS, so you’ll only be able to watch games broadcast on Turner Sports channels. This is a great and affordable option if you don’t need to watch every tournament game.

SlingTV offers two different packages that prioritize different types of channels (i.e. sports, entertainment, etc.), both priced at $40 per month. Each also offers an introductory offer of half off the first month ($20). You can also prepay four months for a combination of both plans at a discounted price of $120.

Specifications:

  • Price range: $40 per month
  • Access: Turner Sports (TBS, TNT, and TruTV)
  • Introductory offers: Half off the first month, or prepay discount
  • Mobile app? Yes

The bottom line:

Sling TV is an affordable live tv streaming option if you don’t need access to every tournament game.

Watch here: Sling TV



Best live television streaming for general sports lovers: Fubo

Best live television streaming for general sports lovers

If you’re a sports lover in general looking to tune into parts of the NCAA Tournament, Fubo is a live television streaming option with access to a ton of other sports channels, including regional channels and conference-specific channels like the Big 10 and SEC Networks, as well as pro sports channels like NFL Network and The Tennis Channel. Add-ons like Showtime and NBA League Pass are available at an additional cost for extra customizability.

Fubo offers a couple of packages — the Pro package will get you 164 channels for $80/month while the Elite upgrades you to 261 channels for $90/month. Both offer $20 off your first month, 1,000 hours of DVR space, and unlimited devices, which we love.

The multi-view feature makes Fubo a great way to watch a lot of tournament games at once, but unfortunately Fubo doesn’t have the rights to Turner Sports, so you’ll only be able to watch games that air on CBS.

Specifications:

  • Price range: $79.99 — $89.99 per month; add-ons optional
  • Access: CBS
  • Introductory offers: $20 discount on first month
  • Mobile app? Yes

The bottom line:

With above average access to regional and professional sports networks, but not Turner Sports channels, Fubo is an ideal option for sports lovers who don’t need to watch every tournament game.

Watch here: Fubo


Best live television streaming for unlimited DVR: DirectTV Stream

Best live television streaming for unlimited DVR

If you’re big into sports and entertainment and prefer to record your favorite shows and games, DirectTV Stream is a live television streaming option that’s available without a DirectTV subscription, and offers unlimited DVR space. A bit pricier than a service like YouTube TV, you get all the same access with options for add-ons. The catch is that you’ll need the third tier “Ultimate” package for $114/month to access all the tournament games.

With the Ultimate package, you’ll be able to access channels like the NHL, MLB, and NFL Networks, NBA TV, and The Tennis Channel, so it’s a great option for general sports enthusiasts.

Specifications:

  • Price range: $69.99 — $159.99 per month
  • Access: All games
  • Introductory offers: $100 gift card for first-time subscribers who commit to 24 months
  • Mobile app? Yes

The bottom line:

On the pricier side, DirectTV Stream’s third tier package offers access to optimal sports and entertainment channels, plus all the NCAA tournament games.

Watch here: DirectTV Stream


 

Best for tournament streaming on the go: Hulu + Live TV

Best for tournament streaming on the go
Catch NCAA® March Madness® Live on Hulu

Catch NCAA® March Madness® Live on Hulu

With a great mobile app, Hulu + Live TV will allow you to stream all the NCAA Tournament games on the go, with ease. With free cancellation at any time, you could sign up just long enough to watch the whole tournament, but you might not want to. In addition to live television streaming, Hulu + Live TV includes access to popular streaming platforms like Disney+ and ESPN +. You can add platforms like Paramount + and HBO Max for an additional cost.

Specifications:

  • Price range: $76.99 per month; add-ons available
  • Access: All games
  • Introductory offers: None
  • Mobile app? Yes

The bottom line:

Hulu + Live TV offers all the perks of its streaming platform — including access to Disney+ and ESPN+ and comfortable mobile streaming — plus live television with access to all the NCAA Tournament games.

Watch here: Hulu + Live TV


Best free streaming option: March Madness Live

March Madness Live is the NCAA’s website that covers the entire tournament and allows you to access the games online or via the mobile app for free, with a catch. The truly free streaming only lasts for three hours. After that, you’ll be asked to link a paid television subscription to continue streaming.

For that reason, this option is best for those who have a subscription with a cable provider and want the flexibility to stream online or through the app on different devices.

Specifications:

  • Price range: Free — varying cost of cable television providers
  • Access: All games
  • Introductory offers: None
  • Mobile app? Yes

The bottom line:

March Madness Live is a good option for cable subscribers who want the flexibility to stream tournament games online or through the app.

Best overall live tv streaming option: YouTube TV

YouTube TV is one of the most popular live television streaming platforms today and the cheapest option considering the channels it provides. With YouTube TV, you’ll have access to all of the tournament games, plus special features like multi-view, which allows you to watch up to four games at once on the same screen (maximum madness!).

A YouTube TV subscription costs $72.99 per month, but new subscribers can get their first three months free, and a $10 discount for their first paid month after that. Those considering this option should note that YouTube TV is a live TV streaming platform, meaning it should replace, not supplement, a cable subscription.

Specifications:

  • Price range: $72.99 per month
  • Access: CBS and Turner Sports (all games)
  • Introductory offers: Free for first three months, $10 discount for first paid month after that.
  • Mobile app? Yes

The bottom line:

YouTube TV will allow you to access all tournament games, plus features like multi-view.


March Madness 2024 tickets

To experience the madness in person, you also have quite a few options, depending on which round you attend. The men’s tournament first and second rounds are housed in many cities across the U.S.:

  • Charlotte, North Carolina
  • Omaha, Nebraska
  • Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  • Salt Lake City, Utah
  • Brooklyn, New York
  • Indianapolis, Indiana
  • Memphis, Tennessee
  • Spokane, Washington

The next two rounds (Sweet Sixteen and Elite Eight) will be held in:

  • Boston, Massachusetts
  • Los Angeles, California
  • Dallas, Texas
  • Detroit, Michigan

The women’s Sweet Sixteen and Elite Eight will be held in:

  • Albany, New York
  • Portland, Oregon

The men’s final four and championship game will be held in Phoenix, Arizona, while the women’s final four and championship game will take place in Cleveland, Ohio.

The price will depend on which round and games you want to attend as well as the seats and package you choose. Tickets go up in price as the field narrows, with the most expensive game obviously being the championship itself. Prices for the first and second rounds of the 2023 tournament ranged from $48 into the thousands of dollars, for example, while the lowest price for the national championship game was almost $250.

You can buy tickets directly from the NCAA website or from a number of resale platforms:


How to watch March Madness without cable

There are multiple options for watching March Madness if you don’t have cable. Live television streaming services like YouTube TV and Hulu Live TV allow you to watch games online or through their respective apps. You can also use streaming platforms like HBO Max or Paramount + to watch games without cable.

If you’re watching through one of these services, you’ll need either a smart television or a streaming device, like an Amazon Firestick or Apple TV.

How to stream March Madness 2024 online

To stream the March Madness tournament online, you’ll need either a live television streaming subscription or a subscription to a streaming platform with access to the appropriate channels. Live television platforms include YouTube TV, Hulu Live TV, Sling TV or DirectTV Stream. HBO Max and Paramount + each allow limited access to tournament games.

If you have a subscription with a cable provider, you may be able to watch online through that provider’s website. You can also link your account to the NCAA’s March Madness Live website to watch online.

How to watch March Madness 2024 with a VPN

VPNs, or virtual private networks, are used to create secure connections between your devices and public networks. Setting up with a VPN is a relatively simple process—you have to download the VPN with a selected provider, follow the steps to connect to the server in the location you’re watching, and then sign on to your preferred streaming platform.

VPNs like ExpressVPN or Private Internet Access are both paid VPNs that are compatible with platforms that will air the tournament and are not too costly ($12.99 and $11.99 per month, respectively). Both also offer price reductions for prepaying several months or years ahead.

If you’re watching March Madness from outside the United States, Canada, Europe, or Australia, you may be able to stream the tournament using a VPN. However, it’s not recommended because it goes against the terms of most streaming platforms.

How to watch March Madness for free online

You can watch games for free on the NCAA’s March Madness Live website or mobile app; however, you’ll only get a three-hour preview before hitting a pay wall. After that, you’ll have to link a paid television subscriber account.

You can use the March Madness Live mobile app on all iOS and Android devices, as well as Apple TV, Roku, Xbox One and FireTV.

How we selected the best streaming services to watch March Madness 2024

Our selections are based on reviews and my own personal experience with each of these streaming platforms — both live television and standard streaming. The selections prioritize access and price, while also considering user interface, trial periods, and additional features (like multi-view).

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

When does March Madness 2024 start?

Selection Sunday, when the qualifying teams are announced, is Sunday, March 17, 2024. The first games of the tournament begin on Tuesday, March 19, 2024.

When does March Madness 2024 end?

The Men’s NCAA National Championship game will take place on Monday, April 8, 2024. The Women’s NCAA National Championship game will be on Sunday, April 7, 2024.

What is March Madness?

March Madness refers to the Men’s and Women’s NCAA Division I Basketball Tournaments that take place in March every year. The NCAA Tournament is a single-elimination tournament of 68 teams that compete in seven rounds for the NCAA Division I National Championship.

Who won March Madness last year?

The No. 4 seeded University of Connecticut (UConn) won the 2023 NCAA Men’s National Championship. The No. 3 seeded Louisiana State University (LSU) won the 2023 NCAA Women’s National Championship.

How many teams are in March Madness?

Sixty-eight teams compete in each of the men’s and women’s NCAA Division I Basketball Tournaments.

The information presented here is created independently from the TIME editorial staff. To learn more, see our About page.

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