Cheapest Way To Watch March Madness 2024 (NCAA Tournament)

How to watch March Madness without cable

Quick Summary


When it comes to being a sports fan, the NCAA March Madness tournament has a little bit of everything. From shocking upsets to Cinderella teams to cutting down the nets in the Final Four, it really doesn’t get much better.

But what if you’re trying to watch the tournament without cable?

In this article, we’ll explain everything you need to know about watching March Madness without cable. We’ll show you what channels you need, what streaming services offer those channels, and which of them will save you the most money.

Cheapest Way To Watch March Madness

Paramount Plus

$11.99/mo (CBS Only)

Sling TV Blue

$20 1st month (then $40/mo)

fubo

7 Days Free (Then $59.99)

DirecTV Stream

5 Days Free (then $84.99/mo)

YouTube TV

$72.99 per month

Hulu + Live TV

$76.99 per month

DirecTV Stream

5 Days Free (then $84.99/mo)

YouTube TV

$72.99 per month

Hulu + Live TV

$76.99 per month


Table Of Contents


What Channels Is March Madness On?

First, let’s take a look at what channels are streaming March Madness so we can find a streaming provider that carries them. 

March Madness will be broadcast on the following channels In 2024:

  • CBS
  • TNT
  • TBS
  • TruTV

Games will also be streamed on March Madness Live, but we’ll discuss that in a minute.

CBS is an over-the-air channel, which means you could watch it for free over the air using an HD antenna. This is great news for those trying to save money. If you’re a casual fan you could certainly stop right here.

The other three channels are cable networks and will require some kind of live TV streaming service to watch. In the next section we’ll go through all of our streaming TV options and figure out what the cheapest way to watch March Madness is.


The Cheapest Way To Watch March Madness

Now that we know what channels we need, let’s take a look at which streaming TV providers carry the March Madness networks. Fortunately, most of these channels are readily available on a number of providers so we have a few options to shop around.

Watch March Madness On Paramount Plus (CBS Games Only)

If you’re just looking to watch some March Madness, Paramount+ is a simple way to stream the NCAA Tournament without a cable subscription.

For just $11.99 per month, the Paramount Plus with Showtime Plan gives you access to all live streamed CBS games, along with their catalog of entertainment programming as well as games from the NFL, UEFA Champions League, Serie A and the Big Ten conference. (Note: March Madness coverage is not available in the $5.99 “Essential plan”)

Unfortunately Paramount+ does not include games broadcast on TBS, TNT or TruTV, so you’ll need another streaming service or cable plan to watch those. Don’t worry though, we list the available services below, starting with the next service.


Cheapest Way Watch March Madness On Sling TV

The cheapest way to watch March Madness in 2024 is the Sling TV Blue package which you can get for just $20 for the first month ($40 per month thereafter). 

The Sling Blue package gives you access to 41 channels including TNT, TBS, and truTV, but unfortunately Sling does not carry CBS so you would need an HD antenna or Paramount+ to watch any CBS games over the air. That said for just $20, the discount it might be worth the trouble.

If you’re looking for more channels you could upgrade to the Sling Orange & Blue plan for $55 per month which would give you access to 47 channels including ESPN, which is not available on Sling Blue.

Sling TV is available on most streaming devices including Roku, FireTV, Apple TV, Chromecast, Google TV, iOS, Android, Xbox, and many more.


Cheapest Way Watch March Madness On DirecTV (Free Trial)

If you’re just watching for a short time, DirecTV Stream gives you a 5 Day Free Trial to watch all four March Madness channels (if you’re a new subscriber).

After that DirecTV Stream is $84.99 per month ($69.99 plus a required $15 advanced receiver service fee), which is fairly expensive but DirecTV does offer 75+ channels, local channels, unlimited streams and unlimited DVR, which is really nice, especially for a large family.

If you’re a fan of other sports then DirecTV is very hard to beat. Their base plan carries most major sports networks and you can upgrade to include your regional sports networks with their Choice plan to watch your local NBA games, NHL games and MLB games.

Despite the high price, DirecTV Stream may be an option worth considering if you’re a big sports fan.

You can watch DirecTV Stream on Roku, Apple TV, Fire TV, Chromecast, Android, Samsung, and many more devices.


Cheapest Way Watch March Madness On YouTube TV

If you’re looking for a more complete streaming option that includes local channels as part of the base plan then YouTube TV is the next cheapest option at $72.99 per month. 

YouTube TV carries all March Madness channels (CBS, TNT, TBS and TruTV), along with other sports channels like ESPN, FS1/FS2, NFL Network and NBA TV.

Unfortunately, YouTube TV has been cutting back on sports channels the last few years including removing MLB Network and Regional Sports Networks like SNY in New York, despite a sharp increase in cost.

That all said, YouTube TV is a good reliable service that carries all the March Madness networks along with a variety of standard cable channels, unlimited DVR and up to 3 simultaneous streams.

YouTube TV can be viewed on Roku, Apple TV, Fire TV, Chromecast, Google TV, PS4/PS5, Xbox, iOS, Android, Vizio, and many other devices.


Cheapest Way Watch March Madness On Hulu + Live TV

Another great option is Hulu + Live TV which includes all 4 March Madness channels for $76.99 per month. Like YouTube Hulu + Live TV includes a wide variety of sports channels like ESPN, FS1/FS2, CBS Sports Network, and many more. 

Although Hulu + Live TV is a little more expensive than YouTube TV I would point out that Hulu + Live TV also includes ESPN+ and Disney Plus as part of their base package. If you were going to pay for one or both of those anyway, you’d be saving money by bundling them together.

Hulu + Live TV can be watched on Roku, Fire TV, Apple TV, Chromecast, Xbox, Playstation, iOS, Android, and many more devices.



Streaming Services That Do NOT Include March Madness Networks

Unfortunately, not every live TV streaming service carries all four March Madness networks, including one popular service that ironically caters to sports fans. Let’s take a look at which streaming services are not a great fit for this year’s NCAA Tournament coverage.

fubo

Including fubo in this section surprised me. As a sports fan, I really like fubo, but if you’re trying to watch the 2024 March Madness tournament then it’s probably not the best option. At the time we’re writing this fubo does not carry TNT, TBS, or truTV which leaves you with only CBS, which as we mentioned earlier can be had for free over the air.

Outside of March Madness however, fubo is a really good service and is the most affordable way to get some regional sports networks (in some markets) so it’s definitely a service to consider once the NCAA Tournament is over, especially with their 7-day free trial.


Philo TV

As mentioned in our Philo TV review, Philo isn’t the best option for sports fans and that holds true for watching March Madness. Unfortunately, Philo doesn’t carry TNT, TBS or truTV and they also don’t offer local channels in their plan, so it’s not a good fit for college basketball. That said, Philo is a great option for $25 per month, but only for those who are not looking for sports coverage.


Final Thoughts On Watching March Madness

At the end of the day, there are a lot of great, affordable options to watch the 2024 NCAA Tournament. Whether you go for the affordability of Sling TV’s coverage to the total package that DirecTV Stream offers, you should be in good shape to enjoy everything March Madness has to offer.

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