It’s the most wonderful time of the year: March Madness is upon us. By now you’ve filled out your bracket, relying upon your extensive knowledge of college basketball, team mascots, or the fact that Duke is very good to choose the team you’re sure will win it all. Now you’re going to spend the next few weeks watching all 67 games of the most fun tournament in sports.
Most sports make it hard to watch games without cable, but the NCAA Tournament is remarkably good at the Internet. As it has for the past few years, the NCAA is streaming every game through the March Madness Live app. The app is available just about everywhere: on iOS, on Android, on Roku, on Amazon Fire TV, on Apple TV (which has a neat split-screen way to watch two games at once), and on any of a number of places on the web. You should download the app: It’s free, it’s a great hub for scores, stats, and brackets, and it’ll help you find the right channel for each game if you have cable.
A login from a TV provider is required for most of the live streams in the app. So if you have, or can borrow, a cable subscription login, you’re set. Don’t even bother with trying to figure out what channel truTV is, just watch everything through the app. With Chromecast or AirPlay, you can even send games from your phone or tablet to your TV. If you don’t have cable, things get a little harder and a lot more confusing. You can still use the app—you do not need a login to watch on-demand videos, or any of the live games on CBS. And if you want to watch a non-CBS game (on TBS, TNT, or truTV) the app gives you a 3-hour grace period before requiring you to log in. You can still watch every CBS game for free no matter what, but you only get three free hours of streaming from the other channels. So if there’s one big game you want to watch and you don’t have a login, you can still do that. However, given that the Final Four and championship game are all on TBS, that’s not going to be enough for anyone.
The easiest way to watch the games without cable is to open a Chrome Incognito window. Watch a game on the March Madness Live site, close the window, open another one, and start the next game. Rinse and repeat through the tournament. That worked for a lot of people last year, and should work again. If all else fails, you can watch through a VPN and switch servers with each game, which is easier than it sounds. If not, there’s always the, shall say, less than legal options that we ought not mention. We especially won’t tell you about one called Vipbox that works really well as long as you install an adblocker first. Our lips are sealed.
Nothing But ‘Net
If you want to watch the games on TV, the cheapest way to do so probably is to sign up for Sling TV. For 20 bucks a month (after a free seven-day trial) it has TNT, TBS, truTV, and more. You could even, hypothetically, sign up for the last weekend and not pay a nickel. No CBS access here, though, so you’d have to return to the app for those games or buy one of those cheap antennas from Amazon to pick up your local channels. No matter what, it’s going to be complicated.
You can also listen to every game, free, through the March Madness Live app. (Yay?) You may just be better off catching up on highlights through Vine, or even Periscope replays, if you prefer graininess to loops. (Try Perisearch for searching Periscope, or just find it all through the #MarchMadness hashtag on Twitter.)
No matter what, it’s going to be pretty easy to get your fill of March Madness 2016. And we can even help you with your bracket.