March Madness 2019: How to watch NCAA basketball tournament games live – CNET

UCF v Duke

Zion Williamson and Duke celebrate after squeaking by UCF to advance to the Sweet Sixteen.

Getty Images

Where is the madness? 

For only the second time since the tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985 (and the first time since 2009), all of the No. 1, 2 and 3 seeds survived the first weekend. Only one double-digit seed has advanced to the Sweet Sixteen, and No. 12 Oregon — a huge state school that’s no stranger to athletic achievement —  hardly seems like a Cinderella story. The biggest story from the past weekend was No. 9 UCF coming inches and a point away from upsetting No. 1 Duke.

While the first weekend of the tournament may have lacked the drama of past years, it sets up some fantastic matchups as the field narrows from 16 to the Elite Eight and then the Final Four. The best is yet to come.

Want to watch? Here’s your guide.

Now playing:
Watch this:

March Madness 2019: Everything you need to know


When are the March Madness games on?

We started with 68 teams and have narrowed the field to 16. Games resume on Thursday. Here’s the schedule for the next two days of the tournament:

Thursday, March 28

Matchup Time Channel
No. 4 Florida State vs. No. 1 Gonzaga 7:09 p.m. ET CBS
No. 3 Purdue vs. No. 2 Tennessee 7:29 p.m. ET TBS
No. 3 Texas Tech vs. No. 2 Michigan 9:39 p.m. ET CBS
No. 12 Oregon vs. No. 1 Virginia 9:59 p.m. ET TBS

Friday, March 29

Matchup Time Channel
No. 3 LSU vs. No. 2 Michigan State 7:09 p.m. ET CBS
No. 5 Auburn vs. No. 1 North Carolina 7:29 p.m. ET TBS
No. 4 Virginia Tech vs. No. 1 Duke 9:39 p.m. ET CBS
No. 3 Houston vs. No. 2 Kentucky 9:59 p.m. ET TBS

The winners on Thursday will play on Saturday, and the winners on Friday will play on Sunday as they continue to travel down the road to the Final Four in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Final Four semifinal games will be played on Saturday, April 6, followed by the National Championship Game on Monday, April 8.

Which channels are the games on?

The remaining March Madness games will be shown on CBS and TBS. (Editors’ note: CNET is a division of CBS.)

How can I watch for free?

Go to the NCAA’s March Madness Live site or use its March Madness Live app and you’ll be able to watch games for free. As with most things that are free, there is a catch. 

To get full access to every game you’ll need to sign in with credentials (username and password) from a pay TV provider, typically your cable, satellite or live TV streaming service. 

If you don’t sign in, you’ll be limited to only a 3-hour preview, after which point you’ll need to log in to continue watching games on TBS. Games on CBS, meanwhile, don’t require pay-TV credentials so you can stream all of them for free.

What are my other streaming options?

Cord cutters can use a live-TV streaming service to watch March Madness. In order to watch CBS’ coverage, however, you’ll need to make sure the service carries your local CBS station. Some streaming services carry all four channels for March Madness, but others will require you to mix and match services, which can save you money but could present a challenge when frantically changing channels to catch a potential buzzer-beater at the end of a close game.

Other stuff to know about live TV streaming services:

  • You’ll need a solid internet connection.
  • You can watch any of them on TV as long as your smart TV has the service’s app. You can also watch on your TV using a media streamer, including Roku, Fire TV, Apple TV and Chromecast.
  • You can also watch on iPhones, Android phones, tablets and PC browsers.
  • You can sign up and cancel anytime, no contract required.
  • All of them offer free trial periods, so you can sign up to watch and then cancel.

Disclosure: CNET may get a share of revenue from the sale of products featured on this page.

Streaming services with CBS and TBS

DirecTV Now ($50)

DirecTV Now’s cheapest, $50-a-month Plus package includes CBS and TBS. Click here to check availability of live local channels in your area.

See at DirecTV Now

Mix-and-match March Madness options

AT&T WatchTV ($15 or free) + CBS All Access ($6) = $21 or $6

AT&T WatchTV is a relative newcomer to the streaming game. It offers a more limited number of channels compared with its competitors but is much cheaper. It costs $15 a month for most people, but AT&T wireless customers on qualifying plans can get it for free. Among the 35 channels Watch TV offers is TBS. 

Meanwhile, CBS All Access carries live CBS stations in many areas of the country (check the site to see if you’re covered) for $6 a month. Combine the two and you can watch all of the tournament games for about half the cost of a more fully featured streaming service above.

Sling Blue ($25) + CBS All Access ($6) = $31

Neither of Sling TV’s plans offer CBS, but its $25-a-month Sling Blue plan includes TBS. Pair it with CBS All Access to pick up the games on CBS and you are still paying less than a competing streaming services at $31 a month. Better yet, you can sign up at a discount: Sling Blue is currently $15 a month for the first three months for new subscribers, bringing your March Madness cost down to $21 for the tournament when paired with CBS All Access.

OTA antenna for CBS games = free

Another option for watching games on CBS is to use an antenna to get free, over-the-air TV. You can attach an over-the-air digital antenna to nearly any TV, and solid antennas start as little as $10.

March Madness in 4K

Subscribers to DirecTV’s satellite service are in for a treat this month. DirecTV will reportedly broadcast March Madness games from March 19 to 30 in both 4K and HDR. You’ll be able to watch only a selection of games in 4K. The 4K broadcast schedule will include games on March 28 and 30 from Anaheim, California.

Competing satellite provider Dish is also broadcasting a selection of games in 4K. You can see its 4K broadcast schedule here, which will include an Elite Eight game or two on March 30.

Now playing:
Watch this:

How to cut the cord like a pro


Originally published on March 5.
Update, March 26: Adds details for second week of tournament.


Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *