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NCAA March Madness tournament to be widely streamed

The 2023 NCAA March Madness tournament kicks off this week, with the best men’s college basketball teams from across the United States competing for the rights to call themselves the national champions.

The NCAA March Madness is the annual basketball tournament in the United States that takes place each year in March and April. It is organized by the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) and features the top 68 college basketball teams in the country competing in a single-elimination tournament to determine the national champion.

The tournament is divided into four regions, each with 16 teams, and the teams are seeded based on their performance during the regular season. The top four teams in each region receive a bye in the first round, while the remaining 60 teams compete in the first round to determine the 32 teams that will advance to the second round.

The NCAA March Madness tournament is famous for its “bracket” format, where fans and sports enthusiasts fill out brackets predicting the outcomes of each game, with the goal of selecting the eventual champion. The unpredictability of the tournament and the excitement of the upsets make it a popular event for sports fans across the country.

This year, two media companies — Paramount Global and Warner Bros Discovery — will share the domestic telecast rights to the entire NCAA March Madness college basketball tournament, with the broadcasts airing across four broadcast and cable channels: CBS, TNT, TBS and Tru TV.

Here’s a look at the cheapest (and, in some cases, totally free) ways you can watch the 2023 NCAA March Madness tournament on CBS, TBS, TNT and Tru TV…

 

Watch the NCAA March Madness tournament on CBS for free

Paramount Global’s over-the-air broadcaster CBS will air many games from the 2023 NCAA March Madness tournament, starting with the first round of the tournament later this week.

In most areas, sports fans who don’t have a traditional cable or satellite package can pick up their local CBS station or affiliate by using a free television antenna — just plug an antenna like this one into the back of your TV set, do a simple channel scan (the method to do this varies by model, but it’s usually available within the menu of your TV set), and locate your local CBS station or affiliate.

Don’t have a television antenna? It’s always a good idea to have one around, even if you receive your local CBS station or affiliate through a cable, satellite or streaming provider. The Desk recommends buying the Mohu Leaf 30 indoor TV antenna ($40 at Amazon with free Prime shipping) for people who live within 25 miles of a major metropolitan area or their broadcast towers, or the Mohu Leaf 60 amplified indoor TV antenna ($50 at Amazon with free Prime shipping). The Desk stands behind Mohu’s assortment of Leaf-style antennas: They consistently rank among the best indoor antennas for cord-cutters, they’re able to pull in most network stations and affiliates across the country, and they’re built to last. Don’t fall for cheap imitators.

The logo of Paramount Global's streaming service Paramount Plus appears in an undated handout graphic.
The logo of Paramount Global’s streaming service Paramount Plus appears in an undated handout graphic. (Image courtesy Paramount Global, Graphic by The Desk)

Stream the NCAA March Madness on CBS for free using Paramount Plus

Live in an area where you can’t reliably pick up your local CBS station or affiliate with an indoor or outdoor antenna? You’re in luck: Paramount Plus will stream ALL 2023 NCAA March Madness games broadcast on CBS — and most new and existing customers can stream the tournament for free by following these simple instructions:

  1. Click or tap here to visit the Paramount Plus website.
  2. Sign up for a Paramount Plus account and choose the Premium plan — it’s very important you select the Premium plan, because this is the plan that includes live access to your local CBS station or affiliate.
  3. At checkout, enter coupon code SCHOOLSPIRITS to get 30 days of Paramount Plus for free.

Follow those steps, and you’ll get free access to every 2023 March Madness tournament game broadcast on CBS from March 14 onward, including the NCAA March Madness championship game broadcast live on CBS in early April.

Paramount Plus is available across a wide number of streaming platforms, including Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Android TV (Google TV) and most smart TVs made by Samsung, LG, Vizio and Sony. Paramount Plus is also available on Apple and Android-powered phones and tablets, as well as the Paramount Plus website on desktop and laptop computers.

Don’t have a streaming device? Grab a Roku Express for just $25 on Amazon when you click or tap this link.

(Logo courtesy Dish Network/Sling TV LLC, Graphic by The Desk)

Stream the NCAA March Madness games on TBS, TNT and Tru TV on Sling TV

Sports fans who want access to the 2023 NCAA March Madness telecasts from TBS, TNT and Tru TV will need a cable, satellite or streaming cable TV replacement to watch those games.

Unfortunately, there’s no free way to watch every 2023 NCAA March Madness game on TBS, TNT and Tru TV through the entire tournament, but there is a way to watch the games that won’t break the bank: Sling TV.

Dish Network’s Sling TV will offer live, streaming access to every 2023 NCAA March Madness game aired on TBS, TNT and Tru TV. The channels are available in the Sling Blue package, which usually costs $40 a month — but, right now, The Desk readers who follow these instructions can score 50 percent off the Sling Blue package for 30 days, which brings the price down to just $20 to watch all 2023 NCAA March Madness games aired on TBS, TNT and Tru TV:

  1. Click or tap here to view the special Sling TV offer for readers of The Desk.
  2. Sign up for a new Sling TV account, and be sure to select the Sling Blue package.
  3. At checkout, the 50 percent off promo will be automatically applied to your account, bringing the cost of the package down to just $20 for your first 30 days of service.

While Sling TV is the cheapest way to get live access to NCAA March Madness games aired on TBS, TNT and Tru TV, the service doesn’t offer live access to CBS in any of its packages. But you can still get live access to CBS for free by signing up for a new Paramount Plus account using this link, selecting the “Premium” package and typing the code “SCHOOLSPIRITS” at check-out.

Stream the NCAA March Madness games on YouTube TV

The YouTube TV program guide shows an episode of "Yellowstone" on the Paramount Network.
The YouTube TV program guide shows an episode of “Yellowstone” on the Paramount Network. (Graphic by The Desk)

Prefer to just use one streaming app to watch the 2023 NCAA March Madness tournament? YouTube TV is the answer.

YouTube TV is one of the few streaming cable replacements to offer channels from both Paramount Global and Warner Bros Discovery. Streamers with a YouTube TV subscription get live access to their local CBS station or affiliate, as well as live access to TBS, TNT and Tru TV, as part of YouTube TV’s base package that includes around 80 other local stations and national networks.

YouTube TV costs $65 a month, which means it’s not as cheap as signing up for Paramount Plus and Sling TV to get CBS, TBS, TNT and Tru TV. But readers of The Desk who sign up for a new YouTube TV account by clicking or tapping this link can get a deep discount on their first month of service.

YouTube TV is available across all popular smartphones, tablets and streaming TV platforms, including Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV and Android TV (Google TV). Don’t have a streaming device? Grab a Roku Express for just $25 on Amazon when you click or tap this link.

(Stock image via Pexels, Graphic by The Desk)

How do I stream the 2023 NCAA March Madness tournament?

The 2023 NCAA March Madness tournament will air live on local CBS stations and affiliates as well as the TBS, TNT and Tru TV cable networks from March 14, 2023 to April 3, 2023. Here is an abbreviated schedule (all times and channels are subject to change, and were correct as of March 12)..:

Need a bracket? Click or tap here to download the 2023 NCAA March Madness Tournament bracket as a printable PDF.

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is the publisher of The Desk and reports on the business and policy matters involving the broadcast television, streaming video and radio industries. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, Disney-ABC, Tribune Broadcasting and McNaughton Newspapers. Matthew is based in Northern California, has won numerous awards in the field of journalism, and is a member of IRE (Investigative Reporters and Editors).