TV Answer Man, a question for you on March Madness, my favorite sports event of the year! Can you watch all the games for free if you don’t have a cable or satellite sub? — Jack, San Diego.
Jack, the 2023 college basketball men’s championship tournament, better known as March Madness, tips off tomorrow night with the opening ‘First Four’ doubleheader (will air on truTV) from Dayton Ohio and will end with the final on April 3 from Houston.
But I have good news and bad news for you.
Good news: The March Madness Live app will offer a live stream of each game. You can download the app from your device’s app store or you could just hop over to the March Madness Live web site here.
Bad news: You will need a user name and password from your pay TV provider to access all the games.
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Good news: The March Madness Live app will offer a three-hour free preview, which should entitle you to watch at least one game in its entirety for free.
Good news: DIRECTV Stream now has a five-day free trial and YouTube TV is now offering a 14-day free trial. If you enrolled in both free trials one after the other, you would get 19 days of free games which would take you from March 16 (opening round after the First Four games) to April 3, the day of the tournament final! (Note: The free trials are only available to new customers. Plus, either service could change its free trial conditions at any time so I would take advantage of the free offerings while they are available.)
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Bad news: The traditional TV broadcasts again will be split between four channels: CBS and the Turner-owned TNT, TBS and truTV. So keep your remote close.
Bad news: If your pay TV provider doesn’t carry the channel, you won’t be able to watch its game broadcasts. For example, FuboTV, the live streaming service, does not carry TBS, TNT or truTV.
There’s one more speck of good news: If you have an antenna, you will be able to watch the CBS games for free. But the Turner networks are not available via an antenna.
Below is the complete March Madness TV schedule for the first round. All times Eastern.
Tuesday, March 14 (First Four)
No. 16 SE Missouri State vs. No. 16. Texas A&M CC | 6:30 p.m. | truTV
No. 11 Pitt vs. No. 11 Mississippi St. | 9 p.m. | truTV
Wednesday, March 15
No. 16 Fairleigh Dickinson vs. No. 16 Texas Southern| 6:30 p.m. | truTV
No. 11 Nevada vs. No. 11 Arizona State | 9 p.m. | truTV
Thursday, March 16 (Round of 64)
No. 9 West Virginia vs. No. 8 Maryland | noon| CBS — Free with antenna.
No. 13 Furman vs. No. 4 Virginia |12:30 p.m.| truTV
No. 10 Utah St. vs. No. 7 Missouri |1:20 p.m. | TNT
No. 16 Howard vs. No. 1 Kansas |1:50 p.m. | TBS
No. 16 SE Missouri St./Texas A&M CC vs. No. 1 Alabama |2:30 p.m. | CBS – Free with antenna.
No. 12 College of Charleston vs. No. 5 San Diego St.|3 p.m. | truTV
No. 15 Princeton vs. No. 2 Arizona |3:50 p.m. | TNT
No. 9 Illinois vs. No. 8 Arkansas |4:20 p.m. | TBS
No. 9 Auburn vs. No. 8 Iowa |6:45 p.m. | TNT
No. 12 Oral Roberts vs. No. 5 Duke |7 p.m. | CBS – Free with antenna.
No. 15 Colgate vs. No. 2 Texas |7:15 p.m. | TBS
No. 10 Boise St. vs. No. 7 Northwestern |7:25 p.m. | truTV
No. 16 Northern Kentucky vs. No. 1 Houston |9:15 p.m. | TNT
No. 13 Louisiana vs. No. 4 Tennessee |9:30 p.m. | CBS – Free with antenna.
No. 10 Penn State vs. No. 7 Texas A&M |9:45 p.m. | TBS
No. 15 UNC Asheville vs. No. 2 UCLA |9:55 p.m. | truTV
Friday, March 17
No. 10 USC vs. No. 7 Michigan State |noon |CBS – Free with antenna.
No. 14 Kennesaw St. vs. No. 3 Xavier | 12:30 p.m. | truTV
No. 14 UC Santa Barbra vs. No. 3 Baylor | 1:20 p.m. | TNT
No. 12 VCU vs. No. 5 Saint Mary’s | 1:50 p.m. | TBS
No. 15 Vermont vs. No. 2 Marquette| 2:30 p.m. | CBS – Free with antenna.
No. 11 Mississippi State/Pitt vs. No. 6 Iowa State | 3 p.m. | truTV
No. 11 N.C. State vs. No. 6 Creighton| 3:50 p.m. | TNT
No. 13 Iona vs. No. 4 UConn | 4:20 p.m. | TBS
No. 16 Texas Southern/Fairleigh Dickinson vs. No. 1 Purdue| 6:45 p.m. | TNT
No. 11 Providence vs. No. 6 Kentucky | 7 p.m. | CBS – Free with antenna.
No. 12 Drake vs. No. 5 Miami | 7:15 p.m | TBS
No. 14 Grand Canyon vs. No. 3 Gonzaga| 7:25 p.m. | truTV
No. 9 Florida Atlantic vs. No. 8 Memphis | 9:15 p.m.| TNT
No. 14 Montana St. vs. No. 3 Kansas St. | 9:30 p.m. | CBS – Free with antenna.
No. 13 Kent State vs. No. 4 Indiana | 9:45 p.m. | TBS
No. 11 Arizona St/Nevada vs. No. 6 TCU | 9:55 p.m. | truTV
Future round teams to be announced:
Saturday, March 18 (Round of 32)
Sunday, March 19 (Round of 32)
Thursday, March 23 (Sweet 16. All times Eastern)
Friday, March 24 (Sweet 16. All times Eastern)
Saturday, March 25 (Elite 8. All times Eastern)
Sunday, March 26 (Elite 8. All times Eastern)
Saturday, April 1 (Final Four. All times Eastern)
Monday, April 3 (National championship game)
Jack, hope that helps. Happy viewing and stay safe!
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— Phillip Swann