The ball is tipped, and there you are … trying to wrap your head around the many ways to watch March Madness and the various log-ins you might need to do so. Every one of the NCAA’s 2022 Men’s Basketball Tournament’s 67 games will air live somewhere, but in many cases, they’ll require a subscription to tune in.
Why is so much of the tournament available only to those who pay for cable? Because that’s how CBS and Turner Sports want it. The companies are paying a lot for the tournament’s rights: In 2010, they shelled out $10.8 billion to air the men’s basketball tournament from 2011 through 2024. And that agreement has already been extended for another eight years and another $8.8 billion, locking up the rights through 2032. The networks make good money selling ads — this year’s rates are well above 2021’s — but the presence of so many games on basic cable, including this year’s Final Four and championship game, also acts as a deterrence against cord-cutting. Cord-cutters can get cable channels, though, either through streaming services tailored for sports or made to emulate live TV, and several of those services with those channels — like YouTube TV, Hulu with Live TV, Fubo TV, Sling TV, and others — offer free-trial options.
Here are your options for watching this year’s NCAA men’s basketball tournament, organized by how you can get your game on.
If you have the cable channels but not Paramount+:
You can watch all 67 games live on one of four television networks: CBS, TBS, TNT, and truTV. All of a given network’s games will also be available on the website for that network. The CBS games won’t require a cable log-in, but the others will. You’ll also be able to watch on the March Madness Live app with a cable log-in, either on a mobile device or via devices like Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Xbox, Google TV, and some LG Smart TVs. (One handy feature on the app: You’ll be able to watch two games at once, so you won’t need to toggle between close finishes — though this feature is only available on Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Google TV, and Xbox One.)
If you have the cable channels and Paramount+:
In addition to all of the above, you’ll also be able to watch CBS games on Paramount+ with a premium subscription. (Note that Paramount+ also offers a free trial and a handful of discount options.)
If you don’t have cable but do subscribe to Paramount+:
You’ll be able to watch CBS games over the air on television, and can also watch those games on CBS’s website without authenticating your cable subscription. You’ll be able to watch CBS games on the March Madness Live app (on a mobile device only) or anywhere on Paramount+ with a premium subscription. You won’t be able to watch any of the games on TBS, TNT, or truTV, except for a limited free preview on the March Madness Live app.
If you don’t have cable or Paramount+:
You’ll have the same limits on your Turner Sports options as the above, but without the ability to watch CBS games on Paramount+. In other words: May we suggest a sports bar?
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