The selection committees have made their picks and the brackets are set. Another installment of arguably the best sports weekend of the year is about to tip off. March Madness or the NCAA basketball tournaments begin today with two First Four games on the men’s side. Thanks to the NCAA’s partnerships with Warner Bros. Discovery for the men’s tournament, and Disney (ESPN) for the women’s, you can stream every game and some will even be available for free. Here's your guide on how to stream March Madness 2023, from where to watch to when the games begin.
When does March Madness start?
Depending on who you ask, the 2023 NCAA Tournament either begins Tuesday or Thursday. On March 14th and 15th, the March Madness schedule includes First Four or four “play-in” games take place. These allow four more teams to “make the tournament” than if the selection committee just filled the two 16-seed and two 12-seed slots with one school in each spot. Some people argue the entire event doesn’t really start until Thursday and Friday, March 16th and 17th, when the First Round officially tips off.
No matter which side you land on, the First Four games will start at 6:40PM ET each night on truTV while Thursday and Friday games begin at 12:15PM ET, with the first game on CBS. These two days are the busiest and some of the most popular of the tournament as 16 games take place on each. Yes, these are two of the least productive days of the entire year in the US. It’s also the most popular time to schedule a vasectomy. Action continues with the Second Round on Saturday and Sunday, March 18th and 19th, before a break until next Thursday. This is when the Sweet Sixteen and Elite Eight rounds are played over the course of the second four-day weekend of the tournament. The Final Four is set for Saturday, April 1st while the National Championship Game will go down on Monday, April 3rd.
How to stream the 2022 Men’s NCAA Tournament
Unlike during the regular season when you need to know which network your team’s conference has a broadcast deal with to find most of the games, Warner Bros. Discovery Sports holds the rights to the entire Men’s NCAA Tournament. This means you’ll be able to watch all 67 games, including the First Four, on CBS, TBS, TNT and truTV. If you have cable, you’re all set. If you pay for a live TV streaming service like YouTube TV or Hulu, you’re also in good shape. If you don’t have either, don’t worry, you can still watch a good chunk of the tournament.
Warner Bros. Discovery Sports will allow anyone to watch the games broadcast by CBS on the web and mobile devices without a TV provider log-in. Paramount+ users will be able to do the same through that streaming app. However, CBS games are only available on mobile, the web and Paramount+ — you won't be able to watch those on a streaming device. If you do have credentials from your TV plan, you can stream everything through March Madness Live that’s available on a host of devices. You can find it on Android and iOS for mobile and macOS and the web on the desktop. For streaming devices, it’s on Apple TV, Fire TV, Google TV, Roku and Xbox as well as some LG smart TVs.
With some of those home entertainment devices, Warner Bros. Discovery Sports will give you a very handy feature. On Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Google TV and Xbox One, the March Madness Live app will allow you to stream two games at once. On the web, however, is where you’ll find the best option. Starting this year, the broadcaster has added the ability to stream up to four games simultaneously. If you opt for mobile or tablet versions, you’ll get picture-in-picture viewing while you browse away from the main game. The company has also expanded its Fast Break whiparound broadcast beyond mobile and web for 2023, adding the real-time analysis of big plays to its apps for streaming devices, consoles and smart TVs.
YouTube TV has also added multiview streaming just in time for the tournament, but the platform is only offering preselected groupings – you won’t have the ability to pick which games you follow on your own right now. YouTube TV’s version is also only available to selected subscribers in early access, but it will be available on any smart TV or streaming device that supports the service.
Warner Bros. Discovery Sports has also added CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility this year, giving you easy access to live radio broadcasts in the school pick up line. On iOS, the March Madness Live app now supports Live Activities, so you can get live updates right on your lock screen should you be burdened with a meeting during a game you’re interested in.
You can certainly use your cable interface or streaming TV service of choice, but Warner Bros. Discovery Sports has made March Madness Live a centralized hub for the tournament. If you have log-in credentials that get you access to everything, using those will allow you to jump from game to game much faster than scrolling through a guide. And the broadcaster also gives you all of the alerts and stats you could ask for, including the ability to easily follow picks from your March Madness bracket if you filled it out on NCAA.com.
Streaming the 2022 Women’s NCAA Tournament
As if one National Championship tournament in March wasn’t enough, the Women’s edition takes place at the same time. It’s March Madness, after all. The First Four is scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday, March 15th and 16th, with the March Madness schedule consisting of the First and Second rounds playing out between Friday, March 17th and Monday, March 20th. Sweet Sixteen and Elite 8 runs Friday to Monday again, starting March 24th, and the Final Four and National Championship Game are set for March 31st and April 2nd.
If you notice there are some scheduling differences so that there are only women’s games on Mondays and both the Final Four and championship are slotted between the same events for the men. So when it comes down to crunch time, you can watch the conclusion of both tournaments live without having to sacrifice viewing the other.
ESPN has the rights to the Women’s NCAA Tournament, so you can expect games to show up on ABC, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU and ESPNEWS. The first two of the First Four games will be broadcast at 7PM ET and 9PM ET on ESPNU Wednesday night with the second pair on ESPN2 Thursday evening. First Round matchups begin at 11:30AM ET on Friday and Saturday on ESPN2, with subsequent games on those days expanding to the other networks.
Once again, if you have a cable plan or streaming TV service with Disney’s sports channels you’re all set. However, the best place to watch all of the action will be the ESPN app. Here, you’ll get access to a multicast feature that will give you up to four games at once (YouTube TV didn’t specify if it would include women’s games in its multiview trial). Multicast will be especially handy during those first four days of the tournament when there’s lots of action happening at the same time. However, it's only available on Apple TV and Xbox One.
Update 3/16/23 1:16PM ET: This post has been updated to clarify that CBS games are only available on mobile, the web and Paramount+.