There’s no rite of Spring that’s quite as satisfying as watching March Madness. Unfortunately, HR departments never seem to agree.
The 2019 NCAA Division I basketball tournament is one of the biggest sporting events of the year. Fans (even fair-weather ones) become armchair experts as they pick their brackets. And the 19-day, 67-game march toward the Final Four is often one of the most thrilling sporting events of the year.
Many people just sneak out of the office and take an especially long lunch. Some call in sick as their alma mater take to the court. But if you’re unable or unwilling to do that—or if you’re recently cut the cord and are looking for the best way to watch, there are still plenty of viewing options. Here are a few for fans hoping to watch for free without cable to consider.
CBS All Access
CBS is the flagship network for the NCAA Tournament, so its cord-cutting cousin is a prime way to watch games. You can sign up for the one-week free trial to keep up with how the Tar Heels are doing. You’ll also be able to access original online programs, including Star Trek: Discovery. A subscription to the service will run you $6 per month, should you stay.
Dish Network’s Sling is one of the oldest cord cutter options and includes all of the major networks, including CBS. As a bonus, you’ll also have access to TNT and TBS, which will also carry many of the rounds. You’ve got a seven-day free preview before the monthly fees, which range $25 to $40, kick in.
The AT&T-owned streaming service will let you try things out for seven days and offers basic service that includes CBS and most major cable networks, including TBS, TNT, and Tru TV. Subscription costs, after the trial, start at $40 per month. Be warned, though, that starting next month, that monthly price will increase.
PlayStation Vue offers the longest free trial coming in at 14 days, which will give you plenty of time to watch most of the tournament. And, despite the name, it’s accessible on most major platforms, not just the PlayStation game console. Should you decide to subscribe, packages start at $45 per month. Die-hard sports fans, though, may opt for either the $50 “Core” or $60 “Elite” plan, because they both include the NFL Network, at least five ESPN channels and several Fox Sports options.
Google offers more than 60 channels and offers six log-in accounts per subscription, meaning you can watch Big South conference champ Gardner-Webb as your kid binges on Sponge Bob SquarePants. The 30 day free trial of the service is, sadly, no more, but you can still get a free week. After that, you’ll face a $40-per-month charge.
Hulu with Live TV
Hulu’s an old favorite of cord cutters because of its deep back catalog of programs and recent originals. A couple years ago, it added live programming, making it more sports friendly. See if Saint Mary’s Cinderella story continues after its defeat of Gonzaga earlier this month in the week-long free-trial. Once that’s up, you’ll pay $44.99 per month.
This cord cutting service, which caters to sports fans, carries CBS in most markets, meaning you should be in good shape to watch the regional rounds as well as the Final Four. After the seven-day trial, prices jump to $40 or $45 per month for the first month (then add another $5 per month afterward).
Over the Air
Don’t want to do a trial with a streaming service, either because you’re already happy with the one you have or don’t want to forget and be billed later? A good antenna is an easy option. The Mohu Leaf, for example, has an unobtrusive design that’s not much bigger (or thicker) than a sheet of paper and is extremely effective at picking up local high def channels. You’ll miss out on the games being shown on TNT, TBS, and Tru TV, but have prime seats for any that CBS airs, including those with Final Four teams.