Saturday, June 12, 2021

How cord-cutters can watch 2021 March Madness without paying for cable


For millions of sports fans, brackets—not baseball—herald the arrival of spring. With its big upsets, Cinderella stories, and weird mascots, the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship has transcended sports to become a cultural event.

But it’s a bittersweet time for cord-cutters. If the logistics of following more than 60 teams through a month-long tournament aren’t arduous enough, nearly 70 percent of games are televised on cable channels. The good news is that this year the NCAA Tournament Selection Show, the Final Four, and the National Championship will air on CBS. The only thing you’ll need is an antenna to catch that action.

Updated March 12, 2021 to report on the 2021 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the entire men’s basketball championship will be played in Indiana this year, with most of the tournament’s 67 games taking place in Indianapolis. The games will be broadcast across four networks: CBS, TBS, TNT, and truTV. Based on the schedule at press time, we’ve put together a strategy that will allow you to watch every minute of March Madness live without a cable subscription. The options below will take you all the way through to the title game on April 5.

Catch CBS games over the air or over the top

CBS’s March Madness coverage starts on March 19 with the First Round. The easiest—and only free—way to watch all the CBS action is with a good antenna. If you’re purchasing one for the first time, remember to first check to see which stations you can receive in your area, and which antenna type you’ll need to pull in your CBS affiliate. Given the challenging logistics of catching so many games, you might also want to invest in an over-the-air DVR to time-shift some of your viewing.

Zedcor/Getty Images

You can catch most of the March Madness action with an over-the-air TV antenna (provided you’re in range of a broadcast TV transmission tower).

The easiest—and only free—way to watch all the CBS action is with a good antenna. If you’re purchasing one for the first time, remember to first check to see which stations you can receive in your area, and which antenna type you’ll need to pull in your CBS affiliate. Given the challenging logistics of catching so many games, you might also want to invest in an over-the-air DVR to time-shift some of your viewing.

If you can’t access CBS over the air, consider subscribing to Paramount Plus, the recently launched streaming service that that bundles ViacomCBS brands including CBS, MTV, BET, Comedy Central, Nickelodeon, and Paramount Network into a single subscription. The app, which replaces CBS All Access, will give you live streaming access to every game broadcast on the network.

A subscription costs $6 per month or $60 annually with advertising, or you can go ad-free for $10 per month or $100 per year (the service offers a one-week free trial). If you’re already a CBS All Access subscriber, your membership should have transferred over to Paramount Plus automatically, and your CBS All Access app replaced on your streaming device with the Paramount Plus app.



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