How to Watch March Madness 2021
March Madness cannot be stopped this year, and we’re going to tell you the top five best ways to watch this long-awaited event!
March Madness 2021 is officially scheduled to start Thursday, March 18 in Indiana, then we get two and a half weeks of following our NCAA brackets.
You can watch all 67 games on TBS, CBS, TNT, and truTV, so let’s get into the list of the best TV providers to subscribe with for your March Madness entertainment.
When is March Madness 2021?
The Madness officially begins on March 14, 2021, with Selection Sunday. Things pick up quickly after that.
Here’s a breakdown of the schedule:
- Selection Sunday: March 14 at 6 p.m. ET
- First Four: Thursday, March 18
- First round: Friday, March 19 and Saturday, March 20
- Second round: Sunday, March 21 and Monday, March 22
- Sweet 16: Saturday, March 27 and Sunday, March 28
- Elite Eight: Monday, March 29 and Tuesday, March 30
- Final Four: Saturday, April 3
- NCAA championship game: Monday, April 5 at 9 p.m. ET
How can I watch March Madness?
March Madness 2021 games will air on the TBS, CBS, TNT, and truTV channels. And there are a few cable, satellite, and live TV streaming providers you get to choose from. We break them down for you so you can enjoy them after March Madness is over, as well.
If you don’t have cable and satellite TV, we highly recommend YouTube TV as it is the best all-around live TV streaming service. DIRECTV STREAM includes premium channels in its plans, and it’s basically a streamable version of DIRECTV.
If you want cable TV, Xfinity is the best cable TV provider because of its fair pricing and wide availability. If you still want a traditional TV experience and possibly don’t have a decent cable TV provider available in your area, satellite TV providers DISH and DIRECTV are there for you.
If you’re betting on Baylor of Gonzaga to win it all, we’re going to guess you want to consider subscribing to one of these TV providers.
|Monthly price||Available channels||Learn more|
YouTube TV is number one for March Madness
|Monthly price||Available channels||Learn more|
YouTube TV has CBS, TBS, TNT, and TruTV for your March Madness-watching. And for an NCAA basketball fan, that may be all that you need to hear to jump on this service.
But let us highlight more reasons why we like YouTube TV so much.
YouTube TV has an excellent dollar-to-channel ratio. You’ll get major sports channels like NBA TV and NFL Network, you’ll get a variety of channels for the family, and its DVR has unlimited storage space. YouTube TV also offers an NBA LEAGUE PASS subscription for $40 per month.
Check out our YouTube TV review to find more information about the benefits you can enjoy after watching how far Baylor, Gonzaga, Michigan, and Ohio State gets.
Xfinity TV is the best cable provider for March Madness
Xfinity’s Extra and Digital Starter plans give you all four channels for the March Madness games. (The most expensive package, Digital Preferred, doesn’t actually have CBS, TBS, TNT, or TruTV).
The Extra plan requires a 1-year contract, but you’ll save $20 per month. The Digital Starter plan doesn’t require a contract (so you’re a free agent). You’ll also get a decent DVR in the X1. You can record 60 HD or 300 SD hours, or if you get two for the home, the hours double.
You’ll get more than 140 channels, including PAC-12 Network and ESPN. The family can enjoy Disney Channel, Food Network, and Telemundo.
Find out what other channels are included in your lineup in our Xfinity TV review, but Xfinity will have you covered when it comes to March Madness.
DISH is the cheapest satellite TV option for March Madness
|Plan||Price||TV channel count||Details|
|America's Top 120||$64.99/mo.††||190||View Plan|
|America's Top 120+||$79.99/mo.‡‡||190+||View Plan|
|America's Top 200||$89.99/mo.^^||240+||View Plan|
|America's Top 250||$99.99/mo.°°||290+||View Plan|
All of DISH’s plans include CBS, TBS, TNT, and TruTV so you can take a break from life and just watch Michigan kill it in the game.
At first glance, DISH’s and DIRECTV’s pricing looks very similar, but DISH doesn’t increase its monthly pricing the second year. DIRECTV is well-known for its second-year pricing hikes, and this is why we choose DISH as the best satellite TV provider.
We got you covered if you need help deciding which DISH plan you should get, but all plans come with family favorites like Discovery Channel, Disney Channel, HGTV, and Nickelodeon.
Take a look at our DISH review for information, but trust us when we say, DISH will allow you to watch all of the March Madness games while you’re working from home.
DIRECTV STREAM gives you March Madness and premium channels
If you like NCAA basketball and SHOWTIME, you’ll like DIRECTV STREAM.
This live TV streaming service has all four channels airing March Madness games in all of its plans, so you just have to decide which plan is best for you after the event is over.
When you get CHOICE and above, you’ll get a free one-year membership to HBO Max and three free months of EPIX, STARZ, SHOWTIME, and CINEMAX.
But if you go with the ULTIMATE package, you’ll get STARZ channels in your lineup. And the PREMIER plan will give you STARZ, SHOWTIME, and CINEMAX channels.
Since DIRECTV STREAM is a streamable version of DIRECTV, it’s going to have some similarities. And we have to warn you about the similarity we don’t like: the second-year price hikes.
But before we go on about the second-year price hikes, we should also let you know there is a no-contract option, which will make your monthly pricing $10–$30 more per month, but you won’t actually save that much money if you go with the 2-year contract option. So, no contract for the win.
Find out more details about DIRECTV STREAM in our review to see if those price hikes are worth subscribing to this live TV streaming service.
DIRECTV is for March Madness and NFL fans
|Plan||Price||TV channel count||Details|
|ENTERTAINMENT All-Included||$64.99†††||160+||View Plan|
|CHOICE All-Included||$69.99‡‡‡||185+||View Plan|
|ULTIMATE All-Included||$84.99‡‡‡||250+||View Plan|
|PREMIER All-Included||$134.99‡‡‡||330+||View Plan|
DIRECTV has got your back when it comes to watching March Madness live. Pick the best package for you, and it will include CBS, TBS, TNT, and TruTV.
But there will come a point when March Madness ends. You’ll get MLB Network with ULTIMATE and PREMIER. And you’ll likely want the Golf Channel and Tennis Channel to watch the tournaments throughout the year.
But the one feature DIRECTV has that no other TV provider in the industry has is NFL SUNDAY TICKET.
NFL SUNDAY TICKET is your ticket to all of the out-of-market NFL games straight to your TV. If you’re a Kansas City Chiefs fan but live in Salt Lake City, you’ll want this subscription to watch the full Chiefs game every weekend of the NFL season.
Find out how to get a free subscription to NFL SUNDAY TICKET and learn about DIRECTV’s Genie DVR in our detailed review.
Recap: What’s the best way to watch March Madness 2021?
Of course you’re here because you just want to figure out the best way to watch the March Madness 2021 games with or without cable, so let us recap why an NCAA basketball fan should get one of these services:
- YouTube TV: YouTube TV has all four channels that will be airing March Madness games, and it’s a live TV streaming service you’ll want all year long for $65 per month. You’ll get over 85 channels the whole family will enjoy and an unlimited DVR storage space so you can record all of the March Madness games.
- Xfinity TV: Xfinity TV is the best cable TV provider for March Madness watchers since you’ll be getting CBS, TBS, TNT, and TruTV in your channel lineup. For $50 per month, you’ll get 140 channels of entertainment, sports, kids, and lifestyle. But we recommend considering the monthly fees you’ll have to pay with Xfinity before committing.
- DISH: As the cheapest satellite TV option ($64.99–$99.99 per month), you’ll get all four March Madness channels in any of the packages. We can help you pick a package that best fits your family’s needs, but we recommend America’s Top 200 because this plan will get you close to 30 sports channels.
- DIRECTV: DIRECTV STREAM is the second-best live TV streaming service option for March Madness because of its pricing ($59.99–$129.99 per month) and second-year price hikes. But keep in mind you can get the no-contract option for $10–$30 more per month. You can get CBS, TBS, TNT, and TruTV for $60–$70 per month, but you’ll only get 65 channels. YouTube TV is $65 more and gives you 20 more channels. But DIRECTV STREAM does include free premium channels.
- DIRECTV: DIRECTV is our last option for March Madness-watching because of the same two reasons as DIRECTV STREAM: pricing ($64.99–$134.99 per month) and second-year price hikes. DIRECTV’s pricing could be worth it for those March Madness fans who are also NFL fans and would love to subscribe to NFL SUNDAY TICKET to watch all out-of-market NFL games.
What’s your experience?
Which provider do you think is best for watching all four channels airing March Madness? Comment below and tell us your experience!