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How To Watch College Basketball 2023–2024

While you were perfecting your layup (maybe), we spent over 40 hours determining the best ways to watch college basketball this season.

Featured offer: 7-day free trial
Fubo
Channels:
65–260+
DVR storage:
Up to 1,000 hrs.
Free trial:
7 days
Channels:
65–260+
DVR storage:
Up to 1,000 hrs.
Free trial:
7 days
Editor's choice
DIRECTV
Channels:
75–150+
DVR storage:
Up to 450 hrs.
Contract:
2 yrs.
Channels:
75–150+
DVR storage:
Up to 450 hrs.
Contract:
2 yrs.
Best for streaming
Hulu + Live TV
Channels:
85+
DVR storage:
Unlimited (for 9 mos.)
Free trial:
N/A
Channels:
85+
DVR storage:
Unlimited (for 9 mos.)
Free trial:
N/A
Best value
Sling TV
Channels:
30–45+
DVR storage:
50 hrs. included
Free trial:
N/A
Channels:
30–45+
DVR storage:
50 hrs. included
Free trial:
N/A
Cheapest
ESPN+
Content:
5,000+ men’s and women’s college basketball games
DVR storage:
N/A
Free trial:
N/A
Content:
5,000+ men’s and women’s college basketball games
DVR storage:
N/A
Free trial:
N/A

Data effective as of post date. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

From November to April, college basketball takes over nearly 100% of our headspace—sorry, friends and family. Perhaps you’re in the same boat, so we’re here to help you find the best TV plan for watching your favorite schools battle it out on the court.

Our TV recommendations span from extensive and expensive to well-balanced and reasonably priced. Not every plan will meet your criteria, but we’ll help you weigh the options to get the best value for your money.

Keep reading to explore the best college basketball TV plans—including a list of the main channels you’ll want and how to watch certain games for free. Also, check out our NCAA Basketball Tournament viewing guide, which outlines how to watch March Madness.

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The channels you need to watch college basketball

College basketball games appear across many TV networks—especially CBS Sports, ESPN, and FOX Sports platforms. Of course, the best college basketball channels show the matchups that interest you the most. That’s why we recommend visiting your favorite team’s official schedule for the most accurate channel listings.

March Madness: The men’s NCAA Tournament airs on CBS, TBS, TNT, and truTV, while the women’s competition appears on ESPN networks. Visit our NCAA Basketball Tournament guide for a closer look at channel listings and tournament schedules.

Freebie fans can also get decent NCAA basketball coverage on local channels like ABC, CBS, FOX, and NBC. But if you want the most games possible, you’ll want a TV plan with your preferred college conference channel and regional sports networks (RSN) like the ones listed below.

Conference channels:

  • ACC Network
  • Big Ten Network
  • Longhorn Network
  • Pac-12 Network
  • SEC Network

Regional sports networks:

  • Altitude Sports
  • Bally Sports
  • MSG Network
  • NBC Sports regional networks
  • New England Sports Network (NESN)
  • ROOT SPORTS

Stream ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12, and SEC basketball

We’ve broken down how you can stream some major college basketball conferences. Spoiler alert: you’ll need a TV provider login at the ready or a subscription to ESPN+ to access most of these Power Five streaming options.

  • Atlantic Coast Conference: ESPN owns and operates ACC Network (ACCN), annually offering 150+ live men’s and women’s college basketball games. Using a TV provider login, you can stream ACCN content through the ESPN app. You can also stream ACC on The CW presentations via The CW’s free app.
  • Big Ten Conference: The Big Ten’s latest partnership with CBS Sports, FOX Sports, and NBC Sports offers many streaming options. As usual, you can stream Big Ten Network (BTN) games using the FOX Sports app with a TV provider login. Meanwhile, CBS games stream on Paramount+, and NBC’s Peacock has several exclusive matchups.
  • Big 12 Conference: Big 12 fans can get many games through Big 12 Now on ESPN+. However, some Big 12 basketball games also air on FOX Sports networks.
  • Pacific-12 Conference: To stream Pac-12 games, you need Pac-12 Network in your TV plan. You can check the network’s TV provider availability on the Pac-12 website. From there, you can download the Pac-12 Now app to watch live games, studio shows, and other programming from the Conference of Champions.
  • Southeastern Conference: ESPN operates the SEC’s dedicated channel—meaning you can stream SEC Network content on the ESPN app. But you’ll need ESPN+ or a TV plan with SEC Network to log in and watch those games. ESPN+ also has a ton of live college basketball from smaller conferences like the Sun Belt Conference.

Best TV packages for college basketball

  • Editor’s choice: DIRECTV ($69.99–$159.99/mo.)
  • Best for streaming: Hulu + Live TV ($76.99–$89.99/mo.)
  • Best value: Sling TV ($40.00–$55.00/mo.)
  • Cheapest: ESPN+ ($10.99/mo. or $109.99/yr.)

Don’t miss the next college tip-off

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Editor’s choice: DIRECTV

Price:
$69.99–$159.99/mo.*
College basketball channels:
ACC Network, Big Ten Network, SEC Network, and more
Features:
Wide RSN availability; Genie DVRs (200–450 hrs.)

Data effective as of post date. Compatible device and internet connection required. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.
*w/ 24-mo. agmt. AutoPay and Paperless Bill req’d. Advanced Receiver Service Fee $15.00/mo. and Regional Sports Fee up to $13.99/mo. are extra & apply.

Pros

  • Every major college basketball channel
  • Wide regional sports network (RSN) availability
  • 3 mos. of free premium channels

Cons

  • 2-yr. contract
  • Bulky satellite dish

Among cable and satellite providers, we recommend DIRECTV for the most non-streaming college basketball coverage. The satellite TV provider has expensive plans, but its two-year price lock and large channel counts are undeniable.

DIRECTV’s CHOICE All Included package ($84.99 per month) is our favorite because it has a balanced mix of sports and entertainment channels. If you’re targeting RSNs, you’ll need the CHOICE plan or above to get your area’s in-market sports channels. But you should first enter your zip code into DIRECTV’s local RSN lookup tool to verify which RSNs are in your area.

You can also take your DIRECTV plan up a notch by getting the DIRECTV SPORTS PACK add-on ($13.99 per month). It comes with more out-of-market networks and sports channels—including CBS Sports Network, ESPN College Extra, and Next Level Sports.

Of course, DIRECTV certainly has its disadvantages. For instance, you must sign a two-year contract and connect a satellite dish to your home. Plus, DIRECTV doesn’t carry the Pac-12 Network or beIN SPORTS channels. If those channels are a requirement, you’ll want to check out DISH instead.

NCAA March Madness Live app

If you already have a cable, satellite, or live TV streaming subscription, you can sign in to the NCAA March Madness Live app with your provider credentials and watch every game in the tournament. It’s a great way to catch live games and highlights while on the go.

If you don’t have a TV provider, you can still use the app’s free three-hour preview—it’s enough time to watch at least one game for nothing.

Best for streaming: Hulu + Live TV

Price:
$76.99–$89.99/mo.
College basketball channels:
CBS Sports Network, FS2, Pac-12 Networks, and more
Features:
85+ channels; unlimited cloud DVR storage

Data effective as of post date. Compatible device and internet connection required. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

Pros

  • Key basketball networks
  • Unlimited cloud DVR
  • ESPN+ and Disney+ included

Cons

  • Small sports channel lineup
  • Only 2 simultaneous streams allowed

In the cord-cutting age, Hulu + Live TV is our favorite way to watch college basketball. The live TV streaming service doesn’t have an extensive channel lineup, but it still carries essential basketball networks like ESPN, FOX Sports 1 (FS1), and CBS Sports Network.

Hulu + Live TV plans start at $76.99 per month and include ESPN+ and Disney+ for no extra charge. Having ESPN+ integrated into the Hulu app is a massive perk for college sports fans. Not only do you avoid paying for an additional subscription, but you can also easily navigate between traditional live sports channels and ESPN+ content.

Other great benefits of Hulu + Live TV are its unlimited cloud DVR and My Stuff watchlist. These features allow you to search for your favorite college basketball teams, add them to your My Stuff hub, and record all upcoming games without running out of storage space.

Like DIRECTV, Hulu + Live TV doesn’t carry Pac-12 Network. If your team belongs to the Pac-12 Conference, you’ll want to check out Fubo or Sling TV for live TV streaming coverage.

Best value: Sling TV

Price:
$40.00–$55.00/mo.
College basketball channels:
ABC*, ESPN, ESPN2, FS1, and more
Features:
50 hr. Cloud DVR; 30+ add-on channels and packages

Data effective as of post date. Compatible device and internet connection required. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.
*Available only in select markets with Sling Blue. Without ABC, Sling TV subscribers can watch ESPN on ABC broadcasts via ESPN3.

Pros

  • Inexpensive pricing
  • Customizable plans
  • Diverse sign-up deals

Cons

  • Poor local channel coverage
  • Limited DVR space included

Sling TV offers the best value for watching college basketball because it carries many games for a low monthly cost. Its Sling Blue plan is just $40.00 per month and includes essential basketball channels like TBS, TNT, and truTV.

The biggest downside to Sling TV is that it doesn’t have complete local channel coverage. While ABC, FOX, and NBC are available to Sling TV users in select markets, you won’t find CBS in any of the service’s plans. But missing those channels isn’t the end of the world for sports fans.

Most sports airing live on ABC also stream on ESPN3, an ESPN overflow channel available to all Sling Orange and Sling Orange & Blue subscribers. Several Sling TV deals also include a free HD antenna to ensure you still get every local channel available in your area. The antenna makes watching this year’s National Championship game on CBS possible.

Our favorite Sling TV sign-up offer is the AirTV 2 + HD Antenna deal. Usually, those two items cost around $150 together. But this bundle costs only $49 when you prepay for three months of Sling TV service.

The AirTV 2 device has the benefit of integrating your local antenna channels with the Sling TV guide. You can bounce between CBS and the Turner Sports channels without missing a beat during March Madness.

The AirTV 2 OTA tuner from Sling TV.

You can get even more college basketball coverage with Sling TV’s Sports Extra add-on for as little as $11.00 per month. Its channels vary depending on your base plan, but it’s a great way to get conference networks like Big Ten Network (BTN), Pac-12 Network, SEC Network, and ACC Network (ACCN).

Cheapest: ESPN Plus

Price:
$10.99/mo. or $109.99/yr.
College basketball content:
Exclusive live games and on-demand replays
Features:
50 hr. Cloud DVR; 30+ add-on channels and packages
:
10,000+ live sports events; full 30 for 30 library

Data effective as of post date. Compatible device and internet connection required. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

Pros

  • Inexpensive pricing
  • Rich on-demand sports library
  • Exclusive college conference content

Cons

  • Traditional ESPN networks not included
  • Regional blackouts for major league sports

In recent years, ESPN+ became one of the prime locations to catch college sports—not just basketball. Getting ESPN+ for free through Hulu + Live TV is excellent for sports fans who want the benefits of ESPN+ on top of a live TV plan. You can also still get ESPN+ as a standalone subscription.

At $10.99 per month, ESPN+ delivers thousands of collegiate basketball games thanks to long-term agreements with over 25 college conferences—including the Big 12, the Ivy League, and the Missouri Valley Conference. In fact, the 2022–2023 college basketball season on ESPN+ featured more than 2,700 men’s games and over 2,300 women’s games. That’s a lot of b-ball, folks.

How to watch college basketball for free

Get free local channels
Recommended antenna:
Mohu Leaf 50 ($39.99, one-time payment)
College basketball channels:
ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, and The CW
Features:
All local broadcast channels

CableTV.com utilizes paid Amazon links. Amazon.com Price; $39.99 (as of 1/8/24 8:45 a.m. CT). Read full disclaimer.

An over-the-air (OTA) antenna is one of the easiest ways to get free access to live college basketball games. While the antenna will cost money, it’s only a one-time purchase that will benefit you for many seasons. Plus, you’ll have access to many other leagues throughout the year—including the NBA and WNBA.

Costing from $20 to $60, an antenna will pick up every channel within range. Possible networks include ABC, CBS, FOX, and NBC. Because ABC and CBS are home to NCAA Tournament matchups, an antenna can be convenient for watching March Madness.

We recommend the Mohu Leaf 50 because it can receive TV signals within a 60-mile range. Depending on your location, that should get you the primary local channels needed for college basketball. But you can verify that information by entering your zip code on the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Reception Map Tool.

Pro tip: Another way to watch college basketball without paying is to sign up for a free seven-day trial of Fubo. With careful planning and discipline, you could watch a solid amount of basketball before your trial expires. Who knows? You might even like Fubo enough to keep it around for the entire season.

Best ways to watch college basketball

Most TV providers have college basketball games, but the best matchups air on various channels. For instance, CBS Sports, Turner Sports, and ESPN networks show NCAA Tournament games. But you’ll also need access to college conference channels and RSNs to watch the most regular-season coverage. With all of this in mind, these are our favorite ways to watch college basketball this season:

  • DIRECTV is expensive but has bulky channel lineups to satisfy the most diehard sports fans. It has many important college basketball channels, RSNs, and several premium channels to hold you over when basketball isn’t on.
  • Hulu + Live TV is the best streaming option for college basketball. Even with its small channel lineup, you still get the main ESPN and FOX Sports channels. Hulu + Live TV also includes ESPN+, opening the door to thousands of extra college matchups.
  • Sling TV is an inexpensive alternative to Hulu + Live TV. Its base plans have even fewer channels, but there are more add-ons and sweet deals for new subscribers.

A one-time purchase of a digital antenna will save you money while also getting you local channels like ABC, CBS, FOX, and NBC, which all show a great deal of college basketball.

How to watch college basketball FAQ

How can I watch college basketball without cable?

Most live TV streaming services carry channels that show college basketball games. Sling TV, Fubo, and YouTube TV include crucial sports networks, but we prefer Hulu + Live TV because it has ESPN+ at no extra cost for added basketball coverage.

Does ESPN+ have college basketball?

Yes, ESPN+ will show over 5,000 men’s and women’s college basketball games during the 2023–2024 season. The streaming service features coverage from over 25 college conferences, including National Invitation Tournament (NIT) games and simulcasts of the women’s NCAA Tournament.

Is the Final Four on CBS?

Yes, the men’s Final Four and NCAA Championship Game will air on CBS in 2023. ESPN will broadcast the women’s Final Four, while ABC will host the women’s National Championship Game.

Methodology

Our experts spent over 40 hours researching TV providers and testing plans, apps, and other services to determine the best ways to watch college basketball this season. We compared these viewing options by examining prices, channel lineups, and extra features.

To learn more about our methods, check out our How We Rank page.

Disclaimer

Data effective as of post date. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

*w/ 24-mo. agmt. AutoPay and Paperless Bill req’d. Advanced Receiver Service Fee $15.00/mo. and Regional Sports Fee up to $13.99/mo. are extra & apply.

Amazon.com price as of 1/8/24 8:45 a.m. CT. Product prices and availability are accurate as of the date/time indicated and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on Amazon.com at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product. CableTV.com utilizes paid Amazon links.

Certain content that appears on this site comes from Amazon. This content is provided “as is” and is subject to change or removal at any time.

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