How to Watch March Madness

CBS/Turner NCAA Tournament announcers (from l.) Jim Nantz, Grant Hill and Bill Raftery.
CBS/Turner NCAA Tournament announcers (from l.) Jim Nantz, Grant Hill and Bill Raftery. (Image credit: John C. Filo/CBS)

March Madness is upon us, with the “First Four” play-in games in Dayton March 15, those airing on TruTV, and the NCAA championship itself tipping off March 17, starting at 12 p.m. ET on CBS. Games are on CBS and Turner networks, including TNT, TBS and TruTV. 

On March 17, it’s Michigan versus Colorado State on CBS at 12:15, with Ian Eagle, Jim Spanarkel and Jamie Erdahl calling the game. At 12:40 that day, South Dakota State plays Providence on TruTV, with Brad Nessler, Brendan Haywood and Evan Washburn calling it. 

Sweet 16 games are on CBS and TBS. For the Elite Eight, the March 26 games are on TBS and the March 27 games are on CBS. 

Also: March Madness Sold Out With Record Ad Revenue for CBS, Turner

The semifinals happen April 2 and the final is on for April 4. Those games take place in New Orleans, and air on TBS. 

The top seeds are Gonzaga in the West, Baylor in the East, Arizona in the South and Kansas in the Midwest. 

NCAA March Madness Live is the dedicated streaming home for all games. Games on CBS can be streamed with a Paramount Plus premium subscription.

It is the 40th year that CBS has had March Madness, and CBS teamed up with the Turner networks in 2010 to air the tournament. “It’s impossible to find better partners than Turner has been for us,” said Sean McManus, chairman of CBS Sports, at a press event. 

All of last year’s games were in Indiana, the NCAA looking to limit travel amidst COVID, with the final in Indianapolis. Baylor defeated Gonzaga in the championship game. Audiences were limited due to the pandemic. 

The 2020 tournament was canceled altogether. 

McManus mentioned America’s desire to “get back to some degree of normalcy” in terms of watching college basketball games around the country in March. “I think the ratings are going to be really good,” he added. “I think the country really is waiting to watch this tournament.”

Ad revenue for this year’s affair is a record, according to CBS and Turner. “We have had one hell of a selling season,” said John Bogusz, executive VP for ad sales at CBS Sports. “As a matter of fact, we’ve written more ad revenue in this tournament than we ever had before.” 

A virtual shot clock was introduced last year, and will be back. For the first time, there will be in-game coach interviews, McManus said, which will be “fun and informative.” CBS has a new graphics package. 

“There are plenty of bells and whistles,” said McManus. 

Lenny Daniels, Turner Sports president, spoke of “bringing the fan closer” to the action. 

“The guiding principle is, the fan comes first,” he said. ■ 

Michael Malone

Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.