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How to watch March Madness on Paramount Plus

Paramount Plus on Roku
(Image credit: WhatToWatch.com)

March Madness is here. And that's a big deal, because the NCAA Men's College Basketball Tournament was canceled in 2020 due to the global pandemic — and its return in 2021 was never guaranteed. 

But March Madness is back. And it comes at an interesting time, too, just a couple weeks after the launch of Paramount+, the streaming service that lives under the ViacomCBS umbrella. And given that CBS remains the home of March Madness, and that Paramount+ has live sports, you'd be right to ask if you can watch March Madness on Paramount+.

MORE: Read our Paramount Plus review

The answer? Yes, and no. Some of the March Madness basketball games will be available on Paramount+, and some won't. Here's what's up:

(And when the basketball is done, be sure to stick around for the best movies on Paramount+.)

How to watch March Madness anywhere in the world

If you've got to get your March Madness on but just aren't in the United States for whatever reason during the tournament — which runs March 18-April 5 — then a solid VPN might be just what you need. That'll get you access to whatever streaming service you're used to using — including Paramount+.

The catch is that you need to be able to trust your VPN provider because it'll be routing all of your traffic — encrypted and unencrypted alike — and not just what you're using to watch March Madness.

For that, we've long been fans of ExpressVPN.

ExpressVPN is one of the easiest and affordable ways to watch what you want from anywhere you want to watch it. Plus it'll help keep your network traffic away from any prying eyes on public networks.

It's also a great way to make sure you can watch all the March Madness games, no matter where you find yourself this spring.View Deal

How to watch March Madness on Paramount Plus

Here's the deal with March Madness and Paramount Plus: You can watch some of the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament games on Paramount Plus thanks to its live stream of your local CBS affiliate. (And this is a good time to take advantage of that Paramount+ free trial.)

But — and this is a pretty big but — that's only going to get you a quarter of the first-round games. A mere eight of the first 32 matchups are on CBS proper. The other 24 games are on truTV, TBS or TNT. And as those networks fall under the WarnerMedia umbrella and not ViacomCBS, you'll not be able to watch them with Paramount+.

The second round winnows things down to 32 games. But the TV strategy is the same as the first round. There are games on CBS, TNT, TBS, TNT and truTV.

And none of the four March 18 play-in games is available on Paramount+. 

So, yes, you can watch March Madness on Paramount+. You just can't watch a lot of it — at least not at first.

The Sweet 16 — scheduled for March 27-28 — splits games between CBS and TBS, with the former getting the afternoon games, and the latter getting the evening games. 

The Elite Eight also sees the same split, though CBS will have the games on Monday, March 29, and TBS gets them on Tuesday, March 30.

The final three March Madness games will all be broadcast on CBS, and that means you'll be able to watch all three of them — the Final Four (on April 3) as well as the National Championship game on April 5 — on Paramount+ via the CBS live stream.

Paramount+ currently has two pricing schemes — $5.99 a month or $59.99 a year if you don't mind advertising on the on-demand content, or $9.99 a month or $99.99 a year if you want to get rid of most of that advertising. (Live streams of CBS will still have ads, of course.) In June 2021, that $5.99 option will go away in lieu of a $4.99-a-month plan that does not include the live stream of CBS.

More: The best shows on Paramount Plus

Paramount+ is available on every major streaming service. That includes Paramount+ on Roku, and it also means you can watch Paramount+ on Amazon Fire TV. You also can watch Paramount+ on Apple TV, Android TV, Google TV, smart TV systems, and on the web.

In addition to live sports, Paramount+ also is the exclusive home to most things Star Trek, the ever-expanding Yellowstone universe, and of course CBS proper and all its hit shows. It's also where you'll find great new exclusives like The Good Fight, The Twilight Zone, and Star Trek: Discovery.

How to watch all the March Madness games that aren't on CBS

The bulk of the first and second rounds of the NCAA Men's College Basketball Tournament aren't on CBS, and that means they're not available on Paramount+.

So how to watch them?

Sling TV is going to be your least expensive option. And more specifically, the Sling Blue plan. It runs $35 a month (after a free trial) and includes TBS, TNT and truTV, all of which you'll need to watch all the other games. What you probably won't get, however, is your local CBS affiliate.

If you've got to have everything all in one bundle — CBS, truTV, TNT and TBS — then you probably want to look at a service like Hulu With Live TV, which should be able to accommodate everything. It runs $64.99 a month and comes with full access to the Hulu on-demand library.