How to watch March Madness on your iPhone and iPad

How to watch March Madness on your iPhone and iPad
How to watch March Madness on your iPhone and iPad (Image credit: Joseph Keller/iMore)

The NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament, also known as March Madness, is upon us. It's time to fire up the brackets and settle in to watch the tournament. But what's the best to do that if you plan on watching from your iPhone or iPad, rather than from your TV?

Here's the best way to catch the whole tournament from your iPhone or iPad.

The official app

The NCAA has an official Mach Madness app that will let you watch all of the games live. With NCAA March Madness Live you'll have the entire tournament at your fingertips, from live games to on-demand video including highlights, commentary, and more. As long as you have a cable provider that you can link to the app, you should be good to go. The app also supports Apple's single sign-on feature for easy login.

This is the perfect way to watch the games on your mobile devices. Instead of worrying about things like location blackouts for certain games, you can catch all of the action as it happens no matter where you are.

The app also has a built-in bracket feature. Create your own bracket for March Madness as part of the NCAA's official Bracket Challenge, which lets you pit your bracket against those of friends, family, and even strangers around the country. You can get customized bracket alerts, as well as best-case scenario analysis for your bracket.

You can grab the NCAA March Madness Live app from the App Store now for iPhone, iPad, and Apple TV.

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TV apps

If you don't want to use the official NCAA app, you can always watch the games using a cable provider's app. Assuming, of course, that you subscribe to cable, you can use your provider's app to watch live games on your iPhone and iPad. The games will air on CBS, TBS, TNT, and truTV.

According to the NCAA, will air on the following schedule:

  • Selection Sunday: 6 p.m. ET on Sunday, March 15 — CBS
  • First Four: Coverage starts at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, March 17, and Wednesday, March 18 — truTV
  • First and Second Round: Thursday, March 19 through Sunday, March 22 — CBS, TBS, truTV, TNT
  • Regionals (Sweet 16 and Elite Eight): Thursday, March 26 through Sunday, March 29 —CBS, TBS
  • Saturday's Elite Eight games start at 6 p.m. on TBS
  • Sunday's Elite Eight games start at 2 p.m. on CBS
  • Final Four: Saturday, April 4 on TBS.
  • National Championship Game: Monday, April 6 on TBS.

If you're a cord-cutter, you can also watch the games live on these channels if you subscribe to certain live TV streaming services. AT&T TV Now, fuboTV, Hulu, and YouTube TV each offer all four of these channels as part of their streaming packages, while Sling's Orange and Blue subscriptions offer all but CBS.

You can grab these streaming apps, as well as the one for your particular cable provider, on the App Store right now.


If you're traveling or otherwise outside of the United States, you might be able to tune into the tournament using a virtual private network (VPN). Most VPNs allow you to choose which country you want to make it look like you're coming from. Just set your country to 'United States' or 'USA' (depending on your app), and services and web browsers will think that you're from those places.

It's important, however, to note that this might not work. Apps, such as those from cable providers or live-streaming apps, can detect whether or not you're using a VPN on your iPhone or iPad. In most cases, those apps will ask you to turn your VPN off before you can watch any content through them, so if you're planning to watch on iPhone or iPad, you might have to find another solution.

Beware excess data usage

If you have some kind of limited data plan, or you're just worried about hitting the throttling threshold on an 'unlimited' data plan, March Madness is a time to watch out for. Streaming video over cellular will eat through a data plan, and if you try to stream the entire tournament, you'll definitely hit some kind of overage fee or even a speed throttling, depending on your carrier.

My advice is this: watch on Wi-Fi when you can, conserve your cellular data for when you need it. You can also choose to skip certain games. Even if you're not watching the tournament through it, the NCAA app offers alerts for bracket updates, close games, and other essential bits of info, so you'll never be out of the loop, even if you're not watching every game.

How will you watch?

How do you plan to catch March Madness on your iPhone or iPad? Let us know in the comments.

Joseph Keller

Joseph Keller is the former Editor in Chief of iMore. An Apple user for almost 20 years, he spends his time learning the ins and outs of iOS and macOS, always finding ways of getting the most out of his iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, and Mac.