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It’s that time of the year again: March Madness is starting today, and once again, many of the games will be shown while most of us are at the office. Luckily, all 67 games will once again be streamed online. Only this time around, viewers will have to pay to join in on the fun. Unless they’re Comcast(s cmsca) cable TV customers, that is, in which case games can be streamed for free – under certain conditions.
I guess it’s time for an explanation: The NCAA is charging fans $3.99 for the ability to watch the entire tournament online. In exchange, they’re providing unlimited access to all the games through a web browser as well as dedicated iOS and Android apps. Users will be able to pay for their accounts either through Paypal(s ebay) or iTunes(s aapl), and once you pay on your iPhone, you’re free to switch to the browser or an Android(s goog) device, and vice versa.
Comcast customers on the other hand don’t have to pay, provided they’re subscribing to the company’s pay TV service and their TV bundle includes CBS and Turner channels like TNT, TBS and truTV. Those channels are included in most Comcast cable packages, but it might be a good idea to double-check your cable line-up in time before your favorite team is playing.
Here’s where you can get the apps for your platform and tune into the games, as well as other helpful tools for any March Madness fanatic:
- The NCAA March Madness iOS app can be downloaded via iTunes. Users can pay for their subscription right in the app, or log in with their credentials if they have previously registered elsewhere.
- The NCAA March Madness Android app for selected Android phones is available on Google Play, formerly known as the Android Market.
- All of the 67 games can also be watched on the NCAA website after the one-time $3.99 payment is made.
- Comcast is showing all of the games to its subscribers for free via Xfinity TV. From the site: “Any game that airs on a Turner network (this includes TNT, TBS and truTV) will be available on XFINITY TV to watch live online. Any game that streams on CBS will be linked to straight from our player.” I double-checked with a Comcast spokesperson, and she confirmed that the games can be accessed from anywhere, as long as you’re logged into the Xfinity site. Comcast’s mobile apps can track games and schedule DVR recordings but won’t offer any live streaming.
- PlayUp is providing private hangouts for March Madness viewers via its iOS and web app.
- Snappy TV is powering social sharing of game highlights within the NCAA’s March Madness Flash player. The company is aggregating user-generated clips as well as the most tweeted messages about each game on the NCAA’s Facebook page.
- Our own Derrick Harris has been using lots and lots of data to pick his Final Four. Is his strategy sound, or will he lose our office pool? Read his story, and let us know what you think.
We will add links to additional online resources as they become available.