Watching the NCAA Final Four this year can be tricky for cord-cutters. The semi-finals air on TBS. However, not all live TV streaming services carry it, and those that do have strengths and weaknesses that you need to think about. Sling TV, DirecTV Stream, Hulu with Live TV and YouTube TV include TBS in their subscription plans.
In this article, we will cover the tradeoffs of each service so you can make the best choice for this year’s NCAA Basketball Tournament — and beyond.
Watch the NCAA Final Four for Free
Most of the streaming services we cover offer some kind of free trial for new subscribers. If you are most interested in the Final Four and the Championship game, you might be able to stream these last three games without having to pay a thing! Of course, you might find that you don’t want to give up all the great content these streaming services offer:
The only service missing from this list (at least for college basketball fans) is Hulu with Live TV. They do not offer a free trial.
These trials let you watch free live TV without any risk. As long as you cancel before the trial ends, the streaming service will not charge your credit card. On the other hand, you can keep using the streaming service for a regular monthly fee.
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Sling TV is not just the cheapest option in this list, it offers one of the best values in the live TV streaming business. Every subscription plan includes TBS, so you only need to pay $35 a month to watch the Final Four. For the rest of your TV watching, you will need to look closely at the channel lineups in each plan. Sling Orange focuses on Disney-owned channels while Sling Blue focuses on channels from NBC and Fox.
More than any other streaming service, Sling lets you customize your channel lineup to your family’s unique tastes. The themed Extras bundle additional channels for low monthly fees. You’ll find Extras for sports, kids, news, entertainment and more. The Sports Extra includes more than a dozen channels such as NBA TV. The News Extra lets you watch news channels from around the world and across the political spectrum.
Sling TV’s features do not match more expensive services. You get 50 hours of DVR recording capacity. Depending on your plan, you are limited to using either one device or as many as three devices at the same time.
Check out our Sling TV Review for more information.
Nobody will ever accuse DirecTV Stream of being the most affordable live TV streaming service. With plans ranging from $70 to $150 per month, it looks a lot like a cable company. For the price, though, the number of channels and features you get may make DirecTV Stream a best value for you.
In addition to TBS, you get the most popular cable channels, your local network affiliate stations and regional sports networks. DirecTV Stream also gives new subscribers 3 months of free access to premium channels such as Showtime, HBO Max, Starz or Epix.
DirecTV Stream veers away from being too much like a cable company by including premium features in its service plans. The streaming service does not layer on extra fees or “rental” charges. Every plan lets you record as much content as you want and keep those recordings for as long as 90 days. And as long as everyone’s on the home WiFi, DirecTV Stream does not limit the number of simultaneous streams.
Our DirecTV Stream Review goes into much more detail.
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Hulu with Live TV has been immensely popular with cord-cutters because of its channel lineup, an enormous library of on-demand content, and now the content flowing in from Disney.
TBS is part of the standard channel lineup which includes the local network stations in most markets and the most popular basic cable channels. The on-demand library lets you watch recently-aired episodes — even from channels that aren’t part of the live lineup. On top of that, you get Hulu’s original content as well as movies and TV shows that don’t fit into the family-friendly format of Disney+.
One of the best values in streaming is the bundled subscription that gives you a discounted rate for Hulu with Live TV, ESPN+ and Disney+. You only need one account to access each service.
The only thing that may make you think before signing up for Hulu with Live TV is its relatively meh set of features. The cloud DVR only includes 50 hours of recording space. And Hulu limits simultaneous streaming to only 2 devices. For an extra monthly fee, you can upgrade these two services. The simultaneous streaming limit disappears on your home WiFi which is great. But the DVR upgrade doesn’t compare to competitors’ unlimited capacity. Paying more only gets you 200 hours of recording capacity.
Find out more in our Hulu with Live TV Review.
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Cord-cutters flocked to YouTube TV in its early days — and not just because it was one of the most affordable live TV streamers. Other services did a terrible job getting streams from local stations. YouTube TV only went live in markets where it had local streams from every network — even PBS.
Although those advantages are gone, YouTube TV is still a great value. TBS and other popular channels are part of the lineup as well as networks from the major sports leagues. You can also customize your experience from YouTube TV’s à la carte menu of sports, entertainment and other channels. If your TV supports 4K ultra-high-definition content, an add-on subscription lets you get 4K content for some channels.
YouTube TV is also great for larger households. Create up to 6 profiles to give each person their own watch histories, recommendations and DVR libraries. Everyone can record as much as they want and keep those shows for as long as 9 months. Simultaneous streaming is the only real weakness in YouTube TV’s feature set: your family can only use 3 devices at the same time.
Check out our YouTube TV Review to learn more.
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How to Watch the NCAA Final Four on Apple TV