How to watch First Four — live stream March Madness 2024, TV channels, schedule

Brian Goracke #21 of the Montana State Bobcats jumps up towards the hoop ahead of the the March Madness First Four 2024
(Image credit: Tommy Martino/University of Montana/Getty Images)

Before the games can officially begin, there's the small matter of the First Four play-in tournament. Wagner and Colorado State secured their tickets to March Madness 2024 yesterday, but two spots remain vacant – they'll be contested at the University of Dayton Arena tonight. 

Read on and we'll show you how to watch First Four 2024 from anywhere with a VPN, and potentially for FREE.

First Four live streams: TV schedule, dates

First Four 2024 runs from Tuesday, March 19 to Wednesday, March 20. Full schedule below.
U.S. — TruTV via Sling TV or Fubo
 AUS Kayo Sports (free trial)
 U.K.Sky Sports
• Watch anywhere — Try NordVPN 100% risk free

Grambling State are aiming to become the second March Madness rookies to make it into the 64-team draw, and they can consider themselves a touch unfortunate, having won the SWAC playoffs and topped the regular-season standings. They'll face Montana State in the first of tonight's games, with the winning team earning the chance to play the top-seeded Purdue in the Midwest Regional.

Once that's in the books, it'll be over to Boise State and Colorado, who are coming in hot. The Buffaloes have won seven of their past eight games, that sole defeat coming in the Pac–12 tournament final. Whoever comes out on top will face South Regional No.7 seeds Florida in the opening round.

Here's everything you need to know to watch First Four 2024 online, plus the full schedule, TV channels and all the live stream information, with or without cable.

First Four games and TV schedule

(All times ET)

Wednesday, March 20

  • 6:40 p.m. – Montana State Bobcats (16) vs Grambling State Tigers (16)
  • 9:10 p.m. – Boise State Broncos (10) vs Colorado Buffaloes (10)

Watch First Four in the U.S.

US flag

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Watch First Four 2024 live streams in the U.S.

In the U.S., every game from the First Four round is being shown on TruTV. However, for comprehensive coverage of March Madness, you'll also want TBS, TNT and CBS.

If you've already cut the cord and don't have a cable package, you can get all of those channels through an OTT cable TV alternative.

Sling TV is one of the better options. It includes TruTV, TBS and TNT in its Blue plan, with prices starting from $40/month and your first month half-price.

You can add CBS with a subscription to Paramount Plus Premium ($11.99 per month). Together, those cost $56.99 per month – but only $34.49 for your first month – which is less than Fubo, YouTube TV and Hulu with live TV, and one of the cheapest and most reliable ways of watching all of the tournament.

Sling TV

You can get TruTV, TBS and TNT on the Sling TV Blue package. Sling Blue comes with 30-plus channels, including NBC (selected markets), ABC and Fox. New subscribers get 50% off their first month.

FuboFubo's 7-day free trial

Fubo is a great alternative to a cable package and an all-in-one solution for March Madness 2024. The Pro Plan ($79.99 per month) gets you well over 100 channels including TruTV, TBS, TNT and CBS to bring all the games from the college basketball finals. And you can try it all out with Fubo's 7-day free trial.

An even cheaper alternative for this year is HBO's streaming service Max with its B/R Sports Add-On, which is included for free during the First Four and March Madness 2024 as a limited time offer.

The B/R Sports Add-On brings access to the games on TruTV, as well as TBS and TNT. Max prices start at $9.99/month with ads, going to $15.99/month ad-free. Or there's a special on at the moment with 40% off if you pay for a whole year upfront, which effectively gives you 12 months for as little as $5.83 per month.

You'll still need Paramount Plus Premium for the CBS games but it means you can watch all of March Madness 2024 for the bargain basement price of $21.98. Not bad at all.

Lastly, for some customers, YouTubeTV is offering a free trial period that could allow people to watch March Madness 2024 for free. We have more on March Madness for cord-cutters right here.

Watch First Four from anywhere

Away from home at the moment and blocked from watching the basketball on your subscriptions?

You can still watch First Four live thanks to the wonders of a VPN (Virtual Private Network). The software allows your devices to appear to be back in your home country regardless of where in the world you are. So ideal for hoops fans away on vacation or on business. Our favorite is NordVPN. It's the best on the market:


There's a good reason you've heard of NordVPN. We specialize in testing and reviewing VPN services and NordVPN is the one we rate best. It's outstanding at unblocking streaming services, it's fast and it has top-level security features too. With over 5,000 servers, across 60 countries, and at a great price too, it's easy to recommend.

Get 63% off with this NordVPN deal

How to watch First Four in the U.K.

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Sky Sports has the rights to March Madness First Four live streams in the U.K., so if you already have a Sky subscription that doesn't include Sports, you'll need to pay £18/month to add those channels. 

Whichever package you go for, you'll also gain access to coverage in 4K and HDR, so long as you also have an HDR-ready Sky Q box and HLG-compatible TV.

Sky Glass is another option. This gives you Sky TV within a 4K TV that has a built-in Dolby Atmos soundbar, and without the need for a dish. Prices start at £14/month for the TV, plus a Sky sub on top of that.

If you don't want to shell out for a full Sky subscription, you could also consider its Now Sports streaming service. This gives you 24-hour access for £11.99 or month-long access for £34.99. 

All sounds great, right? But if you're not in the UK, you can still follow First Four live streams by using one of the best VPN services, such as NordVPN

Watch First Four in Canada

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TSN has the rights to show First Four live streams in Canada.

If you don't have cable, you could subscribe to TSN+ instead, which lets you get access to all TSN has to offer on an $8/month or $80/year subscription basis.

Watch First Four in Australia

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Aussies will find First Four live streams on ESPN via Foxtel.

Don't have Foxtel and don't want to subscribe? Specialist streaming service Kayo Sports is also showing the First Four, with its affordable, commitment-free plans starting from just $25/month, and hosting plenty of NBA basketball, cricket, AFL, rugby, F1 and loads of other live sports besides.

There's also a 7-day FREE trial for anybody who hasn't used the service before.

Not in Australia right now? You can simply use a VPN like NordVPN to watch all the action on your Kayo account as if you were back home.

Why is there a First Four in March Madness?

In 2001, when the Mountain West Conference was given an automatic pass to March Madness for its champions, the logical thing to do would have been for the total number of at-large bids to shrink from 34 to 33. 

However, the committee didn't think so, and so the overall pool instead grew to 65 teams – an unworkable number for a competition.

As a fix, it was decided that the two lowest-ranked teams would meet in a one-off play-in game. In 2011, the play-in expanded to four teams and two games. 

However, it wasn't until 2016 that the NCAA officially coined this stage of the tournament the First Four.

Aatif Sulleyman

Aatif is a freelance journalist and copywriter based in the UK. He’s written about technology, sport and politics for a wide range of publications including TechRadar, What Hi-Fi?, The Independent, Trusted Reviews, and Newsweek. These days, he focuses mainly on streaming at Future, an arrangement that combines two of his greatest passions: live TV and penny-pinching. When he's not attending a top-flight English soccer match, you can find him perfecting his table tennis skills.