Hi Sports on Earth, how can I watch the NCAA tournament?
Every game, including the "first four" play-in games -- which I think we can all agree aren't actually part of March Madness -- will be on TV, split between CBS and Turner-owned channels (TNT, TBS and TruTV). You'll have to check which channel each individual game will be on.
What the heck is TruTV?
Apparently, it's a network millions of people watch. Its "hit" show, Impractical Jokers, in which four white men use hidden cameras to make people feel awful about themselves, draws about the same ratings as the NHL on NBC and better ratings than the EPL on NBC. In any event, TruTV will be taking a short hiatus from It Only Hurts When I Laugh marathons (from the Comcast description: "A streaker falls on his face; a stage light falls on an actor;" is this a half-hour show comprised entirely of GIFs? [Note to self: pitch a half hour show comprised entirely of GIFs]) to broadcast the NCAA tournament. Look around your guide, it's there somewhere. I promise.
But what if I want to watch 12 uninterrupted hours of Law & Order on TNT instead of basketball?
The first eight seasons of Law & Order are on Netflix Streaming, which comes to about 7,400 minutes of 1990s Law & Order drama. That should tide you over, Law & Order junkie, until at least the Sweet Sixteen. Also, why are you reading this?
I have a job that requires me to be in an office-like environment during the day. How can I add no value to my employer by watching basketball all day while still collecting paychecks?
I'm convinced most people pay attention to the tournament simply for the thrill of doing something they're not supposed to be doing at work. Even people who don't care about college basketball will obsessively stream every game they can just so they can stick it to their boss. It's a three-week power struggle. I could not be more sympathetic to your subversive tournament-watching and would like to help.
Hania Poole, senior director of product management at Turner Sports, demonstrated the new streaming options which look quite slick and useful. If you're at a computer, you can go to ncaa.com/marchmadness and stream from there. If you're on the move or want to rest a phone/tablet on your lap while sitting at your desk so your boss/co-workers can't easily detect your slacking, download the March Madness Live app, available for everything but BlackBerry because seriously who has a BlackBerry? You can also use the apps to check on brackets, scores, social media chatter (Sample chatter: "My squad is superior to your squad!" "I disagree!" "Fiddlesticks.") and similar potentially useful things.
Is there a limit to how much I can stream?
Unfortunately, if you do not have a cable subscription (or a login of someone who does) then, yes. Anyone can stream up to three hours of games via NCAA.com or any of the March Madness apps, but once you hit three hours, you will be forced to authenticate, similar to NBC's Olympic and Live Extra coverage or HBO GO. Of course, just like those services, if you don't have cable but a family member/friend/distant relative you once met at a family reunion/stranger on the train/barista/some dude at the gym who has a nice smile, etc. is willing to share theirs with you, you're golden. (Update: CBS Sports has confirmed that any game aired on CBS can be streamed online for free and without any metering or authentication.)
Can multiple people stream at once even if they're using the same login?
Typically with this type of authentication, yes. I asked Poole about this, and she offered no comment, which leads me to believe it will permit unlimited simultaneous streams on the same login.
I don't know anyone with a cable subscription. Is there any way to get around this three-hour limit business?
Probably! I can't say for sure since there's nothing to stream yet (obviously), but I've successfully used incognito mode in Google Chrome and similar stealth modes in other browsers to get around these types of metering restrictions. If I was a betting man, I would say you can stream to your heart's desire with incognito mode even without authentication.
If that doesn't work, you can always do some browser-juggling. Watch three hours on Chrome, then three more on Firefox, etc. Beyond that, I don't know precisely how the metering technology works so I can't be certain clearing your cookies will start you back at zero, but it might be worth a try if you're desperate.
I don't have an authentication login, but I can watch the Final Four games over-the-air, right?
Not this year. The semifinals will be on TBS, with a simulcast on TNT and TruTV.
Wait, the semifinals are going to be broadcast on three channels at once? Isn't that going to enrage a lot of Law & Order obsessives?
You bet. Turner Sports is debuting what are essentially gratuitous homer feeds. By way of example, let's say one of the Final Four matchups is Syracuse against Florida, in which case TNT might broadcast Syracuse announcers and air only cameras on the Syracuse team during breaks. TruTV would then do the same with Florida. The thinking is: die-hard fans want to be ensconced in their own biases, while neutrals can still watch the original broadcast on TBS featuring your standard slate of announcers. According to Sean McManus, chairman of CBS Sports, this plan was cemented well before ESPN did their coach's corner simulcast during the BCS National Championship, so it's not a straight copy of that approach.
The Boss Button has kind of sucked in the past. If my boss walked by, being an unproductive bum with a constantly blank spreadsheet open was hardly any better than watching basketball at work. Will it help me not get fired?
Yes! Poole showed me the revamped Boss Button, and it's better than ever, no longer relying heavily on the Microsoft Office interface, a massive problem if you worked at a company that didn't use Office. The Boss Button now has three modes that Poole loosely described as work, school and home. The work mode features a templated PowerPoint presentation so you look productive. The home mode is based on a Google search, because searching random things on the internet is what people do at home. (I think this is more of a secondary work mode, since home is the exact place you're supposed to watch sports. But then again, I'm a young, single man with no kids.) The school mode is clearly modelled after Evernote, swapping the elephant logo for a rhinoceros. Just remember: You are taking a class on "Social Dance," in which you have curiously put a to-do list for attending the Final Four.
Of course, the most effective Boss Button is the Alt-Tab (or, on a Mac, Command-Tab). This quickly toggles the window to the last-used program, perfect for instantly switching from a browser with the game to an elaborate spreadsheet or document. This way, you can quickly bring up something pertinent to your actual line of work so the boss won't get suspicious if he sees you working on a car-related PowerPoint. Also, working on the same slide for three consecutive weeks might get suspicious.
I am a special snowflake and none of the above worked for me. What can I do?
A modern twist on a time-honored practice: call out sick and "work from home" or go to a bar with WiFi. Like the old fork-in-the-eye, it never fails.