A hockey game is one of the few sports that people can watch via streaming online. This is because most people do not have TV access to hockey games; this makes NHL blackouts an issue for many cord-cutters and NHL fans.
Blackout games are only available on local TVs in certain areas, even if you subscribe to paid services like NHL GameCenter. This is due to local TV broadcasting rights of NHL games. It may be free for your area, but if you are out of like or not in the right location, you will not be able to watch blackout games on your favorite device, even with paid subscriptions.
Fortunately, there are some ways that allow users to unblock blackouts and watch any NHL game without any restrictions.
In this article, we’ll tell you more about what NHL Blackouts are and how to access them.
What are NHL Blackouts?
If you are a hockey fan, you have probably noticed that some NHL games are unavailable in your country. This means that this game is a blackout. It also means that you cannot watch it regardless of the subscription service you have.
The blackout is a regional TV rights-related issue in which a televised NHL game cannot be watched live in a certain region because the local broadcasting rights are exclusive to another channel. This is due to local TV broadcasting rights of these games, and it can be a problem, especially for those who do not have access to cable TV.
Blackouts can also happen in some areas when they overlap with local and regional television broadcasts. So, if there is a game in your area and you try accessing it online via NHL.tv or other streaming services, it will be blacked out due to the “regional” nature of the hockey TV rights.
If you are from a different province or state, this is pretty much what happens when you try to access the NHL live stream. Aside from being annoying, this can also prevent fans from watching their favorite ice hockey team play. Fortunately, there are solutions that allow you to bypass such games.
How does NHL blackout work?
When you try to watch a live game on TV, your local broadcast station is blacked out. This applies even if you are in the same market as one of the teams, but the game is blacked out if you are using an out-of-market team’s Center Ice/GCL account. The only way to see the game is by purchasing NHL Center Ice or Game Center Live.
With your membership, you can view anything red that’s on TV. If a game is grayed out in your area, it implies there is a blackout. Note that the game’s blackout/authentication regulations are determined by the location from where you are accessing it, not your billing address. If you’re attempting to stream a game from Canada and you have blackouts, they will apply.
Blackouts only apply on the date of that specific game; watching a recording of an out-of-market game is not counted as an in-the-closet view and will not make the game unavailable to you. For example, if you watched a game recorded on your DVR that was blacked out, it will soon be available.
What are hockey blackout rules?
Sports leagues put Blackout rules in place to protect the local television rights-holders (e.g., regional sports networks) who pay the majority of the league’s broadcasting fees. When you purchase game tickets, these blackouts can affect whether or not you’re able to watch an out-of-market game on TV;
Hockey blackout rules are a system that allows NHL Center Ice and other sports packages to blackout certain games in your area. Blackouts are in place for the NHL in order for regional sports networks to be able to broadcast as many games as possible. The local television telecasters of each NHL game in the clubs’ home cities are protected by blackout regulations. There will be no more regional games or blackouts in the area.
This means that all games will be available coast-to-coast within the NHL. NHL divisions/conferences are arranged geographically (unlike other sports leagues). This arrangement is to help minimize blackouts. Generally, all telecasts in a team’s local market will be available on TV and online, while games outside of your local area will be blacked out.
How to know if an NHL game is blacked out?
If you live in the United States or Canada, then NHL games are blacked out for you to watch locally. This blackout rule is because each team sells a certain amount of tickets that they must sell before the game airs on TV. If a team doesn’t sell the tickets, it will black out a percentage of games for their home fans until they have sold enough tickets.
You can also check your local listings to see which television network is broadcasting the event if you see blackout messages on ESPN. The event you requested is not available on ESPN in your area if you get a warning that says, “This content is subject to blackout.”
The games broadcast on ESPN will still be blacked out if you’re trying to watch in your local market; however, they will be available to stream for everyone else in the U.S. and Canada. However, you can watch a live stream of the game with a valid cable subscription on the ESPN app (which is available for free on all Apple and Android devices) or through a subscription to one of their TV Everywhere apps. You will also still be able to watch local games through NHL GameCenter and NHL Center Ice, and if you live in a territory where the game is not blacked out, then you can watch for free on your computer or mobile device with no cable subscription.
How can I watch blackout NHL games?
For NHL fans with and without cable, figuring out where and when to watch games has never been easier. There are various ways how to watch blackout games. You can opt to purchase an NHL Gamecenter live subscription or find other ways to access the game. Here are some of them:
1. Watch NHL games via ESPN+ Blackouts App
Another easy way to watch games is through the ESPN+ Blackouts app, which can be downloaded on iOS and Android devices. There are over 100 matches available on ESPN+ Blackouts. Through this app, you can watch the remaining matches no matter where you are located in the world. The library will expand with additional out-of-market games throughout the NHL season.
ESPN+ is a paid service that allows subscribers to watch events in their region. However, ESPN+ blackouts have more lenient blackout restrictions compared to Gamecenter Live. So, you won’t be able to watch your team’s games, but you can still catch all the NHL action on ESPN+.
2. Watch NHL games via NHL.TV Blackouts
NHL.TV is a paid streaming service that allows subscribers to watch every NHL game throughout the season. The best part about it is that you can watch your team’s games even if they’re blacked out on ESPN+ or NBC Sports. You have to find a way to unblock the blackout restrictions, such as using Express VPN for NHL.TV Blackouts.
Based on the IP address from which you access the service, blackout limitations may apply to games that appear on an NHL® partner network in your viewing location for foreign clients of NHL.TV. For broadcasts on these networks, please check your local listings.
3. Watch NHL games via Sportsnet NOW Blackouts
Sportsnet NOW is a paid streaming service that allows subscribers to watch every out-of-market match in the NHL season. You can watch your team’s games even if they’re blacked out on ESPN+ or NBC Sports. However, there’s a bigger chance of your favorite games being blacked out if you’re an existing subscriber on SportsNet Now because it has different blackout restrictions compared to how it works with ESPN+ and NHL.TV.
4. Watch NHL games via NHL Centre Ice
NHL Centre Ice Blackouts is a paid streaming service that allows fans to watch every NHL game throughout the season. This package not only covers your team’s games, but you can also get access to all of them without worrying about blackout restrictions. This is an excellent choice for fans living in the US.
On NHL Centre Ice, nationally broadcast games are blacked out. Unless the game is nationally aired, games played by clubs outside of our broadcast region will be viewable on NHL Centre Ice.
5. Watch NHL games via Browser using VPN
There are so many ways to watch NHL games. But one of the best ways to access them is by using a VPN for Chrome. It allows you to unblock blackout restrictions even if you’re abroad. You can use any device, including phones and tablets; just download the VPN app before connecting to a server in US or Canada.
You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to know which service is the best for you. All you need to do is compare each of them, their packages, and their limitations. This way, it’ll become easier for you to decide the most suitable streaming service you should use this NHL Season.