How To Watch The National Hockey League In Canada

How to Watch the NHL in Canada
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Hockey isn’t just a sport in Canada; it’s woven into the very fabric of the nation’s cultural identity. The National Hockey League (NHL) sits at the heart of this phenomenon, igniting passionate fandom across generations. Whether you’re a seasoned devotee cheering from the stands or a curious newcomer eager to understand the national obsession, accessing NHL content in Canada has become remarkably convenient.

A-League Steeped in History

Founded in 1917 amidst the fervor of Montreal, Quebec, the NHL boasts a rich history. Today, it comprises 32 teams, seven of which proudly represent Canada. These teams are strategically divided into two conferences, the Eastern and Western, each further segmented into divisions, fostering a spirit of friendly competition.

The NHL season typically unfolds from the crisp days of early October, culminating in the celebratory warmth of early April. Each team embarks on a grueling yet exhilarating 82-game gauntlet, striving for ultimate glory. As the regular season draws to a close, the top 16 contenders clash in the electrifying Stanley Cup playoffs. Victories are fiercely contested, and only the most resilient team emerges victorious, hoisting the coveted Stanley Cup as champions.

Watch The National Hockey League In Canada

Gone are the days of limited access. Today, Canadian fans are spoilt for choice when it comes to catching NHL action. Here’s a comprehensive breakdown of the viewing landscape:

Traditional Cable Television

For many Canadians, the comfort of cable television remains a mainstay for NHL viewing. Several channels dedicate themselves to broadcasting NHL games, offering a reliable platform to witness the on-ice battles:

CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation)

  A cherished tradition, CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada delivers a unique experience. Primarily featuring games involving Canadian teams, it’s accessible even with basic cable packages. Saturday evenings and the Stanley Cup Playoffs transform into nationwide viewing parties as Canadians gather around their screens to witness these iconic broadcasts. 

Rogers Sportsnet

The undisputed leader in NHL broadcasting within Canada, Rogers Sportsnet offers comprehensive coverage across numerous channels. Sportsnet Ontario, East, West, and Pacific provide in-depth analysis, pre-game shows, and live broadcasts, ensuring fans never miss a crucial moment. Their extensive NHL deal guarantees coverage of Canadian teams and select matchups from the United States, catering to a broad range of fan interests.

TSN (The Sports Network)

 While Sportsnet takes center stage, TSN offers complementary coverage, focusing on regional matchups featuring teams like the Toronto Maple Leafs, Winnipeg Jets, and Ottawa Senators. This regional focus allows fans to delve deeper into the storylines and rivalries specific to their favorite teams. 

TVA Sports (French)

 The premier French-language sports network in Canada, TVA Sports offers NHL broadcasts with commentary in French.  This caters to the large French-speaking population in Quebec and other regions.

Traditional Cable

Pros: 

  • Provides access to a wider range of channels, including regional sports networks.  May be bundled with internet and phone services for a seemingly better value.

Cons: 

  • Often locked into contracts with hefty termination fees.  Limited flexibility in channel selection.  Packages may include unwanted channels, driving up the cost.

Navigating Blackouts

Blackouts can be a frustrating reality for Canadian hockey fans. Due to broadcasting rights agreements, local market games might be blacked out on national networks. This means Montreal Canadiens fans in Toronto wouldn’t be able to watch their team play on CBC or Sportsnet if it’s being broadcasted locally on RDS. To circumvent this, viewers can:

Tune into their Regional Sports Network (RSN): This is usually the most reliable option for watching your local team play.

Subscribe to a Streaming Service with NHL Centre Ice: This package, often included with streaming services like DAZN, allows fans to watch out-of-market games. However, blackout restrictions might still apply for certain matchups.

Important Note:  Blackouts can be a frustrating aspect of NHL broadcasts in Canada.  Local market games might be blacked out on national networks, forcing viewers to tune into their regional network or subscribe to a streaming service.

NHL Network

 Primarily a news and information hub, the NHL Network occasionally airs live games, offering an additional viewing avenue for die-hard fans seeking every available broadcast. 

Streaming Services: A Modern Revolution

The rise of streaming services has revolutionized entertainment consumption, and the NHL is no exception. Here are some of the most popular streaming options for Canadians:

Sportsnet NOW (evolved into Sportsnet)

  This user-friendly platform allows viewers to catch NHL games on various devices, from smartphones and tablets to laptops and smart TVs. With different subscription tiers, fans can tailor their experience, accessing exclusive online content alongside live broadcasts.

TSN Direct

  Similar to Sportsnet NOW, TSN Direct provides a streaming haven for TSN’s extensive NHL coverage. This caters to fans who prefer the convenience of online viewing over traditional cable subscriptions. 

NHL Live

 For out-of-market games, NHL Live remains the go-to streaming service. Accessible through the NHL app or NHL.com, it primarily caters to American audiences. However, Canadian fans can still access select content, particularly national broadcasts or games involving Canadian teams playing in the US. 

Regional Availability and Blackouts

Understanding regional availability and blackouts is crucial for a seamless NHL viewing experience in Canada. Major broadcasters like Sportsnet and TSN hold regional rights for specific teams, restricting access to games played outside designated markets. This often results in blackouts for out-of-market games, forcing fans to explore alternative viewing options to avoid missing crucial matchups.

The Global Reach of the NHL

Hockey’s captivating nature transcends national boundaries, garnering passionate followings worldwide.  For viewers residing outside Canada, several streaming services offer NHL coverage, albeit with regional restrictions similar to those encountered within Canada.  For those seeking to circumvent geo-blocking and access content from different countries, Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) can be utilized.

Pros:  

  • Greater flexibility and control over channel selection.  Often cheaper than traditional cable packages.  Ability to watch on various devices like smartphones, tablets, and smart TVs.

Cons: 

  •  Limited availability of regional sports networks on some platforms.  May require a strong internet connection for smooth streaming.

Recommendation: 

  •  Consider your viewing habits and budget.  If you’re a die-hard fan who religiously follows your local team, a cable package including your regional RSN might be the way to go.  For casual viewers or those who prefer flexibility, streaming services offer a compelling alternative

How to Watch the NHL Online Worldwide

While hockey is the national winter sport of Canada, its popularity shouldn’t be underestimated around the globe. If you have issues watching with the CBC player or looking for more games, we’ve rounded up a few other major ways to watch, no matter where you are.

For those residing outside of Canada and the United States, the CBC player might not be your go-to solution. However, fret not! A diverse range of streaming services cater to international audiences, ensuring you don’t miss a single slap shot or game-winning goal.

Delve deeper into this guide to discover the perfect platform for your NHL viewing needs, tailored to your location and preferences. We’ll explore renowned streaming services like ESPN+ (available in select regions) and DAZN (which often includes NHL Centre Ice, a package featuring out-of-market games). Additionally, some national broadcasters in your region might hold NHL rights, offering localized commentary and coverage.

Embrace the global hockey experience – with the right streaming service, you’ll be cheering alongside fans worldwide as the puck drops for another thrilling NHL season.

Where to watch NHL games in the USA

NHL games are available to stream on several paid streaming services in the USA, and a few even offer free trials so you can test out their service.

If you’ve cut cable and want to watch games from the NHL online, these platforms have you covered.

Streaming ServiceChannelsSubscriptionFree Trial
ESPN+ESPN+, 1,050 Out-of-Market Games on NHL Center Ice$10.99/monthno
Sling TV (Orange package)ESPN, TNT$40/monthno
YouTube TVESPN, ABC, TNT$72.99/monthyes
Hulu+ Live TVESPN, ABC (ESPN+ included), TNT$76.99/monthno
Fubo TVESPN, ABC$74.99/monthyes
DirecTV StreamDirecTV Stream$94.98/monthyes

Note, however, that these streams will only work for users in the United States.

Sling TV

Sling TV for its access to ESPN, TBS, and TNT channels for total NHL coverage on the cheap. Plus, it has a relatively long free trial. To get regional games, though, you’ll need YouTube TV or Hulu + Live TV and may need a VPN to work around NHL blackouts. 

The good news for NHL fans is that regardless of who is playing in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, they will be shown. All of the major networks above: Sportsnet, TSN, and CBC will be the primary carriers for the playoffs. All the games featuring Canadian teams will be broadcast nationally with some exemptions. 

Exploring Additional Resources for Canadian Hockey Fans

While watching the games themselves takes center stage, there’s a whole world of hockey content to explore:

  • NHL App:   The official app of the NHL provides live scores, news, highlights, and game statistics.
  • Team Websites and Apps: Most NHL teams have their websites and apps offering news, player profiles, video

Conclusion

 Accessing NHL content in Canada is a straightforward yet nuanced process. From traditional cable television to modern streaming services, fans have numerous options to catch their favorite teams in action. 

Understanding regional availability, blackouts, and alternative viewing methods empowers fans to enjoy NHL games to the fullest, regardless of their location. Whether you prefer cable TV or online streaming, the NHL viewing experience has never been more accessible for Canadian fans. 

The concept of blackouts is crucial. Local market games might be restricted on national networks, requiring viewers to tune into their RSN or explore streaming services with NHL Centre Ice

Ultimately, the choice between cable and streaming boils down to personal preference. Weighing factors like flexibility, budget, and desired level of coverage empowers you to make an informed decision.

FAQs about Watching the NHL in Canada

  1. What’s the cheapest way to watch NHL games in Canada?

There are a few budget-friendly options:

  • CBC Gem: Offers a free “Game of the Week” and select playoff games.
  • Sportsnet/TSN Direct with existing cable: Often included with higher cable tiers, avoiding additional subscription fees.
  • NHL.tv Free Game: Offers one free game per week in select regions outside Canada and the US (not applicable for Canadian viewers).
  1. How can I watch the games of my non-local Canadian team?
  • Streaming Services: Check if Sportsnet NOW/TSN NOW packages include the regional channel broadcasting your team’s games.
  • NHL Live: Subscribe to access out-of-market games, including some Canadian matchups (blackout restrictions might still apply).
  • VPN + Streaming Services (Caution Advised): Using a VPN to bypass geo-restrictions violates streaming service terms of service and could result in account termination.
  1. What are “blackouts” and how do I avoid them?

Blackouts restrict access to certain games based on your location to protect local broadcasts. To avoid them:

  • Tune into your Regional Sports Network (RSN): This is the most reliable option for watching your local team play.
  • Streaming Services with National Coverage: Sportsnet NOW/TSN NOW offers national broadcasts, but blackout restrictions might still apply for some games.
  • NHL Live: Provides access to out-of-market games, but blackouts might still occur for select matchups.
  1. Can I watch the Stanley Cup Playoffs for free?

Yes! All Stanley Cup playoff games are broadcast nationally on CBC, Sportsnet, and TSN. You might need a cable or streaming subscription to access these channels.

Additional FAQ

  1. What’s the best streaming service for watching NHL games in Canada?

The “best” depends on your needs and budget:

  • Sportsnet NOW/TSN NOW: Comprehensive coverage but requires a subscription.
  • NHL Live: Ideal for dedicated fans seeking out-of-market games (subscription fee).
  • CBC Gem: Limited selection but offers free options with cable or antenna.
  1. Is there a way to watch pre-season games?

Most pre-season games are not televised nationally.  However, some regional networks might broadcast them, or you might find them streamed on the NHL team’s official website (availability can vary).

  1. Can I watch NHL games on my phone or tablet?

Yes! Most streaming services, including Sportsnet NOW, TSN NOW, and NHL Live, offer mobile apps, that allow you to watch games on your smartphone or tablet.

  1. Where can I find news and highlights about the NHL?

Several resources keep you updated:

  • Official NHL App: Provides live scores, news, highlights, and game statistics.
  • Team Websites and Apps: Most NHL teams offer news, player profiles, videos, and social media integration.
  • Sports Websites and Apps: Major sports websites and apps like Sportsnet.ca and TSN.ca provide NHL news, analysis, and features.