Hockey fans around the world are jumping up and down with excitement after the start of the hockey season on October 4th.
Most fans are however not pleased with the high cable subscription fees needed to follow their favorite team matches. Licensing deals between television companies and team owners make it hard to follow your favorite NHL team but fortunately these restrictions are now being challenged.
Internet audiences are growing with more and more people watching hockey games live on their smartphones, tablets, computers and Smart TVs. Here are some ways you can watch NHL online.
Sling TV is great for iOS and PC devices and is the next best alternative to cable TV. Some of the perks of Sling TV are on-demand TV shows, no setup, and equipment cost and it is available for streaming anywhere.
If you are following a local team, you can watch their matches for $25 per month on Sling TV which includes all the regular season games and the playoffs. Unfortunately, out of market games are charged $10 more. If you follow a team that is not in the city you live in (out of market), Sling TV charges you an extra $10 a month to watch these nationally broadcast games.
Another thing to remember is the extra $5 you’ll have to pay on the first month of the playoffs which goes to CNBC, the legal broadcaster.
Apart from this, Sling TV will set you up nicely to watch NHL matches online without using cable. NBC SportsNet is also aired on Sling TV and shows two national games every week. You can purchase the Sports add-on for an extra $5 a month and access the NHL Network.
The PlayStation Vue by Sony is a new way to stream channels that are available on cable and view them online without subscribing to a cable TV service.
When the service started out, it required a PlayStation 3 or PlayStation 4 to work and cost about $50 per month with a limited release.
This limited users who did not have a PlayStation console and hence did not appeal to cord cutters. Fortunately and luckily, Sony ironed out some of these wrinkles and came out with a range of packages starting at $40 per month.
PlayStation Vue is now available for multiple devices including Amazon Fire TV and Roku. It is quite easy for Fire TV users where you only need to download the app on the Fire TV and enter your PlayStation Vue credentials.
There are four package bundles available:
- Access Bundle starting at $39.99,
- Core Slim Bundle for $44.99,
- Elite Slim Bundle at $54.99,
- Ultra Package at $74.99,
Although PlayStation Vue is a bit of a pricey option, their services are quite good and useful and the range of devices supported including unlimited cloud storage for 28 days are good value-adds.
Another option for live game streaming is using NHL.TV online streaming service.
Formerly known as Game Center Live, NHL.TV is great for watching all season games live from the NHL.
It is possible to stream live games to:
- Apple TV
- Xbox, and
NHL.TV streaming service offers the following features:
- Home and away broadcasts
- 5 alternative camera angles
- DVR controls
- Multi-game views (watch up to 4 games at once)
NHL.TV is great for viewers who want to access out of market games with the only requirement being an annual fee of $130 for most regular season games. This can be the perfect option if Sling TV does not fulfill your viewing needs.
Unfortunately, just like some of the other sports, NHL games are subject to blackouts if they are nationally televised or are being broadcast in your local market.
Fubo TV started out as a streaming service for soccer games but has now evolved to be a one-stop shop for all sports. It is a prime choice for hockey fans who want to avoid cable subscription fees.
A basic FuboTV package for seamless live hockey games streaming will cost you $34.99 per month. Fubo TV is a great option and although it is $9.99 more expensive than Sling TV, it offers great value with the MSG Network. A free one week trial is offered to new subscribers.
Launched in 2016, DirecTV Now is an online streaming service which is a viable replacement for a cable subscription.
Prices start at $35 per month for 60+ channels but a free seven-day trial is available for new users.
A major perk with DirecTV Now is that they air the majority of NHL games because it has both NHL Network and NBCSN. Hockey fans know that these two networks have the rights to broadcast most NHL matches and having them under one package is definitely a plus.
DirecTV Now has more than 100 channels across their other packages including TBS, TNT, AMC, and ESPN. It can be used on most mobile devices including tablets, smartphones, and PCs. With DirecTV, only the networks that are available in your region will be available.
When you sign up for 3 months, you can get a free streaming device from DirecTV but you cannot combine that with the 7-day free trial.
Remember that you can still get local news and sporting events over-the-air using an antenna. Depending on the antenna you choose, you don’t lose any picture quality. A combination of your preferred streaming service and a top-of-the-line digital antenna can give you all of the hockey that you want.
Selecting the best NHL online medium
When it comes to watching live NHL games online, there are two major considerations which are access and price.
Access is what makes people buy cable and satellite TV to have all the pertinent channels. Fortunately, some of the streaming options offer great access e.g. DIRECTV Now which offers NHL Network, NBSCN, and RSNs (regional sports networks). Fubo TV also offers flexibility with their MSG coverage.
Because of the various television network deals, it is good to conduct some prior research and know which service offers your team matches. This is especially critical for those who want to watch out of market games.
Price also plays a crucial factor because you don’t find anyone cutting their cable cords just to pay more for sports entertainment!
Some services are on the lower end of the price range such as Sling TV with their $25 per month subscription. Fubo TV and Directv Now follow closely behind Sling TV and will cost you less than $40 per month for their introductory packages.
Subtle price differences can be the difference in quality such as the extra channels on Fubo TV justifying the price. Others like NHL.TV are significantly cheaper (with a $130 annual subscription) but can be plagued with blackouts for local broadcasts. Finding the right balance between price and value offered is crucial if you want to enjoy watching NHL games online.