TSN has also helped to turn annual NHL events such as the entry draft and trade deadline into spectacles — in direct competition with Rogers Sportsnet — with armies of analysts thumbing mobile devices on and off camera to break news. But nowhere, in any of the material issued Tuesday morning, was there a mention of TSN, a network where the NHL had become the core of its programming. The deal, the largest in league history, gives Rogers national rights to all NHL games, including the playoffs and Stanley Cup finals, on all of its platforms in all languages.
Can you watch hockey without cable? Yes, but with all sorts of caveats. Confused yet? Read on as we break it all down for you, or skip to the very last section for the cheapest and most complicated option.
So, which streaming services offer these regional networks? Yep: the two networks are in different tiers.
In Colorado, for example, the rights to the Avalanche belong to Altitude, a independent channel, and none of these services provide access to that channel. Coverage varies from service to service, so check out all of the services and see if your local sports network is offered.
Games involving these teams are rarely broadcast nationally in the United States, so fans can more or less watch every game of the regular season, free from blackouts. The only exceptions are when your team plays the team local to where you live, or NHL Network decides to ruin your day more on them later.
On the flip side, NHL. Still following?
This channel, mostly owned by the league itself, re-broadcasts otherwise local-only games most nights of the regular season. Nope: the league hates you!
Get that, or deal with missing the occasional game, grumbling under your breath about Gary Bettman, who is surely behind this. Then scroll down to read about VPNs.
National broadcast rights for hockey games is owned by Rogers, the telecommunications company that also owns the Sportsnet line of cable channels. This means a hockey fan with a TV antenna can watch Hockey Night in Canada broadcasts free of charge, as is tradition.
For example: TSN has the regional rights to Leafs games. If you live outside the local market, however, you can watch those games, so Leafs fans in Montreal or Vancouver are covered.
Rogers, in addition to owning the national broadcast rights, also owns the local rights to a number of teams, including the Edmonton Oilers. This means if you live in Edmonton, you cannot watch Oilers games being broadcast locally on Rogers Sportsnet West—you can only watch the nationally broadcast games.
Or you could scroll down to read about VPNs. Note that there may be some variation on this. Depending on where that other computer is, you might be able to work around blackouts altogether.
If you access NHL.
As an added benefit, people in the USA can access Canadian broadcasts of playoff games, allowing them to avoid hearing Mike Emrick, the single most annoying hockey announcer on the planet. Deal with it.
That would bring down the cost of watching hockey online considerably, which would be tragic.