Headache Broadcasting popular sports games in North America is part of a long transition from broadcast television that has been hampered by a ridiculous number of regional and national deals that largely remain in place even as audiences move to live streaming. As a professional cord cutter, your job is not easy. But with a little nifty mobility, you can watch every game you care about without running cable or installing a wonky satellite dish. Here’s how.
Be sure to check out our other streaming and TV guides, including the best TVs, best streaming devices and best soundbars, as well as our guide on how to stream NFL football.
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Sling TV divides its channel lineup into blue and orange tiers. Some channels are shared between both while others are exclusive to one level or the other. To watch as many NHL games as possible, you need to put both together. Sling TV offers a discount if you buy them both.
You can watch regional games on ABC, TNT and TBS, as well as national games shown on ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPN3. Add the Additional extra sports For an additional $11 per month and you’ll also get the NHL Network, which shows preseason NHL games as well as some highlights and daily news. The big downside is that Bally Sports, Spectrum SportsNet, and MSG Networks, the major regional broadcasters, are not included.
For the average hockey fan who lives in the streaming market for their favorite team, the Sling TV Orange + Blue package without NHL Network makes more sense if you weigh the number of games against the dollars spent. Also, when you see attractive sales on the Sling TV homepage, know that your first month is half off, but after that it goes back to its full price.
Best for Diehard fans
Drop the extra money for DirecTV Stream’s entry-level entertainment, and it does just that NB You need a satellite dish or annual contract, and you can access all regional and national broadcast stations, such as ABC, TNT, TBS, ESPN, ESPN2, MSG Sports, Spectrum SportsNet, and Bally Sports.
Then, to make sure you can watch the rest of the games according to the regular season schedule, make your selection ESPN+ for $10 per month or $100 per year To watch nationally televised games and out-of-market exclusives that are not included in your DirecTV Stream package. The full package and caboodle are priced at $85 per month, but NHL Network is only available on the Ultimate and Premier tiers for $110 and $155 per month, respectively, if you want to watch those preseason games badly enough. This means that to get absolutely everything, you’ll need the Ultimate tier and ESPN+ for a grand total of $120 per month.
If your primary interest is the NHL, there’s little reason to step up to the $100-a-month selection, anyway. You can opt for ESPN News, which is nice but not worth the big jump in price. A weird word of warning: NHL Center Ice is available as an add-on to a regular DirecTV satellite subscription but not as an add-on to DirecTV Stream.
Best for out of market lovers
It’s unfortunate for sports fans, like yours truly, who live far from the home base of their favorite sports team. Except when it comes to watching them on TV. Away from the byzantine network plagued by power outages and regional restrictions, a fan can stream all out-of-market games on ESPN+. Not only that, there are 50 exclusive games shown on ESPN+ as well.
Just remember that if your favorite team is playing a game in an enemy arena — let’s say you live near Chicago, and your Carolina Hurricanes play the Chicago Blackhawks at home — that becomes a market game and you won’t be able to watch it on ESPN+. However, there is no comprehensive streaming service like ESPN+ for out-of-market viewers.
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