The most thrilling postseason in sports (this is my official take, do not email about it) is finally here: the NHL Stanley Cup playoffs. The good news is that the action is going to be virtually nonstop for the next couple of months until somebody lifts the cup. The bad news is that a whole lot of it will be aired on network television. Does that mean you have to go crawling back to cable or satellite to get your NHL playoff fix? Of course not! Just follow our guide and learn how to watch the NHL playoffs without cable. Our up-to-date guide help you follow every playoffs team as they quest for those 16 all-important wins.
What Channels Are NHL Playoff Games On?
As in years past, NBC has the television rights to nearly all of the NHL playoff games. Does this mean that all of the games will be on NBC? No, of course not – that would be too easy. Instead, NBC is spreading the action across several of its networks. NBC itself will air plenty, but NBCSN will get plenty of games, too. Other channels airing games include CNBC and USA, as well as – per a recent announcement – Golf Channel. Why Golf Channel? Excellent question. You’ll have to ask NBC.
Finally, there are a couple of games airing on NHL Network. Those are the only ones not on NBC-owned channels.
Did you get all of that? To watch the NHL playoffs without cable, we’ll need to find a cable-free way to get our hands on these channels: NBC, CNBC, USA, Golf Channel, and NHL Network.
Luckily, we happen to know how to get all of those. Read on!
How to Watch the NHL Playoffs Online and Over the Air Without Cable
If we want live sports, we need live TV. But how can we get live network television without cable? The best answer is: we can use a skinny bundle.
A few of the solutions we’re about to list fall under the “skinny bundle” category, so let’s save some time and define skinny bundles right up front. Skinny bundles are multichannel TV services: like cable, they give you live network TV channels in exchange for a monthly fee. You can channel surf and do virtually everything else you could do with cable. So what’s the difference? Skinny bundles are live TV streaming services: they stream over the internet (“over the top,” or “OTT,” as industry insiders like to say) just like Netflix does. That gives these services some key advantages. For one thing, they’re cheaper – an advantage that’s aided by the fact that many of these services keep costs down by limiting their channel bundles to the popular essentials (hence “skinny bundle”). For another, these services can be watched on a ton of different devices, including streaming boxes, mobile devices, and more. That gives them a flexibility that cable just doesn’t have. Throw in no commitment and no hidden fees, and you have an awfully compelling reason to ditch cable that just so happens to also work as a great way to watch the NHL Stanley Cup playoffs without cable.
We’ll list the skinny bundles you can use to watch the NHL playoffs without cable below, and we’ll also include other relevant solutions – such as free over-the-air TV, which will give you some of the hottest matchups of the playoffs for free.
Nothing too complicated here: Hulu with Live TV has just one base package. For $39.99 per month, you’ll get all of the NBC-owned networks that are airing NHL playoff games this year. That means NBC (in select markets), NBCSN, CNBC, USA Network, and even Golf Channel. Unfortunately, Hulu’s skinny bundle service doesn’t offer NHL Network right now. But hey, it does offer a pretty nice week-long free trial period, which is a great way to catch a game or two on the cheap in a pinch.
Sling TV has a kind of unique setup among skinny bundles. Instead of offering tiers of service, Sling TV gives subscribers a choice of two base packages: Sling Orange ($25 per month) or Sling Blue ($25 per month). You can get both for $40 per month. Once you’ve got your base package(s), though, you can get creative: Sling TV’s small add-on bundles, called “Extras,” allow you to build out your perfect customized skinny bundle a few bucks at a time. So what does this mean in terms of watching NHL playoff games without cable? Subscribers in select markets can get NBC and by choosing Sling Blue. Sling Blue will also get you NBCSN and USA Network, no matter where you are. CNBC is available in News Extra, an add-on for Sling Blue, at an extra $5 per month. Sports Extra ($5 or $10 per month depending on which base package you add it to) will net you NHL Network and Golf Channel. Put it all together and you can get all of the channels that air NHL playoff games for $40 per month – after the free trial week is up, of course.
fuboTV bills itself as the skinny bundle of choice for sports fans. If you sport of choice is hockey, fuboTV’s claim holds up reasonably well. fuboTV is a solid choice for anyone looking to watch the NHL playoffs without cable, because its two English-language base packages both include NBC (in select markets), NBCSN, CNBC, USA Network, and Golf Channel. That will get you NHL playoff game live streams for every matchup except those that air on NHL Network. fuboTV costs $44.99 per month (“fubo”) or $49.99 per month (“fubo Extra” – again, both bundles have the channels you need), and you can try it out for free for a week by using the link below.
PlayStation Vue offers a few different skinny bundles at a few different price points. The skinniest is the $39.99 per month Access bundle, which will net you NBC (in select markets), NBCSN, CNBC, and USA Network. Bump things up to Core ($44.99 per month) to get Golf Channel. No amount of money will get you NHL Network from PlayStation Vue, though, we’re afraid – it doesn’t carry it. You can test out PlayStation Vue for five days by taking advantage of its free trial period.
The full suite of NBC properties can also be found through YouTube TV, the Google-backed skinny bundle service. YouTube TV is available in most, but not all, major markets right now. Click the link below to see if it’s available in your region and to sign up for the service’s free trial offer, which will give you seven days of free TV.
DirecTV Now offers a few different skinny bundles at various price points and sizes – the skinnier the bundle, the cheaper, of course. For $40 per month, you can grab the “Live a Little” bundle and get live streams of NBC (in select markets), NBCSN, CNBC, and USA Network. For Golf Channel and NHL Network, you’ll have to step up two bundles to the $65 per month “Go Big” package. Whichever bundle you choose, you’ll be able to watch free for a week by taking advantage of DirecTV Now’s free trial offer. You can access that offer by clicking the link below.
Free Over-the-Air TV
Free over-the-air TV is one of the best tools in a cord cutter’s arsenal. It’s the best way to get the major networks, and it’s the only legal way to get them for free. NBC is a major network, of course, and that means that free over-the-air TV makes a great way to watch the NHL playoffs without cable. NBC is the only broadcast (over-the-air) channel that is airing playoff games this year, so you’ll have to head to the bar or live without the games on NBCSN and the rest (or grab a skinny bundle free trial to supplement your OTA solution), but you can’t beat the price: OTA is your path to watching NHL playoff games live for free.
Can I Watch NHL Playoffs on Roku, Fire TV, Apple TV, or Chromecast?
You don’t just want to watch the NHL playoffs without cable – you want to watch the NHL playoffs on cable on your TV, right? No teeny-tiny screen could do this postseason justice.
Well, good news: Hulu with Live TV, Sling TV, fuboTV, PlayStation Vue, YouTube TV, and DirecTV Now each have apps for Roku.
Fire TV users can get apps for Hulu with Live TV, Sling TV, fuboTV, PlayStation Vue, and DirecTV Now
Apple TV fans, you guys can choose between Hulu with Live TV, Sling TV, fuboTV, PlayStation Vue, YouTube TV, and DirecTV Now.
Hulu with Live TV, Sling TV, fuboTV, PlayStation Vue, YouTube TV, and DirecTV Now each work great with Chromecast devices.
Hulu with Live TV, Sling TV, fuboTV, PlayStation Vue, and YouTube TV also all have apps for Android TV, the platform used by the Nvidia Shield and some Sony smart TVs, among other devices.
That’s not to say you can’t watch on smaller screens if you want to. Hulu with Live TV, Sling TV, fuboTV, PlayStation Vue, YouTube TV, and DirecTV Now each have web apps and mobile apps for iOS and Android mobile devices.
On top of all this, Hulu with Live TV, Sling TV, and YouTube TV work on Xbox One game systems, while PlayStation Vue works on – you guessed it – PlayStation 4 consoles.
In other words, you have an awful lot of ways to watch the NHL Stanley Cup playoffs without cable. So why pay for legacy TV services? Grab a free trial, put up an antenna, and enjoy all the NHL playoff action – no cable required.
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