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According to the NHL’s website, the “most thrilling postseason in sports” is finally here: the NHL Stanley Cup playoffs. The good news is that the action will be virtually nonstop for the next couple months, until someone lifts the Cup. The bad news is that a 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 playoffs fix? Of course not! Just follow our guide to learn how to watch the NHL playoffs without cable. Our up-to-date guide will help you follow every playoff team as they quest for those 16 all-important wins.
Here are a few of our favorite ways to stream the NHL playoffs:
As in years past, NBC Sports has the television rights to nearly all NHL playoffs games. Does this mean all the games will be on NBC? Of course not! That would be too easy for us cord-cutters. Instead, NBC will spread the action across several of its networks. NBC itself will air a lot, but NBCSN will get plenty of games too. Other NBC-owned channels may get in the mix too. Finally, some games may air on NHL Network (those are the only ones not on NBC-owned channels).
Did you get all that? To watch the NHL playoffs without cable this year, you’ll need to find a cable-free way to get your hands on these channels: NBC, NBCSN, NHL Network, and a few NBC spin-offs such as CNBC. Starting next season, though, the NHL will air its games on ESPN and the Turner networks, so check our updated guide then.
But we’ll worry about that later. For now, let’s talk about how to get all the channels we mentioned above.
If you want live sports, you need live TV. But how can you get live network television without cable? The best answer is to use a skinny bundle.
A few of the following solutions fall into the “skinny bundle” category, so let’s define skinny bundles right up front. Skinny bundles are multichannel TV services; like cable, they offer live network TV channels 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 — or “over the top” (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 aided by many of these services limiting their channel bundles to the popular essentials to keep costs down (hence “skinny bundle”). For another, these services can be watched on a ton of devices, including streaming boxes and mobile devices. That gives them flexibility cable just doesn’t have. Throw in no commitment and no hidden fees, and you have an awfully compelling reason to ditch cable that also works 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.
Stream the NHL playoffs for free with DIRECTV Stream
DIRECTV Stream offers a lot of great channels in its lineup, including NBC, NBCSN, and other NBC properties. You won’t get NHL Network, but you’ll be able to watch virtually all the NHL playoffs games using this service. Our DIRECTV Stream review can provide more information.
Stream the NHL playoffs for free with Hulu
Nothing too complicated here: Hulu + Live TV has just one base package. Sign up, and you’ll get all the NBC-owned networks: 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.
Stream the NHL playoffs for free with fuboTV
fuboTV bills itself as the skinny bundle of choice for sports fans, and its claim holds up reasonably well if your sport of choice is hockey. fuboTV is a solid choice for anyone looking to watch the NHL playoffs without cable, because it offers NBC, NBCSN, CNBC, USA Network, and Golf Channel. That will get you livestreams for every NHL playoffs matchup except those that air on NHL Network.
Stream the NHL playoffs with Sling TV
Sling TV has a unique setup among skinny bundles. Instead of offering tiers of service, Sling TV gives you a choice of two base packages and then invites you to get creative: Its small add-on bundles, called Extras, allow you to build your perfect customized skinny bundle a few bucks at a time. What does that mean for watching NHL playoffs games without cable? It means it’s easy to get a bundle featuring NBCSN and NHL Network. Sling TV now carries NBC in a few markets, too, which means hockey fans in those metropolitan areas can catch the playoffs games on broadcast TV.
The full suite of NBC properties can also be found through YouTube TV, the Google-owned skinny-bundle service. YouTube TV is a great choice for hockey fans hoping to catch the NHL Stanley Cup playoffs.
Free over-the-air (OTA) TV is one of the best tools in a cord-cutter’s arsenal. It’s the best way to get the major networks — and the only legal way to get them for free. NBC is a major network, of course, which means free over-the-air TV is a great way to watch the NHL playoffs without cable. NBC is the only broadcast (over-the-air) channel airing NHL playoffs games this year, so you’ll have to head to a sports bar or live without the games airing on NBCSN and the rest (or sign up for a free trial of a skinny bundle to supplement your OTA solution). You can’t beat the price, though: OTA is your path to watching NHL playoffs games live for free.
You don’t just want to watch the NHL playoffs without cable — you want to watch the NHL playoffs without cable on your TV, right? No teeny-tiny screen could do this postseason justice. If you’re in a pinch and you need to watch part of the playoffs on a mobile device, though, you can do it. You’ll see all your options in the chart below.
What else is out there for NHL fans? Plenty, as it turns out. There’s no sport quite like hockey, but there are still a lot of great ones worth your time.
Take NASCAR, for instance. It’s another fast-paced sport known for big hits, although the competitors are moving around on wheels rather than skates. You can find out more about watching this sport by making a pit stop at How to Watch NASCAR Without Cable. Have fun, and don’t forget to buckle up!
Thanks for this! Exactly what I wished somebody had written!
Thank you, Chris! Glad you liked the piece.
Is there a reason that YouTube TV was not included in your list to watch the NHL playoffs? Their bundle includes all of the channels that you mentioned.
We have only recently started to include YouTube TV in our pieces. We didn’t before, because of its limited availability.
I hope you start including YouTube TV – the best!
I’ve been watching the NHL Stanley Cup playoffs on CBC from Canada. They stream all their programming, but if you live in the USA, you get a pop-up box that says you must watch from Canada. So, I use Tunnelbear to tunnel into Canada, and voila, I can watch my hockey games.
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