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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.
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 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 for us cord cutters. Instead, NBC is spreading 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, 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, NBCSN, NHL Network, and a few of those weird NBC spin-offs like CNBC.
Luckily, we happen to know how to get all of those. Read on!
If we want live sports, we need live TV. But how can we get live network television without cable? The best answer is to 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.
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 of the NBC-owned networks that NBC Sports could ever use. 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.
Stream the NHL playoffs for free with fuboTV
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 it offers NBC, 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. You can try out fuboTV for free for a week by using the link below.
Stream the NHL playoffs with Sling TV
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 and then invites them to creative: Sling TV's small add-on bundles, called “Extras,” allow customers to build out their perfect customized skinny bundle a few bucks at a time. So what does this mean in terms of watching NHL playoff games without cable? It means that it's easy to get set up with a bundle featuring NBCSN and NHL Network. The downside, though, is that Sling TV no longer offers an NBC live stream — you'll need to pair your subscription with an over-the-air antenna to get all of the channels we need for our purposes here.
AT&T TV Now offers a lot of great channels in its lineup, and NBC, NBCSN, and assorted other NBC properties are there. You won't get NHL Network, but you'll be able to watch virtually all of the NHL playoff games using this service.
The full suite of NBC properties can also be found through YouTube TV, the Google-backed skinny bundle service. YouTube TV is a great choice for hockey fans hoping to catch the NHL Stanley Cup playoffs.
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.
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 + Live TV, fuboTV, Sling TV, AT&T TV Now, and YouTube TV each have apps for Roku.
Fire TV users can get apps for Hulu + Live TV, fuboTV, Sling TV, AT&T TV Now, and YouTube TV.
Apple TV fans, you guys can choose between Hulu + Live TV, fuboTV, Sling TV, AT&T TV Now, and YouTube TV.
Hulu + Live TV, fuboTV, Sling TV, AT&T TV Now, and YouTube TV each work great with Chromecast devices.
Hulu + Live TV, fuboTV, Sling TV, and YouTube TV 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 + Live TV, fuboTV, Sling TV, AT&T TV Now, and YouTube TV each have web apps and mobile apps for iOS and Android mobile devices.
On top of all this, Hulu + Live TV, Sling TV, and YouTube TV work on Xbox One game systems. Hulu + Live TV works on PlayStation 4.
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.
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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