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8 / 10  Review Rating

Hockey season is here, and that means it’s time for cord cutters to figure out how they’re going to catch all of their favorite hockey team’s games. If you want to catch every out-of-market game, your only option is NHL.TV, the league streaming service run by the NHL. Like all league streaming services, NHL.TV will let you stream every regular-season game (excluding the ones covered by your local or national TV broadcasts) live. But is it any good? Here’s our complete review.

Streaming Video on NHL.TV

NHL GameCenter LIVE running through the in-browser app. The controls visible in this shot fade away if you stop using the mouse.
NHL.TV running through the in-browser app. The controls visible in this shot fade away if you stop using the mouse.

NHL.TV's video offerings are pretty robust. Users get the option of streaming either the home or away broadcast for each game, of course, but they also get additional angles: the service also offers in-goal cameras, which is a cool feature that sets it apart from some other sports streaming services. Audio-only feeds are usually (though not always) also available. One note: NHL.TV won't let you pair the TV video with the radio audio, which is a shame.

As with other streaming services, you'll be able to re-play games from earlier in the season. You can also re-play games from past seasons, though that feature isn't available on mobile devices (more on that in a moment). On replays, you get convenient little markers on the progress bar. Those indicate highlights that you may want to skip to (see screenshot above). It's a nice touch.

Of course, NHL.TV shares the common issue of pretty much all streaming services: blackouts. You'll be blacked out if the game is televised in your local market (the NHL does, at least, have a useful online tool to help you figure out which teams' games won't be available to you). You'll also find games blacked out if they're nationally televised on any network. That's annoying enough when it's NBC Sports, but it's particularly galling that the NHL blacks out the games that they broadcast on NHL Network. TV deals are a great revenue source for the NHL's teams, so a blackout of local games to benefit local cable channels at least makes logical sense, but why should the NHL's streaming service black out games that air on the NHL's own channel?

Perks

We already mentioned the inclusion of goalie cams and the lack of radio broadcast overlay, but we'd be remiss if we didn't mention one really cool feature of NHL.TV: NHL Vault. As the name suggests, this is a collection of classic NHL games that you can stream on-demand as a part of your NHL.TV subscription. You can also get NHL Vault through a separate subscription without buying NHL.TV.

NHL Vault is a very cool perk.
NHL Vault is a very cool perk.

The selection isn't mind-blowing, and there are a few games excluded that will have fans scratching their heads (for instance, Penguins fans will find several games from the 2009 Stanley Cup Finals, but not the decisive Game 7). Quality on these games is also a little questionable, but that's understandable – they're old games, after all. The commercials and stoppages are cut out, so the games flow quickly. It's not by any means a perfect classics collection, but it's a cool perk that some other league packages don't offer.

NHL GameCenter allows you to watch regular-season games from the current season and recent past seasons, though the past season games are not accessible on mobile devices.
NHL.TV allows you to watch regular-season games from the current season and recent past seasons, though the past season games are not accessible on mobile devices.

NHL Vault's dedicated site also includes every regular-season game from recent past seasons. That collection goes back to the 2009-10 season, and it's pretty cool.

The downside to these NHL Vault features is that they're not available on mobile devices. You can only watch NHL Vault on your computer or through non-mobile apps (like the one for Xbox).

Devices

NHL.TV works on a fairly robust selection of devices. It's pretty effective and easy to use on all of them. There are a few more quirks than with MLB.tv, which remains the best of the sports streaming services, but none of NHL.TV's quirks will ruin your experience.

The NHL's mobile app supports Chromecast, which is nice, though it's not done quite so crisply as one might hope. Casting a game to your television takes a series of taps. Apparently NHL.TV really wants to make super-duper sure that you really want to cast their content:

“Oh, so you'd like to Chromecast this?”

 

“Are you sure you'd like to Chromecast this?”

 

“BUT ARE YOU SURE THAT YOU'RE SURE?”

The most obnoxious thing we found when using Chromecast to view NHL.TV was that when we changed the feed (that is, to a different broadcast or camera angle), nothing happened on our TV – it just kept playing the original one. We had to disconnect from the Chromecast (at which point the proper feed started on our tablet) and then reconnect with it in order to make the change. It's not the end of the world, but it's pretty shoddy programing for an expensive service. This problem was observed when we were using an Android tablet.

The NHL app running on iOS
The NHL app running on iOS

We didn't have serious trouble with any of the NHL.TV apps we tried, which included the Xbox, Android, iOS, and in-browser versions. They're all pretty simple and user-friendly, and they'll let you do the things you'd expect: choose between audio and video feeds, check scores, follow a favorite team, and so on.

Price

At $131.49 or $24.99/month, the NHL's streaming service is significantly cheaper than the NBA's or the NFL's, but still quite a bit more than the MLB's. Whether this is too much money to spend depends on how much you love your hockey, but there's no question that you'll be paying more for fewer games than fans of baseball are – even though baseball is the more popular sport of the two.

Verdict

Is NHL.TV worth $131.49? Well, it depends on how much you love hockey. But what we can tell you is that you can safely make your decision entirely about hockey: product quality isn't a concern, because NHL.TV delivers everything it says it will. It offers pretty reliable streaming across multiple platforms, a cool back-catalog of old games, and a pretty wide selection of match-ups (missing only, of course, games covered by your local and national broadcasts). Sure, we wish it was cheaper and as good as the near-flawless MLB.tv, but it's still a no-brainer for die-hards. If you're a big fan of hockey living outside your team's local market (or willing to use a VPN to illegally pretend you live elsewhere), we absolutely recommend it.

15 thoughts on “NHL.TV Review

  1. Avatar Doug J. says:

    You should probably mention that NHL is switching platforms in January to the MLB platform. See http://www.nhl.com/ice/news.htm?id=776247

    1. Avatar Cordcutting.com says:

      Thanks for the link!

  2. Avatar Don Schaudt says:

    The new format stinks! No more Game Highlight show, not you have to pick one at a time in small segments. No more Condensed Game… Booooo NHL GameCenter, I want half my money back!

  3. Avatar Tyler says:

    I hate NHL Gamecenter Live. They block out local games based on IP address, which can be blocked out with VPN. The thing that upsets me is that NBCSN shows games that I can’t gain access to. Currently the Coors Stadium game is playing and I have no way to access, unless I purchased NBCSN for like 5-6 games. So stupid. Plus, no playoff games? Not worth my money if they’re going to find a way to make me pay every penny out of my pocket for hockey.

  4. Avatar Austin says:

    If you think you’re going to see the playoffs, avoid. Every single playoff game is blocked out. Furiously disappointed.

  5. Avatar Kevin says:

    EARLY BIRD PASS $179.99

    Save $20 by signing up for a 2016-17 Early Bird Pass by October 11th, 2016. PLUS, get access in September to watch the 2016 World Cup of Hockey. Includes full access to national & out-of-market games through the 2016-17 NHL Season and all games of the Stanley Cup® Playoffs. Access lasts until August 31, 2017.Includes both English & French broadcasts, as available.

    This is from the Rogers website in Canada. Not sure if the same package is available in the US. But this includes all playoff games plus the World Cup of Hockey. I also confirmed today with a customer service rep that its possible to share your login credentials with at least 3 people who can all be logged in at the same time. Pretty reasonably priced if you’re sharing with a few friends.

    Also, for any Canucks fans at least, there’s no blackouts. Again confirmed with the Rogers CSR. All 82 games available on GameCenter Live. I believe its because Rogers has rights to all the games. Works for me.

  6. Avatar Andrew says:

    Terrible service. 0/10 stars. Streaming quality is very poor, unless you like the stream rolling back 30 seconds every minute or two. I paid for a full year up front, thinking they had released a finished product. After two weeks, my only positive impression comes from the possibility the NHL is in need of good software developers. Since I am a software developer, maybe I can apply and get my money back that way. If nothing else, at least the app won’t suck after I am done with it.

  7. Avatar Kimm says:

    Subscribed to Rogers NHL in hopes of canceling cable only to find out most of the local games are blacked out. Extremely disappointed and now out over $200.

  8. Avatar Another Sucker says:

    Read the fine print!!! I paid upfront for the year for the $115.99 package, that “allows” me to watch my team’s (sharks) games, only to find out that all my local games are blacked out. $116, and I haven’t seen a game this preseason or season.
    Come playoff time, I guess I won’t be watching them either.

  9. Avatar Regis Doucet says:

    I am Canadian was charged for a full year not realizing cant get the games up here.I called for reimbursement as I was automatically charged for a full year.Got a whopping 20% credit.What a ripoff this is never again!!!

  10. Avatar gw says:

    I am an experienced streamer including of live TV. This streaming service was by far the poorest quality service I have ever experienced. They do not appear to be ready for prime time. I paid $99 for the service (while noting that the cancellation policy allowed for a full refund if canceled within 5 days).
    My short experience with the service was that it was littered with intermittent bugs: failure to keep me logged in, failure to keep my hide-score preferences, …and ultimately failure to stream games and failure to log me in at all.
    Unfortunately, I did not experience all of these problems until *shortly* after the 5 days. To my astonishment, at that point, NHL tv refused to give me even a prorated refund ( I thought I deserved a full refund).
    So, I essentially paid $99 for nothing but frustration.

  11. Avatar JB says:

    not very helpful that i can’t watch my local team due to blackout restrictions. at least i only paid $3.99. i can get over that. bummed.

  12. Avatar DB says:

    NHL.live is a complete scam if you live in the US. Every single game will be blacked out and when you ask them for a refund, they will tell you are one day outside of your “remorse” period. $86.24 down the drain. DO NOT BUY THIS SERVICE. The tool they give you to check blackout games only includes Canada. US based customers S.O.L.

  13. Avatar Anonymous says:

    AVOID NHL.TV!! Its a scam. After I purchased a $9.99 subscription, I found out that my subscription was expiring in 6 days (yes, not in a month). They had never responded on my email. The live chat option did not work either because the agents were never available.
    On the top of this, I could not watch live a lot of games because of blackouts. Their description about blackouts is wrong – according to my zip code, only two teams should be unavailable. But, in reality almost every game I wanted to watch live was locked.

  14. Avatar Anonymous Angry Fan says:

    I tried out nhl.tv to try and watch the 2020 playoffs. Currently if you have a subscription and live within the “national broadcast area” you will only get to watch 4 of the playoff games live. All the other games, you will need to watch as a replay because they will be blacked out. Personally, I don’t believe they make this clear when signing up. You have to go to nhl.com to look up the playoff schedule to see which are nationally broadcast. On top of that, they don’t have the finals schedule up, so you can’t even see which games are going to be nationally televised, I guess you just have to hope that you’ll get to watch, or just plan on watching it later and not live.

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