Broadcasting hockey is not an easy task in Canada. There are regional blackouts that apply to games, making it difficult for one service to keep all games.
There are three main streaming services that broadcast the NHL, Rogers’ Sportsnet Now and NHL Live services and Bell’s TSN Direct. It should be noted that these apps are not on all streaming platforms. In particular, Roku users are left out, so make sure you have the ability to use these apps before going through the hassle of figuring out which one works for you.
Sportsnet Now +, the top tier of Sportsnet Now, is probably where the majority of NHL fans should be this season, as that service includes most of the games. However, it does not offer all of them, so depending on the team you cheer for and where you live, you may need a different service.
Understand regional games vs. national games
The NHL broadcast is divided into two key categories: regional games and national games.
Each NHL team has a series of matchups designated as regional games, and the team can sell the broadcast rights to a local broadcaster. This sounds good, but it actually means that TSN has the rights to some teams and Sportsnet has the rights to others.
The map image above shows these spectator regions in Canada. That means if you’re a fan of Canaucks in Vancouver, you can watch Regional Canucks games from whoever has the regional rights to broadcast them. In 2021, the rights belong to Sportsnet.
On the other hand, the National Games are sold as a single package to the highest bidder, which is Sportsnet, until 2026. These games can be broadcast nationwide so that everyone can watch them on the same channel. This includes the Playoffs, Hockey Night in Canada, and other big-name hockey events.
What you need to understand is where you live and how that applies to the team you cheer on. For example, a Sens fan in Halifax can view all regional games with one provider, but if that same fan moves out of the red zone on the map, they would need to use a different service to access Sens games since they are It is no longer part of that transmission region.
NHL Live is the service to remedy this and you can find more information about it below.
Sportsnet Now and Sportsnet Now +
There are two levels to Sportsnet Now. A basic level and the ‘+’ option.
Sportsnet Now + is likely to be where most hockey fans end up, offering users streams of Flames, Oilers, Canucks, and Leafs, in addition to all the national Hockey Night games in Canada and Scotiabank Wednesday Night Hockey, and all Stanley Cup Playoff games.
That said, it is still subject to local blackouts. This means you won’t get any regional games for the Sens, Jets or Canadiens if you live in those areas. To watch those local games, you need to subscribe to TSN. Sportsnet has the regional game rights to the Canucks, Flames, Oilers, and 11 Leafs games, so if you live in one of those regions, you will be able to watch the local games for your local team. However, a Canucks fan living in Toronto will still not be able to watch the Canucks regional games as they are only streamed in BC and the Yukon via Sportsnet.
You can learn about the various Sportsnet Now price tiers here, but the total annual cost of Sportsnet Now + is $ 249. There is also a 7-day pass for $ 9.99. It should be noted that Sportsnet Now and Sportsnet Now + include more sports than just the NHL. Sportsnet Now + also has access to NHL Live.
NHL Live is not designed to bring you regional games, but it does give you access to all games outside of your region.
This means that if you are a Canucks fan living in Toronto, then you can watch almost each and every team game on NHL Live. The only caveat is that if they’re playing the Toronto Maple Leafs and it’s one of Toronto’s regionally blocked games, you will be blocked too.
You can learn more about NHL live prices here. Annual cost is $ 179 per season. It should be noted that it is included with a Sportsnet Now + membership.
TSN does not have the national hockey rights at the moment, so it can only stream regional games. This includes 18 Toronto Maple Leafs games, 40 Sens games, 42 Jets games and 34 Montreal Canadiens matchups.
With that said, TSN is only streaming those games in the regions defined in the image above. So if you’re a Hab fan living in Alberta, NHL Live is probably your best bet. If you are a Habs fan living in Quebec, you will need TSN to watch all your regional and NHL games live or Sportsnet Now to watch all other games broadcast nationally.
TSN Direct, of course, carries more than just the NHL and has various price levelsBut the best value is the $ 99 six-month option.
Are you telling me that I need two streaming services to get all the games?
Yeah, keep your head up: Bell and Rogers have the NHL locked out. You will have to get the service that has your regional games as they are blocked on NHL Live.
You may be able to get away with just an NHL Live subscription and buying a few TSN and Sportsnet week or day passes when you need to watch big games if you live outside of your favorite team’s region. But for most people, this is their unlikely situation, so they are forced to get multiple services.