Freelance contributor, TechHiveFeb 17, 2023 2:00 am PST
Puck heads haven’t had it easy the last couple of years. The NHL experienced the most disruption of the four main North American sports leagues due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The delayed 2020-21 season was reduced to 56 games, and because of travel restrictions between the U.S. and Canada, the league realigned its divisions; placing its seven Canadian teams into one North Division and its U.S. teams organized into West, Central, and East divisions. Teams played games solely within their division all season, with the top four teams in each qualifying for the playoffs. Then more games were postponed and the playoffs pushed back due to a Covid outbreak among the Vancouver Canucks players and staff, resulting in a staggered regular season ending.
Following that season, the NHL ended its 15-year relationship with NBC and found new broadcasting homes with The Walt Disney Company (ABC, ESPN, ESPN+, and Hulu), and Turner Sports (TNT). All those changes made following the puck for the last two seasons as dizzying as a Scott Stevens hip check.
Fortunately, the 2022-23 NHL regular season will be a lot less turbulent for hockey viewers. As they did last year, ESPN, ESPN+, Hulu, and TNT will combine to host every nationally broadcast game during the regular season, and TNT will be the home of the 2023 Stanley Cup Finals.
That means cord-cutters need at a minimum access to ESPN, TNT, and ABC to catch all the national on-ice action. While not essential, ESPN+ and Hulu will allow you to follow additional games outside their local market, and the NHL Network will provide plenty of news and views for the hungriest hockey fans. To follow your local team’s games, you’ll also need access to its regional broadcast partner. Here’s a guide to all your options.
Over the air
Most of the streaming services below advertise ABC as being included in their subscription packages, but its actual availability will depend on your local market (most services offer an easy way to check availability based on your zip code). In the event the network is not available to stream in your area, consider picking up an over-the-air antenna to reach your local ABC affiliate. Check out the best picks by category in our guide to the best TV antennas for cord-cutters.
Sling TV offers ESPN and TNT, and you can get them together in the Sling Orange package for $35 a month. You can round out your hockey coverage with the NHL network with the Sports Extra package for an additional $11 a month.
DirectTV Stream offers ABC, ESPN, and TNT in its Entertainment package for $70 a month (Currently, $50 for the first two months). You can get the NHL Network as well by upgrading to the Ultimate package for $105 a month ($85 for the first two months).
DirectTV Stream is also a great choice to follow your local team’s broadcasts. Over the last few years, Sling TV, FuboTV, YouTube TV, and Hulu + Live TV have all dropped various regional sports networks like from their product offerings. DirectStream TV is the only service to offer a full complement regional sports networks, including the NBC Sports regional networks, Mid-Atlantic Sports Network, New England Sports Network, YES Network, and Spectrum SportsNet LA. It also offers ESPN, FS1, TBS, and MLB Network.
Sports-centric streaming service FuboTV offers ABC and ESPN, in its $70-per-month Pro package. That includes 1000 hours of Cloud DVR space that can be used for recording games, so you don’t miss a minute of action. You can add the NHL Network with the Sports Lite add-on for $10 a month.
Hulu + Live TV and YouTube TV
Both Hulu + Live TV and YouTube TV offer live TV services for a flat fee, and both include ABC, ESPN, and TNT in their single one-size-fits-all offering. Hulu + Live TV currently costs $70 a month ($50 for the first two months), but will be increasing to $75 a month on Dec. 8, 2022. YouTube TV charges $65 a month, discounted to $55 a month for the first three months. Hulu + Live TV has the edge for hockey fans, though, as it will include access to many of the exclusive out-of-market games offered across Hulu and ESPN+.
The NHL’s subscription TV service, NHL.TV, used to provide access to all out-of-market games. But it recently shutdown and most of those games have been absorbed by ESPN+, the sports network’s subscription streaming service. If your favorite team is outside your local market, or you just can’t get enough hockey, this is a great way to get your fix, and it costs a mere $10 a month.
Catch all the action on the ice
While the last couple of seasons were challenging for hockey viewers, the future looks bright for the NHL and its cord-cutting fans. The league’s recent TV deals with The Walt Disney Company and Turner Sports ensures there will be plenty of ways to watch the NHL without cable this season–and for years to come.