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How to Watch NHL Games 2021–22

A new broadcasting deal means the 2021–22 NHL season will not be found on the usual channels. Get ready for the new campaign of hockey action with CableTV.com’s guide to NHL TV.

Best cable provider for NHL

Price: $49.99–$89.49/mo.

NHL channels: ABC, ESPN, TNT, NHL Network, and NHL Center Ice

RSNs: NBC, NESN, MSG, and AT&T SportsNet

Best satellite provider for NHL

Price: $64.99–$134.99/mo.

NHL channels: ABC, ESPN, TNT, NHL Network, and NHL Center Ice

RSNs: NBC, NESN, MSG, Bally Sports, and AT&T SportsNet

Best streaming service for NHL

Price: $69.99–$139.99/mo.

NHL channels: ABC, ESPN, TNT, and NHL Network

RSNs: NBC, NESN, MSG, Bally Sports, Altitude Sports, ROOT SPORTS, and AT&T SportsNet

Cheapest live TV service for NHL

Price: $35.00–$50.00/mo.

NHL channels: ABC, ESPN, and TNT

RSNs: NBC

Best streaming app for NHL

Price: $69.99/yr.; $6.99/mo.

NHL content:

  • 1,000+ out-of-market games
  • 75 exclusive matches

Following a broadcasting partnership of more than 15 years, the National Hockey League is no longer with NBC. When the 2021–22 season kicks off on October 12, the NHL will air national games exclusively on the networks of Disney and Turner Sports. That means you need ABC, ESPN, ESPN+, and TNT to get all 153 nationally televised NHL regular season games.

With the introduction of the Seattle Kraken, the NHL regular season now consists of 1,312 games. Because of this, you’ll need more than just the national channels to watch a majority of the NHL. But don’t worry. We’ve collected the best services that give you the most puck for your buck so you don’t miss a single body check.

How to watch NHL games

No matter if you’re the ultimate hockey fan or just a casual Zamboni enthusiast, it’s important to know that the NHL is available on different channels this season.

To avoid getting left out to dry by this TV version of a line change, it’s time for you to get your NHL game plan in order. So, let CableTV.com help you decide what the best TV plan is for your hockey needs.

Top TV packages for NHL

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The channels you’ll need to watch NHL games

At the bare minimum, you’ll need ABC, ESPN, and TNT to watch live NHL games. However, if you wanna be the Wayne Gretzky of watching NHL and have live access to all 1,312 regular season games, you’ll also want your local NHL team’s regional sports network (RSN) and a subscription to ESPN+.

Primary NHL channels

  • ABC
  • ESPN
  • TNT
  • ESPN+
  • Regional sports networks (NBC, NESN, MSG, Bally Sports, Altitude Sports, ROOT SPORTS, and AT&T SportsNet)

NHL Network also exists for fans who want more than just games. The channel airs live preseason games, as well as its own NHL-oriented content such as nightly news programs, analysis series, and documentary specials. It’s included with almost every TV package we examined, though you usually must pay for a higher-tiered plan to get it.

How can I watch out-of-market NHL games?

Two out-of-market options exist for NHL fans: ESPN+ and NHL Center Ice. Both allow you to watch over 1,000 out-of-market games. These are all games not covered by the primary channels above, which show national and local telecasts in your area.

NHL Center Ice ($160/year) is an add-on that you can purchase through a lot of the more popular TV providers. However, ESPN+ ($69.99/year) is a much cheaper out-of-market alternative that also offers 75 exclusive games.

Apart from regular season games, there will be several special fixtures throughout the season featured on the three basic networks. These events build up to the Stanley Cup Playoffs and Stanley Cup Final, which are set to take place in late spring 2022.

NHL key events and channels

Swipe Left to See All →
EventDateChannels
Winter ClassicJanuary 1, 2022TNT
2022 NHL All-Star Skills CompetitionFebruary 4, 2022ESPN
2022 NHL All-Star GameFebruary 5, 2022ABC
Stadium SeriesFebruary 26, 2022TNT
Heritage ClassicMarch 13, 2022TNT
Stanley Cup PlayoffsTBDESPN, TNT
Stanley Cup FinalTBDABC

To get a better understanding of the league’s network lineup, you’ll want to keep tabs on the official NHL schedule.

What is a regional sports network (RSN)?

A regional sports network (RSN) is a cable sports channel dedicated to a local market or geographic area. The primary purpose of an RSN is to air live sporting events featuring teams within its broadcast area. RSNs are sometimes harder to find in TV packages and usually come only in higher-priced plans. You’ll need access to your local RSN to get full NHL coverage.

It’s important to know that while NBC no longer carries nationally televised NHL games, some of the NBC-owned RSNs will still actively show local NHL games.

For instance, NBC Sports Chicago will locally air home and away Chicago Blackhawks games whenever they are not already airing exclusively on ABC, ESPN, TNT, or ESPN+. Because of this, if you are a Blackhawks fan living in the Chicago market, you will need a TV package that includes NBC Sports Chicago as well as ABC, ESPN, and TNT. You will also need ESPN+ to watch the streaming service’s exclusive games.

Pro tip: RSNs are some of the channels most vulnerable to carriage disputes. Be cautious of this when signing up for any TV provider. As you narrow down a provider and plan, you’ll want to double-check the channel lineup to make sure your RSN is included.

How do NHL blackouts affect ESPN+?

Blackout restrictions exist to protect the exclusivity of an RSN’s content. Therefore, you’ll see NHL blackouts the most when using ESPN+. When a team from your local market or region is playing, the game will be blacked out on ESPN+ to give priority to your RSN. The only time this won’t happen is if ESPN+ has exclusive rights to a game, in which case your RSN won’t show the game.

Best cable providers for NHL

Provider
Our pick
Xfinity
Cox
Optimum
RCN
Spectrum
Price NHL channels RSNs Details
$49.99–$89.49/mo. ABC, ESPN, TNT, NHL Network, and NHL Center Ice NBC, NESN, MSG, Altitude Sports, ROOT SPORTS, and AT&T SportsNet View plans
$25.00–$69.99/mo. ABC, ESPN, TNT, NHL Network, and NHL Center Ice NBC and Bally Sports View plans
$74.99–$124.99/mo. ABC, ESPN, TNT, NHL Network, and NHL Center Ice NBC and MSG View plans
$59.99–$66.99/mo. ABC, ESPN, TNT, NHL Network, and NHL Center Ice NBC, NESN, and MSG View plans
$44.99–$94.99/mo. ABC, ESPN, TNT, NHL Network, and NHL Center Ice NBC, MSG, Bally Sports, and Altitude Sports View plans

Data effective as of post date. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

Because they’re widely available and likely to be in your neighborhood, we’ve favored Xfinity and Spectrum to watch NHL games on cable. Both services offer a wider range of RSNs, but Xfinity narrowly takes the top spot because it’s cheaper and has more overall channels than Spectrum.

As an Xfinity customer, you also have the option to add an X1 DVR/receiver to your plan which comes with Peacock Premium at no extra cost. The DVR is helpful if you’re unable to catch every NHL game live, and Peacock is a great complimentary streaming service for sports fans—especially during Olympic years like 2022.

Here are CableTV.com’s NHL cable package picks, based on price and availability:

Best satellite providers for NHL

Provider
Our pick
DIRECTV
DISH
Price NHL channels RSNs Details
$64.99–$134.99/mo. ABC, ESPN, TNT, NHL Network, and NHL Center Ice NBC, NESN, MSG, Bally Sports, Altitude View plans
$64.99–$99.99/mo. ABC, ESPN, TNT, NHL Network, and NHL Center Ice NBC, NESN, and AT&T SportsNet View plans

Data effective as of post date. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

For satellite providers, we recommend DIRECTV and DISH. The primary reason for this is because, well, they’re the only two satellite TV providers in the United States. DIRECTV edges out DISH because it offers every RSN required for watching the NHL. It also carries plenty of other channels dedicated to sports, a major plus if you’re more than just an NHL fan.

Here are CableTV.com’s NHL satellite package picks, based on price and availability:

Best live TV streaming services for NHL

Price NHL channels RSNs Details
$69.99–$139.99/mo. ABC, ESPN, TNT, and NHL Network NBC, NESN, MSG, Bally Sports, Altitude Sports, ROOT SPORTS, and AT&T SportsNet View plans
$64.99–$79.99/mo. ABC, ESPN, and NHL Network NBC, NESN, MSG, ROOT SPORTS, and AT&T SportsNet View plans
$35.00–$50.00/mo. ESPN, TNT, NHL Network, and NHL Center Ice NBC View plans
$54.99–$60.99/mo. ABC, ESPN, and TNT NBC View plans
$64.99/mo. ABC, ESPN, and TNT NBC View plans

Data effective as of post date. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

With live TV streaming, watching NHL games is a little tougher. Not all services carry NHL Network, but the main issue you’ll run into is missing RSNs.

DIRECTV STREAM is our top choice for live TV streaming if you want the most NHL action, as well as many other sports. It’s one of the most expensive options, but it carries all NHL channels apart from ESPN+ and has every RSN available as well. It even carries the Bally Sports RSNs, which no other live TV streaming service does.

Sling TV is a less expensive option than DIRECTV STREAM. You’ll have to buy an over-the-air antenna to watch ABC and add their Sports Extra package ($11/mo.) to stream NHL Network, but even that and an ESPN+ subscription ($6.99/mo.) keeps the price lower than DIRECTV STREAM. Sling TV is also the only live TV streaming service to offer NHL Center Ice ($29/mo.) as an add-on, but you’re better off subscribing to ESPN+ for out-of-market games.

Here are CableTV.com’s top NHL live TV streaming picks, based on price and availability:

Watch NHL games with an antenna

For a one-time purchase of a digital over-the-air antenna, you can watch nationally televised NHL games for free on your local ABC station. Check out our Best Antennas for Cord-Cutters review to get the best HD antenna for you.

Best streaming apps for NHL

Price Features Details
$69.99/yr.; $6.99/mo. 1,000+ out-of-market games
75 exclusive games
View plans
Free Game highlights
Behind-the-scenes content
View channel

Data effective as of post date. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

ESPN+ is now the go-to app for NHL coverage in the United States. It’s primarily the home for out-of-market NHL matchups, offering the same coverage as NHL Center Ice. The big advantage of subscribing to ESPN+ is that it’s a much cheaper option than NHL Center Ice.

Throughout the season, ESPN+ will show 75 exclusive NHL game telecasts on top of its out-of-market offerings. Hulu + Live TV will also show the same 75 games, an added bonus to anyone already subscribed.

Overall, ESPN+ is cheap and has an immense catalog of other sports programming at no additional cost, including college hockey and the Ice Hockey World Championships.

If you’re a more casual hockey fan who only cares about your local team’s games, then ESPN+ isn’t all that necessary. Your local team will only be available to watch on ESPN+ when they take part in any of the app’s 75 exclusive games. Therefore, you’re more suited to sign up to a cable, satellite, or live TV streaming service that offers your RSN.

Here are CableTV.com’s NHL streaming app picks:

What happened to NHL.TV?

In the past, NHL.TV was the essential online subscription for hockey fans. Similar to NBA League Pass, you would sign in to the league’s app and have access to all games not affected by local and national broadcast TV blackouts.

Starting with the 2021–22 season, NHL.TV is no longer available for users in the US. ESPN+ is the newly designated home for the NHL’s out-of-market games.

Final take

To start off with, you’ll need ABC, ESPN, and TNT in your channel roster to watch the major matchups of the 2021–22 NHL season. From there, what TV package you get all depends on where you are located, what team(s) you want to watch, and how much you’re willing to spend.

Here are our cable picks for watching the NHL:

Here are our satellite picks for watching the NHL:

Here are our live TV streaming picks for watching the NHL:

Here are our standalone streaming app picks for watching the NHL:

How to Watch the NHL FAQ

Can you stream NHL games?

NHL games are available to stream on ESPN+. Live TV streaming services also carry NHL channels, though not all regional sports networks (RSNs) are available through each provider.

Can you watch NHL on Amazon Prime?

The 2021–22 NHL season is not available to watch on Amazon Prime Video or any of its add-on channels.

How can I watch all NHL games?

To watch every NHL game, you’ll need a combination of ESPN+ and a TV service that offers ABC, ESPN, TNT, and your regional NHL sports network.

Is NHL Network free?

NHL Network is included in most cable and satellite providers’ higher-priced plans, as well as some live TV streaming services’ channel lineups. So, it’s not free—in fact, you’ll usually have to pay more to get it in your plan.

How can I watch NHL games without cable?

If you don’t have a cable or satellite service, you can watch select NHL games for free on ABC, which will require only a digital antenna that can pick up most local channels. The antenna isn’t free, but it’s a one-time purchase that costs less than a monthly TV subscription and will cover several NHL seasons.

You can also watch NHL games on live TV streaming services like fuboTV, DIRECTV STREAM, Sling TV, Hulu + Live TV, or YouTube TV. There’s also ESPN+, which carries exclusive matches and over 1,000 out-of-market games.

What are local game blackouts?

Local game blackouts occur when national channels are unable to show a game in a certain market or region because the game is already airing on that area’s regional sports network (RSN). These kinds of blackouts prevent major sports channels from competing against smaller local broadcasters and RSNs.

Methodology

Our sports-centric experts immersed themselves in 12 of the nation’s top TV providers to determine the best options for watching the NHL. Over the course of two weeks, we tested each provider’s features and reliability while also comparing prices and channel offerings.

We rationalized our recommendations by using our editorial star rating system, which allows us to nitpick each service before comparing them more broadly. To learn more about our methods, check out our How We Rank page.