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NHL Center Ice Review 2023

We spent the last NHL season testing and researching NHL Center Ice to determine if it’s the best out-of-market package for hockey fans.

Out-of-market NHL games

Price: $69.99/season

Free trial: N/A

Features: Up to 40 live NHL regular season games per week

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

Out-of-market games only. Blackout restrictions and other conditions apply. Actual numbers of games varies by market due to blackout rules and other restrictions.

NHL Center Ice is an out-of-market sports package available through cable and satellite TV providers. It gets you around 40 NHL games per week during the regular season and includes NHL Network for around-the-clock hockey coverage.

As of 2021, ESPN+ is the streaming home of the NHL’s out-of-market matchups in the US. But NHL Center Ice is still a beneficial service for those uninterested in cutting the cord. Plus, NHL Center Ice is $30 cheaper than an annual ESPN+ plan and allows you to watch all games within the convenience of your TV provider’s interface.

Many major league sports make it difficult to watch the games you want within a single TV plan, and the NHL is no exception. Keep reading to learn if NHL Center Ice deserves a spot on your TV roster.

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NHL Center Ice pros and cons

Pros

  • All out-of-market NHL games
  • Home and away broadcast feeds (when available)
  • NHL Network included

Cons

  • Cable or satellite subscription required
  • Local and national coverage dependent on TV plan

Is NHL Center Ice worth it?

NHL Center Ice is a good add-on package if you’re an NHL fan who already subscribes to a cable or satellite TV service. But if streaming TV is an option for you, we recommend ESPN+ over NHL Center Ice for out-of-market access.

On top of out-of-market coverage, ESPN+ comes with 53 exclusive NHL matchups this season—you can only watch these games on ESPN+ or Hulu. So unlike in the past, having a cable or satellite TV plan with your regional sports network (RSN), every national NHL channel, and NHL Center Ice would still mean you’ll miss out on 53 live games unless you also sign up for ESPN+ or Hulu.

If you truly want every live NHL game this season, you’re better off skipping NHL Center Ice and signing up for ESPN+. That way, you’ll get out-of-market access and those exclusive games all within a single streaming subscription. But you’ll still need a separate TV plan for local and national coverage.

Of course, you might not be a fan of streaming or have access to reliable internet. If that’s the case, then NHL Center Ice is the out-of-market package for you.

Avoiding NHL regional blackouts

If you’re a fan of an NHL team located far from home, you’ll need either NHL Center Ice or ESPN+ to watch most of that team’s games. We say “most” because other games will air exclusively on national channels like ABC, ESPN, TNT, and NHL Network—including the NHL All-Star Game, NHL Playoffs, and Stanley Cup Finals.

On the flip side, you’ll need access to your regional sports network to watch most games involving any team based within your broadcast region.

Not sure what NHL teams are considered in-market or out-of-market for you? Head to the NHL Blackout Detector and enter your zip code to learn more.

NHL Center Ice deals and promotions

NHL Center Ice doesn’t offer a free trial. But occasionally, the league provides free NHL Center Ice previews through participating TV providers. So keep your eyes peeled for those.

NHL Center Ice plans and prices

Plan Price Live games Video Details
NHL Center Ice $69.99/season ~40/wk. 1080p View plan

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

Out-of-market games only. Blackout restrictions and other conditions apply. Actual numbers of games varies by market due to blackout rules and other restrictions.

NHL Center Ice is available at $69.99 for the entire season. Some TV providers also have a three-month payment plan that costs $23.33 a month.

Last season, NHL Center Ice was only $59.99 to compete with ESPN+’s then-cost of $69.99 a year. Now that ESPN+ raised its annual price to $99.99 a year, NHL Center Ice seized the opportunity to increase its price by ten bucks while still being cheaper than ESPN+.

Score the best TV plan for watching hockey

Since you’ll need a cable or satellite TV provider to get NHL Center Ice, enter your zip code below to see what providers are available in your area.

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NHL Center Ice vs. ESPN Plus

Service Price Live games Exclusive games NHL Network included Details
NHL Center Ice* $69.99/season ~40/wk. 0 View plan
ESPN+ $9.99/mo. or $99.99/yr. ~40/wk. 53 View plans

Read ESPN+ review

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

<em*Out-of-market games only. Blackout restrictions and other conditions apply. Actual numbers of games varies by market due to blackout rules and other restrictions.

As we outlined above, NHL Center Ice and ESPN+ offer out-of-market NHL games in the US. The primary difference between the two is their service type. NHL Center Ice requires a cable or satellite TV provider, while ESPN+ is available as a standalone streaming subscription. However, you can also bundle ESPN+ with Disney+ and Hulu.

Apart from the service type, you’ll still get around 40 out-of-market NHL games each week, no matter if you choose NHL Center Ice or ESPN+. The benefit of having ESPN+ is that it includes over 50 exclusive NHL matchups—meaning you’ll need an ESPN+, Hulu, or Hulu + Live TV subscription to watch those games. That’s one way to alienate traditional TV viewers, as NHL Center Ice subscribers will miss those games completely unless they subscribe to ESPN+.

Sure, NHL Center Ice includes NHL Network. So there’s one benefit it has over ESPN+. But you can find that channel on live TV streaming services like fuboTV and Sling TV (though it’s oddly not available on Hulu + Live TV).

Pro tip: NHL fans can save money with ESPN+ by paying monthly during the NHL season. Because the regular season runs for seven months, monthly payments of ESPN+ for that duration would total $69.93 before tax—roughly the same price as NHL Center Ice.

NHL Center Ice specs and features

We already covered that NHL Center Ice subscribers get NHL Network during the season for free. But that’s not the only incentive to signing up.

Select NHL Center Ice games come equipped with dual feeds—allowing you to choose between the home and away broadcasts. Its multi-screen mosaic feature also enables you to keep tabs on up to four games simultaneously.

You can even view NHL Center Ice matchups with in-game statistical overlays. Though, some TV providers offer their own variation of this. We particularly like Xfinity’s X1 device because it shows live scores and allows you to navigate between games easily. DIRECTV’s interactive ScoreGuide™ feature provides a similar experience.

Video and audio quality

Every game on NHL Center Ice airs in full 1080p HD resolution with basic 2.0 stereo. Unfortunately, the league hasn’t announced any plans for games to air in 4K this season. That seems to be an initiative that only MLB is serious about.

Can you stream NHL Center Ice?

Unfortunately, you can no longer stream NHL Center Ice through the NHL app. While NHL Center Ice previously included its streaming counterpart NHL.TV at no extra cost, that benefit no longer exists. Now you need a separate ESPN+ subscription to stream out-of-market NHL games.

If you prefer going the streaming route, we highlight our favorite streaming options on our How to Watch NHL Games page. But you’ll ultimately want a live TV streaming plan that can replicate the coverage of a cable or satellite TV provider.

Sling TV is the cheapest way to get complete national NHL coverage. Its Sling Orange plan ($40.00 a month) will hook you up with ESPN and TNT, and the Sports Extra add-on ($11.00 a month) will get you NHL Network. Combine that with a separate subscription to ESPN+ (totalling $60.99 a month), and you’ll have access to every NHL game this season except for the ones that air on your RSN.

If you want RSN coverage, your best bet is DIRECTV STREAM’s ULTIMATE plan (usually $104.99 a month) because it has the largest selection of RSNs from any live TV streaming service. Though, Bally Sports+ ($19.99 a month) is also available for those who live within a Bally Sports region.

Final take

It takes a lot to be the best hockey fan, especially when blackout restrictions make it difficult to watch your favorite team from afar. That’s where NHL Center Ice ($69.99 a season) comes into play—giving you access to over 1,000 out-of-market games during the NHL regular season.

If you’re an existing cable or satellite TV subscriber, NHL Center Ice is the most convenient way to get out-of-market games. It’s just unfortunate that NHL Center Ice doesn’t give you streaming access on the side like MLB EXTRA INNINGS or NBA League Pass.

If streaming is what you want, ESPN+ carries the same out-of-market coverage as NHL Center Ice for $9.99 a month. ESPN+ even has an additional 50+ exclusive NHL games during the 2022–2023 season—making it a must-have service for those who want complete NHL coverage.

Get NHL Center Ice

NHL Center Ice FAQ

How much does it cost for NHL Center Ice?

NHL Center Ice costs $69.99 per season or $23.33 a month for three months. You can also expect an NHL Center Ice mid-season price drop around January, but the reduced price varies each year.

How do I get NHL Center Ice without cable?

To get the out-of-market benefits of NHL Center Ice without cable in the US, you’ll need a separate subscription to ESPN+. Viewers based in Canada will need a Sportsnet NOW Premium subscription, and anyone outside the US or Canada will need an NHL.TV subscription.

Does NHL Center Ice include all games?

No, NHL Center Ice only includes out-of-market and NHL Network matchups. For every game, you’ll need a TV plan that includes your regional sports network, national NHL channels like ABC, ESPN, TBS, and TNT, and an ESPN+ or Hulu subscription.

What’s the difference between NHL Center Ice and NHL TV?

NHL.TV was the out-of-market streaming counterpart to NHL Center Ice in the US. But since ESPN+ now streams out-of-market NHL games, NHL.TV is no longer available for US-based subscribers.

Did NHL TV go away?

NHL.TV is still available to most international NHL fans. But US and Canada-based viewers now have ESPN+ and Sportsnet NOW Premium to rely on for streaming out-of-market games. It’s the latest in a long line of changes to the NHL’s streaming plans, including services like NHL GameCenter LIVE and NHL LIVE.

Methodology

Our experts spent the last NHL season hands-on testing and researching NHL Center Ice to determine its overall value. We tested its features and capabilities within a rural market and compared its price and accessibility with ESPN+—the only other service with out-of-market NHL games.

Check out our How We Rank page to learn more about our methods.

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