October 17, 2022
With week 1 dropping puck in the NHL I thought I’d follow up my ‘Cord Cutter’s Guide for the 2022 NFL Season’ for all the hockey fans out there. Whether you catch a game here and there or are a hard core fan there are a lot of great ways to stay on top of the action on the ice. If you’re still using cable or have cut the cord, I’ll cover how you can watch all the hockey you want. If you’re undecided about cutting the cord, you can catch up with one of my previous posts and see if it’s the right choice for you. Check out ‘Is it time to Cut the Cord?’
There’s been a lot of news lately about the valuations of sports franchises and how they’ve not only weathered the current economic issues. In many cases they’ve actually increased in value. The NFL has reasserted itself globally by once again dominating the ranks of the world’s most valuable sports teams. It’s not surprising that a big reason for that is their media rights deals.
None of the NHL franchises cracked the top 50 worldwide per Forbes’ list but that hasn’t affected the popularity of hockey. I can tell you from my days working for the Detroit Red Wings there’s no lack of team support, especially with the NHL Original Six. That support tends to be regional however in the US despite the outlier teams in California, Arizona, Texas and Florida where football tends to dominate sports.
As the NFL struggles to gain international popularity, the NHL enjoys an enormous following outside the US. A lot of that is supported by an extremely high percentage of international players in the league and their individual popularity. For proof, just check out the line up of international games NHL clubs will play in the Global Series games that started earlier this month.
For the seventh straight year, the New York Rangers sit atop Forbes’ annual list of NHL team valuations, and they’ve become the first NHL franchise valued at $2B. The Toronto Maple Leafs ($1.8B), Montreal Canadiens ($1.6B), Chicago Blackhawks ($1.4B), and Boston Bruins($1.3B) round out the top five. The Edmonton Oilers had the biggest jump of any team, doubling last year’s $550M valuation to $1.1B. And no teams decreased in value from last year. The team with the smallest increase — the Vancouver Canucks — saw a 14% rise in value from last year and an 18% rise over the last five years.
The rest of the NHL top ten round out like this:
6. Philadelphia Flyers $1.2B
7. Edmonton Oilers $1.1B
8. Los Angeles Kings $1.03B
9. Detroit Red Wings $990M
10. New York Islanders $950M
All of this is good news despite the NHL experiencing 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 US 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.
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). 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 access to ESPN, TNT, and ABC to catch all the national NHL 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 biggest 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. You can get more insight on the best choices for over-the-air TV antennas at ‘Cutting the Cord Part 2 — TV Antennas.
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.
Sling TV typically includes device discounts with prepaid commitments. Currently, you can get an HD antenna a free AirTV Mini when you subscribe and prepay for two months of Sling TV. Prepay for three months, or you can get an AirTV 2 and HD antenna bundle or an AirTV Anywhere and HD antenna.
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 of 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 1,000 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
Both Hulu + Live TV offers live TV services for a flat fee, and includes 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.
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 only costs $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 the foreseeable future.
Hopefully this has given all you hockey fans out there some (new) options to catch all the games you’re interested in. I’m curious if you’re already taking advantage of some of these ways to access NHL games. Have you found new ones after reading this? Are you using other ways to access NHL games I didn’t mention?
Let Debbie and I know in the comments, DMs and emails as we really enjoy hearing from you. Thanks again to all those following Debbie and I through our home building journey. It’s great to hear your success stories and suggestions as we move through the process. And if you like the content I’m posting each week, don’t forget to ‘Like’ and ‘Follow.’ Until next week …
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