October 10, 2023
Having worked in pro sports and an NHL team, I know how tough catching some broadcasts of games can be at times. But hockey fans might have it the worst — especially for Cord-Cutters. Unlike the NFL, which broadcasts most of its games over the air in all major US markets, the NHL TV schedule leans heavily on cable and subscription channels.
For the 2023–24 NHL season, ABC, ESPN, ESPN+, Hulu, and TNT will combine to host every nationally broadcast NHL game during the regular season and the 2024 Stanley Cup Finals. ABC is the only one available over the air. To follow your local team’s games, you’ll also need access to its regional broadcast partner.
Most streaming services 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 my previous post ‘Cutting the Cord Part 2 — TV Antennas’ for the ‘what’ and ‘how’ om over the air TV antennas.
For strictly streaming, check out these options to catch your favorite NHL teams and players this season:
Sling TV offers ESPN and TNT, and you can get them together in the Sling Orange package for $40 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 a free Amazon Fire TV Stick Lite and $10 off your first month when you subscribe to any Sling TV plan.
DirectTV Stream offers ABC, ESPN and TNT in its Entertainment package for $75 a month. You can get the NHL Network as well by upgrading to the Ultimate package for $110 a month. Currently, DirectTV Stream is offering $10 off all of its plans for the first three 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 from their product offerings. DirectTV Stream 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 $75-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. A Hulu + Live TV subscription gives you ABC, ESPN, and TNT in their single one-size-fits-all offering.
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, discounted to $50 for the first three months. Be aware, however, that the off ends on October 11, after which a subscription price will increase to $77 per month.
YouTube TV charges $73 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, once provided access to all out-of-market games. When it was shutdown, most of those games were absorbed by ESPN+. If your favorite team is outside your local market, or you just can’t get enough hockey, it costs a mere $10 a month. You can also get it in various bundles with Hulu and Disney+, since Disney owns all three services.
ESPN to debut ‘Frozen Frenzy’
As an added bonus for hockey fans, ‘Whiparound’ coverage is coming to the NHL. ‘Frozen Frenzy’ is an NFL RedZone-style program that will show the most exciting plays from a packed NHL program on October 24th when all 32 NHL teams will be in action. Mark your calendars as this program will highlight a new game starting every 15 minutes. At one point during the program, there will be 11 games going on at once.
During the program, ESPN will have traditional coverage of a tripleheader featuring the Toronto Maple Leafs, Washington Capitals, Boston Bruins, Chicago Blackhawks, Philadelphia Flyers, and Vegas Golden Knights. ‘Frozen Frenzy’ will start at 7pm ET on ESPN+ before moving over to ESPN2 at 8pm ET, with coverage concluding at 11pm ET. It’s currently unclear if ‘Frozen Frenzy’ will have other dates beyond October 24th.
While streaming hockey can be a bit of a challenge, the future looks pretty good for the NHL and its cord-cutter fans. The league’s recent TV deals with The Walt Disney Company and Turner Sports ensures there’ll be plenty of ways to watch the NHL without cable this season and beyond.
Have you ‘cut the cord?’ Or thinking about it? Debbie and I are formulating our plan. And me being a sports fan I’m concerned about getting access to my favorite games and teams. If you’ve already cut the cord, which service(s) did you choose. How are you accounting for live sports? Are you seeing all you want? Part of our plan is to install an over the air antenna in our attic supported by coaxial cable infrastructure — though I’m looking for a way to run that signal over our Ethernet network. Debbie and I already use Paramount+, Hulu, Disney+, Netflix, Max and AppleTV. That seems like a little overkill now that I see it written.
Don’t forget about the Prime Big Deal Days on October 10th and 11th. This will be your first savings opportunity before Black Friday and Cyber Monday for gift giving or upping your smart home game.
Let Debbie and I know what you think 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.’
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