Q. You’ve been writing about MLB Extra Innings and NBA League Pass, but what about hockey. What’s up with hockey’s plan for watching games other than your home team? — Claire, Madison, Wisconsin.
Claire, the National Hockey League will resume play on August 1 with 16 teams playing in one round of qualifying games, and eight additional teams playing in a tournament to determine the top four conference seeds.
If you’re already confused by the math, as I am, the NHL says there will be 21 games before the playoffs begin in mid-August. You can see the schedule here.
NHL.TV, the league’s online package of out-of-market games, says you can watch 10 exhibition games, and all 21 games (not including your local team’s games, of course) for just $4.99. (If you just want to follow one team on NHL.TV, assuming it’s not your local team, which will be blacked out, the price is $3.99.)
Considering the relatively small number of matches, $4.99 seems like a good deal; by comparison, MLB.TV, baseball’s package of online games, is charging $59.99 for its 60-game shortened season.
But note that the NHL says games broadcast on national television may not be available to watch live on NHL.TV in some areas. And many of the pre-playoff contests are scheduled to air on NBC, NBCSN and the USA Network, which are considered nationally broadcast games.
So it’s unclear how many games will actually be live on NHL.TV. Here’s a schedule of the broadcasts for your perusal.
In the past, cable and satellite TV operators such as DIRECTV and Comcast have offered NHL Center Ice, pay TV’s equivalent of NHL.TV. However, the pay TV services have yet to introduce new Center Ice packages for the shortened pre-playoff season. At their web sites, they say they will provide more information later. So it’s unclear if a subscription to the 2019-2020 Center Ice plan will entitle you to watch NHL.TV for free; the pay TV operators have included NHL.TV for free in the past.
Claire, hope that helps. Happy viewing, and stay safe!
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— Phillip Swann