Online streaming for NHL fans has been a challenge. NHL.TV was born to fix that problem, allowing viewers from all over the world to watch NHL games online and, more importantly, live playoff matches. NHL.TV, previously known as NHL Gamecenter provides a streaming service of live games (in high-quality) for a small fee on any device of their choice. Unfortunately, broadcasting blackouts have made it impossible to watch all the live games online, and that includes playoff games.
Local television stations buy out the broadcasting rights of a game, and have a priority of broadcasting the game first. This means that, if the game is going to be on television, you won’t be able to see it in your app (live) from NHL.TV for a period of 48 hours unless you are in the same region or country of the TV provider is broadcasting.
Therefore GameCenter subscribers that don’t have that television channel, or live elsewhere than the regional or national television station for that specific match are considered to be in a blackout zone, and won’t be able watch the game for a full 2 days. Some games are locally televised by region, others are nationally televised depending on the channel, so anyone out of the U.S. or Canada essentially misses out on the majority of games when speaking of television channels, while local viewers have limited access from the online streams due to the blackouts. The blackouts affect local U.S. and Canadian viewers the most, since the regional blackouts are based in their countries. While international NHL.TV subscribers are not. Worse, Canadians themselves miss out on online game streaming, even without the help of blackouts.
Accessing NHL.TV in Canada
Sadly, in Canada, the NHL.TV Gamecenter streaming is also restricted. Canadians only have access to Rogers Gamecenter which is a smaller version of the USA platform. The solutions mentioned below will also solve and bypass blackouts.
This may not be such a huge deal if you’re at home and have access to the local TV channel that broadcasts the game. However, if you are traveling or you’re not subscribed to the said TV channel, you will be losing the opportunity of seeing your favorite team playing live. And this is very frustrating for many fans out there, especially with playoff elimination rounds.
In order to watch any NHL game from anywhere in the world online, you can apply one of the two solutions described below to unblock NHL.TV blackouts. However, before you can even think about these solution, you must have an NHL.TV account first. If you don’t have one, you can subscribe now.
Bypass and Unlock NHL.TV GameCenter Blackouts
First Method: NHL GameCenter VPN
If you care about a secure internet connection, or wanted to improve your online privacy, then you may already know what a VPN is. Put in short terms, the VPN is a Virtual Private Network that reroutes all your traffic through its servers and keeps your traffic data secure by encrypting it. This also gives you the advantage of accessing online content that is blocked based on geographical position (sports games, for instance). You can do this, because you can connect from a list of servers in various cities across countries all around the world, and by doing so, it makes your internet appear as if you are located in that exact city.
Using a VPN can also be used as a solution to signing up for NHL.TV if the service is not available in your country. The same goes for Canadian Rogers subscribers, whom are stuck with a limited Rogers NHL streaming app. But by using a VPN or SmartDNS, you can unlock the full service, and stream any game by changing your location.
Unblocking NHL.TV blackouts is a simple as that, but you must select a good VPN service that has servers located in key cities and countries for the game broadcastings. Below I selected a few of the top providers that have the most countries and cities, especially in Mexico, US, and Canada specifically for hockey, but also plenty worldwide to unlock other sports streams. Speed is also important, as slow VPN servers will greatly reduce your bandwidth. You must pay for the service, through monthly or yearly subscriptions, just like GameCenter, but it is well worth the few dollars they cost, as low as $3 to $5 per month. I suggest to try 1 month and see how you like it first.
Here are the steps to take to unblock and bypass NHL Blackouts using a VPN:
- Signup for a VPN service of your choice
- Signup for NHL.TV (previously GameCenter) if you don’t already have an account
- Connect to a country where the game is not broadcasted at all, such as Mexico, or Brazil.
Alternatively: Connect to a server located in the city the game is being played (or near), and you should be able to access online streams offered by that TV station, if any.
- Login to the NHL.TV streaming service, and the blackout should be no more
Example Below: ExpressVPN server locations map on iPad:
ExpressVPN is a fine choice for unblocking NHL Blackout games with a large coverage of U.S. cities and key servers in Toronto, and Montreal, Canada, as well as fast servers in Mexico and Brazil, allowing you to stream any game, no matter the blackout. They have apps and support for all platforms from Android, iPhone, to Apple, PC, and Linux computers, including SmartDNS service for your gaming consoles or Apple TV. This allows you to stream from your Playstation, Xbox, or Apple TV box without using the VPN.
Below are some alternative choices of services with lots of servers, global coverage, and good speeds at competitive prices.
Second Method: SmartDNS Proxy
Another way to get around NHL GameCenter blackouts is a Smart DNS solution. Changing your DNS with proxy servers does not encrypt your data, or add privacy, but the advantage is that it won’t have any noticeable effect over your internet speed. You also don’t have to worry about device compatibility as the best solutions will be supported on a wide range of modern devices such as gaming consoles. However, not all Smart DNS providers offer stream and web content unblocking, so it is important to choose the right service. Additionally, because DNS and proxies can easily be detected, some ISPs re-route all DNS traffic back to local traffic, something known as DNS hijacking.
Before selecting a Smart DNS provider, you must consider the following:
- The solution supports unblocking services
- It is easy to setup and use
- Ensuring your ISP doesn’t hijack DNS, if this happens, use a VPN instead.
The process is more or less the same, but setup can be different from one provider to another. Manual setup is sometimes required, but the tutorials available on the service website are usually very simple and only require a few steps in order to change your DNS addresses. Some service advancements have made SmartDNS services better at streaming and unblocking online content.
For unblocking NHL.TV games we recommend a few providers below who do a great job of making the experience as pleasant and easy as possible by providing special web browsers and links to various broadcasts, allowing you to quickly unlock various geographical streams, without having to constantly change servers.
Which solution is best?
- A VPN solution will offer extra online security but will slow you down
- A SmartDNS is fast, but not always effective
- VPNs can only be installed on mobile, computers, and routers
- SmartDNS can be installed on virtually any connected device
Speaking of devices, the ones that provide an NHL.TV (GameCenter) app are: Apple products (Apple TV and devices running iOS), Android devices, Roku, and Xbox 360.
I prefer using a VPN, but when opting for a SmartDNS, it is pleasant to use something like Overplay’s browser if you are going to stream many different country specific sources. Since you don’t have to manually change servers, the browser re-routes the DNS traffic for that specific location for you. It’s really a question of personal choice, since more DNS proxy services now cost nearly or as much as VPN services do. Now, hoping that we managed to help you improve the NHL experience, we want to hear from you in comments. Which of these solutions did you use?