How to avoid NHL Blackouts the easy way

David

David

When he isn't helping you watch TV abroad, David enjoys watching comedy and documentaries. He's a big fan of The Detectorists and Blue Planet. He also loves watching English football, for his sins he supports Arsenal.

The NHL is one of the four major North American sports leagues. Its enormous popularity in Canada makes it arguably the one with the widest audiences, yet in recent years, trying to watch NHL games, even though the leagues own official online streaming service, has left viewers navigating a minefield of blackouts and getting increasingly frustrated.

As the NHL reaches the Stanley Cup playoffs, interest in hockey is about to peak. So, if you want to avoid the intense frustration that comes with finding the game you want to watch is blacked out, keep reading to learn about the easiest way to avoid NHL Blackouts with a VPN.

What are NHL Blackouts?

NHL Blackouts are the bane of many hockey fans lives. There is nothing more annoying than looking forward to a game, tuning in, and finding yourself met with a message saying, “This game is blacked out in your area” and facing a black screen for two hours.

NHL Blackouts are one of those broadcasting innovations which are well-intentioned, but ultimately completely counter-productive. The idea is to try and boost the teams regional market, as well as protect regional broadcasters, by restricting access to some games.

Every team in the NHL has a number of games which are allocated as ‘regional games’ with the rest being ‘national games’. Those with a regional allocation can only be watched within that teams specific broadcast region.

But the system is far from perfect. Firstly, it assumes that everyone in a particular region follows the local NHL team. But both the USA and Canada are very transient nations and fans of all teams live across the country.

It is also very rigid. For example, NHL viewers in some parts of New York state fall within the Buffalo Sabers region and therefore cannot watch New York Rangers regional games despite them being the state team.

The result is a messy and confused system that leaves many fans missing out on games and becoming alienated from the NHL and ice hockey more generally. Others seek ways around the blackouts, and that is what this article is all about.

How to avoid NHL Blackouts

NHL Blackouts are a form of geo-blocking, a technique commonly used by broadcasters to try and stop people streaming content in countries where they do not hold the rights to show it.

Geo-blocking works by looking at a user’s IP Address to determine where they are located and then deciding whether or not to permit them to stream. Fortunately, it is easy to spoof your geo-location and get around this if you use a VPN.

VPNs work by redirecting all of your internet data through an external server and as it passes through, it is tagged by the IP Address of that server. So, if an NHL game you want to watch is blacked out in your region, all you have to do is connect to a server located elsewhere, and it should become available.

There are a lot of VPNs available on the market, but based on our extensive testing, our recommended providers for avoiding NHL Blackouts are:

  1. ExpressVPN
  2. IPVanish
  3. NordVPN

There are a number of different ways to get around NHL Blackouts and watch your favourite team games.

The official NHL Broadcaster in the USA is NBC Sports. They don’t show every game, but those that are screened can be accessed for free at NBCSports. You will need to use a valid US Zip Code to register (eg; 90210), but the service is available for free.

To use a VPN to get around NHL Blackouts using NBC Sports, you just need to follow these few simple steps.

  1. Sign up for your chosen VPN, for example ExpressVPN by clicking here.
  2. Grab their app and connect to a US-based server.
  3. Visit www.nbcsports.com/live and either set up or log into your account.
  4. Watch the match!
ExpressVPN desktop app showing United States

Avoid blackouts using ExpressVPN.

If you want to watch every game, no matter what, then your one-stop-shop for all the NHL action is NHL.tv. This is a subscription service which shows every game online but is also affected by NHL Blackouts, to the annoyance of subscribers.

But you can use a VPN to get around blackouts on NHL.tv in a similar way. Just follow these simple steps:

  1. Sign up for your chosen VPN, for example ExpressVPN by clicking here.
  2. Grab their app and connect to a server in any location where games are not being broadcast on TV.
  3. Visit www.NHL.tv and either subscribe or log into your account.
  4. Watch the match!

What about my Smart TV?

If you want to watch NHL on your Smart TV, then you have a few choices. All of our recommended VPNs offer Android apps which will work on many Smart TV models.

If you have one of these TVs, simple download your chosen VPN app and either the NBC Sports or NHL.tv app, and follow the same steps as outlined above.

If you have a Smart TV which isn’t able to support a VPN app, then you will need to use a hardware router.

There are a number of Wi-Fi routers on the market which can have VPN software installed onto them directly. These have many benefits including offering protection to any device which uses the Wi-Fi signal.

Our recommended VPN router to avoid the NHL Blackout is the Invizbox 2 router.

Thankfully using the InvizBox 2 router is really simple. It is all set up for you with VPN software already installed. All you need to do is plug it in and choose a US location other than your own. Then download either the NBC Sports or NHL.tv app onto your TV and you should be able to watch every game.

Recap: How to avoid NHL Blackouts

NHL Blackouts are hugely annoying for fans of hockey, but there is a simple way to get around them. Just sign up for a VPN and you can watch any NHL game on either NBC Sports or the NHL.tv online streaming service, no matter where you are.

In this article, we have outlined exactly how to do this, and our step-by-step guides should work on any device. We have also recommended the top 3 VPN providers to use to avoid NHL blackouts.

With the Playoffs about to start, there has never been a better time to get rid of those annoying blackout messages. And all you need to do it is a VPN.

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