Is there anything more exciting than watching your favorite player make a breakaway play in the middle of an overtime period? Or cheering on your team as they take advantage of a power play? If there is, we haven’t found it.
If the Show is your life, you need a TV provider that can deliver the max NHL coverage without kicking you in the chiclets with high price tags. Here are the top TV options that really light the lamp.
Best ways to watch the NHL in 2018
America's Top 200
#1 NHL.TV: Made specifically for hockey fans
What we like: Cheapest way to watch every hockey game
Drawbacks: Large up-front purchase
Who it’s perfect for: Fans who want as much hockey as possible
NHL.TV is the Wayne Gretzky of hockey streaming. It wins our title of “The Great One” simply because it’s the cheapest and best way to watch the NHL.
The 2018–2019 All Access package costs $139.99 for the entire season or you can opt for installments of $24.99 per month. Over the course of the season, the All Access plan winds up being cheaper than the monthly installment option, but it’s all frontloaded so you have to pay it in one lump sum up front. Connor McDavid much?
If you root for a team outside your local area, you may prefer the Single Team Pass. It costs $109.99 for the season and gets you every game from your designated team. Tough luck if you live in the same area as your team, though, because the Single Team Pass is meant for out-of-market fans only, so your team will be blocked out.
But our favorite part about NHL.TV is the features. You can use the Mosaic® View to watch up to four games at once (perfect since we all know how many hockey games go on in a season), access extra camera angles for each game, and even choose between the home team or away team commentary.
Basically, it’s heaven for hardcore hockey fans.
A word of warning
#2 DISH: A reliable way to cheer on your home team
America's Top 200
What we like: No glitching or buffering plus all the channels NHL fans need
Drawbacks: Two-year contract and higher prices
Who it’s perfect for: Hockey fans who aren’t ready to cut the cord
DISH has two big selling points for NHL fans: it’s reliable and it offers all the channels you need to catch every game.
Having a dependable TV provider means you don’t have to deal with glitching, long load times, or fuzzy picture. That’s kind of a big deal when watching hockey—the puck’s so small that without decent picture quality, you can hardly tell whether a goal is a five-hole or a bottle-knocker.
DISH’s America’s Top 200 package also includes everything you need to watch your local team: NBC Sports Network, NBC, the NHL Network, and all the regional sports networks for your area.
And if you’re looking for a service that can give you access to teams outside your area, DISH can help there, too. With the Multi-Sport Pack, you can access regional sports networks outside your area and watch all your favorite NHL teams. Easy peasy.
The downside? The America’s Top 200 plan costs $79.99 per month, so it’s pretty expensive (especially compared to streaming options). But if dependability is your number-one priority, the extra cost might be worth it. Plus, you don’t have to deal with price hikes midway through your two-year contract like you do with DIRECTV.
#3 ESPN+: The cheapest way to watch hockey
What we like: The $5 monthly price tag
Drawbacks: The fact you can’t get every game
Who it’s perfect for: Casual fans who don’t root for a specific team
ESPN+ is a new streaming service that gets you access to tons of exclusive sports content—including 40 NHL games per week.
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need another TV service to authenticate your ESPN+ account, either. Your $5 per month covers all the live and on-demand shows available to ESPN+ subscribers, even if you don’t have another cable, satellite, or streaming TV account.
There are a few tips you need to be aware of with ESPN+, though.
First, ESPN+ doesn’t have its own app—it’s all available through the regular ESPN app. Second, if you don’t authenticate your ESPN app with credentials from another TV service, you won’t get access to the regular live ESPN feed.
That’s not a big deal, since there aren’t any NHL games on ESPN this year. But if you’re hoping your ESPN+ account will get you everything ESPN has to offer, well . . . we don’t want you getting your hopes up.
You should also keep in mind that 40 NHL games per week is a lot, but it still doesn’t include every game. And unfortunately, you have no control over which games you get. That means you’ll get a hockey game almost every night, but you might get only one or two games from your favorite team during the regular season.
Long story short, if you’re a casual fan who’s more interested in watching the sport than watching a specific team, you’re probably best off with ESPN+. But if you want every game from your favorite team, you may be happier with NHL.TV.
The bottom line
If you’re looking to watch the 2018–2019 NHL season, you can’t go wrong with the All Access package or Single Team Pass from NHL.TV. DISH offers a reliable way to catch every game, but it costs more. ESPN+, on the other hand, is cheap, but you can’t control which games you get.
Did we miss anything? Come chirp at us on Twitter and let us know what you use to watch the NHL!