As a new season of the NHL is around the corner, it’s once again time to look at the options of how to view what I consider the best sport in the world.
It’s no secret that there are lots of ways to watch using unlicensed streams online but I’m going to focus on the two legal ways you can legally pay to watch the NHL in the UK
First up is the channel named “Premier Sports” which I’ll refer to as PS for the rest of this article.
PS show around 15 games per week, though it should be noted not all of these are live broadcasts, with some delayed by a few hours, others until the following day.
They also broadcast “NHL Tonight” every day and I assume that will be the case again this season.
There are no hard and fast rules as to which games they show every week or any way of knowing which teams will be featured. You take that risk that you may only see your team’s games a handful or less times a month. PS have no control over which feed of the selected game will be shown either.
In the past PS have broadcast the iconic Hockey Night in Canada but for at least the duration of the rest of this television deal, they will not show HNIC for the following reasons which they have listed on their website:
“There are 2 reasons. The first being we do not want to be tied into showing Canadian teams during primetime Saturday games.
The second reason is we no longer have the shared fibre access across the Atlantic with Rogers Sportsnet. This means we would have to bring in 7 hours of programming every weekend ourselves using satellites at a cost of around £250,000 per season. This would also not include rights for the programming from CBC. Again this makes HNIC totally unfeasible this year vs. the number of subscribers actually willing to pay for that extra content.”
Intermission coverage is down to the host broadcasters allowing them to be viewed overseas and are not down to PS, as they themselves refuse to pay the extra to show these which when you consider the “alleged costs” of doing so is unfeasible in monetary terms.
PS currently does not broadcast in HD, despite assurances from them in the past that “this was something they were considering.”
There are however more ways to watch the channel than before with it now available on SKY and Virgin, alongside their own online service.
The channel costs £11.99 per month with a 2 months minimum contract. A £5 connection fee also applies.
Alternatively, you can opt for a 12 month season ticket priced at £95, saving you over £53 annually.
Free access to the online Premier Player and 7 day Catch-Up service also form part of your subscription.
Please note that all subscriptions are ongoing unless you decide to cancel by calling us 30 days before next payment is due.
Ways of subscribing:
The easiest and quickest way to subscribe is on our secure website where you can pay by credit card or set up a direct debit.
The channel will normally turn on in less than 5 minutes after you complete the transaction. You can also call 0871 663 9000 and speak with an operator to order Premier Sports. Occasionally the signal will need resent so please bear this in mind and try to subscribe early if there is a specific event you wish to view. Please note you can only set-up Multiroom by calling the number above.
VIRGIN MEDIA Customers
Premier Sports is sold directly by Virgin Media. Customer can sign up via the following options.
Call: 0845 840 7777 or 150 for free from a Virgin home phone.
Tivo Customers: TiVo – press home on the remote, then select Apps & Games > All Apps & Games then TV Channel Upgrades – Liberate – Home > Interactive > TV Channel Upgrades
Sign up Online: http://store.virginmedia.com/digital-tv/channels/sports.html
Virgin also operate streaming on behalf of Premier Sports via their Virgin Anywhere service.
PREMIER PLAYER Online Customers
Please visit http://www.premierplayer.tv for more information on pricing and service requirements. If you are a SKY Premier Sports Customer you can access the Premier Player for free which also includes a 7 day catch-up service.
All game broadcast live (and at times delayed) on PS, are blocked from being shown LIVE on the NHL online service “Game Centre Live”, as this is the only way for PS to protect the investment they have made in broadcasting NHL games via their channel. This included playoff games, the Winter Classic, All-Star Games, any other classic games and the Stanley Cup Final.
A totally understandable protection for them to have, if not frustrating for those who only wish to pay for an online service
It would be impertinent of me not to mention that PS don’t just broadcast NHL hockey but also EIHL, CHS and GB Men’s games in IIHF World Championships.
It has to be said that PS coverage of NHL has been far from perfect. I’ve heard so many stories of subscription issues and terrible customer service, of which I’ve endured the latter.
Many times the feeds are of poor quality or cut out totally, with them blaming everything from the weather to the NHL, but never taking responsibility themselves, an issue I’ve had with the company from day one.
Undoubtedly there is nothing like watching a game on your TV set but those issues and the cost have to be balanced out against that.
The other option available is to subscribe to NHL’s Game Centre Live online service which I’ll refer to as GCL for the remainder of the article.
GCL is a online subscription service offering streaming video of live out-of-market games for a single one off price of $99.95 or five payments of $19.99 (all prices US dollars).
Payment made online can be made by Credit Card or Paypal.
I have also been informed that NHL 15 will have a promo code for a discount on GCL but I’m unable to confirm this so please don’t take as gospel.
You can watch games on your personal computer, on smartphones and on a variety of Internet-connected devices.
The devices I know of are as follows:
Sony TVs, Blu-Ray and Home Theater Devices with Bravia Internet Video
Download the free NHL® app from Google Play (Android phones and tablets) or the App Store (iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad), and then sign in with your NHL GameCenter LIVE™ username and password to access live games and replays. You may sign in from the “Settings” section of the app or when prompted.
You may use your NHL GameCenter LIVE™ subscription to watch games through several gaming consoles and Internet-connected devices compatible with your television.
Subscribers who have an Apple TV, Roku, Sony PlayStation®3, Sony PlayStation®4, Sony PlayStation®Vita, or Xbox 360 may use the NHL® application on these devices to sign in and watch live games with a valid subscription. Select Sony TV, Blu-Rays and Home Theater devices enabled with Bravia Internet Video also offer live games through the NHL® app.
NHL GameCenter LIVE™ subscribers may sign in to watch live games and replays through the NHL® app on Android tablets and iPads.
Simply download the free NHL® app from Google Play (Android) or the App Store(iPad). You can visit the “Settings” section of the app to sign in with your existing NHL GameCenter LIVE™ username and password to access live games and replays.
Non-subscribers may also upgrade to an NHL GameCenter LIVE™ subscription through the NHL® app on iPad and Android tablets. If you make a purchase directly through the apps (on iPad, it will be using your iTunes account), you will have access to live games on your tablet alone, unless you complete the process of creating a username and password that will enable you to sign in online and on other supported devices.
Note: Any purchase of NHL GameCenter LIVE™ made using an iTunes account on iPad or Apple TV is subject to Apple’s refund policy. Any purchase of NHL GameCenter LIVE™ made using Google Play on an Android Tablet is subject to Google’s refund policy.
watch on Mobile devices
watch on other devices
I’ve often been asked about the complexities about this. Below is the NHL’s official explanation.
“By purchasing an annual subscription to NHL GameCenter LIVE™, you accept the Terms and Conditions allowing your subscription to be automatically renewed the following season and each subsequent season.
You will be notified of an upcoming renewal charge by email at the address you provided during sign up. We will advise you of any price changes at this time as well as any other material changes to the subscription terms. You will have an opportunity to cancel your subscription if you do not want it renewed for the following season. Please be advised that if you do not affirmatively cancel your subscription by the date provided in our email notice then it will be automatically renewed and the credit card on file will be charged based on the subscription price indicated in the email notification. “
By subscribing to NHL GameCenter LIVE™, you also get access to the NHL Vault™ service. NHL Vault™ brings you over 800 classic NHL games dating back to the 1960s, and is included in your NHL GameCenter LIVE™ subscription for free.
Access to NHL Vault™ is also available separately for $4.95 a month. For more information, visit the NHL Vault FAQ or purchase at nhl.com/vault
Current NHL Vault™ or NHL GameCenter LIVE™ subscribers may watch classic games by selecting the “NHL Vault” link at the top of the NHL GameCenter LIVE™ video player or by signing in to watch classic games through the NHL Vault™ sign in page located here. Many of the supported Internet-connected devices also offer classic games through their NHL® app.
Contacting NHL GCL Support
For those outside of the US the telephone number is +1-407-708-1356, between the hours of 9am to 2am ET.
You can also submit your question online by visiting the online Customer Support Page or by using the Live Chat feature. This is available at the GCL signup page which I will put a link to later in the article.
On GCL you have the ability to watch live games, replay at your convenience which can either be the full game or a condensed version.
Home or Away broadcasts or available for the majority of games, alternate camera angles, multi-game views, live rewind, restart or pause a game and slow motion.
You also have the ability to watch “classic games” via the GCL Vault which was explained earlier.
It should be noted that there is no HNIC full coverage but the games are shown and intermissions are again at broadcasters discretion. I’ve seen games where intermission coverage is provided on the away feed but not the home. It’s varied and if you get the intermission coverage it’s accepted as a bonus.
Games that are broadcast by PS are blacked out as I’ve explained earlier.
These are generally available to view 24 hours after they have finished on GCL.
Let’s not beat around the bush though, as we know there are means and ways around this issue that I won’t post here. I would say however, that bragging about it to the NHL or on the Facebook page of PS, is not particularly brave or clever. The NHL does have the power to revoke your subscription should you violate the terms of the contract you sign in buying GCL, which although they are highly unlikely to do, why give them any cause to do so or upset PS viewers in the process?
We almost had no TV deal in place for the UK, so for some to upset the company providing that coverage with stupid bravado, is idiocy and not forward thinking. If PS decide to pull the plug after this deal is done, who if anyone would come forward if the USP of broadcasting NHL games is shown to be worthless?
Personally I love the NHL GCL package and I think it offers incredibly value for money as you’re able to watch whatever games you wish to, at your convenience, bar the blackouts.
Approximately a little under £70 for every game of the NHL is unbeatable, less than £1 per game for just the team you support.
Goes without saying you need a computer/device in good working order and a reliable broadband service but in my experience, GCL has proved superior to PS in terms of reliability of service.
The GCL signup link is below and at the foot of the page is an FAQ section which is very expansive as well as the option of contacting them about any queries you may have.
NHL GCL signup page:
However you spend your money this season, I hope you enjoy the 2014/15 NHL season and the thrills and spills our great game has to offer.