Viewing the NHL in the UK 2013/14
I’ve written a lot, probably far too much, about the poor job the NHL has done regarding viewing rights for those outside North America.
Mainly focusing my efforts on Europe and specifically the UK, my articles regarding where to view the top tier of Ice Hockey are receiving hits on a daily basis.
So heading into the 2013/14 season I thought I’d write an article drilling straight through to the facts and figures as regards coverage.
There is one channel available in the UK that has the rights to show NHL, namely Premier Sports.
The first problem with this channel is it’s only available if you subscribe to Sky. Virgin seem beyond reluctant to include the channel in it’s packages and highly doubtful that BT Sport would want to get involved.
*****UPDATE: As of Saturday 26th this has changed as Premier Sports is now on Virgin and available on all packages. Apparently this was due to pressure from Rugby League fans and the fact that Premier have the Rugby World Cup which starts today. There will be no extra cost to current subscribers for this season but no official word on what may happen in the future, though according to some tweets from Virgin Media it may be £7.99 per month from January. Obviously the same problem’s with HD etc. that I’ve named below in this article with the channel will still exist******
So not including the cost of subscribing to Sky, it’s £9.99 a month for Premier along with a nominal connection fee that I believe is £5.
The channel is only available on SD, not HD despite saying it’s something they would “look into” when asked.
They also launched the “Premier Player” last year which is a online simulcast of the TV channel.
On it’s own it cost the same as subscribing to the TV channel or comes free as part of the TV package.
Premier broadcast around 15 NHL games per week. No rhyme or reason to who they broadcast and not all games are shown live. At an estimate I’d guess 2-3 per week are delayed broadcasts. A lot of teams are shown regularly whilst others barely get a showing. Well worth considering if you’re a fan of a less popular team like say Florida or Phoenix.
Coverage does not include Hockey Night in Canada or any intermissions. Both are cost issues, despite what you might read. They do however broadcast “NHL tonight” every day, at least twice.
I’ve always tried to give Premier Sports a fair crack of the whip despite many early problems and issues with their coverage. The main issue for those who subscribe is the quality of the stream provided.
At times it’s been worse than some streams (not paid for) online. Premier have come up with some excuses which at times are ludicrous, but hilarious.
The customer service in my experience has been awful and they never respond directly to tweets or FB comments unless it’s praise from subscribers. The call centre is somewhere in the Far East from what I can make out, and some staff have trouble understanding English let alone addressing issues you have.
I urge you to tread lightly with Premier Sports if you decide to subscribe for NHL coverage. As much as many of us want them to succeed, the capacity to shoot themselves in the foot has been endless thus far.
The second option you have is subscribing to the online package provided by the NHL, which is “Game Centre Live.”
Available this year for $99.95 which works out around £64 depending on the exchange rate, it’s more than decent value for the whole season.
Goes without saying you need a decent broadband connection but it doesn’t mean you need Virgin’s 10mgb. Personally my speed averages around 3.5mgb and rarely have I had issues with GCL.
The quality more than compares with Premier Sport and if you have the compatible connection leads or view through a gaming machine you can watch on your television.
Now here comes the complicated part. Premier Sports is said to have exclusivity on the games they broadcast, so they are not shown on GCL. You cannot blame them for this, any company worth it’s salt would do the same. At times last season this wasn’t always the case though with GCL showing games live that were being broadcast on Premier Sports.
There are means and way around this that I won’t list here but I’m sure you can guess at.
Apart from the blacked out games, all other’s are available and you can choose to watch live or at a convenient time for you. There is even a multi-game option but I digress.
This link https://gamecenter.nhl.com/nhlgc/secure/gclsignup?intcmpid=gcl-gccompare will take you to the GCL page where there is more information including on more ways to watch and the plethora of options open to you as a subscriber.
I should mention that intermissions are rarely shown on GCL and neither is HNIC. The CBC website broadcasts HNIC, so is worth checking out should you wish to watch Ron, Don and The Hotstove.
I’ve been asked what I use to view the NHL games.
This season I intend to subscribe to NHL GCL as I believe it offers the best value for money and a better reliable stream.
Thank goodness hockey is coming back soon!