Viewing the NHL in the UK 2013/14 UPDATED 26/10/13

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.
Premier Sports Stream

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 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!


31 thoughts on “Viewing the NHL in the UK 2013/14 UPDATED 26/10/13

  1. Great article, I subscribe to GCL also, but I view it through Apple TV . The NHL app is actually inbuilt if you change over to America settings. The picture quality is great, especially on my HDTV

    1. Hello Peter, from what I understand no. Despite an initial campaign by NHL fans to get PS on Virgin it has never looked like being carried by that broadcaster. Have a feeling the problem is more PS than Virgin on this matter. I wish I had more positive news to give but unfortunately this is the predicament we are stuck with here.

  2. I subscribed to Premier Sport for NHL in their first season, but it was awful in SD and so I did not renew. In a way I am glad that PS does not broadcast on Virgin because that increases the pressure on NHL to choose a first rank broadcaster next time. With luck the numpties in NHL who negotiated the last UK deal will have been sacked by the time the renewal comes up, and the new deal can take into account the current UK TV market and be more helpful to the mere fan.

  3. P.S. I hope the NHL appreciates how much egg it has on its face when AHL games are broadcast in HD (on ESPN, available on all the main platforms), whereas NHL games are only available in SD.

  4. Do you know if blackout’s still apply in the UK when using Game Centerlive?

    I did subscribe a couple of years back, coverage was excellent, streams where reliable and looked like they were in 720p. I could watch any game I wanted without an issue.

    Then in the 2nd season i watched, 80% of live games i wanted to watch were blacked out. Even if i tried to watch a game on Saturday night, there was always two or three games that were blackedout. It seemed that NHL were treating the europe as a whole and not per country. I got very frustraited and cancelled my subscription.

    I’d be interested in hearing how you get on now.

    1. Hello Neil,

      The blackouts still apply unfortunately. The quality of the coverage has however been excellent on GCL.
      I understand your frustration as it’s one I share myself. There are workarounds to eradicate the blackouts and I don’t think the blackout issue is going away any time soon.

    2. The blackout exists and please see the following from Premier Sports website:

      Q: What games will be blocked live on GameCenter online?

      A: 12-15 games we select to broadcast live each week, Most of the play-off games from rounds 1 and 2, all of the play-off games from round 3, the Stanley Cup Final matches, the Winter Classic and other outdoor games and the All-Star matches.

      What an absolute joke.. What is the point in subscribing to Gamecenter when the best games are unavailable. Nice Job NHL

  5. Must admit, since the addition of Premier Sports on Virgin Media I have caught a few games/highlights. Never really been interested in it but has caught my attention. However if it does indeed go behind a pay wall I sadly won’t be signing up to premier sports. Certainly not without a HD channel at least. Shows nothing else of interest. Can’t help but think a bigger channel could bring so much more attention. BT or Sky. But that’s the NHL’s loss, me a potential new fan.

  6. I subscribed to Game Center for the two previous years. The first without premier sports black outs was fantastic . Last year was awful!! If you follow a unpopular NHL team then game center is brilliant. Unfortunately I follow the Rangers who premier sport had knicked lots of the live games. I ended up paying for live hockey and hardly ever seeing my team live. As much as I love Hockey not paying for a second class service. Praying that Premier sports goes bust.
    Same as when sentanta bought NASN.

    1. I have just cancelled my NHL Gamecenter subscription. 75% of games I want to watch is blacked-out. Premier Sports coverage is garbage. I have lost interest in watching NHL hockey now. I am going to stick to watching NFL and NBA.

  7. Amazing how the best sport on the planet is not even known by so many people I rave on bout it where ever I go as all hockey mad fans do and people dont have a clue what im on about when mention nhl as they havent had chance to see it 4 themselves its a real shame we have to suffer football everywhere we go with no sign of ice hockey any where not cool nhl do something bout it if u care bout the sport being out done by the most boring sport in the UK

    1. I know what you mean. I’ve tried so hard to follow the NHL games here in uk. I’m from Sweden and lived in the UK for 5 years now. I’m surprised how things works here. It’s mostly football broadcasting on Tv, and I have actually tried to like it but it’s just too boring! How will people get a chance to understand and like other sports than football if there is nothing else to choose to watch on a sport channel eh? Well sometimes there is rugby and golf but mostly football. I think too, that ice hockey could be a bigger sport in UK. I cross all my fingers that another channel will start broadcasting so we can get the puck moving!

  8. I think its time that One of the big boys Sky or BT sport had a pure American sports channel showing NHL, NFL, NBA, MLB I’m sure this would generate a lot of interest….. Don’t overkill one sport just showing the best from each, I love American sports but subscribing to 3 different franchises to see all this is costing a packet… I would rather see one decent broadcast company take the monopoly.

  9. It’s a joke the way it’s all set up, completely wrong. The blackouts are a pain in the neck because I’d much rather view on GCL. It seems every time I watch my team (Blackhawks) play, premier Sport lose their signal, or the picture becomes scrambled and the title card comes up with a ridiculous excuse. The last game I watched – Hawks@Blues, I missed 2 goals because of 1. Picture was lost and 2. They were still on a commercial break. This wasn’t the first time it’s happened. Complete joke.
    NHL should open their eyes and realise the full potential for their brand of hockey in the UK. It could be huge here. Down with Premier Sports, there should be a UK/European version of the NHL Network for all us dedicated fans who deserve better than the tripe we are being served thus far.

  10. Have been in a running battle with premier for a bit now. I want to cancell my sky subscription as everything we want to watch is streamed. Premier will not stream any hockey hockey broadcasts (other than the live game) until they show the replay on the tv channel. Sometimes my Canucks are not shown for up to 28 hrs after the game is over. This is the only sports channel that does this. I find it insulting to have to pay 10p a minute to be put on hold before they even talk to me about any problems. The written answers I get have nothing to do with the questions asked and only show the front line people do not even watch what they are talking about. Hockey has been in my blood since I was a toddler growing up in Canada. Sadly the NHL really screwed fans living abroad with their greed by giving this contract to a company that just does not care.

  11. Update on my running battle with premier sports.
    I asked the same question to both premier sports and to premier tv which does the streaming. The question was why do I have to wait until the game is replayed on tv before I can stream it on my computer. Both responded blaming each other.
    The right hand does know what the left hand is doing. Today I am quitting my beloved Canucks. Hopefully premier will go bankrupt soon, (and they will with business practices like this) and wait until nhl gamecenter takes over again.

  12. I have noticed that I no longer receive Live NHL Games on Premier Sports. I currently can only watch delayed games. (Could be that my subscription has expired…Can’t recall when my renewal date is due). But shouldn’t the entire Premier Sports channel be unavailable to me if my subscription has expired?

      1. Live games returned after a few days.

        My subscription expired a few weeks later but I haven’t renewed with Premier Sports……a few weeks after that I got a letter from Setanta Sport telling me that they tried to take my renewal payment but it was rejected by my payment source!

        I only signed up with Premier Sport for a one year contract, it ran its course but Setanta tried to bill me.

        What’s going on?

        I’m not renewing and parting with good money (and I am missing the Playoffs) with either of these amateur outfits.

        1. I believe Setanta is linked with Premier Sports due to the owner of PS being a part owner in Setanta. If you were originally billed by PS and then Setanta tried to bill you, then that is a little weird I grant you.

  13. Good bye premier sports. No streaming Nucks game again. Only reruns of eastern based teams that are 2 weeks old.
    Are these people really that stupid to think a true hockey fan or any sports fan would put up with this garbage. Mmmmmm

  14. I subscribed to GCL last season and overall was satisfied with the cost and the quality – but not the blackouts =/ This season I’ve gone back to internet “freeview”…

  15. All you need to do to watch the black out games is use a VPN. The US Netflix DNS you can find if you google it will unlock American gamecenter on your Ipad, xbox etc. We have it in two rooms through 360s and 2 ipads and the family love it. What we need is access to the NHL Network through the subscription

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