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NHL Network is an American sports-oriented cable and satellite television network that is a joint venture between the National Hockey League (which owns a controlling 84.4% interest) and NBCUniversal (which owns the remaining 15.6%). Dedicated to ice hockey, the network features live game telecasts from the NHL and other professional and collegiate hockey leagues, as well as NHL-related content including analysis programs, specials and documentaries.
Launched on October 1, 2007, the NHL Network was developed out of a joint venture between the NHL and cable provider Comcast, as part of a broadcast rights agreement that resulted in the NBC Sports Network (then known as Outdoor Life Network) acquiring partial cable television rights to regular season, and Stanley Cup playoff and finals games from the National Hockey League. It became the third sports-oriented cable network devoted to programming from and controlled by one of the Major professional sports leagues in the United States and Canada, following the National Basketball Association-owned NBA TV (which launched in March 1999) and the National Football League-owned NFL Network (which launched in November 2003); Major League Baseball would launch its own sports channel, MLB Network, on January 1, 2009.
The NHL Network originally shared some programming with its now-defunct sister network in Canada, with the main differences in programming between the two networks being the carriage of domestically targeted commercials and live game telecasts. For those live NHL games aired throughout the season, they are primarily simulcasts of feeds from one of the team's regional rightsholders or Canadian rightsholder Sportsnet, including CBC-aired Hockey Night in Canada coverage on Saturday evenings. In 2021, the network introduced its first original broadcasts, the NHL Network Showcase, which is modeled after MLB Network's MLB Network Showcase, and air on weekend afternoons.
Die-hard sports fans are beholden to regional sports networks, or RSNs, that carry the majority of the games for their local team. These RSNs are usually included in local cable packages, so most cable subscribers never have to worry about gaining access to the broadcasts on these channels: They can simply turn on the TV and watch the game.
For those determined to watch their local hockey team without a cable or satellite TV subscription, a live TV streaming service is the best bet. While it is pricey, DirecTV Stream is the best option for most people, particularly those where the local games air on Bally Sports networks.
The NHL Network, run by the league, is still available as a stand-alone station. This season the network will air 90 games that will be considered national for those out-of-market. This means that you will still be able to watch your local team play on your RSN, but viewers around the country will need the NHL Network in order to watch the game as it will be blacked out on ESPN Plus. Fans might be able to save some money if they're willing to miss out on the handful of games on the NHL Network.
Many cable and streaming services group NHL Network into a multinetwork sports bundle. For example, Sling's Sports Extra bundle costs $11 per month on top of a Sling Orange package and includes the NHL Network along with 13 other sports channels like NFL RedZone.
Hulu Plus Live TV costs $70 a month and carries four RSNs for hockey along with ESPN, ABC, TBS and TNT, but not NHL Network. The service now also includes the Disney Bundle, which comes with ESPN Plus and Disney Plus. Click the "View all channels in your area" link at the bottom of its welcome page to see which local networks and RSNs are available where you live.
FuboTV costs $70 per month and offers 12 RSNs for hockey. It also includes ESPN, but not TBS -- which might be a problem for some hockey fans. But you can add the NHL Network for an extra $8 a month with the Fubo Extra Package or pay for the $80-a-month Elite streaming tier