The new NHL season is about to begin, however, the blackout rules are also about to ruin the experience for those watching NHL on ESPN+ and NHL.tv. And if you’re looking for credible ways to bypass NHL blackouts, you’ve come to the right place.
Blackouts happen in all markets that have an NHL team. Say, you’re in Toronto and want to watch Toronto Leafs vs Chicago Blackhawks. The game will be blacked out for you because a home team is playing.
To bypass the blackout, all you need to do is somehow end up in New York (or any other state) where the game is available. But you can’t just get up and fly there, can you? Luckily, a VPN can help by changing your virtual location to New York and allowing you to watch blacked-out NHL games easily.
So in this article, we explain in detail how to bypass NHL blackouts, what are the best VPNs for that, and what to do if something’s not working. Let’s dive right into it.
How to watch blackout NHL games on ESPN and NHL.tv
- Register with a VPN and download the app. We recommend NordVPN, now 68% off!
- Install the app and launch it.
- Connect to a VPN server in a different state than you currently are.
- Clear browser cache.
- Head to ESPN+ or NHL.tv and start watching!
What are NHL TV blackouts & why do they happen?
NHL TV blackouts are geo-restrictions that cause certain games to be blocked in certain regions. The blackouts happen because each NHL team has a number of regional games that get sold to regional broadcasters. These NHL blackout rules mean that only regional broadcasters have the right to show a specific game. So the game will be blocked on ESPN+ for people living in a particular region with which the team is associated.
For example, if you live in California and got an ESPN+ account while being there, you won’t be able to see the games of the Los Angeles Kings. However, outside of California, the games are still available on ESPN+.
There is even a tool for seeing which teams’ games will be blacked out in a specific area. You just need to enter your zip code:
However, differently from ESPN+, NHL.tv isn’t available in the US or Canada at all. Only viewers from other parts of the world can access it to watch NHL. But if you’re based in Canada or the US and still want to watch the games on NHL.tv, you can use a VPN to connect to any other country in the world and change your IP address. Though don’t forget to use a foreign zip code when registering your account.
To see if you can use NHL.tv for streaming NHL, take a look at the list of countries in which NHL.tv is available.
Best VPNs to bypass NHL blackouts
- NordVPN – overall best VPN to bypass NHL blackouts on ESPN+
- Surfshark – fastest VPN for watching NHL on ESPN+ and NHL.tv
- IPVanish – secure and easy-to-use VPN for NHL blackouts
To bypass NHL blackouts, you’ll need a quality VPN. But how do you know which one is the best?
We compiled a short list of the best VPNs for watching blacked-out NHL games – so you don’t have to search for them yourself. Take a look, choose the one you like best, and get to watching NHL in no time.
1. NordVPN – the best VPN for bypassing NHL blackouts
|Servers/countries:||5500 servers in 59 countries|
|Current deal:||🔥Get NordVPN with 68% OFF + 3 months FREE🔥|
A favorite among many, NordVPN is an excellent choice for bypassing NHL blackouts on ESPN+ and connecting you to countries that NHL.tv is available in. During our testing, everything worked like a charm.
Out of 5500 server locations, NordVPN has servers in 15 locations in various cities across the US, as well as 3 server locations in Canada. You will definitely find an area that is suitable for bypassing NHL blackouts on ESPN+. And if your preferred platform is NHL.tv, then NordVPN also has servers across the whole world, including the countries where NHL.tv is available.
NordVPN also has excellent speeds for streaming. In fact, it is generally regarded as one of the best streaming VPNs overall. It unblocks virtually any streaming platform and has dedicated apps for numerous smart TVs and streaming boxes. That way, you'll be able to watch NHL on any device you want.
The pricing of NordVPN starts exceptionally low – just at $2.99/month. There is also a 7-day free trial and a 30-day money-back guarantee.
To learn more, check out our NordVPN review.
- Server locations in the US
- SmartPlay feature for streaming
- 7-day free trial
- 30-day money-back guarantee
- Excellent connection speed
- No router applet
2. Surfshark – fastest VPN for watching NHL everywhere
|Based in:||The Netherlands|
|Servers/countries:||3200 servers in 100 countries|
|Current deal:||🔥Get 84% OFF Surfshark + 2 months FREE🔥|
One of the fastest VPNs in the industry and a favorite among experienced and new VPN users alike, Surfshark is one of the greater options for getting around NHL blackouts on ESPN+ or NHL.tv wherever you are.
Surfshark has over 600 servers in 25 cities in the US, and servers in three Canadian cities – you can easily choose the best location for bypassing blackouts in your region.
Surfshark also has an excellent WireGuard protocol implementation, which makes the connection speed extremely fast. When we tested this VPN, we didn’t experience any buffering, lost connection, or low video quality whatsoever.
Surfshark’s pricing starts at $2.05/month, with a 30-day money-back guarantee. You can also easily make use of its 7-day free trial.
If you wish to know more, reading our Surfshark review would be a good point to start.
- Unblocks most streaming platforms
- 7-day free trial
- 30-day money-back guarantee
- Excellent speed with WireGuard
- Advanced security features
- No split tunneling on iOS
3. IPVanish – VPN for NHL with unlimited connections
|Based in:||United States|
|Servers/countries:||2000 servers in 50 countries|
|Current deal:||🔥Get 66% OFF IPVanish!🔥|
With 17 different server locations in the US, IPVanish proves to be a worthy VPN for bypassing NHL blackouts. Excellent security and above-average connection speeds also make it an attractive option.
During our testing, IPVanish worked perfectly and successfully allowed us to bypass NHL blackouts no matter which location we connected to. Another really nice thing about this VPN is that it offers unlimited simultaneous connections, which means that you can watch your NHL games on as many devices as your NHL.tv or ESPN+ subscription allows.
IPVanish has a 7-day free trial and a 30-day money-back guarantee. The prices start at $3.99/month.
For more details, take a look at our IPVanish review.
- Unlimited simultaneous connections
- 7-day free trial
- 17 US server locations
- 30-day money-back guarantee
- Above-average connection speed
- Price increases after a year
How to bypass NHL blackouts on desktop
If your go-to device for watching NHL is a Mac or runs Windows or even Linux, we got you. Here’s a comprehensive step-by-step guide on how to bypass NHL blackouts on ESPN+ and NHL.tv on any desktop device:
- Download and install a VPN on your computer. We recommend NordVPN, now 68% off.
- Connect to your chosen server.
- Go to the NHL streaming platform, such as ESPN+, and register an account.
- In the registration form, enter a zipcode from the state or country your VPN is connected to.
- Kick back and enjoy your game.
How to bypass NHL blackouts on mobile
For those of you who want to watch NHL on your phone, here’s a simple guide on how to use a VPN to bypass NHL blackouts on iOS or Android mobile devices:
- Download and install an app from a reliable VPN provider. NordVPN does the job really well, and it’s now 68% off!
- Connect to a server of your choice.
- Go to your browser and open the NHL streaming website.
- Register an account and in the registration form enter the zipcode from the state or country where your VPN server is located.
- Sit back and watch the game.
When watching NHL on mobile, it’s important to use a streaming website and not an app because the app uses your GPS data to know your location, which the VPN can’t hide. If you turn the GPS off, the app won’t work.
VPN not working with NHL.tv or ESPN+?
Sometimes, a VPN can simply not work with ESPN+ or NHL.tv, and there could be several different reasons for that. For example, your VPN could be leaking your IP address, or simply not able to bypass geo-restrictions.
Luckily, there are some things you can try to fix the problem of a VPN not working with NHl.tv or ESPN+:
- Connect to a different server.
- Try a different VPN tunneling protocol.
- Check for IP and DNS leaks and turn on leak protection if your VPN has it.
- Change your zip code in the NHL.tv subscription form. It is best to use a European zip code.
- Before opening NHL.tv, clear your browser’s cache and cookies. NHL.tv might be able to access all of these files to determine your real location.
- Change your VPN provider if nothing works. It might be that your VPN is simply not able to bypass NHL.tv blackouts and geo-restrictions.
Can I use a free VPN to bypass NHL blackout restrictions?
Yes, you can try using a free VPN to bypass NHL blackouts, but we don’t recommend it. A free VPN not only carries certain privacy risks but also limitations:
- Data limits. Most free VPNs have limits on how much data you can use per month to stay connected to a VPN. In our experience, that data is not nearly enough to stream games that span several hours.
- Slow speeds. A VPN will generally slow down your internet speed a bit, but free VPNs tend to slow it down a lot, to the point where video and sound quality suffers, and buffering occurs. This is a deal-breaker if you want to watch your NHL games in high quality.
- Unable to bypass geo-restrictions. Free VPNs often don’t have the budget to spend on unblocking technology, so a free VPN might easily get detected by various streaming services.
- Not as secure as paid VPNs. Free VPNs tend to collect and sell user data to third parties to make a profit and keep their service free at the same time. If you truly value the privacy and security of your personal data, using a free VPN is a no-go.
However, if you still want to try using a VPN for free to bypass NHL blackouts, there are other options. For example, freemium VPNs such as Atlas VPN have free versions (with some limitations), and you can always upgrade to a paid version too.
And some premium paid VPNs also have free trials and 30-day money-back guarantees, so you can try the service for free without risking anything. In fact, you can easily claim your NordVPN free trial right now, and enjoy using one of the best VPNs for a little more than a month for free.
Where else you can watch NHL games?
There are plenty of streaming platforms dedicated to various sports events – including the NHL. To watch NHL online, you can try any of the following streaming services:
|Streaming service||Price per month|
|Star+ (Latin America)||$13.99|
|Premier Sports (UK)||$59.99|
|Sling TV (US)||$35|
|Fubo TV (US, Spain, Canada)||$64.99|
|YouTube TV (US)||$64.99|
|Hulu + Live TV (US)||$64.99|
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Are NHL Playoff games blacked out?
Yes, just like the regular games, blackout rules apply to NHL Playoff games as well. If you want to watch NHL Playoff without blackouts, we recommend using a VPN, such as NordVPN, to connect to a server outside of the US or Canada and get an NHL.tv subscription.
Why is the Wild game blacked out?
The Minnesota Wild game is blacked out for those who live in Minnesota and want to watch your local team play in their home area. The blackout policy serves to protect local broadcasters’ rights to stream the game, so regular streaming platforms will use your IP address to determine your location and block the game. To bypass these restrictions, you can use a VPN like NordVPN to connect to a server outside of Minnesota.
How can I watch out-of-market NHL games?
If you want to watch out-of-market NHL games in Canada, you need to subscribe to Sportsnet NOW Premium. If you want to watch them in the US, subscribe to ESPN+. And if you’re from any other country, you can check out this list of services that have out-of-market NHL games in their libraries. To gain access to the games outside of these countries, you should use a VPN service, such as NordVPN, to change your location.
Does ESPN+ blackout NHL games?
Yes, ESPN+ blacks out NHL games in regions where the games are being broadcast by local TV broadcasters. You can easily bypass these NHL blackouts by using a VPN and changing your IP address to be from some other region than you are based in. We recommend NordVPN for this.
Why is ESPN blacked out on Hulu?
Hulu + Live TV operates like a cable TV provider, and it can see your location. With this information, Hulu determines when it should blackout the games in which regions. If ESPN is blacked out on Hulu for you, it means that the game is being broadcast in your area on another channel.