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How to bypass NHL blackouts on ESPN+ and NHL.TV


The 2023-2024 NHL regular season ended on April 18, and the Stanley Cup playoffs began on April 20. However, due to the NHL blackouts, you may be missing some of the spiciest Western and Easter Conferences games. But, that’s where a VPN steps in.

To bypass ESPN+ NHL blackouts, you need to connect to a VPN server in a state outside the blackout area. Conversely, NHL.TV blackouts can be dealt with by connecting to a VPN server in a supported country outside the US and Canada.

We have thoroughly tested and selected the top 5 VPNs for bypassing NHL blackouts on ESPN+, Hulu, and NHL.TV; they have many servers across North America and retain excellent video quality. We will tell you how to use them to enjoy the NHL's playoffs without missing a game.

How to watch blackout NHL games?

how to bypass nhl blackouts
  1. Subscribe to a reputable NHL VPN, like NordVPN, now with a 72% discount
  2. Install the VPN app on your device
  3. Connect to a US server not affected by ESPN+ or NHL.tv blackouts
  4. Watch NHL games without any restrictions

Best 5 NHL VPNs to bypass blackouts

What are NHL blackouts & why do they happen?

NHL 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, even the Bruins or Buffalo Sabres games 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 have an ESPN+ account, you won’t be able to see the Los Angeles Kings games without a robust VPN. However, outside of California, the games are available on ESPN+ either way.

There is even a tool and an NHL blackout map for seeing which teams’ games will be blacked out in a specific area. You just need to enter your zip code:

nhl zip code tool

Best VPNs to watch NHL anywhere – detailed list

To bypass NHL blackouts, you’ll need a quality NHL VPN. You can recognize such a service by the following traits:

  • Hundreds of servers across the US
  • Modern tunneling protocols for speedy connections
  • Robust security features
  • Excellent device compatibility (PC, smartphones, routers, streaming devices)

We took these criteria into account when evaluating 42 VPN providers and picking the 5 best options for watching blacked-out NHL games. Take a look, choose the one you like best, and watch the NHL anywhere in no time.

1. NordVPN – the best VPN for bypassing NHL blackouts

NordVPN banner
Servers/countries:6400 servers in 111 countries
Works with:ESPN+, NHL.TV, Hulu, Sling TV, Fubo, and more
Price:From $3.39/month
Current deal:Get NordVPN, now up to 72% OFF + free travel data!

A favorite among many, NordVPN is an excellent choice for bypassing NHL blackouts on ESPN+ and connecting you to countries where NHL.TV is available. During our testing, everything worked like a charm.

Server fleet: Out of 111 server locations, NordVPN has servers in 16 locations across the US and 3 server locations in Canada. You will definitely find an area suitable for bypassing NHL blackouts on ESPN+. And if your preferred platform is NHL.TV, NordVPN also has servers worldwide, including the countries where NHL.TV is available.

Performance: NordVPN has excellent speeds for streaming. In fact, it is generally regarded as one of the best streaming VPNs overall. This VPN uses an in-house NordLynx protocol that retains around 90% of your initial speed.

Streaming: NordVPN unblocks virtually any streaming platform and has dedicated apps for numerous smart TVs and streaming boxes. That way, you can watch NHL on any device you want.

The pricing of NordVPN starts exceptionally low – just at $3.39/month. There is also a 7-day free trial and a 30-day money-back guarantee for risk-free testing.

To learn more, check out our NordVPN review.

2. Surfshark – VPN that bypasses NHL blackouts on unlimited devices

Surfshark banner
Servers/countries:3200 servers in 100 countries
Works with:ESPN+, NHL.TV, Hulu, Star+, YouTube TV, and more
Price:From $2.19/month
Current deal:Get 83% OFF Surfshark + 3 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 greatest options for getting around NHL blackouts on ESPN+ or NHL.TV wherever you are.

Server fleet: Surfshark has over 600 servers in 25 US cities and three Canadian cities You can easily choose the best location for bypassing blackouts in your region.

Performance: Surfshark has excellent WireGuard protocol implementation, which makes the connection speed extremely fast (retains 86% of initial speed on average). When we tested this VPN, we didn’t experience any buffering, lost connection, or low video quality.

Streaming: This VPN provider deals with streaming services’ geo-blocks splendidly. Surfshark unblocks multiple Netflix libraries, Amazon Prime Video, YouTube TV, and many more popular broadcasters. It also has the Smart DNS feature to help you stream NHL on non-VPN devices. And you can connect unlimited devices simultaneously, so your family members can enjoy their preferred content too.

Surfshark’s pricing starts at $2.19/month. Each plan includes a 30-day money-back guarantee if you’d like to test the service without commitment. You can also easily make use of its 7-day free trial.

If you wish to know more, reading our Surfshark review is a good place to start.

3. IPVanish – VPN for NHL with fast connections

IPVanish banner
Servers/countries:2400 servers in 55 countries
Works with:ESPN+, NHL.TV, Hulu, NHL Live, Premier Sports
Price:From $2.19/month
Current deal:Get 83% OFF IPVanish + 3 months FREE!

With 17 different server locations in the US, IPVanish proves to be a worthy VPN for bypassing NHL blackouts. Excellent security and lightning-fast connection speeds also make it an attractive option.

Server fleet: IPVanish offers a decent selection of 2400 servers in 55 countries, including 17 US server locations. With that in mind, you can rest assured that a well-performing server will always be available for your streams.

Performance: If you’re looking for a speedy VPN, IPVanish won’t disappoint you. It uses the market-leading WireGuard tunneling protocol. Thanks to it, the provider retains over 80% of your initial connection speed. Moreover, the connection remains stable, allowing you to enjoy all exciting NHL moments.

Streaming: IPVanish is a genuinely decent option for streaming. With fast speeds and strong unblocking capabilities, you can enjoy all big streaming services. Another nice thing about this VPN is that it offers unlimited simultaneous connections, which means 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 for testing the VPN without risks. The prices start at $2.19/month.

For more details, take a look at our IPVanish review.

4. ExpressVPN – premium VPN for bypassing NHL blackouts

ExpressVPN banner
Servers/countries:Servers in 105 countries
Works with:ESPN+, NHL.TV, Hulu, NHL Live, Premier Sports
Price:
From $6.67/month
Current deal:
Get ExpressVPN, now 49% OFF + 3 months FREE!

ExpressVPN is one of the top streaming VPNs on the market, meaning it deals with NHL blackouts in the blink of an eye. Our tests proved that once again, and it was flawless, with having to select from 16 US server locations.

Server fleet: Speaking of server locations, ExpressVPN has servers distributed in various US cities, like Los Angeles, Dallas, Atlanta, Seattle, and others. Overall, this VPN runs an undisclosed number of servers in 105 countries.

Performance: Eliminated blackouts are great, but the quality of the broadcast is not less important. Well, there should be no worries, as ExpressVPN uses its Lightway tunneling protocol, known for fast and stable speeds.

Streaming: Apart from NHL, ExpressVPN easily cracks other streaming services, too, including various Netflix catalogs, Hulu, HBO Max, and more. To make your streaming experience even better, you get the MediaStreamer feature that allows you to bypass NHL blackouts on non-VPN devices, too.

On the other hand, the pricing is questionable for some, as it starts from $6.67/month. Yet, a 30-day money-back guarantee allows you to use the VPN risk-free for a month.

Read more about the provider in our ExpressVPN review.

5. CyberGhost VPN – VPN for NHL with a massive server fleet

CyberGhost VPN banner
Servers/countries:11500+ servers in 100 countries
Works with:ESPN+, NHL.TV, Hulu, Premier Sports, YouTube TV, and more
Price:From $2.03/month
Current deal:
Get CyberGhost VPN, now 84% + 4 months FREE!

CyberGhost is a simple yet capable VPN to bypass NHL blackouts. It ensures incredible speeds, unbreakable protection, and excellent time while streaming online.

Server fleet: With 11 US server locations and over 11500 servers in 100 countries overall, NHL was an easy nut to crack for us during our in-house tests.

Performance: You will enjoy excellent connection speeds using the WireGuard tunnel known for stable, secure, and speedy connection. There were no noticeable speed drops during our tests, so you won’t miss essential match moments either.

Streaming: NHL blackouts weren’t the only ones we wanted to challenge. CyberGhost VPN could also easily bypass geo-blocks from broadcasters, such as Netflix, HBO Max, YouTube, and many other popular streaming services. What’s even better is that the provider has specialized servers for streaming, meaning it will be effortless for you to find a perfect server to enjoy the match.

Last but not least, this VPN is very cheap, as its pricing starts from as little as $2.03/month. Alternatively, you can use CyberGhost’s extended 45-day money-back guarantee to test it without worry!

Check our CyberGhost review to get to know it better.

How we ranked the best VPNs for NHL

A good VPN for bypassing NHL blackouts must fulfill a fair number of criteria to be viable. So, we had to conduct a thorough investigation to find the best providers for this task. Here’s a summary of our ranking and VPN testing process:

  1. Worldwide server fleet. The most vital component for any NHL VPN is having servers in the US and in other countries where NHL.TV is available. While an extensive server fleet is important, we prioritized providers that allow connecting to specific US cities, which makes bypassing state-level blackouts easier.
  2. Blackout curbing effectiveness. We tested how effectively these VPNs deal with NHL blackouts on a wide range of device and streaming service combinations.
  3. Ultra-fast speeds. You’ll need a swift VPN to enjoy a lag-free hockey streaming experience. We ensure the VPNs have what it takes by checking available tunneling protocols and manually testing their speeds across various regions.
  4. Device compatibility. A VPN is suitable for watching the NHL if it works with many home entertainment devices. And so we pick services that work with PCs, mobile phones, routers, smart TVs, gaming consoles, and more.
  5. Easy-to-use apps. Most sports fans aren’t necessarily tech-savvy, meaning they’ll benefit from beginner-friendly VPN software that’s easy to set up anywhere. Moreover, it should work well without requiring any additional configuration.
  6. Free trial options. Interested customers should be able to test potential NHL VPNs using free trials and risk-free money-back guarantees. Additionally, we paid no attention to free versions because those are usually incapable of getting around geographical restrictions.
  7. Affordable prices. A good-quality VPN for bypassing restrictions shouldn’t cost a fortune. Therefore, we ranked VPNs with excellent price-to-performance ratios higher on our list.
  8. Privacy policy. While confidentiality is irrelevant to dealing with NHL blackout restrictions, a worthwhile VPN should ensure customer privacy. That means not collecting any activity logs or sharing data with third parties.

We took all these things into consideration when compiling our lineup of the top 5 VPNs for curbing NHL blackouts. Ultimately, we decided NordVPN is the ultimate option for NHL fans, thanks to its market-leading speeds, around 2000 US servers, and reasonable prices.

What are Hulu blackout restrictions?

Hulu blackouts mean the streaming service restricts certain NHL matches if another network has exclusive rights to broadcast those matches in your area. This limitation applies even if you have the ESPN+ add-on.

If you find NHL on Hulu not working, changing your virtual location to where the game is broadcast is best. This way, you’ll avoid the blackout and be back in the game. To do this, go with a reliable VPN, such as NordVPN, known for its robust unblocking capabilities.

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 be 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 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
Bypass NHL blackouts on ESPN+ and NHL.tv with NordVPN
NordVPN offers the next-gen features to bypass NHL blackouts, such as NordLynx lightweight protocol for blazing fast speeds, a wide server fleet in the US alone, powerful streaming capabilities, strong AES-256 encryption, and more.
cybernews® score
4.9 /5

Can I watch the NHL for free?

Yes, there are a few ways to watch the NHL for free, but there are some considerations. Namely, you’ll need a VPN to change your IP address to access these services and their limited free offerings.

Firstly, CBC (Canadian Broadcast Corporation) allows streaming Hockey Night in Canada games for free on its CBC Gem app. As you can imagine, this service is only available in Canada, meaning you’ll need a Canadian IP address.

The second option is the Proseiben Ran.de German website, which broadcasts select NHL games. Once again, this option is only available in Germany.

The final option we can’t recommend is using unlicensed streams to watch the NHL. Such services are illegal and usually have numerous security issues, meaning you shouldn’t visit them without installing a reliable antivirus first. You should also enable a VPN to ensure your ISP can’t see your unsavory activities.

Where else can you watch NHL games?

Plenty of streaming platforms are dedicated to various sports events – including the NHL. Suitable options include NHL.TV, ESPN+, Hulu, Sling TV, Fubo, and more. Below is a summary of all the services you can use to watch NHL online:

Streaming servicePrice per month
ESPN+ (US)$9.99
NHL GameCenter$24
Star+ (Latin America)$12.99
NHL Live$24.99
Premier Sports (UK)£14.99
Sling TV (US)$40
Fubo TV (US, Spain, Canada)$74.99
AT&TV (US)$69.99
YouTube TV (US)$72.99
Hulu + Live TV (US)$69.99

All you need to know about the NHL

Indeed, the most important thing to know about the NHL is which and when the main championships are happening. Well, to help you stay on track with the schedule, we have listed the most crucial dates of the NHL 2023-2024:

EventDate
Regular Season beginsOctober 10, 2023
NHL Thanksgiving ShowdownNovember 24, 2023
Outdoor Games
January 2,2024 and February 18, 2024
All-Star WeekendFebruary 3-4, 2024
End of Regular SeasonApril 18, 2024
2024 Stanley Cup PlayoffsApril 19 – June, 2024
2024 Stanley Cup FinalsJune 8 – June 17, 2024
2024 NHL DraftJune 28-29, 2024

For those, who seek to get all the burning details about NHL games, we suggest checking out NHL GameCenter. This is a subscription service that's been designed for hard-core NHL fans. It allows you to see streaming content that's even out of the official market.

2023/2024 NHL playoffs

1st round

Easter Conference:
Florida vs. Tampa Bay Winner: Florida (4-1)
Boston vs. Toronto (TBA)
NY Rangers vs. Washington, winner: NY Rangers (4-0)
Carolina vs. NY Islanders (TBA)

Western Conference:
Dallas vs. Vegas (TBA)
Winnipeg vs. Colorado (TBA)
Vancouver vs. Nashville (TBA)
Edmonton vs. Los Angeles (TBA)

Bottom line

Having access to ESPN or NHL.tv doesn’t mean that you will freely enjoy your favorite NHL team’s games, as there is a geo-restriction tool – blackouts. However, not everything is lost. With a VPN that has servers all over the USA, you can instantly change your IP and unlock games with ease.

Our top VPN to bypass NHL blackouts is NordVPN. It has over 1970+ servers in 15 American cities and it’s well-known for exceptional unblocking capabilities. Moreover, the provider uses an advanced tunneling protocol to maintain as fast connection speeds as possible.

Let us know if you have managed to bypass NHL blackouts in the comments section below!

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