• National Hockey League & Blackouts
As exciting as the new Scotia North Division has been for Canadian NHL fans, it’s also brought with it frustrations as is relates to Regional Blackouts. While Regional Blackouts have always existed, this season, as Canadian NHL teams have faced off exclusively against each other, the blackout restrictions have been more of a disturbance than in previous seasons.
People are confused, why can’t they watch these matchups? Why are there blackouts at all when the fans can’t be at the games? Why is the Battle of Alberta only available in Alberta?
The heart of the challenge is the way broadcast rights are licensed to networks by the NHL which includes specific blackout restrictions broadcasters must adhere to and implement.
As a quick reminder, the NHL rights are divided into national and regional packages:
•Sportsnet owns exclusive rights to both the:
- National NHL package; and
- Regional packages for the Canucks, Oilers and Flames.
•Sportsnet and TSN share the regional rights to the Leafs.
•TSN owns the regional package for the Jets, Habs (English) and Sens.
Any game designated “national” would air on Sportsnet across the country AND without any blackouts. However, all games designated as “regional” games involve blackouts.
In an effort to make this information more easily available to consumers, Sportsnet has launched a new webpage: Watch NHL Tonight
On this page, viewers will see the day’s scheduled games and where they can watch them, both on linear TV and the accompanying streaming platform, regardless of the broadcaster. The goal of this page is to inform and educate. Viewers can quickly see where the game is broadcast and what channels/services are needed in order to watch it. Also included are helpful links to more information about blackout restrictions including the regional map that identifies territories for each Canadian NHL team.