How to bypass NHL blackouts on ESPN+ and NHL.tv in 2023

Ethan Payne
Ethan Payne | Writer
Last updated: January 11, 2023
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The 2022-23 NHL (National Hockey League) season began on October 7, 2022, with the San Jose Sharks facing off against the Nashville Predators. Since then, hockey fans have been treated to matches between their favored teams almost daily. Unfortunately, many were frustrated by NHL blackouts on ESPN+ and NHL.tv streaming services.

But what are these blackouts, and is it possible to get around them? In short, they’re broadcast restrictions that limit state residents from watching local teams via online streaming platforms.

Thankfully, you can bypass NHL restrictions on ESPN+ and NHL.tv with the help of VPN (Virtual Private Network) software. It reroutes your connection through other regions, thus eliminating regional limitations.

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

  1. Purchase a swift VPN for streaming. We recommend NordVPN, available with a 57% discount
  2. Install the VPN software on your preferred sports-viewing screen
  3. Connect to a server where a particular NHL match is available
  4. Enjoy hockey without geo-blocking!

Bypass NHL blackouts with NordVPN

Best VPNs for bypassing NHL blackouts: shortlist

  1. Best VPN for bypassing NHL blackouts
    9.7
  2. VPN for NHL with unlimited device connections
    9.3
  3. Cheapest VPN for getting around NHL geo-restrictions
    9.0

What causes NHL blackouts on ESPN+ and NHL TV?

You might be distraught to learn that subscribing to ESPN+ or NHL.tv doesn’t allow you to watch all possible NHL matches. That’s because the right to broadcast certain matches is reserved exclusively for regional television channels.

For example, competitions with the Dallas Stars will be unavailable for online streaming in Texas, the team’s home turf. Conversely, the same principle applies to viewers from the home state of their opponents. These limitations are enforced by checking the IP address and device’s GPS information to approximate your location.

NHL TV restrictions

Thankfully, you can obtain a new IP address if you’re equipped with a VPN for streaming sports. The software alters your location by redirecting your traffic through servers anywhere worldwide. This detour hides your actual IP address and tricks streaming services into believing that you’re connecting from regions without NHL blackouts.

A VPN is also necessary for hockey fans from abroad because both ESPN+ and NHL.tv are geo-blocked in certain foreign countries. You can find the complete list of supported countries on the NHL website.

Best VPNs to get around NHL blackouts

It’s crucial to note that not every VPN can effectively bypass blackouts on ESPN+ or NHL.tv while maintaining a pleasant hockey-viewing experience. That’s because the principle of VPN technology (adding an extra server between you and your ISP) will inevitably slow down your connection speed. In extreme cases, this results in excessive lagging, stuttering, and interruptions.

Therefore, we recommend using only the fastest VPNs on the market. These services utilize modern tunneling protocols like WireGuard to keep data transfer smooth and efficient. Naturally, plenty of other factors influence connection speeds, both on the provider and client side.

Regardless, we tested a fair number of VPNs to find the ones with the most consistent speeds and successful unblocking of sports-streaming platforms. The result? Three affordable services that we consider the best for bypassing NHL blackouts. Learn more about them below.

1. NordVPN – the ideal VPN for streaming the NHL online

9.7
Top VPN provider
Number of countries covered
Number of countries covered:
60
Number of servers
Number of servers:
5400
Support
Support:
24/7 live chat, Email
  • Exceptionally fast with NordLynx
  • Independently-audited no-logs policy
  • Massive server fleet
  • Only 6 simultaneous connections

NordVPN is the ultimate VPN for bypassing NHL blackouts on ESPN+, NHL.tv, or any other sports-streaming platform. The provider has a massive 5400+ server fleet, with around 2000 in the US alone, further categorized by cities. Additionally, you can connect to over 60 different countries to unlock foreign geo-blocked services. Give it a shot using the 7-day free NordVPN trial on the Google Play Store.

No need to worry about laggy connections because NordVPN guarantees peak performance with its proprietary NordLynx protocol. Meanwhile, devices with older firmware can use the classic OpenVPN tunneling protocol.

Customers can take advantage of NordVPN on a wide array of devices, thanks to the abundance of different dedicated apps. Alternatively, you can install the VPN on a router to secure an entire network. And if that’s not up your alley, consider the unique SmartPlay feature for unblocking streaming content on practically any gadget.

Be sure to use a valid NordVPN coupon code to drop subscription prices to only $3.49/month. And don’t hesitate to sign up because your commitment is protected with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

For a deeper investigation of NordVPN, read our NordVPN review.

2. Surfshark VPN – affordable VPN for curbing NHL restrictions

9.3
Top VPN provider
Number of countries covered
Number of countries covered:
100
Number of servers
Number of servers:
3200
Support
Support:
24/7 live chat, FAQ
  • Infinite device connections
  • Covers over 100 countries
  • Swift connectivity using WireGuard
  • Some features cost extra

Go with Surfshark if you want to avoid NHL blackouts and unblock the greatest selection of foreign content, too. The 3200+ server network includes over 600 US servers across 25 cities for convenient switching between states. On the other hand, you can choose from roughly 100 other countries to access foreign streaming libraries. Grab the Surfshark 7-day trial and take it for a spin.

Connection speeds won’t be an issue, thanks to the presence of WireGuard. Alternatively, you can enable IKEv2 or OpenVPN if these protocols are better suited for your system. Plus, you can use NoBorder Mode to mask your traffic and bypass VPN restrictions in censorship-heavy areas.

Surfshark is the ideal VPN for massive NHL fan clubs because one account supports unlimited device connections. Moreover, you can install the VPN on a router to protect devices without app support. And if that’s unacceptable, try out the Smart DNS tool.

Affordable $2.30/month prices become available when inputting Surfshark discount codes at checkout. And if you’re not 100% certain about signing up, remember about the 30-day money-back warranty.

For a deeper investigation of Surfshark VPN, read our Surfshark VPN review.

3. Atlas VPN – the most frugal way of watching the NHL anywhere

Number of countries covered
Number of countries covered:
37
Number of servers
Number of servers:
750
Support
Support:
Email, tickets, FAQ
  • Limitless simultaneous connections
  • WireGuard-powered speeds
  • Excellent for streaming and security
  • No router firmware

Purchase Atlas VPN if you’re looking for the cheapest way to bypass NHL regional restrictions. While the service lacks the huge server numbers of its predecessors, it’s still a solid choice for streaming. And if you’re completely broke, consider trying out the free plan, which has servers in America and the Netherlands.

Atlas VPN customers can connect to over 750 servers across 37+ countries. Expansive regions like the US and UK categorize servers by cities. Additionally, you can select specialized streaming servers for improved geo-block removal capabilities. Meanwhile, peak connectivity is ensured with WireGuard.

One drawback of Atlas VPN is the absence of router firmware. Luckily, the service makes up for this with dedicated apps for Android TV and Amazon Fire TV devices. Plus, you can use one account to secure an unlimited number of devices.

The cheapest VPN for the NHL starts at merely $2.05/month. Be sure to check our selection of Atlas VPN coupons to snag some exclusive deals. And don’t worry about buyer’s remorse because you’re covered with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

For a deeper investigation of Atlas VPN, read our Atlas VPN review.

How we selected these VPNs to bypass NHL blackouts

Bypassing regional blackouts requires many more features than servers across the United States. For example, you need DNS leak protection and a VPN kill switch to ensure your actual location stays under wraps. Below is a rundown of all the perks we considered when picking our VPN contenders.

  1. Servers in the US. You’ll have the best chances of subjugating blackouts with a vast selection of US servers. Even better if the servers are categorized by cities.
  2. Excellent connection speeds. Hockey fans are scattered worldwide, meaning the VPN must guarantee minimal speed loss everywhere. This is done with a combination of a wide-reaching server network and efficient tunneling protocols. Plus, you can check for performance hiccups using our VPN speed test.
  3. Security and privacy features. Changing your location with a VPN means keeping your actual whereabouts under lock and key. The best safeguards against leakage are AES-256 encryption, IP & DNS leak protection, and a reliable kill switch. And if you’re concerned about surveillance, consider purchasing a trusted no-logs VPN service.
  4. Subscription price. Only premium (aka paid) VPN services have the right tools to eliminate ESPN and NHL blackouts. Luckily, the most effective providers aren’t that expensive. Additionally, they include money-back guarantees and costless trials for risk-free testing before committing.
  5. Device compatibility. It’s not difficult to find a VPN that’s compatible with computers or mobile phones. However, every hockey fan has a different home entertainment setup which can include specialized streaming gadgets. As such, you’ll want a VPN compatible with routers and other entertainment-oriented devices.
  6. Customer support. Not sure how to install a VPN on a router or accomplish other tasks needed for bypassing NHL blackouts? Don’t worry, our suggested VPN providers have knowledgeable customer support specialists available 24/7 for assistance.

How to bypass NHL blackouts with a VPN on any device

Getting around geo-blocking with a VPN is simple in theory, but the practice varies depending on the device with which you want to watch NHL. For example, watching ESPN Plus or NHL TV with a VPN on a PC is straightforward because of the dedicated apps. Meanwhile, smart TVs will require manual configuration.

Follow our quick guides to learn how to remedy NHL blackouts on your preferred devices.

How to bypass NHL blackouts on PC (Windows, macOS, Linux)

Eliminating geo-blocks and blackouts with a VPN is a straightforward process on computers because you can use the dedicated VPN app. Follow these steps to change your location and watch any NHL match without limitations.

  1. Purchase a VPN compatible with your PC’s operating system. NordVPN is the best for Windows, macOS, and Linux
  2. Download and install the VPN software on your computer
  3. Open the app and connect to a server location where a particular match is available
  4. Tune into your preferred streaming service and watch NHL anywhere!

Bypass NHL blackouts on PC

How to circumvent NHL blackouts on mobile phones (iOS, Android)

Getting the most out of ESPN+ or NHL TV on mobile devices is pretty simple if you have a capable VPN provider. Just like with a PC, all you need is apps for your VPN and streaming service.

  1. Subscribe to a provider with applications on your preferred app store. Android and iOS users frequently choose NordVPN
  2. Find the VPN on either the Google Play Store or Apple App Store and download the software
  3. Boot up the app and connect to a US server suitable for your desired NHL match
  4. Launch your streaming app and enjoy unrestricted NHL!

How to get around NHL blackouts on any smart TV

Many smart TV sets use proprietary operating systems which don’t support VPN software. Thankfully, this isn’t the case if you’re an Android TV or Amazon Fire TV user. Meanwhile, LG or Samsung TV owners will need to resort to manual router configuration.

Details will vary depending on your router model and VPN service, but these are the general steps you’ll need to follow. Best of all, this method works with any other web-connected device that can’t facilitate a VPN connection.

  1. Sign up for a VPN that supports manual router configuration. Our #1 router-friendly service is NordVPN
  2. Open a web browser and input your router’s IP address in the browser’s address bar
  3. Log in with your router’s admin credentials
  4. Go to the VPN settings menu and reconfigure your router according to the provider’s specifications
  5. Connect your smart TV to the router network, boot up the NHL, and start watching!

Enjoy NHL on any device

VPN not bypassing NHL blackouts: potential fixes

It should come as no surprise that VPNs can encounter problems while trying to bypass blackouts on ESPN+ or NHL TV. However, the issue stems not necessarily from the VPN service but from the streaming service trying to block VPN users. Luckily, you can try plenty of potential fixes to get everything back on track.

  • Check for IP and DNS leaks. Information leakage is a common occurrence among low-quality VPN services. Still, it’s best to use a tool like dnsleaktest.com to ensure that your true location isn’t slipping through the cracks.
  • Switch to another server. The easiest way to limit VPN use is to block their server IP addresses. Luckily, getting a new one by switching server locations is just as simple.
  • Update your VPN software. You’ll have the greatest chances of success if your tools are well-maintained. When it comes to software, that means keeping it up to date.
  • Enable Stealth VPN. Some of the most secure VPN services have the means to mask VPN traffic entirely and make it appear as regular HTTPS traffic. This feature is meant for dealing with censorship and other anti-VPN blockades.
  • Try an alternative app. Dedicated app not giving you the results you need? Try a VPN browser extension if you’re on a desktop. Other methods include manual configuration, Smart DNS, and proxies.
  • Contact customer support. Perhaps the issue lies elsewhere. You won’t know for sure unless you reach out to experts in the field. Good thing the top VPNs for bypassing NHL blackouts offer 24/7 customer support.

Do we recommend using a free VPN to get around NHL blackouts?

You might be tempted to try a zero-cost alternative to get around NHL blackouts. After all, there are plenty of adequate free VPNs with US servers. Unfortunately, their numerous drawbacks make it impossible to deal with geo-blocking effectively. Let me clarify the minuses of free VPNs.

  • Monthly data caps. Free VPNs frequently impose data limits to prevent excess use by unpaying users. This means you’ll barely have enough data to stream one hockey match per month.
  • Throttled connection speeds. Another common issue with free VPNs is slow connectivity. Once again, it’s artificially slowed down to reserve bandwidth for paying customers.
  • Miniscule server fleets. While many free VPNs have servers in America, the number of those servers is abysmal. As such, you’ll have to contend with further slowdowns due to overcrowding.
  • Outdated security features. Products that don’t generate revenue typically aren’t prioritized for updates. Alternatively, they don’t include the most compelling and essential cybersecurity features to begin with.
  • Can’t bypass geo-blocking. While a free VPN may hide your IP address, it won’t necessarily get around geographical restrictions on NHL.tv or ESPN+.

VPN providers are well-aware of what perks customers are looking for and thus grant those benefits only if you open your wallet. On the other hand, you can also get a VPN with a free trial for a temporary fix to NHL blackout issues.

Other streaming services with the NHL

We focused on ESPN+ and NHL.tv blackout resolution because they’re the most prominent Hockey streaming services. However, all the previously discussed methods of unblocking NHL matches apply to other sports-streaming platforms.

Curious about all the alternatives for streaming NHL? Have a look at the summary table below. Just remember that many are still subjected to geo-blocking, meaning you’ll likely need a VPN alongside a subscription. Plus, prices are subject to change and can vary based on your region.

Streaming platformSubscription price
ESPN+$6.99/month
Sportsnet NOW Premium$34.99/month
NHL Live$24.99/month
Star+$13.99/month
YouTube TV$64.99/month
Sling TV$35/month
Fubo TV$64.99/month
Hulu + Live TV$64.99/month

NHL schedule

Multiple National Hockey League matches happen almost every day, but not even the most diehard fans can keep up with that. However, there are a few key events that every NHL viewer must tune into, such as the finals or the All-star weekend. Note the dates below, and be sure to tune in.

EventDate
Beginning of the regular seasonOctober 7, 2022
NHL Thanksgiving ShowdownNovember 25, 2022
Outdoor gamesJanuary 2 and February 18, 2023
All-Star GameFebruary 4, 2023
End of regular seasonApril 13, 2023

Conclusion

NHL fans have a lot to gain from a VPN service. Firstly, it can remove blackouts by redirecting your connection through servers in another state. Alternatively, you can use it to unlock your preferred streaming service while traveling abroad. And finally, a VPN is an essential cybersecurity tool in the modern age.

However, all these and other perks are available with the gold medalists of the industry. So don’t be left behind and opt for NordVPN, the top VPN for bypassing NHL broadcast restrictions!

Do you turn to VPN software to eliminate National Hockey League blackouts? Share your tips and tricks with other sports fans by leaving a comment!


You may also like to read:
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How to watch NFL games
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FAQ

What is the best VPN for bypassing NHL blackouts?

NordVPN is the best VPN for getting around NHL blackouts. It has a massive server network with around 2000 in the United States. Additionally, these locations are categorized by city, making it quite convenient for users to pick a suitable location to unlock a particular match.

Does ESPN+ blackout NHL games?

Yes, ESPN+ imposes blackouts on certain NHL games. Thankfully, you can remove these restrictions with the help of a VPN for NHL. It can change your location to a state where your desired match is viewable online.

How can I watch a blacked-out NHL game?

You can watch restricted NHL games using a VPN to change your location. The best VPNs for NHL have US servers across many cities, allowing you to select a suitable state for your desired game. Additionally, a VPN can remove geo-blocking on your preferred streaming service.

How do I get around ESPN blackout restrictions?

You can get around ESPN blackout restrictions using a VPN for NHL. The software can alter your location to a region where a particular match is available for online viewing. The best VPNs have numerous servers and categorize them by city to make it easier for users to connect to a suitable state.

Is it legal to use a VPN with NHL streaming services?

Yes, it’s perfectly legal in the USA to use a VPN to change your location. Unfortunately, NHL streaming platforms may restrict your account if they suspect that you’re using a VPN to bypass blackouts. Therefore, you should use only the best services that don’t leak your data.

Why is the NHL game blacked out in my area?

NHL imposes blackouts because the rights to broadcast certain games in a given state are reserved for local TV broadcasters. However, viewers from other states can watch the match online because the TV broadcast doesn’t reach them. Therefore, using a VPN to connect to another American state is the best way to bypass NHL blackouts.

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