The lack of simple streaming access of NHL games is rapidly killing the NHL viewership. The Regional Sports Networks (RSN), such as Bally Sports, Roots and others have a stranglehold on NHL streaming. Besides causing confusion, it is causing a lot of frustration among the fans. I had hoped with ESPN and their strong streaming precence that streaming NHL games would be made easier but almost the exact opposite has occurred.
For the past several seasons watching your favorite NHL team usually involved watching the game on RSN and NBCSports. NBCSports contract ended and NBCSports and the NHL parted ways. Enter ESPN to pick up where NBCSports truly failed outside of their primary markets. for the 2021-2022 season games now appear on RSN, ESPN, ESPN+ and TNT. Worse yet RSNs such as Bally Sports have largely disappeared from streaming TV services, with the exception of DirecTV Stream. Now to watch all home and away games you need a cable TV or DirecTV Stream subscription for access to your RSN, ESPN and TNT. That subscription is not enough though, you also need a subscription to ESPN+, ESPN’s streaming only service.ESPN+ streams a lot of out of market games from around the league. The confusion comes when ESPN+ shows a game as available but the game might not actually be available because of streaming rights or blackout rules. Blackouts are a whole other problem that’s been an issue for decades, only made worse in the age of streaming services.
The trouble with ESPN+ is that even if you do subscribe you may be misled into thinking you can watch games, either in our out of market. The interface on AppleTV doesn’t help at all. I am a subscriber of ESPN+ but from the above example video it’s logical to think that if I subscribe in the ESPN+ in the the application, that is not the case at all, because ESPN+ doesn’t have the rights to stream this particular game. This particular game was viewable via the RSN application, authenticated with a cable TV or DirecTV Stream subscription.