NHL Live Broadcast: Global Access to NHL Games
NHL Live Broadcast in English Outside of Canada and the United States
The NHL co-owns the NHL Network, a television specialty channel devoted to the sport. This channel shows multiple games each week, mostly simulcasts of the games being broadcast by the local teams.
Chabot said he hopes more games are called in Indigenous languages in the future. It’s something that’s important to him, especially given the hardships faced by Indigenous Canadians.
CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada has long been the country’s showcase for NHL action. The afternoon broadcast of hockey-related features leads into the evening’s games featuring Canadian teams. CBC’s national rights for regular season and playoff games expire after the 2021 NHL lockout. Until then, HNIC will continue to air in both English and French on the Citytv and Sportsnet networks.
HNIC is the only NHL telecast with a Canadian and American feed. The CBC produces the Canadian version, while the NHL’s American partner, Rogers, provides the American feed. This arrangement has been in place since the start of HNIC’s radio era, when CBC clear-channel stations had strong regional reach across Canada. Now, with the advent of cable and satellite, games can be watched by fans in both countries. The only exception is when HNIC carries games that feature two American teams and seven Canadian teams (due to COVID-19 travel restrictions in 2021). The CBC has exclusive English-language rights for these games through the 2023-2024 NHL season, and will sublicense them to Sportsnet.
As one of the NHL’s best defensemen, Nashville Predators captain Roman Josi is almost always in front of a camera or microphone. But he was not raised in an English-speaking environment. In fact, he grew up in Switzerland, where the national languages are German, French and Italian.
While the league has a co-owned network, the NHL Network, that provides news, highlights and interviews, it doesn’t broadcast games live. Instead, the network rebroadcasts a local broadcaster’s game coverage.
In Canada, fans can find games on Sportsnet, which has national rights to all NHL teams and CBC Television, which has the right to broadcast 20 of Montreal’s 40 Saturday night matches. However, CBC has been dropping games to Sportsnet in recent years, and only a few spillover games are scheduled on CBC this year. Those who want to watch NHL games in French can access RDS and TVA Sports, both of which offer national rights. The latter also has a French-only package for NHL GameCentre Live, which costs $60 per season to unlock all games and includes RDS’s acclaimed play-by-play announcer Pierre Houde.
NHL games are available to fans outside the United States and Canada in a variety of ways. Some countries have their own hockey channels, while others have local broadcasters. The league also co-owns the NHL Network, which airs live games and provides highlights and analysis. Those without access to the networks can use a VPN for streaming, which masks their IP address and allows them to watch any game, anywhere in the world.
Sports play-by-play announcers often describe what is happening on the ice by painting a picture for listeners. In the three NHL markets that offer Spanish-language broadcasts, commentators often take a more whimsical approach. For example, a player’s hit might be called “a torta de jamon,” or the goal might be described as “something that is pressed down.”
Many NHL players do not speak English as their first language, and some are reluctant to discuss whether they would benefit from a translator in the locker room. Aho and Svechnikov, however, say learning English is part of their plan to become better hockey players.
The National Hockey League is a global game, and while English is the primary language in the dressing room, NHL players hail from all over the world. In fact, nearly 30 percent of current NHL players were born outside of Canada and the United States, according to QuantHockey.
It’s said that sports play-by-play broadcasters “paint a picture” of the game for listeners, describing everything from the atmosphere to the action on the ice. But these announcers need to do this in a language that the audience understands.
That’s why the NHL has launched a Spanish-language broadcast program this season. While the league’s three Latino NHL teams have long had Spanish-language broadcasters, this is the first season that the national NHL network will carry games in the language. The broadcasts will air on NBCSN and Versus this season, with the latter taking the Saturday night slot when it’s not hosting Hockey Night in Canada. The CBC also carries the games on its French-language channel, Ici Radio-Canada Tele.