How to watch blackout NHL games on ESPN+?

How to watch blackout NHL games on ESPN+

The excitement of watching NHL  live games is unparalleled, with every moment contributing to the pulse-pounding action on the ice. If you’re an avid fan, you’ve probably heard of ESPN+ as a reliable platform to catch your favorite games.

However, the dreaded blackout restrictions can sometimes get in the way of enjoying the game of your choice. But fear not! In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk you through the steps to watch blackout NHL games on ESPN+ and ensure you never miss a thrilling moment.

Why Do NHL Blackouts Occur on ESPN+?

Before we delve into the solution, let’s briefly understand why NHL blackouts happen. These restrictions stem from broadcasting rights and regional agreements that protect local television networks and other channels in specific regions.

When a game is being broadcast on local television or another channel in your area, ESPN+ is restricted from streaming it to viewers in that region to protect those broadcasting agreements.

Step-by-Step Guide to Watching Blackout NHL Games on ESPN+

1. Check the Blackout Schedule

First and foremost, it’s important to know if the game you want to watch is subject to a blackout. You can find blackout information on the NHL website, ESPN’s official website, or directly on ESPN+.

2. Use a VPN

A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is a powerful tool to bypass blackout restrictions. Here’s how to use a VPN to watch blackout NHL games on ESPN+:

  • Choose a reputable VPN service that offers servers in locations where the game isn’t blacked out.
  • Download and install the VPN software on your device.
  • Connect to a server located in an area where the blackout doesn’t apply. For instance, if the game is blacked out in your region, connect to a server in a different state or country.
  • Once connected, your IP address will be masked, and you’ll appear as if you’re in the server’s location, allowing you to access the game on ESPN+.

3. Clear Your Cache and Cookies

Sometimes, your browser’s cache and cookies might be holding onto location information, which can trigger a blackout. Clear your browser’s cache and cookies, then restart your browser before attempting to access the game on ESPN+.

4. Use ESPN+ on a Mobile Device

If a game is blacked out on your computer, try using the ESPN+ app on your mobile device. Sometimes, different broadcasting agreements apply to mobile devices, allowing you to watch a game that’s blacked out on a computer.

5. Watch the Replay

In some cases, the blackout restriction might only apply to live broadcasts. If that’s the case, consider waiting for the game to end and then access the replay on ESPN+.

6. Consider Other Streaming Services

If you’re still facing blackout restrictions and none of the above solutions work, you might consider subscribing to another streaming service that offers the game. Services like NHL.tv, Sling TV, or FuboTV might have different broadcasting rights and blackout restrictions.

A Few Additional Tips

While the VPN method is remarkably effective, it’s crucial to ensure you’re abiding by ethical and legal guidelines. Here are a couple of tips to keep in mind:

Check Local Laws: Familiarize yourself with the laws in your region regarding VPN usage. While VPNs are generally legal, some countries might have restrictions or regulations.

Clear Cache and Cookies: If you encounter any issues, such as the game still being blacked out, try clearing your browser’s cache and cookies. Sometimes, these files retain location information.

Bypassing NHL Blackouts on PC or Mac

Choose a VPN: Opt for a reliable VPN service that offers a wide range of servers, such as NordVPN.

Select the Right Server: Connect to a VPN server in a location where the game you want to watch isn’t blacked out. You can find this information on the NHL website or use the NHL’s blackout tool to identify which teams are blacked out in your region.

Access the Streaming Site: Once connected to the appropriate server, visit the NHL.tv or ESPN+ website and log in to your account.

Cache and Cookies: If you encounter any loading issues, clear your browser’s cache and cookies. Sometimes, websites store your location information, preventing access even when you’re in the correct location.

Hard Refresh: To ensure your browser doesn’t rely on cached information, perform a hard refresh. Hold down the CTRL key (Shift on Mac) and click the refresh button.

Bypassing NHL Blackouts on Android or iOS

Use Your Web Browser: Instead of using the NHL.tv or ESPN+ apps, try accessing the streaming services through your device’s web browser while connected to a VPN server in a blackout-free location.

Location Services: If you want to use the apps, you’ll need to enable location services. However, this poses challenges, as it’s difficult to spoof your phone’s GPS location.

Spoofing GPS Location: Some apps claim to allow GPS location spoofing, but be cautious. Many of these apps are unsafe and may contain malware. Additionally, they often require a rooted or jailbroken device, which can void warranties and compromise security.

Thorough Research: If you’re considering GPS spoofing, thoroughly research any app you’re planning to use. Be aware of the risks involved and ensure the app’s credibility before installation.

Why Regional Blackouts?

The rationale behind regional blackouts might seem counterintuitive at first, especially since subscribers to platforms like ESPN+ and NHL.tv have already paid for access. The primary reason lies in broadcasting agreements and local network partnerships.

The NHL often sells the local broadcast rights of its games to regional networks. This arrangement helps local networks generate revenue through advertising and exclusive game coverage. To protect these partnerships and the revenue they generate, the NHL implements regional blackouts. These blackouts ensure that viewers in the local market tune in to the regional network’s broadcast, rather than accessing the game through online streaming services.

Moreover, home and away games play a role in regional blackouts. If a team is playing at home, the local network holds exclusive rights to broadcast the game, making it unavailable for online streaming. This encourages fans to support their local networks and maintain the profitability of regional partnerships.

Enforcing Regional Blackouts

Determining a viewer’s location is crucial for enforcing regional blackouts. Three primary methods are employed to achieve this:

ZIP Code Verification: During registration, users are asked to input their ZIP code. While the most basic form of location tracking, it can be easily bypassed and isn’t foolproof.

IP-Based Geolocation: Services combine ZIP code verification with IP-based geolocation. By analyzing the user’s IP address, the platform can approximate their location. However, this method isn’t always accurate, especially when users employ VPNs to mask their location.

Location-Based Tracking: Mobile devices often use GPS-based tracking to determine a user’s precise location. This method is more challenging to manipulate than changing an IP address, making it the preferred choice for enforcing regional blackouts on mobile platforms.

Conclusion

NHL blackouts don’t have to stand between you and the excitement of live games. Whether you’re using a PC, Mac, Android, or iOS device, a VPN is your ally in bypassing these restrictions. Remember that while bypassing blackouts is possible, always make sure you’re adhering to ethical and legal guidelines. With these tips, you’ll be well-equipped to watch every thrilling moment of NHL action, blackout-free!

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