ESPN+ and NHL.tv are the two best platforms to watch the NHL preseason and 2023-24 regular-season games. However, due to NHL blackouts, hockey fans in the US and Canada can’t enjoy their local teams playing. But that’s unless you use a VPN to spoof your location.
Stream 2023/24 NHL season on ESPN+
|When:||October 10, 2023 - April 18, 2024|
|Number of games:||1312 (82 games per team)|
|Where to stream:||ESPN+, NHL.tv|
|Stream anywhere:||Try ExpressVPN, now 49% off|
With a robust VPN, you can change your IP address to circumvent ESPN+’s blackout of NHL and watch the Vegas Golden Knights play even if you’re in Las Vegas.
To see your team fighting for the Stanley Cup successfully, you need a VPN with many US and Canada servers. Hence, we have hand-picked the best 3 NHL VPNs and we will walk you through how to watch blackout NHL games on ESPN+ using a VPN.
How to bypass NHL blackouts on ESPN+
- Pick a VPN with US and Canada servers. We recommend ExpressVPN, now 49% off.
- Download and install the VPN app on your device.
- Connect to a server outside your local state. For instance, if you’re in New Jersey, connect to a server in New York or Illinois to watch the New Jersey Devils play.
- Open ESPN+ or NHL.tv.
- Start streaming the blacked out game.
Why are NHL games blacked out on ESPN+?
NHL games are blacked out on ESPN+ as different regional broadcasting companies have exclusive rights to air certain games. This means that even such a good game as the Vegas Golden Knights vs. Florida Panthers would be restricted to residents living in these particular states.
However, this doesn’t mean that you won’t be able to see the game ever. Once 48 hours after the live game passes, you can see your favorite teams play even on ESPN+ or NHL.tv.
But what’s more important is that you don’t have to wait a minute to watch your NHL team play if you have a subscription to a regional sports broadcaster. They usually cost above $10 per month, for example, Fubo's regional sports fee with more than two RSNs cost $13.99/month.
Or you can also use a reputable VPN with servers in the US and Canada to spoof your IP location and watch the NHL blackout games on ESPN+.
Bypass the NHL blackouts with ExpressVPN
ExpressVPN is a VPN that 100% bypasses the NHL blackouts on ESPN+. The provider ensures lightning-fast speeds and full-HD video quality together with numerous servers in the US alone.
- Super-fast connection speeds
- Top-notch security features
- 30-day money-back guarantee
If you live in the US and you want to know if a local game is blacked out in your area, you can use NHL’s zip code lookup tool. International fans won’t be able to view a game on ESPN if it airs on an NHL partner network in their area.
Best VPNs to bypass NHL blackouts
- ExpressVPN – Best ESPN+ VPN to watch NHL blackout games lag-free
- NordVPN – Secure VPN to bypass NHL blackouts overall
- Surfshark – NHL blackouts VPN for unlimited devices
To evade NHL blackouts on ESPN+, you need to use a VPN with a variety of servers in North America, with Canada included. The service must also provide you with fast connection speeds and additional features.
With that in mind, we went through 35 different VPN services and selected these top 3 VPNs to bypass NHL blackouts anywhere.
1. ExpressVPN – Best VPN to stream blackout NHL games
- Has servers in the US and Canada for streaming NHL games
- Fast and stable connection speeds
- MediaStreamer feature for VPN-incompatible devices
- AES encryption isn’t available with the Lightway tunnel
ExpressVPN is best VPN to bypass ESPN’s blackouts of NHL games, as the provider has servers in 24 US and 4 Canadian locations. With its proprietary protocol Lightway, you’ll get great speeds combined with unbreakable protection.
|Location||The British Virgin Islands|
|Number of servers||3000+ servers in 105 countries|
|Price starting from||from $6.67/month|
ExpressVPN also allows you to connect incompatible streaming devices to a VPN server with its Smart DNS feature “MediaStreamer." And ESPN+ isn't the only platform you can trick using this VPN to bypass ESPN blackouts, as ExpressVPN excels in unblocking all major streaming services, like various Netflix libraries.
ExpressVPN’s yearly package comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee and you can get it from $6.67/month. A free trial version is available on both Android and iOS.
Read our detailed ExpressVPN review to learn more.
2. NordVPN – Secure VPN to watch blackout NHL games on ESPN+
- Smart DNS for watching NHL on non-VPN devices
- Nearly 2000 servers in the US and 480 servers in Canada
- Retains over 90% of the connection speed
- Sometimes kill switch interrupts the VPN connection
- Free trial is available through Android devices only
Our tests have shown that NordVPN is secure VPN service for bypassing NHL blackouts. The provider retains over 90% of the baseline connection speed and you also get to choose from over 2000 servers in North America.
|Number of servers||5810+ servers in 60 countries|
|Price starting from||from $2.99/month|
With the help of Smart DNS, NordVPN will also work on streaming devices or smart TVs that don’t have a native app for it. Smart DNS won’t encrypt your data, so make sure you don’t share any sensitive information when watching on your streaming device.
You can get NordVPN’s yearly package with a 30-day money-back guarantee starting from $2.99/month. It has a free 7-day trial version that you can obtain via Android devices.
Get to know more details from our NordVPN review.
3. Surfshark – Cheapest VPN for NHL blackout games
- Allows unlimited parallel connections
- Has servers in 4 UK locations
- Excellent price-to-quality ratio
- Apple applications are weaker
- Many security features come for an extra charge
If you’re looking for an affordable VPN to watch blackout NHL games on ESPN+, then Surfshark is the best option for you. The provider allows unlimited simultaneous connections per account and it also ensures you find a suitable server for NHL, as it provides you with servers throughout North America.
|Number of servers||3200+ servers in 100 countries|
|Price starting from||from $1.99/month|
This VPN also has a certain feature on Android that makes it much better than the competitors. The “GPS override” feature will change your GPS coordinates so your location matches your fake IP address, allowing you to bypass ESPN’s blackouts of NHL games.
Surfshark’s yearly package is available from $1.99/month and it comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee. There’s also a 7-day free trial that you can get on Google Play and the Apple App Store.
Find our other insights in a Surfshark review.
How to get around NHL blackout restrictions
With the help of a VPN, you can bypass the NHL’s blackout restrictions and watch whatever game you want from wherever you’re located. Let’s take a look at how to use a VPN to bypass ESPN’s blackouts of NHL on PCs and smartphones.
Bypass NHL blackouts on PC
Bypassing NHL blackouts on a PC using a VPN is easy. You first have to use the NHL's zip code lookup tool to see which area is eligible to live-stream your game on ESPN+.
NHL’s zip code lookup tool.
Once you’ve found a location, follow the steps below to connect to a VPN server:
- Pick a VPN with servers in both the US and Canada. We recommend ExpressVPN.
- Download and install the VPN on your Windows or Mac computer.
- Connect to a server in the location where your team’s game isn’t blacked out. If you’re in Florida, to watch the Panthers play, you’d need to connect to a server in Louisiana, Texas, or another state.
- Sign in to your ESPN+ account and start streaming the game.
Bypass NHL blackouts on mobile
On smartphones, bypassing NHL blackouts can be a bit tricky because the ESPN app or site can find out about your location through your GPS or location services. As mentioned above, Surfshark has a feature called “GPS override” which you can use to completely block ESPN+ from detecting your actual location.
Here’s how you can use a VPN on smartphones to bypass NHL blackouts:
- Choose a VPN. We recommend Surfshark because of its GPS override feature.
- Download and install the VPN on your phone.
- Connect to a server outside your local state. If you’re in Boston and want to watch the Bruins play, choose a server in Illinois or anywhere close to Massachusetts.
- Open the ESPN app.
- If you’re on iOS, disable location services and don’t give the app permission to track you. If on Android, enable GPS override in Surfshark’s settings.
- Start watching your team play.
Bypass NHL blackouts on any device
Even though your device initially can’t have a VPN installed, there’s still a way to stream blackout NHL games on devices like Roku, Apple TV, Chromecast, and others. For this, you can either set up a VPN on a router or simply get a VPN with the Smart DNS feature.
Follow the steps below to bypass NHL blackouts on any device:
- Get a VPN that works with routers or has the Smart DNS. Our pick is ExpressVPN, as it offers both options.
- Download and install a VPN on a computer or a smartphone.
- Set up a VPN on a router or enable the MediaStreamer (Smart DNS) feature in the VPN app.
- Connect your non-VPN device to an encrypted connection or add it to the MediaStreamer device list.
- Connect to a VPN server outside your state. To see Golden Knights vs. Krakens play, Nevada and Washington residents need to use servers based in nearby US states.
- Launch ESPN+ and start watching your team play.
Can I get around NHL blackouts with a free VPN?
Yes, you can get around NHL blackouts with a free VPN, as it will change your location the same way a premium VPN would. However, we don’t recommend it for several reasons. First, there are a limited number of servers on a free VPN so you won’t always be able to find a location where the game you want to watch isn’t blacked out.
Another reason is that most free VPNs are infamous for selling user data to third parties in order to make a profit. They’re also very limited in terms of security features so you won’t be fully protected.
Instead, you could use a premium VPN without risking your savings. For instance, ExpressVPN has a 30-day money-back guarantee that you can combine with a 7-day free trial (available on the Apple App Store or Google Play Store.) This way, you won’t risk your online privacy and you will bypass NHL geo-restrictions on ESPN+ effortlessly.
ESPN+ not working with VPN?
If you’re unable to watch an NHL game even after connecting to a VPN, then try these steps below:
- Clear the browser’s cache and cookies. Your browser’s history may be revealing your actual location and interfering with the VPN connection.
- Reconnect to a VPN. It’s possible that ESPN+ has detected the VPN activity and blocked the IP address given by a certain server. Changing a VPN server can help.
- Check for IP leaks. On Google or another search engine, type in “What’s my IP” and see if your IP address is different from the original one. If it’s not, enable the IP/DNS leak protection in the VPN app.
- Get a new VPN. If you have downloaded a VPN before checking recommendations, it’s possible that your current provider isn’t capable enough to bypass NHL blackouts. In this case, we suggest you try ExpressVPN which 100% works with NHL blackout games.
ESPN+ applies geo-blocks to certain NHL games that were bought by regional broadcasters. As a result, people across the US and Canada can’t watch their local teams play. However, with a VPN, all Floridians will see Panthers and New Jersians – the Devils playing in the 2023/24 NHL regular season on ESPN+.
During our tests, we found that ExpressVPN was the best to bypass NHL blackouts on ESPN+. The provider has servers in both America and Canada, so whatever NHL team you need to see play – using a robust VPN is the best way to.
Frequently asked questions
Yes, ESPN+ is known for blacking out local NHL games. If you’re an in-market fan and you want to watch your local team’s NHL game, you’ll only be able to view it on your local regional sports network (RSN). It’ll be blacked out on ESPN since the RSN has exclusive rights to air it.
Yes, NHL Playoff games are blacked out just like any other NHL game. You’ll need a VPN to bypass ESPN’s blackouts. These are location-based restrictions so which team you’re blacked out from will depend on where you’re located. You can use the NHL's zip code lookup to see which teams you can watch in your region.
Yes, using a VPN is the best way to bypass NHL.tv blackouts. Robust VPNs, like ExpressVPN, change your IP address, making it appear as if you’re based in a region where the game you want to watch isn’t blacked out.
NHL’s blackout policy says that NHL games can be viewed 48 hours after the game ends. ESPN+ blacks out NHL games while they’re airing on TV, which means as long as they’re live on TV, you can’t watch them on the ESPN site or app. Once the game is over, it becomes available in the game archive.