What are NHL Blackouts? Here’s what you need to know

January 23, 2023

If you’re a fan of one of the NHL’s seven Canadian teams, you have probably seen the following at some point:

“This game is blacked out in your area.”

What is a blackout, and why do they exist?

Regional blackouts are a mandate of the NHL, designed to cultivate and protect a team’s home market. Every team in the NHL has a number of “regional” games–which are sold by the team to a regional broadcaster and are available only to those in a team’s broadcast region–and “national” games, which are available for anyone to watch from coast-to-coast.

Regional blackouts are determined based on your physical location and apply to broadcasts that have been sold regionally, per league or team agreements. The chart below outlines which regional team games can be seen in which region. For example, if you live in British Columbia or the Yukon, you are entitled to watch every Vancouver Canucks game.

NHL broadcast region map for Canadian teams

*Note: Sportsnet does not own the regional rights for the Jets, Senators or Canadiens. Only each team’s national games appear in a subscription to Sportsnet NOW for in-market fans.

Sportsnet is the regional rights holders for the Canucks, Oilers, Flames and Leafs. For the upcoming 2021-22 NHL season, Vancouver has 82, Calgary has 82, Edmonton has 82 and Toronto has 56. In order to watch those regional games, without blackouts, you must reside within the region shown for each team above. All remaining games for each teams are national games.

Regional blackouts are determined based on your location at the time you are streaming the content, not based on your billing address, or whether a team is playing at home or on the road. In addition, the use of a VPN, proxies, or other services meant to mask or change your location, may result in you not being able to stream content you normally would be eligible for.

Sportsnet does not own the regional rights to the Montreal Canadiens, Winnipeg Jets or Ottawa Senators. As a result, the only Canadiens, Jets or Sens games that are available on Sportsnet NOW are ones that appear during a Wednesday, Saturday, or Sunday night national games.

In the structure of the NHL schedule and Sportsnet’s television deal with the NHL, there are certain “national” windows. National games can be watched by anyone, in any location in the country, without blackouts. On Sportsnet, every Scotiabank Wednesday Night Hockey and Hockey Night in Canada game is a national game that a customer is entitled to watch with the Sportsnet NOW product.

There are no regional restrictions for Stanley Cup Playoff games. Every Stanley Cup Playoff game will be on Sportsnet NOW and can be viewed by anyone, anywhere in Canada.

If you believe regional restrictions are not being correctly applied in your case, please reach out to customer support via live chat by clicking the ‘Contact Us’ button and include your postal code, the game you’re attempting to watch and your public IP address, which you can find by going to www.whatismyip.com.

NOTE: If you live in the region of one of the Canadian teams and wish to watch the regional games of another Canadian franchise (for example, you live in the Flames region but want to watch Canadiens games), then SN NOW PREMIUM is the subscription package that best suits your needs.

What is Sportsnet NOW? Sportsnet NOW is a multi-sport streaming product, currently available on desktop or laptop through your web browser, as well as smartphones, tablets, Apple TV (4th gen), Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Amazon Fire TV, Android TV and Google Chromecast by downloading the Sportsnet app.

SN NOW Standard is priced at $14.99/month or $149.99/year and grants you 24/7 streaming access to Sportsnet East, West, Ontario, Pacific and Sportsnet ONE.

SN NOW Premium is priced at $34.99 per month or $249.99/year and provides you access to the same channels as SN NOW, plus additional content not broadcast on TV.

Sportsnet NOW is also included for free with your TV subscription with participating providers based on the Sportsnet channels you have in your television package.

For a list of participating providers, please visit www.snnow.ca/faq.

Content includes: Over 1,000 total NHL games, all outdoor games, the NHL All-Star Game, entire Stanley Cup Playoffs, NHL Draft, up to 162 Toronto Blue Jays games, MLB regular season matchups, MLB Home Run Derby and All-Star Game, Postseason and World Series, Grand Slam of Curling, 41 regular season Toronto Raptors games, 200+ marquee NBA matchups, NBA Playoffs and Finals matchups, NBA Draft, WWE, FA Cup, Bundesliga, National Bank Open presented by Rogers, all your favourite Sportsnet original programming and much more.