Key TakeawaysSling TV is the first to get NHL Center Ice for its live-streaming service.It won't be for everybody, but it will be for fans who want to see the puck drop.Sports streaming could be key to winning the streaming competition. Dmytro Aksonov / Getty Images
Hockey fans who want to cut their cords, switch to streaming, and save a few bucks now have Sling TV to check out.
Through a new deal with the NHL, Sling TV will air up to 40 live, out-of-market games each week, giving the live-streaming service a much-needed boost as it faces off with the likes of YouTube TV and Hulu + Live TV. Adding a subscription to NHL Center Ice, for $29 per month, puts Sling TV, considered the cheaper option of the three, at a similar price point as its competitors.
"NHL Center Ice on Sling TV will offer the best NHL experience in the game," David Teplinsky, vice president of programming and strategy for Sling TV, said in a press release announcing the deal.
Read the Fine Print
Stephen Lovely, managing editor of Cordcutting.com, feels that NHL Center Ice is really going to be for those who want out-of-market games.
"If you're a hockey fan who roots for a local team that Sling TV has the right regional sports network for, and you want lots of out-of-market games, then this is a clear fit," he said.
With this package, it will be important to see what Sling TV offers in your area before pulling the trigger. While Sling TV gives more choices to customize your service between an Orange package (meant more for sports and families) or a Blue (meant more for news and entertainment), both $30, you still have to be savvy and know what you're getting into. You don't want to invest big money in an NHL package only to find out you won't even be able to watch your favorite team on it.
"Sling TV is betting that their NHL programming will continue to grow in value to advertisers as consumers continue shifting away from traditional cable."
Sling TV also offers a Sports Extra add-on for $10 per month that gives you the NHL Network, NFL Red Zone, NBA TV, the MLB Network, and six other channels, which may be all that some sports fans need.
Lovely recommends checking which local channels you'll have by entering your address on the website. Another thing to look into is whether you reside in an eligible market. Cities in which Sling TV carries NBC, which is where hockey fans watch most nationally televised games, are listed on the website as well.
Still, fans will be able to stream highlights of the biggest plays and analysis on NHL Center Ice. And with up to 40 live games each week, even the most hardcore NHL fan will have plenty to catch up on.
Sports Could Be Key in the Streaming War
For live streamers, the top three services in terms of subscribers includes Hulu + Live TV, then YouTube TV, followed by Sling TV, according to Cord Cutters News.
With the addition of NHL Center Ice, Sling TV hopes to provide a cheaper alternative in the live streaming game for fans who really just want their hockey fix.
"If you're a hockey fan who roots for a local team...then this is a clear fit."
"Sports are a huge part of why many cord cutters end up coming back to live TV alternatives," said Lovely.
Media consultant Scott Kushman agreed, saying that Sling TV should turn to more live events to obtain customers.
"For them and the NHL, this is a huge benefit for both parties, in that the NHL has a broadcast provider that stands by their business, while Sling TV taps into a loyal audience of potential customers," he said in an email to Ach5.Dmytro Aksonov / Getty Images
Though this NHL season only will include 56 games per team, compared to the usual 82, and started late due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the NHL Center Ice package could help Sling TV draw new customers down the road.
NHL ratings have been strong so far this season, with the opening-night game between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers becoming the most-watched regular season game ever on NBCSN, according to NHL.com.
"Sports and event type content is more valuable than ever," Paul Jun, CEO of Filmocracy, a film and festival streaming platform, said in an email to Ach5. "Sling TV is betting that their NHL programming will continue to grow in value to advertisers as consumers continue shifting away from traditional cable."