Which NHL games are subject to blackouts?

Every NHL game has the potential to be subject to a broadcast blackout. Understanding the rules for NHL blackouts can help viewers determine which channel to tune in to when they want to see their favorite team play.

About NHL Blackouts

An NHL blackout occurs when teams that are local to a customer’s area are playing. The game will not be broadcast on sports channels that air national games. These games are exclusively aired on local networks.

Local networks are able to prevent games from airing on sports channels because of established broadcast rights. This means that these local networks retain the exclusive rights to air games that involve a team from the local area.

What To Do When a Game Is Unavailable

Customers may consider calling their television service provider for answers when an NHL blackout occurs. While these blackouts can be frustrating, television service providers have no say in whether or not they will be able to air a certain game. These providers must recognize the broadcast rights of local networks.

Most customers are able to view their local NHL games by checking the listings of local networks. It is uncommon for customers to be unable to view an NHL game when they have access to local networks and sports channels.

It is important for customers to understand that NHL blackouts are not associated with the number of tickets sold for each game. Other sports may require blackouts to occur based on ticket sales, but NHL blackouts are only associated with local broadcast rights.

Are NHL blackout policies different from NFL?

Yes. Unlike the NFL blackout policies that have more to do with attendance, NHL blackout rules are designed to protect broadcasters with contracts to air games. With the exception of national broadcasters who have exclusive rights to certain games, local broadcasters have top priority.

Is the FCC doing away with blackouts?

The FCC has been developing plans to curb the overall effects and discontent caused by blackouts for years, now. While many of the broader changes being proposed would have sweeping effects over the MLB, the NBA, the NFL and the NHL, some will not be nearly as noticeable. This is due, largely, in part to the way different leagues negotiate TV rights.

Are blackout mitigations bad for NHL fans?

Depends who you ask. The NHL and broadcasters alike claim that changing the FCC policies on blackout will create a pay TV apocalypse for diehard fans. What the argument does not quite admit, however, is that broadcasters will face harder negotiations when it comes time to discuss retransmission rates with television service providers.

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