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

February 26, 2024

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.

*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+ for in-market fans.

Sportsnet is the regional rights holders for the Canucks, Oilers, Flames and Leafs. For the 2023-24 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, Ottawa Senators, or Buffalo Sabres. As a result, the only Canadiens, Jets, Sens, or Sabres games that are available on Sportsnet+ 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+ product.

There are no regional restrictions for Stanley Cup Playoff games. Every Stanley Cup Playoff game will be on Sportsnet+ 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 Sportsnet+ PREMIUM is the subscription package that best suits your needs.