How to Watch The NHL Playoffs (2021 Guide)
The Stanley Cup playoffs will have unique matchups this year due to COVID-19 protocols and the reshuffling of divisions.
Getting all the channels you need to watch games without cable hasn’t changed much.
The 2021 NHL Playoffs air on NBC, NBCSN, CNBC, USA, and NHL Network. First-round games will air across NBC channels in the U.S. and NHL Network. NHL Network will be crucial for a smaller number of fans.
For most people, the cheapest way to get all these channels will be through Sling TV’s blue channel bundle. The first month only costs $10 when you sign up, and increases to $35 per month after that.
But there are some differences with Sling TV and other live TV services worth noting if you’re trying to watch every game without cable.
Table of Contents
- How to Watch The NHL Playoffs (2021 Guide)
- How the NHL Playoffs Work for 2021
- Sling Blue: Cheapest Option for NHL Playoffs
- fuboTV: Comprehensive NHL Playoffs coverage
- Hulu with Live TV
- Youtube TV: Watch NHL Playoffs live stream
- AT&T TV
- What’s the best way to watch the NHL playoffs without cable?
How the NHL Playoffs Work for 2021
The NHL’s 31 teams were realigned into the North, West, Central and East Divisions. These divisions were created only for this season. The playoffs will be divisonally based. So the top seed plays the No. 4 seed. The Nos. 2 and 3 play each other.
The winners play for the division title, and each division champion will advance to the Stanley Cup semifinals.
For the first time since 1981, the NHL is going to reseed its final four teams. That may lead to some dream matchups that you wouldn’t see otherwise.
Sling Blue: Cheapest Option for NHL Playoffs
The Sling Blue channel bundle has NBCSN and USA, and only costs $10 for the first month. To add CNBC to the mix, you will need the News Extra bundle, which costs another $6 per month.
NBC is only available in 11 markets. This map shows what local NBC stations that Sling carries.
If Sling TV does not carry NBC in your area, but you can use a TV antenna to get your local NBC station, then Sling TV will be your most economical way to watch the playoffs.
You can add NHL Network to your subscription through the Sports Extra channel pack for another $11 per month.
Depending on how you stack up channels, the first month of streaming games can cost from $10 to $27. After that, your cost would be between $35 and $52. There are no contracts or hidden fees.
Sling TV carries 44 channels total, and includes 50 hours of Cloud DVR. Subscribers can stream on up to three screens at once.
You can use Sling TV on Smart TVs, Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Xbox One and Google Chromecast.
fuboTV: Comprehensive NHL Playoffs coverage
fuboTV has local NBC stations, NBCSN, USA and CNBC in its starter channel bundle.
Subscribers get 130+ channels, 250 hours of Cloud DVR and a “lookback” feature that serves as an on-demand option for games that aired in the last 72 hours.
You can watch live TV on up to three screens at once. FuboTV works on Amazon Fire TV, Roku, Apple TV and Android TV software. That means Smart TVs, Google Chromecast and NVIDIA Shield.
A subscription costs $64.99 per month, but you can try out fuboTV free for one week.
Hulu with Live TV
Hulu with Live TV has all the key channels to live stream NHL playoff games. The one exception is NHL Network.
Subscribers get 65+ channels for $64.99 per month and 50 hours of Cloud DVR.
As part of a subscription, you will also get access to Hulu’s on-demand library of movies and TV shows. It’s the same library people pay $5.99 per month for. And you can use your subscription to activate about 38 apps on your streaming device, including the NBC Sports app.
You can see what local channels Hulu carries in your area before signing up.
Even if you already subscribe to Hulu on-demand, you can get a free 7-day trial of live TV service. Hulu with Live TV supports live streaming on Roku, Apple TV and Amazon Fire TV devices.
Youtube TV: Watch NHL Playoffs live stream
YouTube TV has only one bundle of channels and it includes NBC and regional sports channels like NBCSN. NHL Network is not available through YouTube TV.
You’ll get about 85+ channels for $64.99 per month, along with unlimited Cloud DVR.
YouTube TV has apps for Amazon Fire TV, Google Chromecast with Google TV, Apple TV, Chromecast and Xbox One.
ESPN, FX and movie channels like IFC are part of the channel lineup. You can try YouTube TV free for 7-days.
AT&T TV carries all the channels you need for live streaming the NHL playoffs.
NBC, NBCSN, CNBC, and USA Network are part of the Entertainment package. That costs $69.99 per month.
You’ll be able to stream live TV on a Roku, Apple TV or Fire TV at home, and a smartphone if you’re not at home. AT&T TV has a no contract option.
If you do sign up, you should know that you have to choose the “no contract” option during the account setup process. It’s not automatic.
(Note: AT&T TV does carry NHL Network, but it’s in the “Ultimate” bundle which costs $94.99 per month.)
Can I watch NHL Playoffs using the NBCSports app
fuboTV, Hulu with Live TV and YouTube TV subscribers can activate the NBC Sports app.
You can also use your credentials for NBCSports.com (Local blackouts may apply in some areas.) To use these apps without a cable subscription, you’ll want to pick a live TV streaming service with TV Everywhere access.
What’s the best way to watch the NHL playoffs without cable?
There’s two basic choices here — the cheapest or the easiest.
The Sling Blue channel bundle is $10 for the first month, and will get you NBCSN and USA. CNBC will cost another $6 per month. Just be aware that Sling TV only carries NBC in about 11 markets. Look over the channel lineup for your area before you sign up. Look over Sling’s channel lineup before deciding whether to sign up.
With fuboTV, you don’t have to cobble together your channel lineup, but it does cost more.
fuboTV has 130+ channels including local NBC stations, NBCSN, USA and CNBC. You can add NHL Network for another $7.99 per month. You can try fuboTV free for 7-days, or look over its channel lineup for your area.
This guide was written on April 9, 2018 and has been updated.
Founder and Editor of The Cord Cutting Report. Before launching the site in 2016, he worked for more than two decades as a staff writer or correspondent for a number of daily newspapers, including The Boston Globe. His enthusiasm for tech began with the Atari 2600. Follow @james_kimble