Here’s how to stream all games from NHL GameCenter, even if they’re blacked out

8

Ted Kritsonis

October 12, 2013 5:41pm

If you’re a hockey fan and you haven’t heard of NHL GameCenter, then you might want to consider the breadth of streaming content NHL GameCenter offers for the 2013-14 season. Under normal settings, it offers dozens of out-of-market games, which is great if you live in Toronto and love the Rangers, for example, but with blackouts in effect for your home area, the restrictions can be daunting. With a couple tricks of the trade, you can watch any game you want, and make it the most worthwhile NHL experience yet.

This is even more important if the NHL is a key reason why you’re still hanging on to a cable or satellite subscription. In fact, NHL Centre Ice from Bell, Rogers, Shaw, Videotron and others is $50 per month for four months. GameCenter is either $150 outright pricing or $19 per month for eight months. At face value, Centre Ice has the edge because of fewer blackouts and the fact you get the other major networks that show games, too. Problem is, when there is a blackout, there’s no way around it. Not to mention that the only way you’d be able to watch games remotely on your phone or tablet is using something like Bell’s TV app or getting a Slingbox.

GameCenter is first and foremost a mobile platform, which explains why it works on iOS, Android and BlackBerry (no Windows Phone yet), as well as most Web browsers, Apple TV, Roku, Boxee Box and some smart TVs. The app itself is free, since you would need a subscription to watch live games, all of which are broadcast and offered in HD and can be streamed over Wi-Fi, LTE and 3G.

The way blackouts work in GameCenter is pretty straightforward. Games televised by CBC, NBC, NBC Sports Network, NHL Network, TSN and RDS aren’t available to watch. Sportsnet broadcasts are usually regional, meaning that if Sportsnet Pacific is showing a Canucks game, but you live in Ontario, you will be able to watch it. If you live in B.C., well, no dice. So much for being a fan of a Canadian team.

Given that you’re paying almost the same amount of money, it seems terribly unfair that you would have to be forced out of this draconian walled garden. Thankfully, the Internet and expanding mobile world offer great workarounds to unlock the whole package.

SurfEasy screens

The best way to do it is to use an effective VPN. For mobile users, SurfEasy is a great option, allowing both U.S. and U.K. tunnels to mask your IP and open up access to every game. There are certain games televised by both a Canadian and U.S. network (the outdoor games come to mind), thus blacking it out no matter which feed you choose, and even if you are under a U.S. IP. Choose the U.K. one and suddenly the game pops to life. Having that kind of flexibility means you will be able to watch every game live, anytime you want. The only thing blacked out would be commercials and intermissions.

Bear in mind that this does require a further commitment. SurfEasy limits you to 500MB of bandwidth per month on a free account. That’s fine for testing a game or two, but isn’t a viable option for regular usage. Their Total VPN plan for $4.99 per month is a great deal in that it gives you unlimited data and supports up to five devices (only iOS and Android for mobile so far).

So, whether you want to watch on a laptop at home and then keep watching on your phone on the go, it’s fine because you would’ve already installed SurfEasy on it beforehand. The only thing you need to be mindful of once you’re out the door is data usage, since streaming in HD can rack up megabytes in no time.

GameCenter iPhone screens

The portable and mobile side of things is great, but what if you want to watch on your TV? An iPhone or iPad and an Apple TV would easily do the trick, since GameCenter supports AirPlay. Android users who already have either a Miracast or HDMI wired setup to a TV would also have no issue (though GameCenter doesn’t officially support Miracast, you can still watch if you’re able to just mirror your screen).

For streaming boxes, game consoles and smart TVs, however, SurfEasy doesn’t do the job as a standalone service because there are no apps for those platforms. This is where Unblock-Us comes in. By tunneling from the router rather than devices themselves, you would essentially turn your whole home network into a bunch of masked IPs and open up access to blacked out games. They offer a 7-day trial, and also charge $4.99 per month for the service, and even have an FAQ specifically for GameCenter. A shame that jailbroken Apple TVs aren’t supported anymore, though AirPlay from a iOS device will work.

Of the two, SurfEasy was a flawless experience, with nary a slowdown or connection issue to stop us. Using the different IPs, we were never shut out from any game. Unblock-Us is good for the lean back couch experience, though only if you’re not invested in Apple’s ecosystem or don’t have any other mobile-to-TV connection that can work as an alternative. We didn’t test other VPN services to gauge and compare, but if they’re reliable and offer multiple locations, then they should theoretically work without issue, too.

Amazing goal screen

Oh, and before we forget, a fringe benefit of a GameCenter subscription is NHL Vault. If you love the idea of watching a classic game or want to go back and settle a debate from the playoffs two years ago, then you’ll enjoy this. Over 800 classic games going back to the 60s are available to stream, plus all games (regular season and playoffs) going back to the 2010-11 season in their entirety. It’s part of your subscription, so logging in with your GameCenter username and password will get you in.

The downside is that the NHL has treated the service a little too much like a vault because you can only access it from a Web browser. Plus, since it’s all based on Flash, your mobile device has to be compatible, and even if it is, there are no guarantees it will work.

Unfortunately, the NHL seems to keep Vault close to their chest, but at least GameCenter is unfettered when you combine the flexibility of its compatibility and the performance of the two solid VPNs we tested. If you’re going to support the NHL by spending the same money the cable and satellite guys would, then you should be able to watch all the games, not just the ones you’re told to.

8

Final Score

  • John_JJP

    Wow, a big long article telling people how to (possibly) break the law.. Good on you mobilesyrup. (lots of sarcasm there) .. There are rules for reasons and I am thinking that since the NHL holds copyrights on these games and makes the decisions on blackouts, it’s up to them to do it..

    This would be the same as telling people how to use these services to watch USA Netflix etc.. A lot of places tell you how to do that, but it’s again, surely got to be breaking copyright laws, etc.

    • Bas

      I agree with your sentiment just not sure this counts as illegal in the slightest.

      Most likely against various terms of service and can get your accounts suspended effectively costing you money.

      If it is indeed illegal, I would love to see the law(s).

    • John_JJP

      Yah, I did try to use the words “possibly” break the law .. It’s certainly ‘breaking the rules’ of course. And more than likely violating terms of service, etc (which could fall under contract law?) .. I’m not entirely sure how copyright laws work and if this would be considered breaking a copyright law, so yes, I should be careful in my words.

      It is still, however, wrong. When one signs up for these services, they do agree to the rules.. and am pretty sure (though I can’t say 100%) that these rules do usually state how you can’t circumvent things made to keep you from doing certain things .. just because you feel like it’s ‘not fair’. (like copying movies, music, etc.. as much as people say it’s ‘not fair’ .. it’s still not allowed).

      But yes, I do agree with you.. whether it is actually “illegal” would be a matter of copyright and contract laws.

    • me987654

      There’s nothing illegal here at all

    • ChicagoJay

      Oh bs blackouts were created to fill empty stadiums I mean gimme a break the Pathetic San Diego teams like the Chargers blackout the game unless a certain amount of tickets are sold at the copyright infringement is entirely different and pertains using or reproducing material or property to which someone else has the rights for profit. If you’re somehow boosting pay per view and charging a bunch of fools to watch the fight at your house or wherever then maybe, or if you’re illleagally copying and selling movies perhaps. Come on man this is local sports which for years (before networks became all these other network/cable stations) games were on TV. The networks have been forced to broadcast free in digital to people who refuse (and with just cause) to be forced to subscribe to cable just to watch television. Blackouts are entirely ridiculous and there would probably be a lot more fans and people willing to go out to an occasional if they got into it because they were able to watch it on tv. The major networks are too busy running reality tv shows and nonsense, dancing with the stars, etc. nowadays. But that’s the unfortunate crap that sells and pays major prime time tv advertising bucks I suppose. Oh well, I say if you can get a game that should be free for free do it!!! Go Hawks!

  • Martin Guay

    If anyone is interested in alternative VPN services there’s Private Internet Access. Provides secure VPN access with no bandwidth restriction with several location to choose, canada, us, uk, Aus,

    This is turn would allow you to connect to Netflix and get the US content or better yet watch Hulu.com or even better watch the BBC all depending on IP geographic restrictions.

    Yup I totally agree defeats the purpose of stopping people from watching.

    Let’s get this further more. What about bitorrent? Ahhh that’s right, route your traffic through your VPN. Some services will offer clients for multiple platforms.

    There’s so many uses for VPN access. Google it.

    • Redpen

      +1 for PIA. I’ve had great results with them for Gamecenter (Go Jets
      Go!!), plus their services work for torrents. And at $35 a year,
      they’re among the cheaper VPNs out there. Plus they don’t keep logs of
      their users activities, so there is that extra piece of mind.

      On rare occasions, routing traffic through a UK server watching in Canada,

      I’ve still been blocked from some games. I guess these games are
      televised across the pond. There are enough servers with PIA in Northern, Central and Eastern Europe that you’ll always find an exit point that will work.

      And
      while your speeds don’t generally slow down that much using this VPN,
      if you find the feed stuttering from a poor connection, you can turn off
      the VPN after you’ve logged in and watching the game and then use your regular connection without any blockage.

  • marshallpower

    Thanks but I think I’ll pass…way too complicated….and It’s buttman’s fault if the nhl is now a circus, I won’t subscribe to this anymore, the service is kind of bad for what you pay for…they will even stop the game before they even commented on it after the 3rd period. Sometimes you won’t be able to find Fox Blues even when they are at home.

    And btw, I think Videotron is only 30$ per month and you can stop your subscription anytime…that’s how it was not long ago.

  • Graison Swaan

    Tunnelbear is $30/year, is Canadian and installs with just a few clicks.

  • Super_Deluxe

    I’ve been using unblock-us for about a year and a half and their DNS servers changes your location to whatever the site expects. Its $4.99 a month as well but it’s easier to set up. You make an account and they register your IP to it and you enter their DNS address to your router or device and it works right away. Basically unblocks any site around the world.

  • Andy Nguyễn

    Location spoofer is easier

  • Alex McIlwaine

    Or pay $70 to HockeyStreams.com and watch any game on multiple leagues whenever you like.

    • ChampIsHere

      If you pay for streams you must be borderline retarded

    • Alex McIlwaine

      If you think so…

      I tend to think the full HD, multiple leagues, archive and DVR functions built right in are worth the money.

      Sure you can play around with VLC and the free LUAC files that some people maintain if you’re so poor that you don’t have even a few dollars. If so, sorry for your luck.

    • ChampIsHere

      Actually, I got a hacked version of NHL Gamecenter and now I get all the games for free. Great quality too.

  • Lebking

    If you want to watch all the games on an Android phone with no blackouts just download FakeGPS from the Play Store and set your location to South Africa…works like a charm

  • Justin Crowley

    also too, as you mentioned gamecenter live is $150, if you point your VPN connection to europe or south america, gamecenter is only $100, easy way to save $50

  • BB BB

    Works for Netflix USA too…unotelly is easier though you just need to update your DNS servers the rest is magic and it works. Either that or just get rogers ultimate sports pack. $40 not $50 +$5 extra for DNS. What’s the point of paying for streaming the games if you can’t even watch your home team?

  • BMSMA

    I only use vpn to watch Netflix and watch incar cameras on NASCAR’s racebuddy site. No other reason, unfortunately vpn sevices gets severely abused.

    And yes the NHL is a circus, thanks Buttman. Marketting a Canadian born game in America, have you seen the TV coverage deals with the NHL?

  • rony

    ….break the law….break the rules ……LMAO .

    here is short and super easy version how to watch netflix,hulu,bbc,many u.s. tv and listen pandora on your laptop or android device.

    from play store/android/ or chrome web store download app called HOLA UNBLOCKER .
    enable it and …….

    enjoy !

    rules are here for breaking .

  • Owen Finn

    You could just spoof your location instead with a fake GPS application?

  • Jay

    You don’t need need a VPN just download gps spoof from google plat and you set your country to to Australia and you can watch anything.

  • Billy Royle

    i use location spoofer pro. easy peasy

    check mock locations in the setting on your phone and its go time

  • Benj

    I’ve downloaded SurfEasy VPN, configured my IP address to appear to be in the UK and I’m still not able to watch in market games. I’ve restarted my iPad as well. Can anyone offer some advice?

    • Dildo Daggins

      Maybe the NHL Googled “how to stream local games” like I did, read this article, and did something about it…

    • Ollie Thompson

      A TV Company in the UK, Premier Sports, has paid for enhanced broadcast rights, meaning that there are “inmarket games” which will be blacked out due to your (new) UK I.P.

  • 214

    i don’t want my computer hacked by you so go to hell

  • Sophia Low

    watch on Puckingoal. com

  • Thelma W. Bowman

    Hey I love this game but I am using different Smart DNS, I think the one I’m using is lesser. I just want to share this luck to you, I was using trickbyte for 5 months now and I am paying $2.99/month I saved money and at the same time I enjoy watching my favorite TV shows.