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How to Bypass NHL Blackouts on ESPN+ & NHL.TV

Callum Tennent oversees how we test and review VPN services. He's a member of the IAPP, and his VPN advice has featured in Forbes and the Internet Society.

Additional Research by Luke Williams

Our Verdict

The best way to watch blackout NHL games on ESPN+ is to use a VPN to get an IP address from a location outside the blackout area. The best VPN for bypassing NHL blackouts is Private Internet Access thanks to its streaming-optimized servers in 50 US states. If you want to bypass blackouts on NHL.TV, then connect to a VPN server location outside the US and Canada.

Quick Guide: How to Watch Blackout NHL Games

  1. Sign up to a VPN that works with ESPN+ and install the app on your device: Private Internet Access performed better than every other VPN in our tests.
  2. Connect to a VPN server outside the blackout region: Select a state where neither of the two teams are based.
  3. Open the ESPN+ website or app, and select the game you want to watch.
  4. To bypass a national blackout, or a regional blackout on an iPhone: use Private Internet Access to connect to a server in Mexico, and access NHL.TV.

ESPN+ shows the vast majority of NHL games, covering 1,050 (80%) of 1,312 games in the season. The remaining 20% of games are broadcast on cable TV channels, like TNT.

To respect licensing agreements, ESPN+ imposes regional blackout restrictions, determined by IP address location, to prevent fans from watching their local team’s games.

If you change your IP address using a VPN (virtual private network), you can make it seem you’re located in a different US state, allowing you to bypass NHL blackouts.

To watch all NHL games without cable, including national blackout games and the Stanley Cup Finals, you’ll have to use NHL.TV instead of ESPN+. However, it costs more than ESPN+: $14.99 per month versus $10.99.

Sadly, many VPNs don’t work with ESPN+ and NHL.TV due to the platforms’ strict VPN detection systems. After testing 65 VPNs, we’ve identified three highly-reliable ones for bypassing NHL blackouts.

Why Trust Us?

We’re fully independent and have been reviewing VPNs since 2016. Our advice is based on our own testing results and is unaffected by financial incentives. Learn who we are and how we test VPNs.

How to Watch Blackout NHL Games Using a VPN

ESPN+ and NHL.TV use your IP address to determine whether a NHL game is available for viewing in your region.

The only way to legally circumvent these geo-restrictions and watch any NHL blackout game is to use a VPN.

On most devices, you simply have to sign up for a compatible VPN service, connect to a VPN server in a different state, and open ESPN+.

However, the process varies depending on the device you’re using, and whether the game is regionally or nationally blacked out.

For instance, watching blackout games on your computer with a VPN is straightforward, but using a VPN on Roku or Android requires extra steps.

Below you can find detailed steps for each device. Although we’ve mostly used ESPN+ in the instructions, since it’s considerably cheaper, you can use the same methods with NHL.TV.

Importantly, if you want to bypass a national blackout, or get around regional ones on your iPhone, there’s no other option but to use a VPN with NHL.TV.

How to Watch Blackout NHL Games on Desktop (Windows & macOS)

Here’s how to bypass NHL blackout restrictions on a computer:

  1. Subscribe to a VPN and install the app on your device: we recommend Private Internet Access (PIA) because of its wide range of US server locations, fast speeds, and reliable compatibility with ESPN+.
  2. Connect to a VPN server in a state where the game is available: you can use our Blackout Map below to see where games are available.
  3. Open ESPN+ in your web browser and log in.
  4. Start streaming on ESPN+: Scroll down and select NHL under Leagues. You will now have access to live NHL games that would otherwise be blocked in your area.

Watch the video below for an easy-to-follow tutorial on how to bypass ESPN+ blackout restrictions using a VPN:

How to bypass ESPN+ Blackout using PIA VPN on macOS.

How to Stream Blackout NHL Games on Android

The ESPN+ Android app uses your GPS information to verify your location. To stream NHL games on ESPN+ with Android, you have to mimic the GPS location of a different state using a VPN like Surfshark that can spoof your GPS location.

Here’s how to watch ESPN+ NHL blackout games on your Android device:

  1. Download and install Surfshark VPN: Surfshark is the only VPN that works with ESPN+ and comes with GPS spoofing functionality.
  2. Activate the GPS Spoofing Feature: Open the Surfshark app, tap Settings, and enable Override GPS location under Advanced settings. You will get a message asking you to enable developer options.
  3. Enable Developer Options: In order to enable GPS spoofing, you’ll need to activate developer options on your device by going to Settings > About Phone. Tap the ‘Build Number’ 7 times, and you will get a message informing you that you’re in developer mode.
  4. Select Surfshark as a Mock Location App: Once you’ve enabled developer options, return to the Surfshark app and tap on the arrow to proceed. Then tap Open Settings, followed by the Select Mock Location App option, then SurfShark.
  5. Connect to a Surfshark VPN server where the game is not restricted: Both your GPS location and IP address will now match your chosen server location.
  6. Start Streaming on ESPN+: Open the ESPN+ app and start streaming your local NHL game. If you’re still in the wrong region, clear the ESPN+ app’s cache within your phone’s Settings app.
Watching blackout NHL games on ESPN+

Watching blackout NHL games on Android requires changing your GPS and IP location.

How to Bypass NHL Blackouts on Fire TV and Android TV

Both Fire TV and Android TV support the use of VPN apps or Smart DNS services. That means you can stream geo-restricted NHL games on both devices, as long as you choose a VPN with dedicated solutions.

Here’s how to bypass ESPN+ blackout restrictions on Fire TV and Android TV:

  1. Subscribe to a compatible VPN service: ExpressVPN has native apps for Fire TV, and Android TV, and works to unblock ESPN+.
  2. Download and install the ExpressVPN app on your device: Search the Amazon Appstore or Google Play Store for the name of your VPN service. Then, select the download icon.
  3. Connect to a server in a state where the game is available: Open the VPN app and choose a server in a state where there aren’t any blackout restrictions.
  4. Open the ESPN app and start streaming your chosen NHL game without any blackout restrictions.
Streaming blackout NHL games on Firestick

ESPN+ is available via the regular ESPN Fire TV app.

How to Get Around NHL Blackouts on iPhone

On iOS devices, the ESPN+ app uses both the GPS location and IP address of your device to enforce blackout restrictions.

Unfortunately, iOS doesn’t support GPS spoofing functionality, making it impossible to watch blackout NHL games on ESPN+ using an iPhone or iPad.

Luckily, you can still watch blackout NHL games on iOS using NHL.TV, which covers every NHL game, including nationwide blackout games and the Finals without restrictions.

NHL.TV is available in a wide range of countries outside of the US and Canada. This means you’ll need to get a foreign IP address using a VPN.

To watch all NHL games on iPhone and iPad using NHL.TV, follow the steps below:

  1. Subscribe to a VPN provider: We recommend Private Internet Access for its cheap price, global server locations, fast speeds, and compatibility with NHL.TV.
  2. Download the PIA app from the App Store: Once you’ve subscribed to PIA, download and install the app on your iOS device.
  3. Connect to a VPN server in a country where NHL.TV is available: We recommend Germany for the best streaming experience. The European price for NHL.TV is the cheapest and has none of the blackout restrictions found in Canada.
  4. Sign up for an NHL.TV account: You can use a US credit card to pay for your account.
  5. Open your browser: Navigate to and sign in with your NHL.TV account credentials.
  6. Streaming any NHL game: With PIA connected to a German server, you can now start streaming all of your favorite NHL teams on iOS without any blackout restrictions.
Using Surfshark VPN to bypass NHL restrictions.

You can access NHL.TV by connecting to a VPN server in Germany.

NHL.TV vs ESPN+: Which One to Use?

Choosing between ESPN+ and NHL.TV can be tricky, as it depends on what game(s) you want to watch, and on what device.

Here’s a table comparing the two streaming platforms to help you choose accordingly:

Number of Games 1,050 1,312
National Broadcasts No Yes
Stanley Cup Finals No Yes
Detects GPS on Mobile Yes No
Price per Month $10.99 $14.99

In short, ESPN+ is cheaper but NHL.TV provides the most comprehensive coverage of NHL games, including the Stanley Cup Finals.

Why Does the NHL Blackout Games?

NHL TV blackouts occur because the NHL sells broadcasting rights to specific games to regional sports networks (RSNs) and national broadcasters. Only these broadcasters can show these games.

RSNs broadcast NHL games in a specific region or area, while national broadcasters cover games nationwide.

These media partners pay substantial fees for the exclusive broadcasting rights, forming an essential revenue stream for both the league and individual teams.

In fact, some teams receive up to $100 million annually from these partnerships, accounting for around 35% of their overall revenue.

Therefore, to uphold these contractual agreements with broadcasters, the NHL imposes blackout restrictions in specific states.

When a game is broadcast on an RSN, such as AT&T SportsNet Pittsburgh, it is subject to blackout restrictions within the local area of Pittsburgh in an attempt to preserve exclusivity and viewership on the network.

These blackouts affect every American NHL team, including the very popular teams like the Blackhawks, Bruins, Penguins, and Red Wings.

Luckily, these games can be accessed from within the blackout region by connecting to a VPN server in a different state and using ESPN+.

Similarly, games aired by national broadcasters, like TNT, are subject to nationwide blackout restrictions. In this case, these blackouts can be bypassed by connecting to a VPN server in a different country, allowing access via NHL.TV.

NHL Blackout Map: Where Are Games Blacked Out?

To help you prepare for blackout games, we’ve compiled a list of NHL blackout rules based on each US state and created an up-to-date NHL blackout map.

By using this map, you can see exactly which games are being blacked out in your area. You can also see which regions to get an IP address from to circumvent these blackout restrictions.

NHL blackout map

As you can see, some blackout regions span entire states. You can still be blocked from accessing a team’s games even if you live hundreds of miles away. There are also many instances where there are multiple teams blacked out in the same state.

If you’re physically located in your team’s blackout region, connect to a VPN server in the nearest location outside of the blackout boundary for the fastest speeds.

The Best VPNs for Streaming Blackout NHL Games

To ensure we only recommend VPNs that provide the best experience for streaming blackout NHL games, we’ve tested 65 VPNs with ESPN+ and NHL.TV on a range of devices.

Summary: The Best VPNs for Streaming Blackout NHL Games

  1. Private Internet Access: Overall Best VPN for Streaming Blackout NHL Games
  2. Surfshark: Best VPN for Streaming ESPN+ on Android
  3. CyberGhost: Best Free VPN Trial for Watching NHL Games

The best VPN for streaming blackout NHL games is Private Internet Access. It uniquely has VPN servers in every US state, making it easy to always bypass NHL blackouts. Surfshark is an excellent alternative if you want to stream the NHL on ESPN+ on an Android device.

We chose these three VPNs based on the following criteria:

  • Streaming functionality: Only services proven to unblock NHL games on both platforms were tested further.
  • Number of US servers: To bypass local blackouts on ESPN+, a VPN needs servers in multiple US states.
  • International servers: To access NHL.TV, the VPN should have servers in locations where the service is available, like Europe or Canada.
  • Speed: Fast connection speeds are essential for streaming HD NHL games without buffering or lag.
  • Ease of use and compatibility: The VPN should have a reliable connection, a simple setup process, and easy-to-use applications for a range of different devices.
  • Affordability: We’ve prioritized affordable VPNs that offer a 100% free trial or a long refund period.

The Best NHL VPNs Compared

Private Internet Access
US Server Locations
Download Speed
Android GPS Spoofing
Smart DNS
Doesn’t Work for NHL
Doesn’t Work for NHL
Doesn’t Work for NHL
Type of Free Access
Money-Back Guarantee
Money-Back Guarantee
24 Hour Free Trial
Credit Card Required for Free Trial
Cheapest Price

1. Private Internet Access: Best VPN for the NHL Overall

the Private Internet Access iOS app

Pros Cons
Servers in all 50 US states for bypassing blackouts on ESPN+ No GPS spoofing for Android devices
Servers in 89 compatible countries for NHL.TV Does not have a router app
Fast speeds for live HD video Smart DNS tool doesn’t work with streaming apps
Cheap price of $2.03 per month
Strong encryption and secure connection

Here are the PIA VPN servers that worked with ESPN+ and NHL.TV:

  • ESPN+: US East Streaming Optimized, US West Streaming Optimized
  • NHL.TV: DE Frankfurt, DE Berlin

Private Internet Access is the best VPN for streaming blackout NHL games because of its huge range of US VPN servers, fast speeds, and affordability.

Easily Bypasses Local & National Blackout Restrictions

PIA has over 18,651 servers in 91 counties, and even provides IP addresses from all 50 states in the US.

PIA US Servers on iOS

PIA’s US servers on iOS.

This means you can easily connect to a server in another state without blackout restrictions and stream local NHL games on ESPN+.

If you’re looking to use NHL.TV, PIA also has servers in Germany, the UK, and Canada, so you can easily bypass blackout restrictions and access the games not shown on ESPN+.

Streaming the NHL with PIA VPN

Private Internet Access’s international servers unblocked ESPN+ every time.

Fast Speeds for HD Streaming

PIA’s servers provide fast download speeds, ensuring a seamless streaming experience. In our hands-on tests, the VPN was always quick enough to load live blackout NHL games in full resolution — even when connecting from the US to a European server.

Within the US, we observed a tiny speed loss of 5Mbps connecting to neighboring states.

Speed slowdowns were similar connecting to Toronto and Los Angeles from Canada and Florida, with decreases of only 6Mbps and 10Mbps, respectively.

Impressively, connecting to Germany and accessing NHL.TV yielded fast overseas speeds, registering a streaming speed of 84Mbps.

Overall, the connection speeds offered by PIA are more than enough for streaming NHL games in HD without any buffering or lag.

A Very Affordable Price

Not only is PIA excellent, it also offers a very competitive price. It costs $2.03 a month on a two-year subscription or $11.99 month-to-month.

It’s one of the cheapest VPNs you can get, and the service comes with a 30-day refund guarantee if you aren’t happy with your purchase.

2. Surfshark: Best VPN for Streaming ESPN+ on Android

Surfshark VPN's app for iOS

Pros Cons
Offers GPS spoofing on Android devices Not as many US servers as PIA
Works with both ESPN+ and NHL.TV Slower streaming speeds than PIA
Simple and user-friendly app
Easy and straightforward setup

Here are the Surfshark servers that worked with ESPN+ and NHL.TV:

  • ESPN+: United States – Boston, United States – Dallas
  • NHL.TV: Germany – Berlin, Germany – Frankfurt am Main

Surfshark is a very good VPN in general, and it worked particularly well with ESPN+ and NHL.TV.

The VPN service is very affordable, easy to use, and it comes with some excellent additional features — most notably its GPS spoofing feature for Android.

While it’s the best option for accessing ESPN+ on Android, it’s not quite as good as PIA on other devices due to its smaller US server network and slower speeds.

Using Surfshark to bypass NHL blackouts

In our testing, Surfshark frequently unblocked both NHL streaming platforms.

GPS Spoofing for Circumventing NHL Blackouts on Android

The ESPN+ mobile application uses GPS location tracking to geo-block its broadcasts on mobile devices.

Using Surfshark’s GPS spoofing feature, you can change your Android device’s GPS coordinates, aligning them with the VPN’s IP address, thereby effectively bypassing ESPN+’s location checks.

Alongside its GPS spoofing feature, Surfshark has 3,200 VPN servers in 100 different countries, so you can change your IP address on any other device as usual.

Comprehensive Feature Set at a Cheap Price

Surfshark is available for as little as $2.29 per month. There’s also a seven-day Surfshark free trial and a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Surfshark is a feature-rich VPN, with robust encryption, an automatic kill switch, and an ad blocker. In our tests, it delivered excellent speeds of 95Mbps when connecting locally in the US.

It also allows you to connect an unlimited number of devices simultaneously, which makes it great for households or users that want to watch NHL blackouts from multiple locations or on multiple devices.

3. CyberGhost: Best VPN Free Trial for NHL

Cyberghost's VPN app for iOS

Pros Cons
Offers 24-hour, 3-day, and 7-day free trials Payment details required for free trials on mobile devices
One-day free trial doesn’t require payment details Inconsistent connection speeds
Compatible with ESPN+ and NHL.TV
User-friendly VPN software

Here are the CyberGhost servers that worked with ESPN+ and NHL.TV:

  • ESPN+: United States – Optimized for ESPN+, United States – Miami
  • NHL.TV: Germany – Berlin, Germany – Dusseldorf

CyberGhost is the best VPN free trial for watching blackout NHL games online.

Unlike every free VPN option we’ve tested, such as Proton VPN and Atlas VPN, CyberGhost’s one-day free trial reliably bypassed ESPN+ and NHL.TV geo-restrictions on PC and Mac.

Using CyberGhost to unblock NHL.TV

We used CyberGhost to stream blackout NHL games for free.

The VPN’s diverse server network in 100 countries, and intuitive applications make it one of the most effective and reliable products available.

That said, CyberGhost doesn’t provide as many server locations in the United States as PIA, nor does it include as many additional features as Surfshark.

A Wide Range of Free Trial Options

With CyberGhost’s 24-hour, three-day, and seven-day free trials — along with its 45-day money back guarantee — you can try out the VPN for several weeks before committing to a long-term subscription.

Therefore, you can watch just one or two blackout NHL games using CyberGhost completely free. Simply sign up to one of its free trials, or claim your money back within 45 days.

In the table below, you can compare CyberGhost’s free trial against popular free VPNs:

Atlas VPN Free PrivadoVPN Free ZoogVPN Free CyberGhost
Monthly Data Cap 5GB 10GB 10GB Unlimited
Local Download Speed 95Mbps 96Mbps 93Mbps 94Mbps
Countries With Servers 3 11 5 100
Compatible with ESPN+ No No No Yes

When signing up for the free trial on iOS or Android, you’ll need to enter your payment details, so make sure to cancel before the trial ends to avoid being charged.

Fast Connection Speeds But Fewer US Server Locations

With a download speed loss of just 6% on nearby servers, CyberGhost streamed NHL games without buffering or lag.

Streaming speeds were consistent, with connections to Canada and Germany dropping from 100 Mbps to just 94Mbps and 85Mbps respectively.

CyberGhost’s server network is also one of the largest available, with 12,000 servers in 100 countries.

However, there are only 12 US locations available, which isn’t as many as PIA to bypass regional NHL blackouts on ESPN+.

VPNs We Don’t Recommend for Streaming NHL Games

Having tested 65 of the most popular VPNs in the market, we narrowed down our recommendations to just three based on their feature set, performance, and value for money.

The table below summarizes our test results, showing which VPNs work with ESPN+ and NHL.TV. However, simply because a VPN unblocks both services, doesn’t mean we automatically recommend it.

Proton VPN
Proton VPN Free
Atlas VPN Free
PrivadoVPN Free
ZoogVPN Free

Though several VPNs, including ExpressVPN and NordVPN, are compatible with both ESPN+ and NHL.TV, they did not make our recommended list due to various reasons.

Here’s a more detailed overview of popular VPNs we don’t currently recommend for bypassing NHL blackouts:


ExpressVPN US Server Locations

ExpressVPN doesn’t offer as many US IP addresses as other top VPNs.

Though ExpressVPN is generally a top pick for streaming, it failed to make our shortlist of the best NHL VPNs. The shortcomings included a limited US server network in 11 states, the absence of GPS spoofing features, and the unavailability of a completely free trial.


Screenshot showing a conversation with NordVPN's support, after requesting a refund.

Unlike some other VPNs, NordVPN can only be used for free on every desktop and iOS via its money-back guarantee.

NordVPN fell short of our criteria due to the absence of a free trial on iOS, lack of fake GPS functionality, and no dedicated application for routers.

Proton VPN Free

NHL.TV showing the error screen when trying to access it with Proton VPN Free

We encountered the error screen when trying to bypass NHL blackouts with Proton VPN Free.

Proton VPN Free is usually a highly-recommended free VPN, but unfortunately, it’s not able to bypass NHL blackouts. In our testing, it failed to access either ESPN+ or NHL.TV.

Atlas VPN Free

ESPN+ showing the error screen when trying to access it with Atlas VPN Free

Atlas VPN’s free tier couldn’t access ESPN+ on any of its US servers.

While Atlas Free is able to access ESPN+, it can’t access NHL.TV, which means you won’t be able to use it to watch nationally blacked out games or the NHL finals.

PrivadoVPN Free

PrivadoVPN's free tier couldn't access ESPN+ on any of its US servers.

Privado VPN Free can’t be used to access blackout NHL games.

PrivadoVPN Free is able to access NHL.TV but not ESPN+. If you’re looking to bypass local blackouts by connecting to a nearby state, then PrivadoVPN Free isn’t the right VPN for you.