For those of us living in Canada, the first week of October can mean only one thing. Well…maybe two if you count stuffing your face full of turkey. The start of the NHL season is here once again. Finally, summer is over and we can get down to stuffing our lives full of hockey (See what I did there?).
In the past, if you wanted to watch your favourite team, there was only one option - a cable subscription with a sport package bolted on top. This allowed you to watch about half of the local home team’s games. But what if your team was across the country? Or you were a fan that wanted to watch all the games?
Now Roger’s Gamecentre Live is providing the opportunity to anyone with a high performing internet connection to watch every single NHL game live this season and in the playoffs. Overall there are few blackout issues for fans of "Out of Market" teams however, Rogers has decided to punish Canadians who do not also subscribe to SportsNet on cable. This basically cuts the number of games in half for fans who don't have a cable subscription to the SportsNet channel. You know that it's not good news when the blackout info documents are written in red!
Being a recent cable cord cutter, I couldn’t face a season completely without hockey, so I took the plunge and spent the $199.99 for the season package including the playoffs. There is also a monthly package for $29.99 and a special French language package for an extra $59.99.
This being the Thanksgiving long weekend there was ample time to test out the service. The biggest issue was deciding which games and which devices to watch them on.
- I first watched the Jets take on the Devils through the built in Apple TV App. I switched back and forth between the Jets and Devils announcers. The app worked well and it was exactly the same experience as watching a game on cable.
- The second game I started watching on my iPad while the kids watched a movie. I switched to my Samsung phone when my wife wanted to play Sudoku. The experience was good on both devices however a little small for my liking.
- On Saturday night I decided to watch on my laptop. The Gamecentre Live service allows you to watch up to four games at once on your computer. This was fun but the view was too small so I casted the game through my Google Chromecast to my big screen TV, allowing me to keep track of all the action.
- The main event of the weekend was watching the Flames take on the Canucks and so I turned off the laptop and watched the game through the Xbox app. (Go Flames!)
The laptop provided the best functionality for watching games, highlights and scores, however I was extremely pleased with how Gamecentre Live worked on all my devices. In fact, after a few minutes, I completely forgot that it was being live streamed over the internet, especially when I was watching on my TV. Everyone in my house asked me at one time or another in the first two days if I had secretly turned the cable subscription back on.
I found Gamecentre Live to be a decent value to me as a hockey fan. It's just disappointing to be see no available options for non-cable subscribers to watch all of your home team games.