How to Watch Live NHL Games on the Mac, iPhone, iPad, & Apple TV

| How-To

Hockey lovers rejoice! The NHL is back in action this Saturday, January 19th after a lengthy and painful labor dispute that delayed nearly half the season. Thankfully, there are now more ways than ever to get your hockey fix, and Apple is leading the way with several options.

NHL GameCenter Mac

First, users must subscribe to the NHL’s GameCenter Live, which gives access to out-of-market games in “HD” quality. In an effort not to alienate fans further, this year’s package is only US$49.99 for the season, less than a prorated equivalent considering the fewer games that will be played.

Once you’ve signed up, you can access live and archived games from several Apple Products:

Mac: On the Mac, simply go to in a modern web browser to sign in and view games. There are several quality levels and, while quality can fluctuate depending on network conditions and overall traffic, I’ve used the online GameCenter for several years and found the quality overall to be excellent for live streaming video.

iDevices: Owners of an iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad can head over to the App Store to grab the official NHL GameCenter app. It’s a free download that lets all users view scores, stats, and news, but GameCenter subscribers can log in and also view the live and archived game feeds right on their iDevices.

Apple TV: In October 2011, Apple updated the Apple TV to add support for the NHL GameCenter app. Available on your home screen, the app lets you log in with your GameCenter credentials and watch all available live and archived games, as well as see stats and scores from around the league. It’s the easiest way to get NHL content on your television, and it helps those who have (or are planning to) “cut the cord” keep up with the world’s greatest sport [That’s right, I said it. Greatest Sport. Come get me. -Jim]

Those without an Apple device can still enjoy the action, as the NHL has expanded GameCenter’s availability to Android, Boxee, the PS3, Xbox 360, Roku, and certain Sony Smart TVs and Blu-ray players.

It should be noted, however, that the NHL, like most sports, blocks access to games that would otherwise be blacked out and those that are available in the user’s local market. National games carried on The NBC Sports Network or NBC proper, for example, won’t be viewable via GameCenter if those channels are available in your area.

NHL GameCenter MacImage credit: Jim Tanous

But for fans who live away from their home team [Let’s Go Buff-a-lo!], GameCenter and Apple products go perfectly together and make you feel right at home.

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“Only” $49.99???

Are you JOKING?

Yes, that is less than a “prorated equivalent”.  But not that much.

The fact that they offered this product at such a piddly discount given what they have done to fans and, more importantly, to the game is PATHETIC.

The fact that you don’t see any problem with that (to the contrary, apparently) is even more pathetic.


Very timely indeed. I just cut the cord myself and alas now I can’t see any Sabres games either. $50 is a bit steep since I will only watch the Sabres. We’ll see how desperate I get if the Rick Jeannerette radio call doesn’t do it for me.
I was wondering why there was a Gerbe photo. Go Sabres!

Jim Tanous

I appreciate your enthusiasm, but let me illustrate (assuming that you only primarily follow your home team):

Previous seasons of GameCenter have cost $159 for 82 games (obviously not every game was available due to blackouts, etc, but let’s go with the maximum theoretical number of games for both seasons). That works out to about $1.94 per game.

This year is $50 for 48 games, which works out to $1.04 per game.

Compare that to other premium sports packages like NFL Sunday Ticket, which purchased online only without a DirecTV subscription cost $299.95 for 16 games. That’s about $18.75 per game.

I agree with your criticism of the league and how they handled the lockout, but for those who truly love the sport, this is not a bad deal at all. And CERTAINLY not pathetic. wink  Good day, Sir!

chris kaminski

Considering that apathy that the owners and players had for the fans, this is something that should be given to all fans free.  The NBA locked out last year, and gave it to their fans for free.

I read the statement from the NHL, and although I understand it, it seems that a way to work with the sponsors to offer it free could have been worked out pretty easily.

$49.95 is not a terrible price, but if they want to repair the damage done to the game, and actually grow the game, then free could have started the healing.


I agree with Chris. It would have been a nice gesture for league to provide this as a free service this season.

I’m still pretty irritated about the lockout situation, though a short season should add a bit of excitement to the playoff race. The biggest disappointment for me was the cancellation/postponement of the Winter Classic at Michigan Stadium. I’ve wanted the Red Wings to play a game at the Big House since this whole outdoor hockey craze started, and the fact that it didn’t happen this year really left me not caring if the season started at all.

Sunil K.

The Leafs are NOT in last place!!! (yet)

Jim Lewis

I’m less concerned with price than I am with quality.  Last year’s GameCenter product gave me jittery pictures, frequent reboots, unsyncronized sound and often no between- period or TV time out content, let alone any pregame or post game content.  All of this made the product inferior to CentreIce.  Has NHL done anything to improve their GameCenter product?

Jim Tanous

Hi Jim,

I’ve used GameCenter since about 2010 (if I recall correctly) and it’s gotten better each year. Every year I’ve encountered occasional games where the quality is poor or the connection drops, but I’d estimate that at least 90% of the games I want to watch work just fine. Keep in mind that I have a relatively fast downstream connection (50 Mbps), so your mileage may vary depending on your connection speed.

As it compares to Center Ice, the question is your Center Ice provider. DirecTV, for example, carries most games in HD (both home and away feeds) and keeps the feed live for a good bit during the post-game show. But now that we have Time Warner Cable, we only get a small handful of HD games each night, and never a complete choice between home or away feeds. They also cut the broadcast off within seconds of the final buzzer.

For me, comparing GameCenter online to Center Ice via a cable provider, I greatly prefer GameCenter. The quality is better, I always get my home feed, and I have the option to watch games on the go with my iPad or Mac.

But you’re right to point out that there is usually no content displayed during commercial and period breaks when watching the home team’s feed. I don’t mind missing the commercials, but I do wish I could see the intermission report. But, I usually just switch to another game during intermission.


The “out-of-market” games are the ones we don’t want to watch.  I live in San Jose and while on a business trip in south america, I could not watch the Sharks.  Whats with that?  I couldn’t physically be MORE out of my market area.  What the NHL game center folks need to understand is, we need to watch our home team whne WE are away from home.


Hi Jim

I live in England and have NHL Gamecenter Live for this season.  I bought an Apple TV to watch games on my flatscreen TV but my Apple TV does not have the NHL Gamecenter app on my home screen.  I have updated the software to 5.1.1, still no luck.  Anyone have any ideas?  Cheers.


So I was in Lexinton KY the other day, at a Hilton, in the middle of nowhere. No Hockey to speak of. As a matter of fact, I think they still use rabbit ears out there. I went to use my newly purchased HNL live, to watch the Blackhawks…>WHAT???? no game, blacked out. What a farce. What do they think we are paying for? It’s such a crock, and a total waist of money. And I see the silly propaganda commecials how they are giving away puck, jerseys, sticks, blah blah blah., “We appreciate our fans” they say. NOT. They appreciate the fact you will pay $400 plus dollars for a good seat. Sorry to ramble, just pissed off a bit….HNL are you listening??

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