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NHL Gamecenter Live: Is it Worth the Cost?

Last year we took a look at the NHL's signature online service. Is the full season version any better?

Jay Feaster presumably enjoying NHL Gamecenter Live
Jay Feaster presumably enjoying NHL Gamecenter Live
Bruce Bennett

As part of its plan to draw in as many viewers around the world as possible, the National Hockey League offers NHL Gamecenter Live, an online service that allows viewers to watch NHL games in real time. For $169 USD or nine monthly payments of $18.99 USD, you get access to NHL hockey as it happens. It sounds like a good deal, but is it worth it for the average hockey fan?

The Good

- Out of Market? In Luck. If you are a die-hard Boston Bruins fan forced to live in Winnipeg, Gamecenter Live is a terrific app for you. Gamecenter Live allows you to watch every game in the league (with a couple of key exceptions) for a flat fee. All you need is an internet connection and you're set.

- Multi-Platform Versatility. From a tablet to the Xbox 360 to your smartphone, NHL Gamecenter Live is available on virtually every electronic platform out there. Because you create one account for access, you can go from your smartphone to your laptop just by logging in.

- The Experience. NHL Gamecenter Live has a couple of really cool features for the intense hockey fan. You can switch between home and away broadcasts, which allows you to discover if the other team's broadcasters are really the gigantic homers you naturally assumed they were (Spoiler: they are).

Another terrific feature is the Multi-Game Views. You can watch multiple games at the same time. That is particularly nice come April, when your team is fighting for a playoff spot with two or three other teams, all of whom are playing simultaneously. Watch each game in real-time so you don't have to be glued to your Twitter feed waiting for news from other games.

The Bad

In Market? Out of Luck. If you happen to live in the same TV market as your favorite team, NHL Gamecenter Live really isn't for you. You still can't watch games played in whatever market you happen to be in. So if you don't have cable and you aren't at the game, too bad.

Live Streaming. As with most live-streaming services, you are largely at the mercy of your internet connection. If the connection is strong, NHL Gamecenter Live is a breeze. If it isn't, or you're trying to watch multiple games simultaneously, it's going to be slow going.

The Verdict

It's important to remember that the goal of NHL Gamecenter Live is to keep up interest in the league among those who lose their geographical connection to their favorite team. If that's you, congratulations! NHL Gamecenter Live is a great investment if you want to watch your favorite team. If not, you have to be a pretty big hockey fan to make NHL Gamecenter Live a good investment.