(Source: USA Today) – The (Yahoo!) media company announced Thursday a partnership with the National Hockey League to stream up to four games per week without requiring a cable subscription or authentication. The streams kick off March 11.

Welcome to the 21st century!  We’ve been waiting for you.  Man, this is huge.  I am so happy Yahoo is doing this.  For no other reason than it gives hockey fans who have decided to cut the cord to watch their favorite teams streaming online.  Being a Bruins fan and a cord cutter I do not anticipate that Bruins games will be one of the 4 games each week.  The games will be the less popular games.  Like this past Thursday night it was the Minnesota Wild and the Edmonton Oilers.

The reason I am excited about it is maybe the NHL is coming into the digital age and the local blackouts on the NHL Gamecenter are coming to an end.  I have purchased the NHL Gamecenter in the past with the thought I can watch the Bruins games without having cable.  Well, it worked during the lockout shortened year and for some reason on my Roku it would not block the Bruins until this year.  While the NHL Gamecenter worked through my Roku, it did not work on my cell phone, or my smart BluRay Player.  Bruins games would be blacked out.  

This year the Bruins games are blacked out on NHL Gamecenter here in Vermont, on the Roku, and it drives me nuts because it is due to the cable companies wanting to hold fans hostage.  For example here is the screen you get when trying to watch a Bruins game on the NHL Gamecenter:

blackout

At least they are honest.  In this day in age their is no need for blackouts.  If you pay for a service you should be able to watch the games you want to watch.  I would absolutely be willing to pay extra for the Bruins games.  Currently I have to find a free stream on the internet to watch the Bruins games.  This is fine, but the quality usually is not great where from my experience the NHL Gamecenter is much better. Plus most of the time I am watching on my computer, not on one of my TVs.

I was using a service Hockeystreams.com, but that got shutdown.  It was great though.  It had an app on the Roku and an Android app.  I knew it was not legit and the quality was not always great, but it worked and there were no blackouts.

Eventually the NHL is going to have to allow the local games to be streamed through the NHL Gamecenter and I feel the partnership with Yahoo is the first step.  If Yahoo can make money off streaming these games with advertising and the NHL makes money from Yahoo it is a win-win.

Speaking of advertising, I do not understand when watching a game on the NHL Gamecenter and when there is a commercial they put up the page that says the game is at a commercial break?  If I am an advertiser, or NESN, wouldn’t I want my commercials to be seen regardless of whether it is through a cable provider or through a streaming service?  You get better stats from views who are streaming versus cable anyways, just ask Netflix.  Netflix is able to use stats that cable companies do not have when negotiating with the big movie companies.  Plus, I would rather see the commercials instead of the static screen that says the game is on a commercial break.

I really hope the games on Yahoo get good viewership.  It surprised me that Yahoo streamed an NFL game and it got 15 Million viewers.  Millenials and fans from my generation are moving toward streaming services for all entertainment and it only makes sense for the NHL to capitalize on it.  It is great for fans and it could open up another revenue stream (pun intended) for the NHL.  More revenue will mean a higher salary cap, which is also good for the fans and good for the game.  I challenge everyone to go out to Yahoo and check out the games that they are streaming to drive up the viewership.  If Yahoo is successful the NHL will have to expand on the product and that is a good thing for us fans. It does not cost you anything.  Free is always a good thing.