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National Hockey League fans in the Comcast broadband territory are now able to watch games for free on their PCs this season, CNET News reported.

The cable giant announced last week that it will stream free of charge to its 7.7 million subscribers up to two hockey games per night this season. This is the first exclusive agreement that a sports league has made with a broadband provider to stream its games over the Internet.

Major League Baseball offers various paid subscription packages through its MSN Web portal. The National Football League and the National Basketball Association offer audio web casts of their games.

Comcast is adding premium content to its portal as it tries to take on lower-priced services from phone companies. While cable still dominates the broadband market, phone companies are closing the gap. In 2004, DSL had about 41 percent of the market, up from 39 percent the year before.

Comcast sees premium content as a way to differentiate itself from the competition, CNET said. In addition to streaming live hockey games, the company also offers subscribers free access to RealNetworks’ Rhapsody music service.

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