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NHL Returns to Disney Outlets with 103 Exclusive Games

NHL hockey Chicago Blackhawks
(Image credit: Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

BRISTOL, Conn.—For the first time since 2004, the National Hockey League (NHL) games will be returning to the Walt Disney Company, with 103 exclusive regular season games from 2021-2022 season airing on ESPN, ESPN+, Hulu and ABC. 

In addition, more than 1,000 out-of-market games will be available on ESPN+.

In March 2021, The Walt Disney Company, ESPN and the National Hockey League announced a seven-year television, streaming and media rights deal, beginning with the 2021-2022 season and continuing through the 2027-28 season.

The deal significantly ramps up the availability of live streaming sports on Hulu and ESPN+.

As part of the deal, the NHL’s Stanley Cup Final and Stanley Cup Playoffs action will also return to the ABC and ESPN networks – including exclusive coverage of the Stanley Cup Final in four of the seven years of the deal – beginning with the 2021-22 season. 

Additionally, in each season of the agreement, ESPN and ABC will have live, exclusive coverage of one Conference Final series and half of all First Round and Second Round games from the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Beginning with the season openers on October 12, ESPN, ESPN+ and Hulu will offer Tuesday night hockey throughout the regular season. 

ESPN+ and Hulu will also showcase an exclusive game every Friday night until January, then every Thursday night for the remainder of the regular season. ABC will regularly carry Saturday games beginning in February.

ABC will carry 10 regular season games, including the 2021 Thanksgiving Showdown between the St. Louis Blues and the Chicago Blackhawks on Friday, November 26. All ABC games will be simulcast on ESPN+.

ESPN will carry 18 exclusive regular-season games beginning with the NHL FaceOff on Opening Night. ESPN will air an exclusive game each Tuesday throughout October. 

ESPN will carry three Thursday night matchups in January, beginning on Thursday, January 6, with the Minnesota Wild traveling to Boston to take on the Bruins. 

In February, ESPN will also carry the 2022 NHL All-Star Skills Competition on Friday, February 4 in primetime from Las Vegas. 

Following the Winter Olympic Break, as the regular season pushes towards the playoffs, ESPN ramps up its coverage with three doubleheaders in the month of April. 

The complete schedule can be found here

George Winslow is the senior content producer for TV Tech. He has written about the television, media and technology industries for nearly 30 years for such publications as Broadcasting & Cable, Multichannel News and TV Tech. Over the years, he has edited a number of magazines, including Multichannel News International and World Screen, and moderated panels at such major industry events as NAB and MIP TV. He has published two books and dozens of encyclopedia articles on such subjects as the media, New York City history and economics.