Skip to Content

ESPN+ Reaps Benefits of NHL Partnership with More Viewers and Subscribers

Jeff Kotuby

It’s clear that ESPN’s decision to bring back the NHL was a great move for both parties. The league’s deal with ESPN, which includes streaming games on ESPN+, has been a boon for the worldwide leader in sports. Following last quarter, the sports network reported that subscriptions to its streaming service — which is the home to NHL.TV — have grown 62% in the last year, up to 22.3 million subscribers.

ESPN’s chairman Jimmy Pitaro said in a recent podcast interview with The Athletic’s Richard Deitsch that hockey has played a “significant” role in the platform’s growth. While the network airs most regular-season games on ESPN+, Disney has a small selection of games that it can air on ABC — including the Stanley Cup Finals — along with regular national games on ESPN. ESPN+ also showed select playoff matchups and every game of the Stanley Cup Final as well.

ESPN’s strategy for ESPN+ has been great for the NHL and hockey at large. Since agreeing to terms with the NHL back in March 2021, ESPN+ has become the “home for hockey,” adding additional rights to the ECAC, NCAA Men’s, and Women’s Frozen Four championship tournaments, the PHF, Hockey East, and more. The platform has kept hockey front and center, which has done wonders for the game’s growth in what is only year one of a seven-year partnership.

Related: ESPN Chairman: No Date Yet for ESPN Direct-to-Consumer Streamer

Even one month into the deal, ESPN was thrilled with the NHL deal. Execs within the company were excited to “tap into the breadth and scope of the entire Disney infrastructure” to create a new and unique experience for hockey fans.

According to ESPN, the company’s first NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs since 2005 provided a big boost to May ratings. The 27 post-season contests in the month (16 first round, 11 second round) averaged 1.2M viewers, up 81% vs. the 25 games in May a year ago on NBCSN (23 first round, two second round) according to Front Office Sports.

Interest in the game is growing exponentially thanks to the increased exposure brought about by ESPN and Turner (who airs regular and post-season games on TNT and TBS), which should translate to larger viewership numbers for both companies as they move into year two of their partnerships with the NHL.

Through the first two rounds of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, NHL content across and the ESPN App has continued to experience double and triple-digit growth. Digital content was accessed by 21.3 million unique visitors, who have generated 325.1 million page views and 75 million video starts – up 52%, 126%, and 57%, respectively – versus 2021.

Across Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, and Twitter, ESPN social media NHL content has generated 8.9 million engagements, 342.2 million impressions, and 127.6 million video views.


ESPN+ is a live TV streaming service that gives access to thousands of live sporting events, original shows like Peyton’s Place, the entire library of 30 for 30, E:60, The Last Dance, as well exclusive written analysis from top ESPN insiders.

The service can be subscribed for $9.99 / month per month or annually for $99.99 / year.

You will get a daily out-of-market game from MLB, and every out-of-market NHL with NHL Power Play (previously NHL.TV). For NFL Fans, they have an exclusive NFL game, and simulcast select Monday Football games.

The service has some of the most attractive soccer coverage including Bundesliga, LaLiga, FA Cup, UEFA Nations League, EFL Championship, EFL Carabao Cup, Eredevise and more.

College sports fans will be able to watch thousands of games and events including football, basketball, baseball, softball, soccer, track & field, gymnastics, swimming & diving, lacrosse, wrestling, volleyball, golf, and more.

For boxing and UFC fans, the service offers Top Rank boxing and will be the home of 15 exclusive UFC events.

ESPN+ now includes exclusive insights from analysts like Mel Kiper and Todd McShay (which used to be part of ESPN Insider), as well as premium Fantasy Tools & PickCenter.

What it does not include is most live sports that air on ESPN and ESPN2.

To get access to those channels you have to subscribe to a live TV streaming service. We suggest reading our guide on How to Watch ESPN without Cable.


Let us know your e-mail address to send your $50 Amazon Gift Card when you sign up for DIRECTV STREAM.

You will receive it ~2 weeks after you complete your first month of service.

Sling TV Cash Back

Let us know your e-mail address to send your $25 Uber Eats Gift Card when you sign up for Sling TV.

You will receive it ~2 weeks after you complete your first month of service.

Hulu Live TV Cash Back

Let us know your e-mail address to send your $35 Amazon Gift Card when you sign up for Hulu Live TV.

You will receive it ~2 weeks after you complete your first month of service.