I Just Can’t Hide It: NHL Game Center Live is Awesome

I mentioned last week that I would totally go nuts for an opportunity to review the NHL’s subscription service, Game Center Live.  The day after I made that statement, I got an e-mail from my good pals at the league asking if I wanted to.  I was thrilled, and was given a chance to try out the technology.  Look, I go into an opportunity to try something new and exciting for free with an immediate optimism, but frankly, I was blown away with how cool Gamecenter is.

I decided to head through the archives of games available to me, and picked out Game 6 of the 2008 Stanley Cup Finals.  Frankly, I was a little annoyed that the video quality wasn’t any better than the highlights the NHL used on it’s website.  I was still more enthralled to be simply using this technology more than anything else, so it got a pass.

The ultimate test would be Saturday night, with 12 games on the docket, 10 at night, and 7 of them available to me on GCL.  Boy, did this thing come through with flying colors to me.  The video quality when you want to watch one game, immaculate.  Better than any standard definition TV, and right up there with NBC’s HD picture, or the best local feeds.  It’s closer than any outlet in the history of the web has come to replicating the TV experience.

There’s so much more to it though.  Mosaic mode (in which one can watch four games at once) is distracting to someone purposely watching it, but the perfect accessory if you’re already watching a game and want to keep pace with the other on-going action.  I was able to follow Coyotes-Capitals while the Devils were taking on the Islanders, so I would know how the games would affect each other in the standings.  This is a new and fantastic way for fans to keep themselves logged in to the NHL experience.

Pop out mode is equally great, because the number of games one can stream is potentially unlimited.  The backup stats are fantastic, and the quality of video remains at least better than finding something off an illegal feed on the neither regions of the web.

I can’t say I’d recommend it for every fan.  If you are not a diehard, this is probably not for you.  But if you are, like me, obsessed with this sport, make the purchase (Current pricetag: $119 for the rest of the season).  If you are a college student or an employee transplanted outside of your market, this is the best way to follow your team no matter where you are, which sounds like a line from the Center Ice commercial, but it’s true.

The only negative I can think of is that they don’t allow you to stream your home team’s games in the market.  I understand the blackout rules and exclusivity, but if the New York Yankees have found a way to do it… the NHL should follow this initiative.  I live in a college dormitory where MSG Plus and VERSUS are both unavailable to me.  At least the former, if not the latter, should be worked on as a feature in the new Game Center Live.  Perhaps an additional fee could be paid by the user to override the blackouts.

The last thing I can say is that, if you are unsure of whether or not to subscribe, check out the service’s free preview, beginning tomorrow night.  Behold the glory of Game Center Live, and I have to think that if you have the means, you’ll purchase it.  Long live Game Center Live.


6 Responses to I Just Can’t Hide It: NHL Game Center Live is Awesome

  1. rsc says:

    Steve, I actually have a question about game center live. Currently, I’m living in New Jersey, but starting in the fall, I’ll be going to Wake Forest in North Carolina. Obviously, the only way I’ll be watching the Devils is through GCL, so would GCL know when I’m in NC vs. NJ? Because if they’re always blacking out Devils games because the billing address would be in Jersey, it would suck.

    • M. DiLorenzo says:

      Yes, we will look at your IP address and know that NJ is an “out of market” game for you (unless of course they are playing Carolina and the game is on local TV; or if the game is a national exclusive on NBC or Versus and it is on TV).

  2. Stacey Ross says:

    I’ve been a NHL CI subscribe for several years. I’m seriously considering just going with the online package for next season. I’ve not been terribly happy with CI on Fios (it was better on DirecTV but still had frustrating quirks), and I’m tired of the concept of being forced to record the game in order to watch it.

    Maybe I’ll use that promo code for GCL this week and see how I like it.

  3. Colton says:

    Gamecentre blacks out games based on your IP address, not your billing address.

  4. rsc says:

    Alright, thanks Colton. Just didn’t know how it worked.

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