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Learn about sports blackouts

Ever wonder why a particular sporting event gets 'blacked out'? Sports blackouts are a result of restrictions set by broadcasters, professional sports teams, and their respective leagues. Learn about what sports blackouts are and how they may impact your Shaw Direct programming, and about the blackouts imposed by the NHL.

What are blackouts?

Sports blackout rules are local or regional restrictions set by the broadcasters, professional sports teams, and their respective leagues. Blackouts are set to promote loyalty and fan support that generates revenue for local teams.

Each league has different blackout rules that can change at any time. Sometimes a local sports team blacks out a game in the city (and surrounding regions) where it’s being played to encourage fan attendance at the game. Or, a game may only be available to local residents and is blacked out for the rest of the country.

Blackouts are usually set for city centres (typically within 50 km) or for regions, which can include provinces and territories. Blackouts can also apply to pay per view sporting events.

When you tune in to an event that has been blacked out for your area, you will be notified via an on-screen message.

NHL Centre Ice blackouts

NHL Centre Ice games are subject to regional blackouts as the local regional sports network has the rights to these games in your area. Please note: With regards to the NHL, blackouts are not based on arena sell-outs.

Find your local teams on regional networks such as Sportsnet Pacific/West/Ontario/East, Sportsnet One Companion channel, TSN1/TSN2/TSN3/TSN4/TSN5, CBC, and RDS.

  • Vancouver Canucks games are blacked out on Centre Ice in British Columbia and Yukon.
  • Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers games are blacked out on Centre Ice in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Northwest Territories, and Nunavut.
  • Winnipeg Jets games are blacked out on Centre Ice in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Northwest Territories, and Nunavut.
  • Toronto Maple Leafs games are blacked out on Centre Ice in Ontario, excluding the Ottawa region.
  • Ottawa Senators and Montreal Canadiens games are blacked out on Centre Ice in Quebec, the Ottawa region, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland.

Sportsnet NHL blackouts

Rogers Sportsnet has their own broadcasting restrictions that allow a broadcaster, team, or the NHL to protect the local playback of a game by imposing a blackout to areas outside of the specific team region.

  • Vancouver Canucks games on Sportsnet Pacific or the Sportsnet ONE companion channel, Sportsnet Vancouver Hockey, can only be seen in British Columbia and the Yukon.
  • Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers games on Sportsnet West or the Sportsnet ONE companion channels, Sportsnet Flames and Sportsnet Oilers, can only be seen in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Northwest Territories, and Nunavut. Please note: For Manitoba residents, as of the 2011-12 seasons, NHL blackout restrictions dictate that all Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers games on these channels are blacked out for viewers in Manitoba.
  • Toronto Maple Leafs’ official broadcaster has expanded its Leafs coverage and is now available in an area spanning from Petawawa in the North to Kingston in the East. Viewers with one Sportsnet channel, living West of a line drawn from Sudbury in the North and Brighton to the South, will only be able to access Toronto Maple Leafs games on Sportsnet Ontario.
  • Ottawa Senators viewers with one Sportsnet channel living East of a line drawn from Petawawa in the North to Prince Edward in the South will be able access the Ottawa Senators on Sportsnet East.

TSN regional blackouts

TSN features regional blackouts for coverage of Montreal Canadiens, Winnipeg Jets, Toronto Maple Leafs, and Ottawa Senators games.

  • TSN2 features Montreal Canadiens games that will be blacked out for customers outside of the Maritimes, Quebec, and southeastern Ontario.
  • TSN3 features Winnipeg Jets games that will be blacked out for customers outside of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Northwest Ontario.
  • TSN4 features Toronto Maple Leafs games that will be blacked out for customers outside Ontario, the Ottawa region.
  • TSN5 features Ottawa Senators games that will be blacked out for customers outside of southeastern Ontario, Quebec, and Atlantic Canada.