Rogers expands Sportsnet Now with second tier that lifts some NHL blackouts

Sportsnet Now, the over-the-top service that Rogers is making available to people without a cable TV subscription, is expanding with a new premium tier called Sportsnet Now+.

At the same time, the price of the basic tier is dropping, from $25 a month to $20. It remains free for people who subscribe to Sportsnet channels through a TV provider that has a deal with Sportsnet (most of them do now). The higher tier is $28 a month.

Here’s the difference between the two.

Sportsnet Now (basic tier), $19.99/month

As before, this tier offers live programming you would normally get on Sportsnet regional channels, Sportsnet One (including the Canucks, Flames and Oilers overflow channels) and Sportsnet 360. It also includes Hockey Night in Canada games that air on CBC and Citytv on Saturday nights.

All nationally-broadcast NHL games are included, as well as regional NHL games where Sportsnet is the regional broadcaster (Canucks, Flames, Oilers and 16 Leafs games) for people in that region.

This service is free if you have a Sportsnet subscription to all the channels through a participating provider.

Sportsnet Now+, $27.99/month

The premium tier includes everything in the basic tier, plus additional European league soccer games and 64-125 more NHL games, depending on region.

Specifically, the tier removes blackouts on games broadcast by Sportsnet in another region, except where that game is also broadcast by another broadcaster (i.e. TSN) in that region.

It does not remove blackouts on TSN games, which means it won’t expand access to Winnipeg Jets, Ottawa Senators or Montreal Canadiens games.

For example:

  • Tonight’s home opener where the Canadiens play the L.A. Kings isn’t available on either tier anywhere in the country
  • Tonight’s Oilers-Bruins game on Sportsnet West is available in Alberta on Sportsnet Now and in the rest of the country on Sportsnet Now+
  • The Oct. 23 game where the Canadiens (TSN2) play the Calgary Flames (Sportsnet Flames) is available in Alberta and Saskatchewan on Sportsnet Now and in B.C., Manitoba and most of Ontario on Sportsnet Now+. The latter will see only the Flames broadcast. People in the Canadiens’ region won’t be able to see the game at all on Sportsnet.

For U.S.-only matchups, only games broadcast on Sportsnet will be available on either tier.

In short, this new tier would be useful for, say, a Canucks, Flames or Oilers fan in Toronto, who would get access to all their games (except one Flames game against the Leafs, which TSN has rights to in Toronto).

For everyone else wanting out-of-market games online, Rogers NHL Live ($30 a month or $200 for the season) is still the only option. That includes national games and out-of-market games but not in-market games.

Sportsnet Now launched two years ago, becoming the first to offer a major sports subscription for people without cable. TSN followed with its of $25/month offer, and the basic tier price reduction may put pressure on TSN to lower its over-the-top price.

There does not appear to be any option for people with regular TV subscriptions to Sportsnet to get a discounted upgrade to Sportsnet Now+.

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