When you first watch a movie on a VR Big Screen, your first thought will likely be, “Holy cow, I wonder if I can watch hockey like this?”
And the answer is Yes! It’s possible to watch NHL games in VR; however, it’s not necessarily easy. Here are the ways I’ve found to make it work.
Try The ESPN Oculus App
ESPN+ usually plays NHL games that aren’t blacked out due to local restrictions. The ESPN app should let you stream those games directly to your Quest 2. It won’t be in 360°, but it is a cool way to watch the game on a virtual big screen.
Try The DeoVR, Oculus, or Firefox VR Web Browser
NHL Hockey is notoriously difficult to watch online.
That said, with an ESPN+, Hulu, Fubu, or YouTubeTV subscription you should be able to get to some content via a web browser.
The problem with this option is VR web browsers tend to have compatibility issues with various websites. That said, if you already have a subscription it’s worth opening up one of these virtual web browsers to see if you can access the game via it.
Note: DeoVR is my favorite VR web browser for watching videos. I’d start by downloading that browser and giving it a try.
Remote Desktop Into Your PC / Mac
The process for watching NHL games is effectively the same. Any game you can pull up on your computer via a web browser becomes accessible in virtual reality (on as big a screen as you like). Heck, an app like Immersed even lets you invite friends to hang out in your private room.
This is what it looked like when I pulled up an NFL game in my virtual man cave.
With NHL games it’s harder to justify going to this length to watch games in VR. Since you can probably access more easily through your virtual web browser. That said, if the following apps don’t work in your virtual web browser, they should work just fine via remote desktop. It’s an option if you’re desperate (and it’s cool that your friends can join you here).
It’s not your own personal private sports bar just yet, but we’re certainly getting there.
There’s Not Currently Much 360 NHL Content
With other sports leagues (like the NBA), you can watch a handful of games in 360° through the horizon venues app. And while I have found some 360 showings of NHL games in the past, I haven’t found any 360° content being broadcast in 2022.
That said, it is pretty awesome and I could see it becoming a thing one day. Check out the YouTube video below with your VR headset to get an idea of what it’s like to watch.
Techniques That Won’t Work
The following are things that I’ve tried to watch the NHL in VR and failed.
- The SportsNet App / Website: Sportsnet produced a bunch of 360° NHL content back in 2017 and so there’s a lot of content online about watching VR hockey through them. Unfortunately, this no longer works (unless you have a time machine that can get back to 2017)
- The NextVR App – This was an app that was pumping out sports content in 2019. Unfortunately, it no longer exists.
Conclusion: Is Watching Hockey on The Quest 2 Worth It?
For me, the resolution on the Quest 2 isn’t high enough for me to prefer watching a game in VR over a traditional television just yet. That said, higher resolution VR headsets are dropping in 2022, which promises to fix that problem.
The other problem is the lack of 360° content being produced for NHL games right now.
So we’re not quite there yet. That said, virtual reality will get crazy over the next 5 years. I’d check back in a few years as I could see this becoming a big thing in the near future.