NHL Fans Help (Question about Center Ice)

I’ve had a lot more interest in watching hockey (returning to the days of my youth when I went to a lot of Blackhawks games).

What with the advent of HD, having a nice 52" Sony Bravia, the last few years have been a lot of fun (of course, the Blackhawks resurgence helped too).

I was looking into getting the Center Ice package through my carrier (Comcast). If you watch the ads, etc. you get the idea that you can watch up to 40 out of market games a week, so it would be cool for me to learn more about the other teams, who after all, play them some good puck too.

However, what the goof balls are telling me in my area (Chicago if you didn’t guess) is there is only one of the 18 channels these games are shown on that is marked as a high def channel. Which, for me, would make it about one game a day (7 a week) that I might be interested in, not 40 a week. I wouldn’t get Center Ice if this is the case.

I have another friend who uses Dish Network who says he gets about 2/3 of the games in HD, so I am a little skeptical that the clowns at Comcast know what they are talking about. Since hockey has become more popular and so has HD and its prevalence, I do find it hard to believe only 1 of 18 channels would be showing it in hi def, but, who knows, maybe that is right.

Does anyone have experience in their market with Center Ice, and Comcast, or just a general idea about whether this is right or not?

Thanks for your help (and feel free to tell me I should just suck it up and watch it in non - high def, but I like me some purty colors and am probably addicted to HD by now).

I have no experience with Comcast, but I have Directv and cancelled my Center Ice package this year after subscribing for two years.

I was interested mainly in Rangers games, and it seemed I got very few of them in HD. When I called Directv to ask how I could get the HD for Rangers games every night, no one could give me a particularly solid explanation. Even though MSG (the Rangers’ home network) has a dedicated HD channel you can subscribe to in NY, there were many nights the HD games just wouldn’t be available on Directv. It almost sounded like a bandwidth issue, which might be specific to sattelite providers.

Worse, Directv’s feud with the VS network (they dropped them from their lineup last year) meant that there were a bunch of playoff games I couldn’t see, which to me was unforgivable. I just wasn’t going to pay for a premium sports package to follow the regular season and then be completely shut out of 1-2 playoff games each night.

I realize a fair amount of this may not apply to Comcast, but in the end, it felt like the HD availability was sketchy and that the whole package was somewhat scattered as a whole. I get the MLB and NFL packages and they just seem a lot more complete than the NHL stuff.

It’s helpful Sluggo, thank you (I’m getting the sense that HD availabililty may be sketchy indeed, and dependent on who your provider is). I imagine we will have some other Comcast subscribers along directly!

I don’t have Center Ice but if you look through your channel guide the only Center Ice channel in the HD listings is 849, so unfortunately it looks like the person you talked to at was correct. I don’t know how much actual hockey they show during the season but channel 842 is the NHL Network in HD.

Comcast usually has a one-week preview of Center Ice at the beginning of the season, so you could wait until then and try it out before committing. There may be a special price in effect during the preview, too. The Internet suggests it could actually be a 2.5-week preview.

Otherwise, your best bet for high definition hockey may be whatever the local team’s affiliate is. Here in the outer reaches of New England, we get NESN HD, which means virtually every Bruins game in high definition. That’s sweet.

So, your options for hockey in HD on Comcast go as follows: The occasional game on Center Ice; whatever the game(s) of the week are on Versus; whatever channel carries your local team, if it’s available in HD; and, just after the turn of the New Year, NBC.

I wish GameCenter Live (the NHL’s streaming video subscription option) was as advanced as MLB.tv is. Picked up the latter for the remainder of the season, so my grandmother could watch her local team while she was visiting, and I’ve been very pleasantly surprised by the video quality. It’s not quite as sharp as uncompressed, OTA HD, but in many instances it’s been better than what you get on cable. Less macroblocking, for one thing.

All good suggestions, thank you!

I will see if that Center Ice pre-view is available, and, what with watching the Versus game of the week, NBC in 2011, NHL Network, I know I can have that as a Plan B to see more teams.

Wow, glad you posted this. I had just assumed that all the Center Ice games would be in HD. I was looking forward to subscribing this year after moving to an area where I can actually get it. Time Warner has 2 HD channels according to their site so doesn’t seem worth it at all.

It is odd that so many other sports are widely available in HD, and this premium cable package has very little HD to offer. I guess we’ll have to wait until they get with the times, eh?

I’ll still try out the pre-view, if available. But I’m pretty sure I won’t be dropping $160 (which is the discounted price if you order before October 31st) if few of the games are available in HD…

One of the nice holdovers from the Adelphia days is that Comcast carries CBC here, so subscribers in my area can watch Hockey Night in Canada. Not in HD, natch, but it’s still nice.

It’s worth noting that even in recent years, the NFL Sunday Ticket package would typically be missing a few games in HD. I think this is my sixth year with it, and early on, maybe half the games would be in HD. It was basically a bandwidth issue, and so they’d cherry pick which games they did in HD – the matchup between the Browns and Raiders would be relagated to SD but they’d make sure Colts / Pats would be in HD.

In recent years, they’ve caught up to where you’d only have 2 or 3 games stuck in SD, and now I think they have the whole schedule in HD. I get the feeling the Center Ice package is just trailing a few years behind, and they’ll get there eventually.