The Best TV Setups for Hockey Lovers

This probably comes as no surprise: hockey is the most popular sport in Canada, with 46 percent of Canadians following the NHL, according to University of Lethbridge research. Meanwhile, stateside, hockey is the fifth-most popular sport — tied with NBA basketball and just ahead of pro soccer, according to this Harris Poll. The sixth game of last year’s Stanley Cup Final between the Chicago Blackhawks and the Tampa Bay Lightning set a record for NBC, pulling a 41.0 household rating in Chicago, the city’s highest draw ever for a hockey contest.

If you’re one of the growing number of hockey fans following the sport, NHL Network and these technology tips will help you get the most out of your game-watching experience.

Viewing Setups

To watch hockey, your two best options right now are 4K TVs and home theater projectors. The biggest difference between them is that TVs are more affordable for 4K quality, while projectors allow for bigger screens. 4K TVs average 50 to 80 inches, while projectors average 120 inches and even larger.

Buying your TV: if you get a 4K TV, you’re better off going with an LCD flat screen rather than an OLED or a curved screen. You’ll get the most value for your dollar and the most viewing angle options. Fifty-inch 4K sets are now available for less than $600, and 55-inch sets can be purchased for less than $1,000.

When you get it home: to set up a 4K TV, you’ll need HDMI cables, which can be purchased for less than $10 online. Don’t think you need more expensive cables for 4K.

To get the best picture, switch your settings from Store Demonstration Mode to Home Mode. Your setup program will ask you to choose a language and check if you’re using a cable/satellite hookup or an over-the-air antenna. You can then hook your TV up to the Internet using Wi-Fi or ethernet, if it comes with this capability. After connecting, you can update your firmware.

Following these setup steps, you can select the most accurate picture mode setting for your screen, which is usually called movie or cinematic mode. You can then adjust other settings such as contrast, brightness, color, and sharpness.

Finally, you should adjust the settings for your satellite or cable box and Blu-ray or DVD player. Set output for boxes to 1080i resolution and adjust both boxes and players to 16×9 aspect ratio (alternately, 4×3 for older players). If you’re using a DISH HOPPER 3™ satellite receiver with your 4K, you have the option of watching up to four games at one time using MultiView Mode. These external components can be connected to your TV either directly or through an AV receiver.

Or, go with a home theater projector: If you want to view games on a larger screen, set up a home theater projector instead of a TV. You can connect your video source to your projector by connecting to a cable or satellite box, a digital television tuner with an antenna, or a media extender for video coming from a computer or mobile device.

Audio Options

You’ll get better sound out of your TV if you use an external sound system, and if you’re using a projector you’ll need an external sound source. Your two best options are going with surround-sound speakers or a sound bar. Surround sound delivers better quality and works better for larger rooms 15×20 feet and bigger, while sound bars work well for rooms 13×12 feet or smaller and are less expensive. Both types of sound systems can connect to your TV either directly or through an AV receiver.

A sound bar system projects sound from a central location by housing speakers, subwoofers, and amplifiers in a bar or a cabinet. Some sound bars add extra internal speakers or external speakers to mimic a surround sound effect.

Mobile Tips

  • If you want to watch games on your smartphone or tablet or use your mobile device to display games on your TV, you can download the official NHL app on iTunes or Google Play
  • Follow live tweets during games on the NHL Twitter feed
  • If you want to try fantasy hockey, you can get the ESPN Fantasy Hockey app for Android or Apple devices

DISH users can use the HopperGO to store up to 100 hours of games or other videos for viewing on mobile devices.