With many of hockey’s biggest stars hailing from Eastern Europe, the NHL will now be a lot more accessible to fans in Russia.
The National Hockey League has announced a multiyear agreement with Yandex, one of Europe’s largest internet companies, to stream every regular season game and the Stanley Cup Playoffs for free in Russia.
The deal begins with the 2019-20 season, which opens on Wednesday, Oct. 2.
“By partnering with the NHL, one of the world’s leading sports leagues, we can better connect some of hockey’s biggest fans with their favorite teams and players. We are delighted to work with the NHL to offer viewers in Russia a more accessible and innovative way to watch games for free,” Leonid Savkov, chief commercial officer of Yandex, said in a statement. “We are also excited to provide new opportunities for advertisers to reach millions of hockey fans viewing the games.”
NHL executive vice president of international and media strategy David Proper said, “It’s a game-changer for us. We’re more than dipping our toe into the market.
“Yandex is an industry leader in Russia and a uniquely compelling platform to deliver NHL games and our star players to hockey fans across the country,” he continued. “This partnership is the result of Yandex and the NHL’s shared commitment to provide content that will engage passionate fans and offer the potential to reach an even broader audience.”
Thanks to the interactive streaming platform, viewers will be able to react to everything that happens on the ice by live-chatting and using the reaction emojis. NHL games and highlights will also be available to watch on-demand after the live broadcast, plus viewers can subscribe to receive notifications about the games.
Among the top Russian players returning to the ice this season are 2019 Stanley Cup champions Vladimir Tarasenko and Ivan Barbashev, Alex Ovechkin, Evgeni Malkin, Nikita Kucherov and Andrei Vasilevskiy.