Ad Alert


Undisclosed blackout restrictions may prevent you from watching your team.

ESPN is skating on thin ice with claims that hockey fans can “always” watch their team in action on ESPN+, the company’s streaming service that costs $10.99 a month, regardless of where they live.

“Knowing where you live doesn’t control what you watch, means always seeing your team in action,” the network says in the above Instagram ad, which was sent in by a reader.

However, a look at ESPN+’s FAQs (which are not linked in the ad) reveals that NHL games on ESPN+ may actually be subject to regional blackouts. In response to the question “I’m unable to watch a game on ESPN+,” the company provides its blackout policy:

ESPN+ offers a wide selection of out-of-market games from notable leagues – including the NHL and MLB. However, select live sporting events and other content available through ESPN+ may be subject to blackouts if a participating team is considered in-market for your location. … Blackouts are determined by the various sports leagues and teams and will be enforced according to the location from which you are accessing the content. You must enable your geographic location to access ESPN+.

So ESPN’s choice of the word “always” (as in “where you live…means always seeing your team in action”) leaves something to be desired.

In response to a request for comment, an ESPN spokesperson said:

The ad states “where you live doesn’t control what you watch,” meaning fans can follow teams from across the league regardless of their location, and watch games through the ESPN+ out-of-market package with some blackout restrictions (noted with on-screen disclaimer).

But the Instagram ad, which provided to ESPN in its request for comment, says nothing about blackout restrictions (not even in the fine print), and the words “1000+ out of market,” which appear on the screen for approximately two seconds and are partially blocked by a bar to sign up, are ambiguous at best.

Maybe ESPN needs a couple minutes in the penalty box to rethink the message it wants to send consumers about the NHL games they can watch on ESPN+.

Find more of our coverage on streaming services here.

Our Ad Alerts are not just about false and deceptive marketing issues, but may also be about ads that, although not necessarily deceptive, should be viewed with caution. Ad Alerts can also be about single issues and may not include a comprehensive list of all marketing issues relating to the brand discussed.

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