Before we moved to Malaysia, Diane and I did a lot of research about local television options for overseas expats. Being that one of us is Canadian and I consider myself an honorary pseudo-Canuck, watching live hockey was a big issue and we dreaded the thought of missing the NHL playoffs. Knowing we’d be moving to a tropical nation where hockey is totally unknown and the closest we’d ever get to ice would be the cubes in our drinks, we devoted countless hours on forums dedicated to live streaming. Generally speaking, the consensus used to be that access to live North American sports for overseas expats involved a host of complicated options including VPN’s, special boxes and other devices for fooling the host provider into thinking you’re physically located in North America. And then of course there’s the obvious lazy person’s method of simply paying for packages from the major sports leagues like MLB.com.
Perfectly acceptable for retired expats older than us that know little or nothing about the internet, paid sports packages are expensive, rely on the strength of your local internet connection and often have annoying blackout options. Our Canadian neighbor, an avid baseball and hockey fan, is 12 years older than me and subscribes to NHL.com. Arriving last year as newbie expats without a definitive solution for our TV viewing options, we had no interest in paying for Astro, the local cable company offering a host of packages that are mostly useless for North Americans. And “sports packages” on the other side of the globe provide endless hours of football (soccer in American speak), and a host of other unfamiliar sports like cricket, rugby, and other bizarre options of no interest to us. Initially excited over the prospect of watching NHL games, we spent the first few weeks of last October plopped down on our neighbor’s couch as the season opened but his Chinese wife from Hong Kong didn’t take to kindly to this since he already spent way too much time couch surfing without us being there.
Thankfully, Diane is much more ambitious than me and spent many hours researching various options available in today’s ever-increasing world of free streaming on the internet. As it turns out, there’s never been a better time to be an overseas expat looking to spend absolutely nothing streaming sitcoms, network dramas, live sports and almost anything else you’d ever want. Contrary to even a few years to ago, almost every North American sports event is available to anyone by simply Googling the name of the event. Unsure who does this or what happened to the concept of copyright laws, there are people out there placing live feeds of sporting events on servers dedicated to providing free content to anyone smart enough to know it’s out there.
For example, we watched the entire two months of NHL playoffs last spring by simply Googling “Reddit NHL Playoff Streams”. Arranged like any forum or discussion group, each game comes up as a new group about 30 minutes before game time. You simply click the link, connect the Ipad or Iphone to the TV (this requires an adapter) and enjoy CBC Hockey Night In Canada or Rogers Sportsnet coverage as clear as the satellite TV service we paid for when we lived in Calgary. Occasionally, the signal is weak or unavailable and since our internet speed is akin to living with dial-up service in 1998, we do get some days when we need to stop, reconnect or even reboot our modem. But for the most part, there’s usually a link that feeds off the national Canadian broadcast with HD quality. Sometimes the link sends you to YouTube. Although that gives the absolute clearest coverage, someone is always trying to take down that feed so there must be copyright issues that YouTube tries to avoid.
Defined on Wikipedia as “a social media, social news aggregation, web content rating, and discussion website”, Reddit serves as a major host for discussion groups that include links for live sporting events. Often listing a host of options depending on how popular the event is, it’s easy to follow your local team from overseas by simply searching for a feed. Of course when your team sucks and hasn’t made the playoffs in ten seasons, it’s often harder to find the game because someone has to make the effort and put the link out there. But for playoffs and major tournaments, it’s almost always easy. Starting today and continuing through the end of the month, Toronto is hosting The 2016 World Cup of Hockey Tournament, a prelude to the upcoming NHL season. Featuring a round robin format with teams of different NHL players representing their birth nations as well as a team composed of the league’s best players under age 23, it’s shaping up to be very entertaining.
As regular readers know, we prefer to spend much of our time as home bodies in between our trips and evenings are a great time to catch up on our favorite American TV shows. Although it’s possible to pay for certain subscription packages that feature limited U.S. TV, there’s a bevy of free streaming sites out there that allow you to watch almost anything. As the patient one in the family, Diane plays around with a lot of web pages and we usually spend weeks at a time watching an entire cable series like Dexter, Breaking Bad or American Horror Story. Never wanting to spend extra on premium cable back in California, the savings add up and it’s one reason we’re here now instead of still working. But until recently, you couldn’t just watch whatever you wanted without special boxes that disguise your ISP location. Unclear who runs these sites or how they make any cash doing it, there’s a plethora of North American TV series’ and shows out there to satisfy any expat couch potato.
Watching Team Canada play The Czech Republic today, I couldn’t help but notice a lack of any controversy when they played the national anthems. Unlike America, where there’s a major shit storm brewing about a black football player that refused to stand during the national anthem to protest violence against the African-American community, Canadians don’t give a shit about petty issues when it’s time to play hockey. When they play the national anthems at Canadian NHL games, everyone stands and knows the words to both anthems and it’s so refreshing to leave the political stuff at home. Between the disaster waiting to happen on November 8th and all the bullshit with people ready to flame, insult and in Trump’s case, literally incite violence against those with opposing viewpoints, I stand as a proud pseudo-Canadian and look forward to the day we eventually return to the kinder and gentler North American nation where respect, tolerance and hockey all dominate the headlines. With America stuck in a social civil war, becoming an overseas expat came just in time for me and I’ll take the minor inconveniences of developing nations over ignorance, hatred and intolerance any day.
Cheers from wet and haze-free Penang and Go Team Canada.
Team USA embarrassed themselves in their first game with a 3-0 loss to Team Europe. Seeming like poetic justice, they play Team Canada in a few days and a loss means they may not even make the medal round. Normally cheering on my homeland, I’ll represent Canada this time and it seems only fitting they’d go down in flames like America is with polls showing a stunningly and statistically impossible eight to ten point jump for the lunatic tyrant as the debates draw near.