The National Hockey League (NHL) will export its brand to fans in Russia courtesy of a new deal struck with Yandex, one of Europe’s largest internet companies and the leading search provider in Russia. Under the terms of the agreement, Yandex will broadcast all NHL games in Russia, via its streaming platform. The multiyear deal begins with the 2019-20 season, which opens on October 2.

Yandex operates one of Russia’s leading online streaming platforms, offering millions of viewers live streaming of the country’s top television channels, sports programming, and cultural events. Beginning with the 2019-20 NHL season, it will broadcast regular season games, as well as the Stanley Cup Playoffs, for free. 

The upshot for Russian hockey fans is that they will soon have convenient options to watch games featuring 2019 Stanley Cup champions Vladimir Tarasenko and Ivan Barbashev of the St Louis Blues, as well as other Russian NHL stars such as Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals, Evgeni Malkin of the Pittsburgh Penguins, and Nikita Kucherov and Andrei Vasilevskiy of the Tampa Bay Lightning.

“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,” commented Leonid Savkov, Chief Commercial Officer of Yandex. “We are delighted to work with the NHL to offer viewers in Russia a more accessible and innovative way to watch games for free. We are also excited to provide new opportunities for advertisers to reach millions of hockey fans viewing the games.”

“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,” said David Proper, NHL Executive Vice President of International and Media Strategy. “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.”

Fans can look forward to an interactive streaming experience while watching the games. They will be able to react to everything that happens on the ice by live chatting and using  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.

Advertisers can sponsor broadcasts of the games to promote their products and services to a large Russian audience. As Russia’s largest search company and digital advertiser, Yandex is well-positioned to connect brands with the country’s millions of hockey fans online. Last year, users performed over 93 million hockey-related queries on Yandex’s search engine, with Russian NHL players ranking among the most searched athletes.