The National Hockey League (NHL) has united with one of Europe’s largest internet companies, Yandex, for the league’s expansion into Russia.

The deal, which commences at the start of this year, will see the network broadcast all NHL games in Russia, via its streaming platform.

Leonid Savkov, Chief Commercial Officer of Yandex commented on the partnership: “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 favourite 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. We are also excited to provide new opportunities for advertisers to reach millions of hockey fans viewing the games.”

Operating one of the leading Russian online streaming platforms, Yandex caters to millions of viewers live streaming of Russia’s top television channels, sports programming, and cultural events, viewers can also use Yandex to stream on-demand TV series, movies, and blogger content.

Kicking off with the 2019-20 NHL season, Yandex will broadcast regular season games, as well as the Stanley Cup Playoffs, for free. Viewers can watch NHL games with Russian commentary through the Yandex homepage and via Yandex apps for mobile devices and Smart TVs.

Russian hockey fans 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.

“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.”

Yandex provides fans with an interactive streaming experience while watching the games. 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.