The puck stops here for Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) broadband Internet customers. Starting today, the provider's 7.7 million high-speed access customers will be able to stream as many as two live National Hockey League games from their computers daily.

For the NHL, this is a bold move to win back fans after the league cancelled its entire last season. For Comcast, it's a way to differentiate its online access at a time when many DSL providers are cutting their rates.

Hockey turned to the Comcast-owned OLN channel as its new home for televised hockey broadcasts after Disney's (NYSE:DIS) ESPN announced that it would not renew its $60 million option to air NHL games during the season that starts tonight.

Yes, OLN originally stood for Outdoor Life Network. That seems like an odd choice for an indoor sport like pro hockey. However, Comcast has a vested interest in rescuing the sport from its misery: The company owns a majority stake in the league's Philadelphia Flyers.

So streaming NHL games to its online users may be like killing two birds with one stone -- or maybe like slapping the puck into the goal past two defenders. Because most broadband providers simply provide speedy connections and let account holders pilot their own browsers, there has never been much of a push to provide proprietary content. Speed and account features tend to be the major points of differentiation. Time Warner's (NYSE:TWX) America Online was able to become the top dial-up provider through proprietary content and features. It will be interesting to see whether streaming NHL games makes a difference in driving new accounts. It may create a ripple effect as rival providers follow suit with unique content of their own.

Make it your goal to check out some more related content:

  • Hockey's botched season left plenty of other public companies in a bind.
  • The problems with ice hockey have been evident for a while.
  • Celebrate the return of hockey with fellow fans in our NHL discussion board.

Time Warner is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendation.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz didn't have much to root for this past season, anyway, with his mediocre Florida Panthers on ice. Still, absence leaves a void. He does own shares in Disney but not in any of the other companies mentioned in this story. The Fool has a disclosure policy. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early.