Security and privacy may be at the forefront of the best VPN service's use-case. However, one if its exciting perks is its ability to bypass geo-restrictions and open the gates to content otherwise off limits based on your location. Great news for vacationers and expats alike, the best streaming VPN will help stream content from overseas and open the gates to foreign Netflix, BBC iPlayer (while outside of the UK), Disney Plus, and more.
Hosting hundreds, if not thousands, of servers within its network, these are based all around the world. When connecting to one, then, the VPN changes your IP address to make it appear as you're elsewhere.
Whether you're hopping on a local server to circumvent blocks in your school or workplace so you can watch YouTube, or you're abroad and want to tune into a live stream back home through your native broadcaster, the best streaming VPN is the tool to have in your back pocket.
Giving you the lowdown on the best streaming VPN below, these providers ensure you can watch the likes of Prime Video, Disney Plus, YouTube, Hulu, Peacock, and more, not matter where you are around the globe.
Top 3 best streaming VPN at a glance:
1. ExpressVPN – the best streaming VPN on the market
ExpressVPN is the best overall VPN on the market, and it also impresses when it comes to streaming. Highlights include 3,000 servers, access to Netflix, high speeds, great security features and so much more. Plus, T3 readers can claim three months free on any 12-month plan, saving you 49% compared to paying monthly.
2. Surfshark - an affordable streaming unblocking wizard
Already with its exceptionally affordable pricing on its side, this cheap VPN has upped its game as a viable option for best streaming VPN. Unblocks all the top streaming services with a ridiculously fast overall performance.
3. NordVPN – the biggest name is still one of the best
NordVPN is another well-established, feature-packed streaming VPN. One of the best if you're after a handful of fantastic security features, we particularly love its more unique security features like Double VPN.
The best streaming VPNs in 2023:
ExpressVPN is certainly the best in the business and once again tops one of our guides as the best streaming VPN available to meet all your needs. With exceptional unblocking prowess, nifty features, and great performance, it ticks all our boxes.
Diving straight in, you'll discover ExpressVPN has a healthy network of 3,000 servers based in a staggering 94 countries. From here you'll be able to access just about any streaming platform you like. We've tested Amazon Prime Video, YouTube, Hulu, ESPN Plus, Disney Plus, and BBC iPlayer, all with great success. It even manages to retain its access to Netflix (US, UK, Canada, and Australia), which many on this list have lost the ability to do so since the streaming giant cracked down on the use of VPN and IP addresses.
Its speeds are also above average thanks to its own Lightway protocol, seeing a slight increase in performance with peaks of 420-630Mbps (previously 570-580Mbps) - more than enough to banish the dreaded buffering screen or see any impact on your connection speeds at all.
ExpressVPN also offers a range of great security and privacy features, including a kill switch, private DNS, 256-bit encryption, a strict no-logs policy and comprehensive privacy guides. There are apps for almost all operating systems, including Android, iOS, Windows, Mac, and even routers, but the downside is that you’ll only be able to connect 5 devices at once.
However, if you ever need a question answered, you can make use of a 24/7 live chat, and there’s a 30-day money-back guarantee should you want to cancel.
If you want a service that won’t break the bank and still packs a punch, you should check out Surfshark. It’s not only one of the our go-to recommendations for a VPN, but also provides exceptional value for money, and works beautifully when it comes to unblocking your favorite streaming service.
Surfshark boasts more than 3,200 servers across 65 countries, which will allow you to unblock Disney Plus, Amazon Prime Video, BBC iPlayer, Hulu, DAZN and many other streaming sites. It's also one of the best Netflix VPNs around right now following our most recent testing, able to open the gates to Netflix exclusives in the US, UK, Canada, Australia, and Japan.
And let's not forget its exceptional performance in our speed tests. While its OpenVPN speeds slipped below average with peaks of 150Mbps, its WireGuard protocol left many of its competitors in the dust, reaching highs of 720-790Mbps.
One of the things we love about Surfshark is that it provides support for unlimited devices, so you’ll be able to stream content on all of your devices, too. Other great features for streaming include fast servers, unlimited content and apps for a range of different operating systems, including Android, iOS, Windows and Mac.
Another area where Surfshark excels is security and privacy, protecting users from online threats like malware, phishing, trackers and advertisements. There’s also a whitelister, a kill switch, a no-logs policy, private DNS and leak protection, as well as 256-bit encryption.
The cheapest price plan works out at a measly $2.49/£2 per month (though watch out for steep rates when your plan auto-renews). Surfshark also offers the market standard 30-day money-back period, as well as 24/7 support if you’re not happy with the service.
What impresses us about NordVPN is the fact that it’s been designed with security and privacy in mind, which is great for those who want to access blocked content without having to worry about third-parties spying on them.
You won’t have any problems accessing content internationally as NordVPN has more than 5,400+ servers in 60 countries (up from 59 previously), and they’re capable of delivering impressive speeds. In fact, while not quite as fast as it was last time around, NordVPN still sits as one of the fastest VPN with averages of 730-760Mbps.
NordVPN will let you access Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, BBC iPlayer, Disney Plus, DAZN and other streaming sites. It's also cracked Netflix again, outdoing even ExpressVPN in recent tests with the ability to access Netflix in the US, UK, Canada, Australia and Japan.
NordVPN is highly focused on security and privacy, providing features such as Double VPN (which uses two servers for routing internet data), malware protection, a DNS leak test, a no logs policy and a kill switch.
What’s more, you can use up 6 devices with your account and have plenty of affordable subscription plans to choose from. On top of all of this, you also get 24/7 support and 30 days to ask for your money back.
ProtonVPN’s Plus plan delivers the goods across both unblocking and speed. Better still, you can enjoy 10 simultaneous connections, allowing you to install and use across all your devices - and maybe even share a connection or two.
This is great news for keen streamers, considering ProtonVPN makes fairly easy work of bypassing geo-restrictions across the top streaming platforms. It ticks off BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime Video, and Disney Plus, nailing some of the most popular streaming platforms and allowing you to tune into your preferred broadcaster when you’re outside of the country, and not miss a moment of your favorite TV show or a live sporting event.
Increasingly, Netflix has been a considerably harder nut to crack. ProtonVPN has been beaten to the punch by the likes of Surfshark and NordVPN which more easily circumvent Netflix libraries around the world. Still, Proton holds on strong, able to access libraries in the US, UK, and Canada, with some success in Australia.
With the introduction of WireGuard, the provider saw a huge boost to its performance previously. Though its averages have dropped a touch, it still delivers great results, averaging 360-670Mbps.
On top of that, for those looking to stream under the radar, ProtonVPN comes equipped with some excellent security features, including an incredibly effective kill switch and feature-packed and audited open source apps.
With a boost to its network of servers, too, there are now 1,800+ servers spanning 63 countries, which should make streaming no matter where you are in the world a lot more straightforward. Of course, it's also worth noting while you won't be able to unblock streaming services with its free VPN, this is a great way of trying to the service before committing with unlimited data to boot.
Private Internet Access is a great option for circumventing geo-restrictions when you consider its huge network of a whopping 10,000+ servers. That means plenty of choice for finding a server that works at accessing your chosen streaming service no matter where you are.
PIA has a decent track record to unblocking the most popular services, though it's worth noting we were unable to watch BBC iPlayer while connected to it this time around. PIA has given us access in the past, though, so we're hopeful it'll regain these capabilities. It still manages to unblock Prime Video and Disney Plus with no problem, and allowed us to watch US Netflix exclusives, too, though there wasn't much lucky with other libraries around the world.
Still, it’s a great choice for streaming if you’ve rinsed through Netflix and are after geo-unblocking elsewhere, with a selection of clients across devices that we really rate, including its iPad VPN. All its apps are also open source. This means PIA are pretty confident in its security and privacy credentials, allowing any Tom, Dick, or Harry to have a look.
It’s worth noting, in comparison to other VPN providers, it’s not the fastest VPN out there. Private Internet Access peaked at around 320Mbps, which is below the average when set against many of its competitors. That said, these figures should be more than enough for streaming without running into any problems.
Best streaming VPN FAQ
What makes a good streaming VPN?
There are a number of things to consider when it comes to looking for the best streaming VPN, and you certainly shouldn't deprioritise important factors like security and performance either.
Fundamentally, a streaming VPN needs to be able to unblock various streaming services. Just because a VPN can unblock one doesn't mean it can unblock them all. The likes of BBC iPlayer and Netflix are far trickier to circumvent, with the latter really cracking down and beginning to block IP addresses tied to VPN networks. Our top recommendations will always be ExpressVPN at #1, as well as the uber affordable Surfshark should more than fit the bill - and the latter comes with unlimited connections.
Both tick off Netflix (including libraries in the US, UK, Australia, and Canada), while also bypassing geo-blocks on BBC iPlayer, Disney Plus, and Amazon Prime Video.
They also nail it when it comes to performance, with ExpressVPN delivering above average speeds of 420-630Mbps, and Surfshark soaring ahead with peaks of 720-790Mbps.
In layman's terms, this means you shouldn't see a significant lag in your overall internet performance. Add to that your VPN prevents your Internet Service Provider from seeing what you're doing and potentially throttling your bandwidth, you can stream undetected and without that dreaded buffering pinwheel.
Can you get a free streaming VPN?
Everyone likes a freebie, and there are certainly hundreds of free VPN services out there. But if you want a great streaming experience, you’re better off choosing a premium option. Free services won’t give you access to many streaming platforms, are usually very slow (so you can expect buffering) and/or impose data caps. Free VPN providers who have premium options also usually restrict what features you can actually use without dropping your card details. This is the case with ProtonVPN's free service.
Generally, they’re not great to use and are only suited towards simple tasks. Plus, a lot of these services are spammy. What's more, you could always just opt for a super cheap provider like Surfshark if you’re concerned about pricing.
Is streaming with a VPN legal?
It's, therefore, a good idea to check out the small print before you decide whether or not you want to risk it.
Of course, the use of VPN in itself is not illegal either, though this will differ from country to country. Some countries have banned the use of VPN, including China, Russia, and North Korea.
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