Apple's no stranger to streaming devices, and the Apple TV is one of the smartest, most portable, most attractive options on the market. Combine it with an Apple TV VPN, however, and it's practically unstoppable.
If you subscribe to any streaming service – be that Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, ESPN+ or any other – you'll probably know that what you can watch is determined by where you're located. This is thanks to licensing restrictions, and can be a real pain when you just want to watch your favorite shows. The best VPN is the answer.
Using an Apple TV VPN can help you avoid these geo-blocks, but it's well worth noting that not every VPN is compatible with your Apple TV. You'll need one that supports Smart DNS, or, at the very least, has router support. We'll expand on this more below.
What makes a great Apple TV VPN?
Your Apple TV doesn't natively support VPN connections, so you've got a couple of options when setting up your Apple TV VPN. If you want full VPN protection, you'll need to install a router VPN. That means your Internet connection will be encrypted and relocated before it gets to your Apple TV. However, setup can be complex, and it's not usually the best option for streamers.
Instead, we'd recommend signing up to a service like list-topper ExpressVPN that offers a 'Smart DNS' service. While Smart DNS doesn't offer the privacy benefits of a true VPN, it's unlikely you'll be doing much more than watching TV on your Apple TV device, so quick and easy setup alongside superb streaming functionality are likely to be your top priorities.
We'll briefly outline how to set up an Apple TV VPN at the end of this guide, but before that we'll run down the very best Apple TV VPN services available right now – all of which either support both Smart DNS and routers, or at least one option.
1. ExpressVPN – the best Apple TV VPN available
ExpressVPN is our top pick for an Apple TV VPN thanks to its easy MediaStreamer (Smart DNS) setup as well as its powerful yet simple-to-use router app. Plus, Tom's Guide readers can now claim three months free on a 12-month plan.View Deal
2. NordVPN – excellent for streaming on Apple TV
NordVPN is a close Apple TV VPN runner up, providing great streaming power along with useful apps for your other devices – although router setup is entirely manual. And, for a limited time, you can get three months free on a two-year plan.View Deal
3. Surfshark – bargain Apple TV VPN impresses
Surfshark is an excellent Apple TV VPN option if you want top streaming performance at a bargain price. With Smart DNS and the power to unblock tons of streaming sites, you get a lot for your money for less than $2.50 a monthView Deal
- Want to watch more? Check out the best streaming VPN
The best Apple TV VPNs today
No matter how you want to access extra content on your Apple TV, ExpressVPN delivers. Its Smart DNS feature (known as MediaStreamer) is quick and easy to get going, and it's one of the few VPNs on the market that has a dedicated router app.
That might not sound like much, but if you want all of the good stuff an Apple TV VPN can offer, not just the freedom to stream extra content, you'll need to install it on your router.
For most, though, MediaStreamer will be plenty – and even setting up Smart DNS on your Apple TV sounds complicated enough. Thankfully, while it's not a hard as it sounds, ExpressVPN also boasts some of the best customer support in the business. That means you'll have comprehensive written guides to follow, and if anything doesn't go as planned, the live chat support is second to none.
However, just because your main use for your VPN might be on your Apple TV, that doesn't mean you can't protect your other devices. With a reasonable five connections permitted simultaneously, you can protect your iPhone, PC, and even more devices as well. It's not as generous as some, but it should be enough.
It's worth noting that we've heard reports of BBC iPlayer not running perfectly with ExpressVPN, but in a brief test for this article, we had some success. If that's a deal-breaker for you, Express also offers a 30-day money-back guarantee, so if it doesn't perform as expected, you won't be out of pocket.
Get three months free of the best Apple TV VPN
ExpressVPN is currently offering Tom's Guide readers three free months – that's 15 months for the price of 12. And, in the rare event that it's not for you, you'll also have a 30-day money-back guarantee keeping you safe. Not bad for the best Apple TV VPN.
As possibly the best-known VPN on the scene, NordVPN is likely to be most people's first choice as a VPN for Apple TV. Thankfully, it delivers.
If you want to set it up directly on your device, NordVPN provides a simple and effective Smart DNS guide for Apple TV, which will allow you to expand your viewing. Again, although it sounds complex, it's not, so don't be afraid of giving it a go.
However, what's missing is a dedicated router app like ExpressVPN's, and this is what's holding Nord back. While it's absolutely possible to set the VPN up on your router, without any dedicated software it's a much more involved process – so much so that many users choose to purchase a pre-installed router.
If you reckon you're up to the task, though, once it's installed you'll have extra protection on all your devices. But, if you're just after an Apple TV VPN, we'd recommend sticking with the Smart DNS.
NordVPN also offers a 30-day money-back guarantee so you can test it out before committing, and if you want the superb VPN cover for a good price, it's a great option.
Head over to the NordVPN website to sign up
Fancy a bargain? Sign up with Surfshark. With superb streaming performance, Smart DNS support, and unlimited simultaneous connections for less than $2.50 a month, for the penny pinchers it's a no brainer.
However, what we really love about Surfshark is the fact it delivers a service virtually on a par with ExpressVPN and NordVPN for less money. While it's priced like a throwaway app, it's premium through and through.
If you just want to unblock streaming sites on your Apple TV, you guessed it – just find the on-site guide to setting up Smart DNS and follow the steps. If you wants an Apple TV VPN on your router, you can do that too, but as with Nord, there's no dedicated app and the setup is manual.
Where you will notice a slight difference is when you come to make use of that unlimited connections policy. While the apps are attractive and stable, you won't have quite the depth of configuration as the very best, but few people will be delving into those settings anyway.
So, if you want a cheap Apple TV VPN that'll get the job done, Surfshark is an excellent choice.
Head over to the Surfshark website to sign up
If you're looking for a streaming VPN that's comprehensive on both your desktop computer, mobile devices, and your Apple TV, CyberGhost is a good option.
With tons of servers worldwide and a functional Smart DNS service that's not too hard to get up and running, it's does pretty much all you need it to. However, again, there's no dedicated router app to aid installation.
Smart DNS function is pretty much the same across the board, but CyberGhost's true VPN apps have a very interesting feature not often seen. You can sort your servers by which streaming service they can unblock, which takes a lot of guesswork out of finding a good one.
The apps are, however, a little less polished than the previous services, so if you like things to be absolutely perfect, CyberGhost might not be the best choice.
That said, as an Apple TV VPN it's a good choice, and seeing as it's super affordable too, we're happy to recommend it.
Famous US VPN IPVanish rounds this guide off, and while it has a couple of shortcomings, there's still a lot it can offer.
Featuring on our Fire Stick VPN guide, it's clear that it's a capable of unblocking streaming services, but unfortunately if you want to use it as an Apple TV VPN, you'll have to install it on your router.
That's due to the fact that IPVanish doesn't offer any sort of Smart DNS support, which is unfortunate as it not only excludes a fair amount of Apple TV VPN users, but also Smart TV VPN users, too.
However, we've included IPVanish here because once set up on your router, it's an excellent service, and the face you'll be able to install it on an unlimited number of devices is just the icing on the cake.
Apple TV VPN FAQs
How do you use an Apple TV VPN?
Setting up an Apple TV VPN isn't quite as simple as it is on other devices, and you'll either have to use Smart DNS or install your chosen VPN on your router.
You chosen provider should have detailed instructions, but to set up Smart DNS, the process is fairly simple.
All you need to do is get the DNS address from your chosen provider – we recommend ExpressVPN – and open up Network from Settings on your Apple TV.
Head to Wi-Fi, and then click on Configure. Then change your DNS address from Automatic to Manual, and input the address given to you by your VPN.
Then, all you need to do is restart your Apple TV, and get watching!
What is Smart DNS?
Smart DNS is a way of spoofing your location when you either don't want to, or simply can't use a VPN connection. The most common reason to do so in this context is to unblock streaming services on Apple TVs.
Rather than how a VPN directs all of your traffic through a different server, Smart DNS only diverts your DNS (Domain Name Server) information. While this does not protect your privacy because your traffic is not encrypted, it's enough to fool streaming services.
Another bonus is the fact that it slows your connection far less than a VPN. While we'd say most of our picks here are fast VPN services, Smart DNS is even quicker.