A streaming VPN is more than a security and privacy tool – it's your golden ticket to all the TV, movies and sporting events available to the public the world over.
While, say, your Netflix account might have a good selection of content off the bat, there's a huge amount that you can't access with your subscription. That's because it's 'geo-blocked', meaning individuals in certain countries or regions can't access it. By using a streaming VPN you'll be able to select a server anywhere in the world and watch exclusive content.
You can also do the opposite – if you're on a trip and want to watch a sporting event or TV show only available in your home country, you can select a server back home and appear to be planted on your sofa, just like normal.
What makes a great streaming VPN?
At its core, a streaming VPN needs to have two things – the power to evade VPN-blocking tech used by streaming providers and a wide selection of servers worldwide to give you a good choice.
Not all VPNs have that combination. There are a number of streaming services that have all but perfected VPN detection, and many lesser providers simply can't access them. BBC iPlayer is one of these, and it proves to be a stumbling block for many VPNs.
Great connection speeds are also essential, as even if you can get access to whatever you want to watch, that's no good if you're seeing the dreaded buffering symbol every five seconds.
Bear in mind that if you're trying to access a paid-for service like Netflix or Hulu, you will have to have a subscription – VPNs aren't going to let you steal content. But, if you're legally able to watch something in one part of the world or another, a VPN can enable you to watch it wherever you are by virtually relocating you to the necessary place.
The best streaming VPN is ExpressVPN because it's got the perfect combination of all these factors, plus a super-simple interface that makes it incredibly easy to use. However, there are a number of other excellent options that fill out this list, so read on to discover which streaming VPN is the right one for you.
The best streaming VPNs you can get right now
Best all-round VPN for streaming – and everything else!
Available on: Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux | Server locations: 160 in 94 countries | Streaming services unblocked: Netflix, iPlayer, YouTube, Amazon, Hulu | Maximum devices supported: 5
ExpressVPN is our favorite VPN. Yes, we used a period – it's that good – but we'll go on. Express is also the best streaming VPN as it offers the triple whammy of speed, security and excellent international coverage.
That all means you can get access to over 3,000 servers across 94 countries, so no matter where you are it should be possible to get stuck into streaming media from back home. Connections speeds are reliably fast, so even streaming in 4K and HDR shouldn't be an issue.
Unlike other VPNs, Express unlocks Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime, YouTube and more – all the more impressive when you know these streaming services are constantly trying to actively block VPNs.
If you do run into any snags then excellent the 24/7 live chat customer supportis always there to get you going again. It's staffed by knowledgeable and genuinely helpful people that want – and know how – to get you what you need.
While streaming might be a priority, security is also paramount and ExpressVPN sports enterprise-level encryption along with a selection of protocols. That means you're guaranteed online anonymity, letting you stream in peace without the threat of third-parties potentially invading your privacy.
All that and you can get this with a 30-day money-back guarantee meaning it's essentially free to try for a month. So why not give the best streaming VPN a go?
Tom's Guide readers get a discount on ExpressVPN
Sign up for a full 12 months on ExpressVPN and you'll end up with 49% off the normal monthly price and 3 months additional coverage absolutely FREE. And don't forget, if you just want to give it a try with no obligation, there's a 30-day money back guarantee that you can rely upon without any quibbles.
Best streaming VPN for features
Available on: Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux | Server locations: 110+ in 90 countries | Streaming services unblocked: Netflix, iPlayer, YouTube, Amazon, Hulu | Maximum devices supported: 7
CyberGhost is a standout streaming VPN that's built for the task. Unlike other VPNs where you might have to guess which servers unblock what, CyberGhost saves you any trial and error and has listed which can give you access to what. Pick what you want to watch, and CyberGhost will set you up automatically.
With over 6,300 servers across over 90 countries, CyberGhost offers high-speed connections wherever you might find yourself. There's also a handy optional data compression tool which allows you to limit the amount of data coming through your device – perfect for watching Netflix or YouTube on a phone using data.
While CyberGhost has evidently focused on making its service work as a streaming VPN, there are a few small issues with the interface that slightly let it down. However, it does offer an unusually long 45-day money-back guarantee, so if you really can't get to grips with the apps, you won't be out of pocket.
Even though it's not quite as polished as some competitors, CyberGhost's powerful streaming specialisation earns itself second place on this list.
Visit CyberGhost's website to learn more
Streaming VPN service that's hot on security
Available on: Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux | Server locations: 80+ in 59 countries | Streaming services unblocked: Netflix, iPlayer, YouTube, Amazon, Hulu | Maximum devices supported: 6
NordVPN is built for security, and it's a great streaming VPN to use if you're concerned about anyone else watching with you. The fact that it offers around 5,000 servers in 59 countries is just a bonus which ensures great speeds no matter where you end up.
On top of the 2048-bit double encryption there is a handy SmartPlay feature. This encrypts you data in a more streamlined fashion, allowing you to eke out every last drop of performance from your connection. Especially useful for streaming in HD, Nord's SmartPlay also sidesteps streaming services' VPN blocking tools, meaning you're guaranteed to have access to anything you want to watch.
NordVPN's apps are also fully featured and provide much the same experience as the desktop clients. However, one thing we wish it had changed is the map-based interface – on a handheld screen it makes selecting servers a hassle, and we'd like to see a regular list from the start.
Other than minor issues with the apps, however, NordVPN is an excellent streaming VPN that always performs reliably.
Visit NordVPN's website to learn more
Great speeds for high-quality streaming
Available on: Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux | Server locations: 100 in 63 countries | Streaming services unblocked: Netflix, iPlayer, YouTube, Amazon, Hulu | Maximum devices supported: Unlimited
Surfshark provides as excellent mix of speed and value, but doesn't scrimp on security. As such, it's an ideal streaming VPN for Netflix, Amazon Video, BBC iPlayer, YouTube and more. Something really does inspire confidence is that Surfshark even lists the countries it can access Netflix in – there's no guesswork here.
Another bonus is that Surfshark works well as a Fire Stick VPN, so it's a great option for getting geo-blocked media streaming on your big TV. It's simple to use, which is perfect for beginners, but there's a fair number of settings to tweak, too.
Compared to some other further up the list there's not a huge amount of configuration on offer – but if all you're interested in is getting access to US Netflix then that's probably not a problem, and the unlimited simultaneous connections mean you can protect every device you own.
With a seriously tempting price and a 30-day guarantee, Surfshark's an excellent streaming VPN that should be on your list.
Visit Surfshark's website to learn more
Great for no logging streaming
Available on: Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux | Server locations: 70+ | Streaming services unblocked: Netflix, iPlayer, YouTube, Amazon, Hulu | Maximum devices supported: 5
VyprVPN is another superb streaming VPN for getting around geo-blocked content thanks to its own proprietary Chameleon protocol. This is able to bypass even the most stubborn restrictions, and can get you online even in Iran and China via VPN – both of which are famed for their VPN blocking efforts.
Thanks to this you can get cracking on Netflix or iPlayer wherever you are with a minimum of fuss. And, to top it off, VyprVPN operates a zero-logging policy alongside a zero-knowledge DNS service – meaning you'll be entirely anonymous and secure.
While there are lots of clients for tons of devices – even including Android TV – the Windows app is dated and could do with a bit of work. But, the big downside is poor performance – while you'll be safe using Vypr, you might find your connection speeds suffer.
However, VyprVPN is a powerful streaming VPN, and if you can cope with slightly impacted speeds then it's a great option for the security-minded.
Visit VyprVPN's website to learn more
Streaming VPN FAQs
How does a streaming VPN work?
Every VPN works in the same way – it diverts your device's connection away from your internet provider's and instead uses one its own servers. Doing this means your ISP can't see what you're viewing, and an added bonus is that VPN server traffic is much more encrypted than the naked connection from your router.
A streaming VPN can get you access to overseas content by rerouting your connection through one its servers in a foreign country. By doing that, to any website it seems like you're in that country, and subsequently you'll be able to access any and all content that's usually only available if you're physically in that area.
What can I use a streaming VPN for?
There are two basic cases for using a streaming VPN – you're either abroad and want to watch familiar but now geo-blocked content form back home, or you're at home and want to watch geo-blocked content from abroad.
Whatever your reasons, there's a huge amount of content on offer that you can only get with a streaming VPN. Netflix has a vast amount of content that's only available in certain areas, and services like Hulu and BBC iPlayer are only available in one country.
However, there's more to be had if you're a sports fan. If you're away from home and don't want to miss a game that's being shown on domestic TV, you can access that through a streaming VPN. The same goes if you're a paying customer of a sports streaming service – just turn on your streaming VPN, log in to your streaming service and watch.
What are the best TV streaming services?
There are more video services to pick from these days than there were big chain video rental stores in the nineties. We've come a long way. But some practices still seem outdated, like geo-restrictions to keep certain content for particular locations. All the best services have these in place, but many don't seem too concerned about VPNs which get around the issue.
From Netflix and Amazon Prime Video in 4K and HDR to BBC iPlayer, Hulu and YouTube and Disney+ – there are lots of streaming services to pick from and enjoy anywhere using a VPN. Want to find the best one for you? Check out our best video streaming services guide.