The best VPN is more than a security and privacy tool – if you use it as a streaming VPN it's also 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 only individuals in certain countries can access it. But, 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 three things – the power to evade VPN-blocking tech used by streaming providers, a wide selection of servers worldwide to give you a good choice, and excellent speeds so you can watch without buffering. Our top pick ExpressVPN combines all these with a clean, polished interface that makes streaming overseas content super simple.
Not all VPNs have that combination. There are a number of streaming services that have all but perfected VPN detection, and many lesser VPN providers simply can't access them. BBC iPlayer is one of these, and it proves to be a stumbling block for many VPNs – even those that can crack Netflix.
Bear in mind that if you're trying to access a paid-for service like Netflix or Hulu, you still need to have a subscription – VPNs aren't going to let you steal content. But, if you're legally able to watch something somewhere in the world, a VPN can enable you to watch it wherever you are by virtually relocating you.
Alongside ExpressVPN 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.
1. ExpressVPN – the best streaming VPN
Whether you're on holiday and want to watch what you're used to or want to explore content from around the world from your own home, ExpressVPN can unblock Netflix, iPlayer, Hulu, Peacock, Prime and so much more – plus you can now claim three free months.View Deal
2. CyberGhost – excellent dedicated streaming features
CyberGhost's innovative server filtering system means you can pick the best server for whatever streaming provider you want to use. While not as user-friendly as Express, with over 6,300 servers and good speeds in most places, it's a bit of a bargain at just $2.75/mo.View Deal
3. NordVPN – secure and great for streaming
If you want a great all-rounder, NordVPN is a good shout. Top-notch privacy features, useful apps and powerful content unblocking come together in a great name-brand package that you can rely on. And it's just $3.71/mo.View Deal
The best streaming VPNs today
From our testing, ExpressVPN is simply the best VPN on the market. However, one if its standout features is its excellent capabilities as a 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. Connection speeds are reliably fast, so even streaming in 4K and HDR shouldn't be an issue.
Unlike many 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 support is 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 also get a 30-day money-back guarantee, meaning it's essentially free to try for a month to make sure it suits you perfectly.
Tom's Guide readers get three months free of ExpressVPN
Sign up for a full 12 months on ExpressVPN and you'll end up with 49% off the normal monthly price and three 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.
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 which service you want to use from the smart filtering system, and CyberGhost will set you up automatically.
With over 6,200 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 4G.
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.
Sing up now on the CyberGhost website
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 more than 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 mobile apps are 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 almost always performs reliably.
Sign up now on the NordVPN website
Surfshark provides as excellent mix of speed and value, but doesn't scrimp on security. As such, it's an ideal streaming VPN for use with Netflix, Amazon Video, BBC iPlayer, YouTube and more. Something that 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.
Sign up now on the Surfshark website
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 works as an Iran and China 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.
Sign up now on the VyprVPN website
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.