Regardless of where you are in the world, there's no reason to be limited by what you can access and watch if you use a VPN. Able to secure your connection while you stream, the best VPN for streaming will also be able to unblock services that are otherwise restricted - whether due to government-instigated censorship or libraries locked to certain regions of the world.
Allowing you to still tune into your native broadcaster while vacationing or living overseas, with the right VPN for the job you can watch your local sports team from anywhere, or ensure you don't miss one death-dropping episode of your favorite reality show.
Now testing even more services in our bi-annual testing – from streaming a movie on Netflix to ensuring you can watch BBC iPlayer from abroad – we have more recently added the likes of ITVX, All4, 9Now, and 10Play to our roster. Our 5 best streaming VPN services are able to unblock these services and maintain top speeds, while also securing your connection.
Today's top 3 best streaming VPNs:
1. ExpressVPN - #1 best streaming VPN (opens in new tab)
Overall score: 5/5
The world's overall top VPN is fast, secure, easy to use, and comes with 3 months extra free with an annual plan. Get it risk-free for 30 days and try its unlocking prowess - it gets access to most streaming sites you could imagine, with regional services including BBC iPlayer, Paramount Plus, Kayo, and DAZN on the hit list alongside global powerhouses including Netflix and Amazon Prime Video.
2. NordVPN - strong, consistent unblocking (opens in new tab)
Overall score: 4.5/5
Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, BBC iPlayer, Disney+, HBO Max, YouTube... you name it, NordVPN can unblock it! The provider really has the goods to back up its reputation, easily unblocking a whole range of streaming services from abroad.
3. Surfshark - a great option to spend less (opens in new tab)
Overall score: 4.5/5
Surfshark offers many of the great features that the above two do, just at a bit of a lower price. If you're willing to commit to a longer term, the cost comes down to less than $2.50 USD per month. That's excellent value on a VPN that's still very good for streamers.
How to choose the best streaming VPN
Really, much of what your choice of VPN provider will come down to is which streaming services you want access to no matter where you are. While our 5 best streaming VPNs tick off most services across the board, it's fair to say some platforms put up more of a fight.
That includes Netflix, the most popular streaming service in the world - and incidentally the toughest to unblock. BBC iPlayer has also been known to be many VPN's kryptonite in the past. Whichever you want to tune into, though, we'll detail below which VPN provider can unblock what.
Lightning fast connection speeds and great security should also be top of your list of requirements. While fast speeds lend themselves to a strong, high-resolution stream with no buffering, security ensures your payment details are kept tightly under lock and key. You'll also want one with a decent network of servers, giving you a choice of ones to switch to on the off-chance connection proves slow.
You’ll also want wide support for various devices, as you may well be viewing content across multiple bits of hardware - from phones and computers to individual streaming devices like Apple TV, Amazon Fire, and Roku. And we also favor streaming VPN providers that have fast, effective 24/7 live chat support - just in case you struggle to get things working.
Best 5 VPNs for streaming in 2023:(opens in new tab)
Get TechRadar's #1 rated streaming VPN with 3 months extra free (opens in new tab)
ExpressVPN makes your choice very easy when it comes to hunting for the best streaming VPN. It unblocks almost all of the major TV streaming services around the world and always seems to be one step ahead of them trying to prevent you from watching from abroad. BBC iPlayer, no problem. Hulu is easy. Amazon Prime Video, sure thing. Add the likes of ITV Hub, All4, 9Now, and 10Play to the list, too.
You can tell that Express takes streaming seriously by the fact that it gives subscribers access to its very own MediaStreamer tool, that's been custom-made to ensure accessing overseas content is even easier.
So whether it's movies, TV shows, or sports coverage that you're trying to watch, ExpressVPN's speedy servers are well up to the task. And on those very odd occasions when we struggled, a quick word with one of Express's 24/7 live chat support staff got us connected to a server that worked in no time.
That support has come in particularly handy of late, as Netflix has really stepped up its efforts to prevent VPNs from working with its service. Express isn't what it once was, though it does appear to be on the up. Still, for Netflix bingers, we'd be more inclined to steer you in the direction of Nord or Surfshark.
ExpressVPN boasts a 3,000 server count spread across 94 countries. In our performance tests, the service achieved consistently solid speeds without much variation throughout the network, though we did see a slight drop in its Lightway protocol this time around from 630Mbps to 560Mbps.
There’s a wide range of native clients including support for Windows, Mac, and Linux, but the service truly shines in the mobile department. There are intuitive apps for iOS, Android, and even BlackBerry, with additional instructions for a number of other devices. Another bonus is that these clients automatically connect to the optimal server to deliver the fastest speeds possible. That's really handy if you're away for business or on holiday and trying to catch stuff on a mobile or tablet.
The only of Express's obvious weaknesses is on pricing, as subscriptions are somewhat expensive. That said, ExpressVPN does offer a 30-day money-back guarantee. Out of the three plans available, the yearly plan offers the most value (and also gets you three months extra for free).
Get the #1 VPN for streaming with 3 extra months FREE (opens in new tab)
ExpressVPN's fast, robust connections combined with its adaptability, ease-of-use, and servers in multiple countries mean it takes the crown. And it's also fantastic value as you get 3 free months added on for free when you sign up for a one-year contract. Plus a year's free use of unlimited cloud backup from Backblaze.
NordVPN’s specific focus on streaming is evident through its SmartPlay technology, a secure proxy service that the provider uses to bypass the geo-restrictions of streaming websites. The feature is enabled in all NordVPN apps by default, automatically rerouting the user’s requests through an appropriate remote server.
In easier-to-understand terms, that means access to dozens of streaming services, including iPlayer, Prime Video, Hulu, and YouTube. It's really upped its game on Netflix in recent months, too, and is generally able to get access to exclusive content on catalogs as varied US, UK, Canada, Australia, and Japan.
Streaming service providers don't make the work of VPNs all that straightforward, but NordVPN has plenty of explainer guides and support articles (plus, excellent 24/7 live chat support) if you're having issues trying to access your show or TV event of choice.
NordVPN truly excels when it comes to performance, sitting as one of the fastest VPNs. While many providers' speeds dropped in our latest round of tests, NordVPN continued to accelerate with peaks meeting highs of 820Mbps - making it the second speediest on this list behind Surfshark at 950Mbps.
There are over 5,400 servers at your disposal throughout the world. And if downloading a VPN means more to you than mere streaming, then you'll be comforted that this Panama-based provider does well on the security front as well: there's a Double VPN feature that encrypts data twice, sending it through two separate servers; a kill switch; no logs policy; 256-bit encryption; support for all major security protocols. You also get additional options like a dedicated IP address and Onion over VPN.
Save big on multi-year plan (opens in new tab)
NordVPN is surprisingly well priced for such an awesome piece of software. Assuming you choose a subscription of more than a year, the discounts on show come in at around 70%. And if you sign up and decide within 30 days you don't want it, it will give you your money back without quibble.
Surfshark comfortably unblocked Netflix (in the US UK, Canada, Australia, and more), Amazon Prime, Disney+, YouTube, and BBC iPlayer when we tested it last - so it immediately becomes a key contender in our streaming VPN round-up. We also threw a number of other services, including Australia's 9Now and 10Play, on top of ITV Hub and All4, and it passed with flying colors.
Beyond that, Surfshark has two other tricks up its sleeve to try and make it your VPN of choice. The first of those is the price - it's no surprise at all that Surfshark lands the #1 spot in our guide on cheap VPN providers, as you can get it for an effective monthly price of less than $2.50/£2 for its multi-year plan. You'll be hard-pushed to find anybody else that comes close to matching that value.
The second is that one subscription will cover unlimited simultaneous connections. So if you really really wanted to, you could use Surfshark to stream on your Chromecast, Roku, Apple TV, laptop, Smart TV, games console, Android tablet, iPhone, and more all at the same time. More realistically, it just means that you can have it set up on your devices (and those of family and friends) without ever having to worry about not being allowed.
Add to that, Surfshark has proven incredibly fast. Creeping up the list, in our October tests, Surfshark reigns supreme, matching TorGuard with peaks of 950Mbps. That is extremely fast, and excellent news whether you want to stream in 4K or not.
Outside that, Surfshark is really easy to use - perhaps meaning it won't have all the features some power users might require - and has really excellent live chat support if needed. A great choice.
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Hide.me has been creeping up in our estimations in the last year, making a name for itself as a formidable streaming VPN thanks to its strong track record of unblocking many of the popular streaming services and boasting some of the fastest speeds in our biannual tests. In fact, with an upgrade on most servers to 10Gbps, Hide.me sees itself in our top 5 fastest VPN services, hitting peaks of 880Mbps, beaten only by Surfshark on this list at 950Mbps.
Backed by excellent WireGuard speeds, Hide.me already shapes up to be excellent for streaming. But how does it perform when it comes to bypassing geo-restrictions? Well, very well actually. While it has been a touch ropey in the past when it comes to unblocking Netflix catalogs in different countries, this time around it was 100% across the board.
We also saw it throw its best shot at a number of other services including Disney Plus, Prime Video, UK services BBC iPlayer, All4, and ITV Hub, as well as Australia platforms 9Now and 10Play. It gained access to all without issue. The only drawback? If you're hoping to make the most of its excellent free VPN offering, you'll be disappointed, as the streaming service unblocking is limited to its paying customers only.
Incredibly affordable, we do have to point out there are some points of concern, however. The kill switch issues persist, leaving users vulnerable when changing locations. It also quotes a security audit from 2015, which feels a little out of date if you ask us.
Hugely configurable and now with a cheaper 2-year plan price point, Hide.me still stands up as an extremely powerful VPN for unblocking streaming services, with speeds that'll make easy work of 4K streams.(opens in new tab)
Off the bat, PureVPN probably isn't the provider to opt for if, as well as unblocking, you also want an uber-secure connection. However, if it's more of the former for you, PureVPN is a great choice that is dirt cheap when you commit to one of its long-term plans.
Able to unblock every single service we tested, including Netflix catalogs around the world, BBC iPlayer, Disney Plus, and Prime Video, PureVPN is certainly back on top of its game as an excellent choice for bypassing geo-restrictions on streaming services.
Add to that its speeds sit above average in our latest results with peaks of 640Mbps. Technically a drop from last time around at 840Mbps, while a touch disappointing, it still serves as a speedy and reliable connection. 4K streams? No problem. Buffering? We don't know her.
Its mobile experience has also seen some nifty improvements, including being able to open live chat within the app, steering you to the PureVPN website rather than, previously, an unbranded page. You can also create shortcuts, which will be helpful for those who want to connect to a server and immediately launch their chosen streaming service.
Of course, we have to mention its drawbacks. In our testing, some security concerns did crop up, including apps sending crash reports without asking, and its support website could do with a look over (or three). There were also a few issues within the Windows and iOS clients, including being unable to cancel connections.
Unsure? PureVPN offers a 31-day money-back guarantee window. What we will say, though, is for your money, this is a great streaming VPN with a great track record for unblocking. If you want more of the whole package, though, you'd be better off with one of the above providers instead.
Streaming VPNs FAQ
What is the best streaming VPN 2023?
Right now, the answer to that question is the all-round excellent ExpressVPN (opens in new tab). According to our recent testing, it unlocks the lot: BBC iPlayer, Hulu, Disney+, YouTube...everything! That's a really impressive track record, but it also benefits from being fantastic to use and making you safer online with a litany of clever security features.
Is a VPN worth it for streaming?
The answer to that question entirely depends on what you want to stream and how often. If you're somebody who has an insatiable appetite for films and box sets and will go to any means to get all the content, then a VPN is an essential tool as it means you can start watching Netflix and Amazon Prime content that may not be available in your location.
Similarly, if you're a massive fan of a particular sport, but the coverage in the country where you live (or are visiting) just isn't up to snuff, then a VPN will help you to watch your favorite team or player with more comprehensive coverage from around the world.
But if you're quite content with watching your domestic TV networks and the streaming services you've paid for, then getting a VPN won't be off too much benefit just for streaming.
What streaming services work with a VPN?
The list is practically endless here - it would probably be quicker to list services that aren't unblockable by a VPN.
From our testing and using VPNs ourselves we've found that you can unblock Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, Peacock, BBC iPlayer, Sling TV, DAZN, YouTube, Disney Plus, Fubo, All 4, ITV Hub, and a whole host more domestic networks. If you're a little unsure and don't want to commit to a service without first knowing whether it will work with your streaming service of choice, then we'd recommend going for a VPN with a free trial and put it through its paces risk free.
Can I use a streaming VPN to watch sport?
Absolutely, and over the last few years this has become a really popular reason to get hold of a VPN.
Want to watch the Super Bowl online through your usual domestic broadcaster while abroad? Or without commercials with BBC's Super Bowl coverage? A VPN is the ideal tool to help get around geo-restrictions.
The same goes if you pay for a costly Sky or BT Sport package for the football and want to watch when you're on holiday. Or Aussie cricket and footie fans who just can't get the coverage they need when not Down Under.
In our testing, we've had success using VPNs for a variety of services, including Sky Go, Kayo, DAZN, Star Sports and many, many more.
Should I go for a free streaming VPN?
We'd really advise you to avoid free VPN providers if your main purpose is streaming. They tend to come riddled with data limits and bandwidth restrictions.
Or even you considered one of our favorites - Proton VPN - it literally won't let you stream when turned on... unless you upgrade to its premium 'Plus' plan. Really not ideal for your streaming needs.