With ever-changing international copyright and licensing restrictions, more and more people are turning to the best streaming VPN providers to watch their favorite content.
A virtual private network (VPN) encrypts your data and routes it through a secure server elsewhere in the world, replacing your IP address and making you appear as though you were accessing from that location. This lets you unblock that region's Netflix library, news sites, and even local sports streams.
However, only the best VPN services can give you reliable stream unblocking. I've been testing VPNs for years, and while many claim to unblock streaming services, not all of them can do so reliably. To help you pick the best one for your streaming needs, I've compared the speed, server locations, reliability, and unblocking capability of the best VPN services available today.
My top three streaming VPNs at a glance
Want a quick answer? Here are the three best streaming VPN services right now:
1. NordVPN: the best streaming VPN in 2023
NordVPN can unblock almost every popular streaming service, including Hulu, Amazon Prime, BBC iPlayer, Disney+, DAZN, and more. By combining its excellent security features with smart DNS technology via its SmartPlay feature, NordVPN allows you to remain safe and undetected while streaming.
NordVPN offers three additional months to new users subscribing to its services for two years, which drops the price to $2.99 a month. A 30-day money-back guarantee also allows you to try its services risk-free for a month.
2. ExpressVPN: excellent unblocking and security
ExpressVPN provides an exceptional server network that covers 94 countries with more than 3,200 servers that are well-optimized for streaming foreign content. Its proprietary protocol, Lightway, offers a unique mix of security and performance, allowing you to keep your privacy intact while watching your favorite TV shows and movies.
Although it comes at a higher price point than most of its competition, ExpressVPN offers a 30-day money-back guarantee for all its plans, and paying for an annual subscription nets you three additional months of protection for free.
3. Surfshark: the best cheap streaming VPN
Surfshark provides excellent value for your money as one of the most affordable options on the market. With over 3,200 high-speed servers in more than 100 countries, this streaming VPN provider lets you watch sports, movies, and TV shows almost anywhere in the world.
Although it lacks some of the advanced features the previous two providers offer, you can subscribe to Surfshark’s two-year-long subscription for as little as $1.99 per month and try it risk-free with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Since my latest VPN test results, there haven't been any major changes to my top picks. However, a whole bunch of the top services just dropped their prices for Black Friday, so if you want to get a premium VPN for the lowest price possible, now's the time.
The 5 best streaming VPNs in 2023
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Let's take a deeper look at our top picks and see which ones are worth your time and hard-earned cash.
The best VPN for streaming
Easy stream unblocking with handy support
Streaming services unblocked: Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, BBC iPlayer, Disney Plus, Sling TV, HBO, DAZN | Compatible devices: Amazon Fire TV, Chromecast, Apple TV, Roku, PlayStation, Xbox | Server locations: 80+ | Maximum devices supported: 6 | 24/7 live chat support: Yes
✔️ Streaming Netflix is your primary use case: NordVPN currently tops our list as the best VPN for Netflix so you can access libraries all over the world.
✔️ You want an all-in-one security suite: NordVPN offers ad-blocking, malware protection, and more with its price plans.
✔️ You want excellent value for money: NordVPN offers plenty of features, with customizable pricing, so you only pay for what you need.
❌ You want a super simple interface: NordVPN's map-style interface can be a lot of fun, but if you want a simpler design without the bells and whistles, our other top picks all have cleaner apps.
❌ You want to access content everywhere: with servers in 60 countries, you get a lot of options, but compared to our other top picks, NordVPN is more limited in countries and locations.
🔒 NordVPN strikes the perfect balance between security, usability, performance, and unblocking capability, all while offering exceptional customization. Try for yourself and see why it's such a close runner-up with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Check out our in-depth NordVPN review for a closer look at this all-in-one security solution.
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 short, Nord has all that it takes for enjoyable streaming: it is one of our fastest VPNs (up to 950 Mbps), comes with plenty of features to protect your devices and information, and successfully unblocks dozens of streaming services, including iPlayer, Prime Video, Hulu, and YouTube. It's upped its game on Netflix in recent months, too, and can access exclusive content on catalogs in the US, UK, Canada, Australia, and Japan.
There are over 5,700 servers at your disposal throughout the world and, if downloading a VPN means more to you than just streaming, you'll be glad to know NordVPN comes packed with security features. There's a Double VPN feature that encrypts your data twice, sending it through two separate servers for maximum security and anonymity. Add to that, a kill switch, an independently-audited no-logs policy, and AES 256-bit encryption with support for all major security protocols and you've got a watertight solution that won't let you down no matter what you stream (or where). You also get additional options like a dedicated IP address and Onion over VPN servers, too.
However, there are some limitations. NordVPN offers servers in only 60 countries, a significantly less extensive network than ExpressVPN, which offers servers in 94 countries. So if you want to access content in more of the world, ExpressVPN or Surfshark will do you better.
NordVPN has plenty of explainer guides and support articles (plus excellent 24/7 live chat support) if you're having issues accessing your show or TV event. In addition, its subscription plans offer even more tools and apps for a slightly higher monthly fee, including a data breach scanner, personal data removal, cross-platform password manager, and 1 TB of cloud storage. See how it stacks up against ExpressVPN with a 30-day money-back guarantee to fall back on.
|Design||Design can be a little busy for some people,||⭐⭐⭐⭐|
|Ease of use||There isn't much attention to detail and is not the best option when streaming on mobile||⭐⭐⭐|
|Performance||One of our fastest VPNs||⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐|
|Unblocking||Perfect for Netflix and other streaming services||⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐|
|Security and privacy||An excellent all-in-one security solution||⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐|
|Customer support||24/7 available, friendly, and professional||⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐|
|Price||Fantastic value for the money||⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐|
The best secure VPN
Top contender holds all the keys to streaming around the globe
Streaming services unblocked: Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, BBC iPlayer, Disney Plus, Sling TV, HBO, DAZN, Kayo, Peacock | Compatible devices: Amazon Fire TV, Chromecast, Apple TV, Roku, PlayStation, Xbox | Server locations: 160 | Maximum devices supported: 8 | 24/7 live chat support: Yes
✔️ You want easy-to-use top-quality apps for almost everything: ExpressVPN's apps are simple and compatible with almost all devices
✔️ You want to access content everywhere: with over 160 locations worldwide to choose from, you'll be able to access local content no matter where you are.
✔️ You need a reliable and trustworthy VPN: between ExpressVPN's regular audits and no-logs policy, you can be certain your information is always safe.
❌ You're on a strict budget: ExpressVPN is an expensive choice. If you can't afford its prices, we'd recommend looking towards NordVPN or Surfshark.
❌ You need a full security suite: ExpressVPN prides itself on being the best VPN, and that's where it focuses its attention. If you need an all-in-one solution with built-in antivirus capabilities, Express may not be the right pick for you.
🔒 ExpressVPN strikes the perfect balance between security, usability, performance, and unblocking capability, all while offering exceptional customization. Try for yourself with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Check out our in-depth ExpressVPN review for a closer look at the service and its roster of security tools.
ExpressVPN unblocks all popular TV streaming services globally and provides a consistent service that rarely leaves you unable to access your favorite services. In our last round of testing, ExpressVPN effortlessly unblocked several international Netflix catalogs, Amazon Prime Video, Disney Plus, BBC iPlayer, and other popular streaming services.
It offers a wide range of native clients, including those for Windows, Mac, Linux, and other devices, but the service truly shines in the mobile department. ExpressVPN has intuitive and well-designed iOS and Android apps that let you automatically establish a connection with the closest optimized server and reach high speeds. Besides its traditional VPN apps, ExpressVPN has its own SmartDNS tool, MediaStreamer, that helps you access the geo-restricted content on devices like Smart TVs by spoofing your location.
With its split tunneling feature, you can specify which apps are and aren't protected by the VPN, so you can stream your favorite content while still accessing local sites and services.
ExpressVPN boasts a 3,200 server count spread across 160 locations in 94 countries. The service achieved consistently solid speeds in our latest series of tests, averaging 750 Mbps. That's enough coverage to stream content anywhere in the world, and it's fast enough to simultaneously stream over a dozen TV shows or movies in 4K.
The provider recently upped its simultaneous connection count from five to eight, which may not seem like much, but most people will only use it on up to four devices at any one time. Besides its limited number of simultaneous connections, ExpressVPN comes at a higher price than most of its competition, including NordVPN, which has a whole host of security tools at a lower cost.
ExpressVPN justifies its price by offering unparalleled customer support that can provide expert advice 24/7 and resolve any issues you may have. If that's not enough, it also throws in 3 months of additional protection, a password manager, and a year of unlimited cloud storage, all for free on its 12-month plan. Don't just take our word for it, though. Put it to the test with a risk-free 30-day money-back guarantee.
|Design||A clean and simple design on all your devices||⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐|
|Ease of use||Easy-to-navigate apps with auto-connect functionality||⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐|
|Performance||Fast enough for anything you could throw at it, but slower than NordVPN and Surfshark||⭐⭐⭐⭐|
|Unblocking||Effortlessly gives you access to content around the world||⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐|
|Security and privacy||Express offers highly secure protocols and military-grade protection||⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐|
|Customer support||24/7 available and helpful support||⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐|
|Price||More expensive choice compared to the competition||⭐⭐⭐|