Best VPNs for Streaming in 2021
After Netflix's success, streaming platforms began multiplying like sensuous rabbits. Which is great, but only if you're located in the right place! You see, some services just aren't available outside certain countries, and even if they are, the content may differ. Case in point: Netflix in Moldova will get you only a third of what's available in the US for roughly the same price. Talk about disappointing!
Well, thankfully, there's a way out of this situation - VPNs. While it may be pointless to wait for the industry to fix itself, the right VPN can help you unblock most of the streaming content unavailable in your region. So, what is the right VPN? We ran the tests, and here's our list of the best VPNs for streaming in 2021.
Best VPNs for streaming:
- NordVPN – best VPN for streaming
- Surfshark – most affordable VPN pair with Netflix
- IPVanish – a decent choice for streaming
- VyprVPN – most underrated VPN for streaming
- PrivateVPN – very consistent too
VPNs for streaming - our detailed list:
When we review VPNs, we always check how capable they are at defeating streaming media blocks. Usually, we try the service with Netflix, BBC iPlayer, YouTube, and DAZN. Every single service on this list passed all the tests and will be useful if you want to unblock streaming media that isn't available in your country.
Editor's disclosure: We are aware of and concerned about the Deferred Prosecution Agreement (DPA) recently released by the US Department of Justice. It names Express VPN’s CIO Daniel Gericke among the persons who received monetary penalties and agreed to “full cooperation with the relevant Department and FBI components” due to their past misuse of covert surveillance tools, targeting US citizens, as well as journalists and political parties.
At the moment, there are no direct connections established between the misuse of such tools and ExpressVPN. However, in order to offer our readers only the most reliable and safest VPN solutions available, we are temporarily removing ExpressVPN from our lists until further privacy, data security, and ethical evaluations are completed. You can read our full story about the agreement here.
1. NordVPN – best VPN for streaming
|Servers/countries:||5,542 servers in 59 countries|
|Current deal:||Now 72% OFF + 3 Months FREE!|
Those shopping for the best VPN for streaming often overlook one of the most important qualities – connection stability. No one likes when their movie gets interrupted during an intensive car chase because the video is buffering. NordVPN can ensure that such occurrences won't ruin your experience.
It helps that the service owns 5,500 servers across 59 countries. This ensures that you'll have plenty of options to choose from. So, if you want to connect to a particular national broadcaster, and need a specific IP address for your disguise, you won't have any problems. Speaking of which, we tried - NordVPN unblocks pretty much any streaming platform you can think of.
Often, the device you're using can be a problem in itself. For example, some media devices in your home might not support VPN apps. NordVPN has no problem there because it has the SmartPlay feature. It can be configured even on devices that don't work with VPNs like Apple TVs, consoles, or certain media players. So, you get more flexibility with devices that you're already using for video content without changing your habits.
The service uses military-grade encryption ciphers and cutting-edge tunneling protocols to keep your connection private without sacrificing speed. No one will know what you've been watching.
NordVPN's price doesn't bite, and it offers a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you can try it out and see if you like it first.
- Unblocks most streaming websites
- Large server list
- SmartPlay technology
- Split tunneling
- 30-day money-back guarantee
- Stable VPN connection
- Independently-audited no-logs policy
- No free version
2. Surfshark – most affordable VPN pair with Netflix
|Based in:||British Virgin Islands|
|Servers/countries:||3,200 servers in 65 countries|
|Current deal:||Get Surfshark, now 81% OFF!|
Over the past couple of years, Surfshark has moved from strength to strength. One of its main selling points is blazing-fast speeds, which means instant loading times even if you're connecting to Japanese Netflix.
Speaking of which, Surfshark does unblock more than just US Netflix. You can access region-specific British, Indian, Italian, Norwegian, German, Australian, and many other libraries. Even though Netflix US has some of the most titles, it doesn't have all of them. With Surfshark, no country's exclusive titles will be out of your finned reach.
Even if your device doesn't natively support VPN apps, Surfshark has SmartDNS that is configurable on most media players and gaming consoles. With it, your device will connect as if it were using a VPN, bypassing blocks that would otherwise not allow you to watch content.
Don't think that you're making some privacy compromise, either. Surfshark is one of the safest VPN services. They're using impenetrable encryption ciphers to make everything you do when connected private.
The kicker is unlimited simultaneous connections, so you can use Surfshark with as many devices as you want. No one in your household will be left behind.
You can try the service first with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
- Unblocks most streaming services
- SmartDNS feature
- Unblocks additional Netflix libraries
- Unlimited simultaneous connections
- 30-day money-back guarantee
- Great speed test scores
- No dedicated IP
3. IPVanish - a decent choice for streaming
|Based in:||United States|
|Servers/countries:||1,600 servers in 75 locations|
|Current deal:||Save 70% OFF the IPVanish 1-year plan!|
Even though IPVanish doesn’t unblock that many streaming platforms, it is really reliable with the ones it does unblock. This means that you are very likely to consistently access the US and UK libraries of Netflix. Also, YouTube is another site you will always access with IPVanish.
In addition to this, the service offers applications for Fire devices, which makes the process of viewing geo-blocked content much easier.
You also have a wide choice of tunneling protocols like IKEv2/IPSec, L2TP/IPSec, PPTP, and both versions of OpenVPN. The speeds are pretty decent no matter which protocol you choose, however, I recommend using OpenVPN UDP.
The military-grade AES-256 cipher protects the connection itself. No hacker will manage to decrypt it to learn what you've been up to online. Nor is IPVanish itself keeping tabs on what you're browsing as it's a no-logs VPN.
IPVanish isn’t particularly expensive, as the prices start from $31.99 a year (for the first year). You can also make use of its money-back guarantee, but keep in mind that it applies only to the yearly plans.
- Split-tunneling on Android
- Customizable kill switch
- Unlimited connections
- Unblocks Netflix
- Automatization options
- Free SOCKS5 proxy
- Good customer support portal
- No Linux app
- Price increases after a year
4. VyprVPN – most underrated VPN for streaming
|Servers/countries:||700 servers in 70 countries|
|Current deal:||Get up to 12 months FREE!|
VyprVPN is a Swiss product of the reputable Golden Frog, GmbH. This is one of the best VPN services overall, and if streaming is your main objective - the service delivers.
This VPN unblocks most popular streaming services and local broadcasters. From Netflix to DAZN or niches choices like NRK TV, you'll be able to access media from all over the globe. There will be no more "uploader has not made this video available in your country" messages for you, ever.
If you need a VPN only for streaming, but for everything else you'd rather use a direct connection, you don't need to juggle between switching the service on and off. There's a split tunneling feature, which you can set up however you want. For example, you can use the VPN only with media apps.
However, all of these quality of life improvements aside, VyprVPN doesn't forget the essentials. The service has a working kill switch and encrypts your connections with the unbreakable AES-256 cipher. And while in the past VyprVPN was notorious for its data monitoring, currently the service keeps no logs.
All of these benefits can be yours for a reasonable price. Not to mention that there's a 30-day money-back guarantee, and it supports five simultaneous connections.
The cons? Well, there's no Smart DNS, and the speeds can be inconsistent outside of the WireGuard protocol. But that's it!
- Unblocks most streaming websites
- Consistent VPN connection speeds
- 30-day money-back guarantee
- No-logs VPN service
- Cheap long-term subscription
- Split tunneling
- Small server fleet
- Mixed experience with non-Wireguard protocols
- No Smart DNS
5. PrivateVPN – very consistent tool for defeating censorship
|Servers/countries:||150 servers in 62 countries|
|Current deal:||Get PrivateVPN, now 79% OFF! 12 Months + 12 Month extra!|
PrivateVPN is another great Swedish export along with IKEA and Dolph Lundgren. It's also a reliable VPN service for streaming.
During our tests, we checked how it works with Netflix, BBC iPlayer, and DAZN. All of them worked without issues and had no buffering when streaming. Though, knowing their track record, this shouldn't be unexpected. Often, when all other VPNs get stuck on error screens, PrivateVPN will resolve them.
If you need additional reasons to give them a chance: the overall speeds are great, and the UI is user-friendly. It won't be hard to set up, even if you've never used a VPN before. Your family members will surely appreciate this as well, as it supports 6 simultaneous connections.
Let's not forget that PrivateVPN contributes to your online security, as well. It uses customizable encryption and open-source tunneling protocols to keep your data, well, private.
Those who want to try the service first-hand without providing payment information can get their 7-day free trial. This should be plenty of time to see if you like their service and whether it's worth your money.
Though, the longer subscription plans do provide pretty steep discounts, making the service a good deal for your money.
- 7-day free trial
- Unblocks most streaming services
- Easy to use
- Discounts on longer subscriptions
- Customizable encryption
- Limited tunneling protocols options
- Small server fleet
- No split tunneling
6. Hide.me VPN – easy to use VPN for new users
|Servers/countries:||1,900 servers in 47 countries|
|Current deal:||Buy at 61% OFF (+2 mos. free!)|
Hide.me VPN goes far beyond concealing your IP address. It can really expand the amount of media that you can watch on your screen.
The usual picks are all there: Hide.me unblocks Netflix, DAZN, BBC iPlayer, and many others. Just select one of the 47 countries, and connect. You will appear as if you're actually connecting from the country, giving you access.
Some streaming media providers get suspicious if you're frequently changing your IP address. Hide.me allows you to reserve an IP on a public VPN server to solve this issue. Whenever you connect to it, you'll be assigned the same IP address. This will surely help you fly under the radar and do so at no additional cost!
This isn't the only thing that helps you to stay private, either. The VPN uses the AES-256 cipher, widely endorsed by financial institutions and government bodies. There's also a kill switch, and they're using self-owned DNS servers.
Although they don't have a free version, you can try the service with their 30-day money-back guarantee. If something rubs you the wrong way, you can always ask for a refund and get your money back.
- Free version
- Unblocks most streaming services
- Privacy-friendly jurisdiction
- IP address reservation
- App-level kill switch
- Modern tunneling protocols
- Basic mobile apps
- Pretty expensive
How we selected and tested these VPNs
If you're looking for a VPN for streaming, your search criteria must adjust accordingly. It might even depend on what kind of service you're trying to unblock. Even if a service unblocks Netflix, there's no guarantee that DAZN or BBC iPlayer will also work. You have to check specifically.
Plus, some streaming methods like Kodi add-ons rely on copyrighted content, so it's a good idea to protect your privacy, as well. So, here's what qualities we emphasized when ranking them. This list should also help if you need help choosing the right VPN with your streaming service.
- Streaming options. We test each reviewed VPN's streaming capability by trying it with Netflix, BBC iPlayer, YouTube, and DAZN (+ a few others). This gives a pretty good idea of how a service performs when unblocking different platforms.
- Speed. The mere fact the service bypasses blocks isn't enough. For streaming, especially at UHD and 4K resolutions, you need your speeds to be high and consistent. This will allow you to enjoy movies and TV shows without buffering issues. No one likes to stare at a blank screen while the movie loads.
- Useful features. Some features can help you set up VPN-like connections, such as SmartDNS. With them, you can unblock geo-restricted media without even installing a VPN. Others, like split tunneling, can help you manage your VPN connection. As a matter of fact, there are many useful VPN features to consider when picking a streaming VPN.
- Network size. What if you're interested not only in unblocking US services/libraries? What if you're from a smaller country and need to unblock some local broadcaster while on vacation? Whether this is possible will entirely depend on the total number of countries covered by your provider. The better the coverage – the better your chances to unblock even niche content from local broadcasters.
- Privacy and security. Your VPN shouldn't collect your data and make security compromises. If you are streaming via Kodi add-ons, this will be one of the first boxes you'll have to tick.
- Price. Paying the highest price doesn't automatically mean you'll be getting the best possible performance. You have to take into consideration how much you're actually getting for your money.
Do I really need a VPN for streaming?
Whether you need it or not depends entirely on what you want out of your streaming experience (and your location). If you're a local living in the US, there probably aren't that many shows that you're missing out on due to geo-restrictions. However, of you're almost anywhere else, a VPN could be very useful.
Then again, if your go-to streaming method is Kodi, it's a good reason to get a VPN regardless of where you live. Each platform that meddles with copyrighted content can get you in trouble, so hiding your IP is a top priority.
VPNs that do not work for streaming
It isn't a secret that some VPN don't mix well with streaming services. Generally, these can be classified into free VPNs and non-streaming-oriented VPN services.
Free VPNs – most often, free versions of VPNs are very reductive representations of their full paid product. In turn, some non-essential features get cut to make the paid product more appealing. Streaming capabilities is one of the things that get cut out the most. Thus, most often, when you're using a free version, the IP addresses that you get assigned are already blacklisted by streaming services.
Non-streaming-oriented services – these are VPNs that don't regard streaming as a priority. They may be all in for privacy and not even test whether their product can unblock Netflix. It's a decision of where to focus resources. For example, Mullvad is one of the worst picks for streaming, but they have one of the best VPN services out there in other senses.
How to stream with a VPN?
No one method will work with every VPN service you encounter in the wild. All VPN services are different and might have additional steps to work with streaming media. Some will require to connect to special streaming servers, while others will work out of the box. Still, if you're not very concerned with the specifics, and want to know the gist of it, here's how it's done.
- Figure out which streaming service you need: only Netflix, Hulu, some other service? This will narrow your selection down.
- After you've decided on your VPN provider, you'll need to get a subscription and create an account.
- The next step will be setting up the software on your device. You'll get it either from an App store or the provider's page.
- When your software is installed, launch the program, and log in
- When you're on the main screen, you'll have to connect to a server that unblocks the streaming service (this step will heavily depend on your VPN provider)
- While being connected to a VPN, go to the streaming service's website or launch their app. Likely, you'll have to create your account and pay for your subscription, as well.
- That's it, enjoy!
Can I use a free VPN for streaming?
Sadly, most free VPN services aren't suited for streaming. The reason for this is that unblocking streaming platforms isn't a small feat. Netflix continues to block IP ranges associated with VPN users, meaning that after a service's IP addresses are blacklisted, they need to acquire new ones. This makes it costly and is one of the key reasons you likely won't use a free VPN to bypass these restrictions.
That said, some free versions of premium VPN services might work. The performance won't be amazing as no one is sweating to ensure that free edition users are getting the best possible performance. Besides, it might work one day then suddenly stop working. Consistency isn't one of the things that you're promised when you're using a free version.
What are the best TV streaming services?
These days, you're spoiled for choice when it comes to the number of streaming services that are out there. That is not to say that all of them will be available everywhere, so to access them, you'll have to rely on a VPN service.
Whether you're into the NBA or mixed martial arts, Sling and Fubo TV offer the best sports channel packages. They both include NBA TV, ESPN, and many others. You won't miss a second of your favorite team in action.
Sling: available only in the United States
Fubo TV: available only in the United States, Canada, Spain
TV series & Movies
Depending on whether you're more interested in original content or looking for services with the biggest aggregated libraries. Several options could be good. Netflix has original TV series and shows that aren't available anywhere else, but so does Hulu. You'll have to look into what content is available to make an informed decision.
Netflix: available in 190 countries, but library size varies. You might be interested in our best VPNs for Netflix article.
Hulu: available only in the United States and Japan. You might be interested in our best VPNs for Hulu article.
HBO Max: available only in the United States. You might be interested in our how to unblock HBO Max article.
Peacock TV: available only in the United States. You might be interested in our how to watch Peacock TV article.
If you need some family-friendly content to occupy young'uns during quarantine, Disney+ is a no-brainer. Whether your kid likes The Muppets or The Avengers, there's a bottomless pit of titles to choose from.
Disney+: available in 55 countries
What is the fastest VPN for streaming?
NordVPN, Surfshark, and ExpressVPN are in the top three on our list, and those are the fastest VPNs for streaming. They also can be set up as Smart DNS, allowing you to unblock services without routing your connection through a VPN.
Which VPN is the best for Netflix?
Naturally, the best VPN for Netflix and the best VPN for streaming is the same – it's NordVPN. It provides consistent connection speeds, and also keeps a great track record of unblocking many streaming services.
How can I be safe when streaming?
The only times when you need to worry about your safety when streaming are when you're dealing with copyrighted content, or streaming content that is outlawed in your country. In those cases, hiding your IP address becomes a priority. This is something with which a VPN can help, as well.
How much data does streaming use per hour?
Streaming is a data-intensive task. For example, a low-quality video will use 0.3 GB/hour, medium doubles that with 0.7 GB/hour, and high quality can range from 3 GB to 7 GB/hour. If your ISP has data caps, it's pretty easy to exceed those when streaming media.
Is VPN enough to bypass streaming service blocks?
In most cases, a VPN should be enough to grant you access to most streaming services. However, some have additional credit card checks that are verified on purchase. For example, if you don't have an American card, you won't be able to register and pay for your subscription, denying you access to the service.
More VPN guides from CyberNews:
Best VPNs for IPTV: watch all the content that you want from anywhere
Best VPNs for Popcorn Time: stay out of trouble and protect your privacy with these tools
Best VPNs for Twitch: unblock Twitch anywhere
Best VPNs for Watching Amazon Prime: whether it's The Grand Tour or The Boys don't miss out on any new episodes