Unfortunately, ESPN isn’t available everywhere. This can cause problems for sports fans, for instance, if you’re trying to watch your favorite team play while on vacation abroad (outside of the US). Even assuming you can stream ESPN where you are, there’s a good chance that some sports are subject to regional restrictions (sometimes called blackouts) due to broadcasting rights.
If you try to access an ESPN site from abroad without a VPN, you’ll probably encounter an error like “An unexpected error occured” or “ESPN+ is not available in your country due to content rights issues.”
On the plus side, it’s fairly easy to stream ESPN live online with the right VPN. Short for Virtual Private Network, a VPN connection masks your real location so that you can browse safely and regain access to your usual services while traveling.
Further down, we’ll cover each of our recommended VPN providers in more detail, but if you just need a quick summary, here are our top choices.
We found these to be the best VPNs for ESPN and ESPN Plus:
- NordVPN: The best option for watching ESPN from abroad. A vast server network achieves reliable streaming speeds for all sports events. Good privacy features. Includes a 30-day money-back guarantee so you can try it risk-free. TIP In our testing we found that the cheapest NordVPN plan (Standard) works perfectly for ESPN.
- Surfshark: Best budget choice for ESPN and a perfect VPN for a sports enthusiast. Intuitive apps, strong security, and great streaming potential. Keeps no logs.
- ExpressVPN: Fast internet speeds make for reliable streaming. Works with ESPN and can access content on most major streaming sites. Top privacy and security.
- CyberGhost: Streaming optimized servers and easy-to-use apps. Private and secure with the largest network of servers around. A reliable choice for ESPN.
- IPVanish: A zero-logs provider boasting steady speeds, strong security, and no connection limit. Works with ESPN and all of your other favorite sports platforms.
- Private Internet Access: Has great unblocking capabilities around the world and works well with ESPN. Has apps for Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, and more.
Not just any VPN will work with ESPN. That’s why all of the VPNs we’re recommending had to meet all of the following criteria:
- Is fast enough for live HD streaming
- Works with ESPN, ESPN+, and similar services
- Uses powerful security tools to keep you safe online
- Apps for both mobile and desktop systems
- Has lots of US servers to choose from
WANT TO TRY THE TOP VPN RISK FREE?
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There are no hidden terms—just contact support within 30 days if you decide NordVPN isn't right for you and you'll get a full refund. Start your NordVPN trial here.
How to watch ESPN live online from anywhere
New to VPNs and not sure where to begin? Here’s how to unblock ESPN from abroad in a few simple steps:
- Sign up for a quality VPN. We recommend NordVPN.
- Download and install the VPN app for your device.
- Open the app and select a server location in the US. Also, be sure to avoid the blackout region for the team you’re watching.
- Hit the Connect button.
- Open the ESPN stream and start watching!
The best VPNs for ESPN – at a glance
We’ve compared the most important features for the top VPNs here. Prefer to read the in-depth reviews? Start with NordVPN – our #1 choice for streaming ESPN outside the US.
|No value||NordVPN||Surfshark||ExpressVPN||CyberGhost||IPVanish||Private Internet Access|
|Website||NordVPN.com||Surfshark.com||ExpressVPN.com||Cyberghost.com||IPVanish.com||PrivateInternetAccess.com||Ranking for ESPN||1||2||3||4||5||6||US Servers||16 cities / 5800+ servers||25 cities / 600+ servers||11 cities / 966 servers||53 cities||20 cities / 1106 servers||53 cities||Streaming services||ESPN|
|Devices Supported||Windows, MacOS, iOS, Android, Linux||Windows, MacOS, iOS, Android, Linux, Amazon Fire TV||Windows, MacOS, iOS, Android, Linux, Smart TVs, Routers||Windows, MacOS, Linux (command line), iOS, Android, Smart TVs Routers||Windows, MacOS, iOS, Android||Windows, MacOS, iOS, Android, Linux||Avg Speed (UK)||100+ Mbps||100+ Mbps||100+ Mbps||100+ Mbps||100+ Mbps||25 Mbps|
|Best deal (per month)||$2.99|
SAVE up to 69% + 3 months FREE
Save 86% + Get 3 Months FREE
SAVE: 49% + 3 months free
SAVE 84% on the 2 year plan + 4 months free
SAVE 81% on the 2 yr plan + 3 FREE months
SAVE 83% on the 3 yr plan + + 4 FREE months
Best VPNs for streaming ESPN
Here are the best VPNs for streaming ESPN from abroad:
Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS
NordVPN offers an impressive 60 server country locations spread across the globe, including a whopping 1,900+ standard VPN physical servers in the United States. Further, this is one of the fastest VPNs we’ve tested, which means you shouldn’t notice any lag or buffering while enjoying sports streams. User bandwidth isn’t restricted in any way, and you can connect up to six devices at a time.
This provider incorporates great features in terms of security like 256-bit encryption, a customizable internet kill switch, leak protection, and double-hop servers, which routes your data through two locations instead of one. There’s also a true no-logs policy, plus you can pay in Bitcoin, meaning paper trails are minimized and privacy all but guaranteed.
NordVPN has user-friendly apps available for iOS and Android as well as Windows, Linux, and MacOS. Manual configuration is required for use with supported routers.
- Over 1,900 US-based servers
- A veteran online security provider with an impeccable reputation for privacy
- Reliable speeds great for sports streaming
- Major emphasis on security and privacy
- Personal data is protected as it keeps no logs
- Desktop apps take two clicks to disconnect
BEST VPN FOR ESPN:NordVPN is our top pick for ESPN. Connects up to 6 devices simultaneously. Works well with most popular streaming services and offers consistently high speeds. Impressive security features and a risk-free 30-day money back guarantee.
Read our full NordVPN review.
Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS
Surfshark has over 3,200 servers in 60+ countries including the US. It has blazing-fast speeds, averaging over 300 Mbps in our latest tests. That’s certainly fast enough to watch live sports streams or any other popular streaming services! As a bonus, you can enjoy unlimited simultaneous connections.
This service doesn’t log any personally identifiable information. It does store some data (such as whether your connection attempt failed) but this is for diagnostic purposes only. Surfshark VPN actually takes your security very seriously. Its apps include AES-256 encryption, protection against DNS, IPv6, and WebRTC leaks, and a kill switch. There’s also the option to sign up anonymously with a throwaway email address and cryptocurrency payment.
This VPN has software for Android, iOS, MacOS, Windows, and Linux. It can be manually configured for use with home routers too.
- Fast and versatile
- Strong multi-platform support
- Unlimited simultaneous connections
- Strong on security
- Accepts various cryptocurrencies
- Menus could be easier to navigate
BEST BUDGET VPN:Surfshark users can easily unblock ESPN and provides a secure, private connection. This wallet-friendly service even offers a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Read our full review of Surfshark here.
Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS
ExpressVPN is a solid bet for streaming ESPN online. It has servers in 94 countries, plus 20 locations to choose from in the US alone. This makes it well-suited to those hoping to bypass ESPN’s regional blackouts and see their local team play. Better yet, this is one of the faster VPNs on the market.
This service uses 256-bit AES military-grade encryption and comes with DNS and IPv6 leak protection plus a kill switch that completely halts all internet traffic if the connection drops. ExpressVPN doesn’t log any data that could identify you, but you’re free to pay in Bitcoin for a little extra anonymity.
ExpressVPN has apps for Android, iOS, Windows, MacOS, iOS, and Linux, so you can view the action on the device of your choice. There’s also a new and improved router firmware that can protect every device on your network.
- Fast, reliable speeds for streaming HD content and for downloading/uploading large files
- Works with major streaming sites,
- Top-class security and privacy protection features
- Keeps no traffic logs of personal data
- Not the cheapest option here without using a discount coupon
IMPRESSIVE SECURITY:ExpressVPN is a blazing fast and reliable choice. Great at providing secure access to content from all over the world. Top online privacy features and a strict no logs policy. Has a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Read our full review of ExpressVPN.
Money-back guarantee: 45 DAYS
CyberGhost is a beginner-friendly VPN service that will appeal to users on a budget. It doesn’t have the fancy customizable settings associated with some of the other providers in our list, but it does have decent speeds and a huge server network, with over 8,000 servers globally. Notably, some of these are optimized for accessing services like ESPN+ abroad but can also be used to access most other streaming platforms like Netflix, SlingTV and Hulu.
It boasts a strong security offering too, with 256-bit AES encryption, WireGuard support, DNS and IPv6 leak protection, and a kill switch. CyberGhost even recently launched its standalone Windows security suite, so it’s clear that this provider has big plans for the future. CyberGhost doesn’t log any personally identifiable data and provides around-the-clock support via email and live chat.
Apps are available for both Android and iOS mobile devices as well as Windows and MacOS. Linux systems and supported routers must be configured manually.
- Streams HD video seamlessly with no buffering during testing
- Over 1,100 servers in the US
- Apps are easy to use and great for new users
- Solid privacy and security features enabled by default
- Won’t work in Turkey, China, Saudi Arabia or UAE
RELIABLE OPTION:CyberGhost has a simple set up. Great privacy and security. Streaming-optimized servers for fuss-free viewing. 45-day money back guarantee.
Read our full review of CyberGhost.
Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS
IPVanish continues with the tradition of having a user-first mindset. It operates around 1,900 of servers spread across 75 locations worldwide, with hundreds of US-based servers. The network recently saw a significant speed boost, so you shouldn’t run into any problems watching ESPN. Best of all, IPVanish lets you secure all of your devices at the same time.
The company is based in the United States but follows a strict “no-logs” policy coupled with 256-bit encryption, a kill switch, and leak protection. This VPN also recently introduced support for the WireGuard protocol, which is a huge step. Need help? Customer support can be reached 24/7 over email and live chat.
Apps are available for iOS, MacOS, Windows, and Android. IPVanish also offers support for Linux systems and select routers, but you’ll have to install these manually.
- Operates around 1,100 US servers
- Customer support is not outsourced, a good privacy consideration
- The interface is easy to use with Kodi and other Android-based media systems.
- Doesn’t accept Bitcoin for anonymous payment
PROTECT EVERY DEVICE:IPVanish has a large network of servers and handles multiple connections well. Easy to use and preferred by users who need high standards of privacy. Doesn’t work with as many streaming services as some of its rivals. 30-day money-back guarantee.
Read our full IPVanish review.
Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS
Private Internet Access is perfect for users looking to watch ESPN from abroad. PIA has over 10,000 servers in 80 countries and being US-based, it has over 20 servers in the United States alone. Aside from ESPN, PIA is great at accessing Netflix and Hulu from abroad, letting you resume where you left off on some of the most binge-worthy TV shows.
PIA gives users a 10 simultaneous connection limit combined with support for Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, and more, letting your entire household stream ESPN from almost any device. You can expect smooth and uninterrupted HD streaming with the support of the WireGuard protocol. Coupled with DNS leak protection, a kill switch, AES encryption, and the ability to select your level of encryption, you can almost guarantee a safe and private streaming experience.
You’ll have 30 days to cancel PIA, letting you enjoy its features for a month risk-free.
- 10,000+ servers in over 80 countries
- 10 simultaneous device limit
- Can unblock a good range of streaming content
- Streaming speeds can be inconsistent
- Doesn’t work reliably in China
HUGE SERVER NETWORK:With over 10,000 servers in 80+ countries worldwide, you’ll never have problems finding a nearby server to stream ESPN. All plans include a 30-day cancellation policy.
Read our full Private Internet Access review.
Can I use a free VPN to watch ESPN?
A bit of digging around on Google, DuckDuckGo, or Reddit will help you uncover free VPN services, but our recommendation is to avoid this trap. Firstly, most free VPN providers don’t have the speeds required to stream content. Even if they do, a lot of them can’t overcome geographical restrictions.
There’s no such thing as a free lunch, and such options will bombard you with all sorts of tracking cookies, advertisements, and other methods to mine browsing data that pass through the VPN.
There’s also a very real risk of malware infection which can take several excruciating hours to fix as well the possibility of data loss. In some cases, free VPN services have been caught selling or otherwise abusing user data without their permission – a major security concern. A recent example was Hola VPN, a browser plugin with over 50 million users, that used its critical mass to attack other sites.
That’s an abhorrent practice and a stark reminder of the fact that typically when the product is free, you end up being the product.
Methodology: Choosing the best VPNs for ESPN
Deciding which VPN to use is tricky at the best of times but when it comes to sports streaming, there’s a whole other layer of pressure. After all, poor performance could lead to you missing a crucial moment. To prevent this from happening, we’ve created a set of minimum requirements that VPNs had to meet in order to be considered. You’ll find these below:
- Streaming abilities: First and foremost, you have to be able to watch ESPN online. We tested our top VPNs with lots of services that carry this channel (like ESPN+, fuboTV, YouTube TV, and Hulu) to see how effective they are at beating regional restrictions.
- Speed and reliability: Flawless live streaming requires pretty high speeds. We’ve speed tested dozens of leading VPNs, so we know which are the fastest and which have slipped a little lately. What’s more, we can provide the data to back up our claims.
- Supported locations: ESPN has different content for different countries, so having servers all over the world is a huge plus. Additionally, in the US, there are state-specific blackouts that stop you from streaming your local teams’ matches online. This means that a large server presence in the US is a necessity.
- Security and privacy: To ensure your online activities are kept hidden from snoopers, we only recommend VPNs with 256-bit encryption, a no-logs policy, a kill switch, and protection against DNS and IPv6 leaks. Of course, this is the bare minimum and we prefer providers that go even further.
- Ease of use: All of the VPNs above are easy enough for complete beginners to use. Further, they all have free, live chat-based customer support just in case you run into any issues.
- Price: We’ll never recommend a service that charges more than it’s worth. Additionally, to make sure you pay as little as possible, we’ll let you know about any discounts or money-back guarantees that are available.
Looking for more information on how we test VPNs? We’ve dedicated a whole post to explaining Comparitech’s testing process.
How can I watch ESPN online without cable?
ESPN is available online from a few different sources. Unfortunately, these are all only available in the US:
- ESPN+ is ESPN’s standalone streaming service that costs $6.99 per month or $69.99 per year. Note that a VPN will likely not work if you’re using an Android or iOS smartphone to watch.
- Watch ESPN is basically the main ESPN website and app where you can watch live streams if you log in with your US cable provider.
- Sling TV is a streaming television service designed for cord-cutters who don’t have cable or satellite. The cost for Sling Orange, which includes ESPN, is $35 per month.
- YouTube TV is a paid service from YouTube that carries several live channels for $64.99 per month including ESPN and ESPN2. You can even record games for later viewing with no storage limits. Up to six accounts are allowed per household, plus there’s a two-day free trial.
- Hulu + Live TV is Hulu’s streaming live TV service in the US. A 7-day free trial is available. You can watch in a web browser or get the app for Android, Apple TV, Chromecast, Fire TV, game consoles, Roku, and smart TV.
- fuboTV is yet another over-the-top option. It costs $64.99 per month following a seven-day trial and lets you stream a wide range of sports channels including ESPN, CBS Sports, FS1, NFL Network, and BeIN Sports.
ESPN VPN FAQ
Is it legal to watch ESPN with a VPN?
VPNs are primarily used to enhance your online privacy, and as such, they’re extremely valuable tools that are completely legal in most countries. This means that if you’re an ESPN customer, you should feel free to watch while connected to a VPN. Simply put, as long as you aren’t using a VPN to commit crimes on the internet, there’s no reason you’d get into any trouble.
Disclaimer: Although we’ve researched this topic thoroughly, we are not legal experts and nothing we’ve said above should be taken as legal advice.
How do you avoid blackout restrictions?
You might find that your local team’s games aren’t available on ESPN — this is due to local blackouts, which are intended to encourage fans to watch on a regional network or to attend matches and show their support in person.
Luckily, there’s an easy way to get around these restrictions: just connect to a server in a different part of the country. This way, when the ESPN website checks your location, it’ll think you’re somewhere else, and allow you to watch your local team play. Of course, this will blackout matches from your chosen server’s region, but there’s nothing stopping you from switching servers again later.
How can I stop my ISP from throttling ESPN?
If you find that your ISP is throttling your connection, you should use a VPN. A VPN encrypts your data and hides your IP address so your IP can’t see what you’re doing online or selectively throttle your bandwidth as a result. The best VPNs offer unlimited bandwidth with absolutely no throttling. This means you can stream ESPN without having to worry about performance issues such as buffering or lag.
Why isn’t my VPN working with ESPN?
You may find that your VPN doesn’t work with ESPN on occasion. That’s because ESPN actively blacklists some IP addresses. In this case, simply connect to a different US server to get a different US IP address. Note that local and regional broadcasting blackouts can also be an issue. For instance, you’ll usually find your local team’s matches to be inaccessible. In this case, you should connect to a server in another US city or state to bypass the blackout.
Can I Subscribe to ESPN+ from Outside the US?
Officially, no. ESPN+ is geo-blocked outside the United States. That means that if you try to watch ESPN+ from a country other than the United States, you will get an error message like this:
“ESPN+ is not available in your region.”
However, by using a VPN, you can make it appear as if you are located in the United States, and thus be able to watch ESPN+.
What's the differences between ESPN and ESPN Plus?
ESPN and ESPN+ are related but distinct services that cater to sports enthusiasts. ESPN is a cable channel that broadcasts live events and scheduled programming. At the same time, ESPN+ is a standalone streaming subscription service that offers live games, exclusive on-demand videos, and access to content from what was formerly known as ESPN Insider.
In summary, ESPN is a cable channel that broadcasts live sports events and programming. At the same time, ESPN+ is a subscription streaming service that offers on-demand replays of past sporting events and additional content like documentaries and original programming.
What can I watch on ESPN?
On ESPN, you can watch a wide range of sports live and on-demand. This includes the following sports and their respective competitions:
- Soccer: Bundesliga, La Liga, Sky Bet Championship
- Tennis: Australian Open, Wimbledon, US Open
- Golf: PGA Tour, Masters
- Football: NFL
- Ice hockey: NHL
- Combat: UFC, Top Rank, PFL
- Basketball: NBA
Aside from sporting events, ESPN+ offers its own original content. This includes Peyton’s Places, Man in the Arena: Tom Brady, and Inside the College Football Playoff.
You’ll also have access to 30 for 30, ESPN’s series of documentary films which include Al Davis vs. the NFL, The Life & Trials of Oscar Pistorius, and Be Water.
A VPN is also a fantastic way to gain access to ESPN’s coverage of the 2023/24 NBA season. Basketball is increasingly popular all around the world, and those looking to stream NBA games can do so by getting an ESPN+ subscription using a VPN.
A subscription with any of these services will let you stream NBA from outside of the US – whether you are on vacation or you are living abroad for work.
Just remember that many VPNs are too slow for streaming NBA and other American sports, so stick to recommended services to avoid disappointment.
The VPNs for ESPN in this guide are perfect for streaming the NBA because they offer fast speeds, and can even let you access blackout games from within the USA. This ensures that you have access to the entire NBA season, no matter which state you happen to live in – or where you need to travel abroad.
Will a VPN slow my ESPN streaming?
The short answer is that, yes, using a VPN can slow your ESPN streaming. Anytime you add extra layers of security to your connection, such as with a VPN, there may be an impact on your internet connection speed. Depending on the type and quality of the VPN you use, this could mean anything from an almost unnoticeable slowdown in connection speed to a significant reduction in performance.
That being said, not all VPNs are created equal when providing maximum speeds for streaming services like ESPN. With NordVPN you’ll have much better success obtaining high-speed connections with minimal latency when attempting to stream content from sites like ESPN.
Does ESPN offer a free trial?
No, ESPN no longer offers a free trial. This makes using a VPN an even more appealing option for those who want to access ESPN content without committing to a subscription. Similarly, ESPN offers no coupons or discounts to entice viewers into subscribing to its service.