We take a look at how to access Rai TV and RaiPlay abroad with a VPN and which are the best VPNs for the job.
RAI is Italy’s national public broadcaster, and has been a key operator of the country’s radio and TV stations for the better part of a century. More recently, this veteran of the airwaves took to the internet and introduced RaiPlay, and on-demand streaming service. Here you can find a wide range of original and syndicated programming from Rai’s catalog of TV shows and other content.
Rai TV is geo-locked to Italy, meaning you’ll need an Italian IP address in order to unblock RaiPlay from outside the country. An IP address is a unique identifier that indicates your general location. If you try to access RaiPlay from abroad, you’ll get the following error message:
“Video non disponibile fuori dall’Italia”
Or, in English:
“Video not available outside Italy”
The easiest way to circumvent RaiPlay’s geographic restrictions is with a VPN. Short for virtual private network, a VPN encrypts all of a device’s internet traffic and routes it through an intermediary server in a location of the user’s choosing. In this case, you would connect to a VPN server in Italy, which will assign you an Italian IP address.
There are hundreds of VPN services out there, but only a handful are suitable for RaiPlay viewers. We’ve curated our list of the best VPNs for RaiPlay based on the following criteria:
- Servers in Italy
- Fast and reliable connections
- Strong security
- No identifying logs
- Bonus points if the website is available in Italian
ExpressVPN operates a huge network of more than 1,500 servers in 94 countries. That includes two locations in Italy: Cosenza and Milan. The website is also available in Italian. Every server is optimized for maximum speed and reliability. Subscribers should have no problem streaming their favorite Italian shows from RaiPlay in HD. ExpressVPN uses the strongest encryption standards in the business and keeps no logs of your activity or real IP address. DNS leak protection is built in, which means RaiPlay can’t identify you by determining where your website lookups are sent, nor by your IP address. ExpressVPN can also unblock other popular streaming sites like Netflix, Hulu, and HBO Now.
Apps are available for Windows, MacOS, iOS, Android, and Linux. ExpressVPN also makes a custom router firmware that you can install for free on compatible wifi routers, or you can opt to purchase a pre-configured router directly from the company.
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Read our full ExpressVPN review.
NordVPN operates a single server in Italy, but it doesn’t seem to be under heavy load so you should have no problem watching HD video without buffering. All in all NordVPN’s network includes over 1,000 servers in more than 60 countries. NordVPN can also unblock popular streaming sites like Netflix and Hulu, among others. The Panama-based company runs on a strict zero-logs policy, which means it retains no information about your connection or activity whatsoever. DNS leak protection comes standard. The website is available in Italian.
Apps are available for Windows, MacOS, iOS, and Android. The Italy server is a standard server, but NordVPN also has specialized servers for anti-DDoS, Tor over VPN, ultra-fast streaming, and more.
Read our full NordVPN review.
IPVanish operates 10 servers in Milan as part of its large network of 850 servers spread across more than 60 countries. The company owns, rather than rents, its physical servers, ensuring maximum privacy and top quality connections. RaiPlay viewers abroad should have no problem streaming video in HD. IPVanish holds to a serious no-logs policy, meaning it doesn’t record any information about what you do while connected. DNS and IPv6 leak protection come built in and turned on by default. 256-bit AES encryption is used to secure the tunnel that all your traffic travels through.
Apps are available for Windows, MacOS, iOS, and Android. IPVanish is particularly popular in the Kodi community thanks to a remote control-friendly app and the ability to work with any Kodi add-on.
Read our full IPVanish review.
CyberGhost Pro, the premium tier of the popular free VPN, allows subscribers to connect to a whopping 36 servers in Italy alone. You can even translate the website into Italian, if you prefer. In total, CyberGhost Pro operates over 1,000 active servers in 27 countries. All connections are hardened with 256-bit encryption. The company keeps zero logs but note that it did just change hands, so this policy could change in the future. DNS leak protection is built in. During testing, CyberGhost scored well for speed and stability.
Apps are available for Windows, MacOS, iOS, and Android.
Read our full CyberGhost Pro review.
PrivateVPN is a relatively young provider with a single server in Italy, but you can be sure that they’ll add more as demand grows for this excellent service. The company only operates about 100 servers in 55 countries in all, but don’t let that dissuade you–PrivateVPN scored extremely well in our speed tests. HD streaming should be a breeze. It’s not making any rookie mistakes either. You’ll find a kill switch, DNS leak protection, strong encryption and a zero logs policy already in place. A single subscription allows you to connect up to six devices at the same time.
Apps are available for Windows, MacOS, iOS, and Android.
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Read our full PrivateVPN review.
Can I use a free VPN to watch Rai TV?
You might be asking why you need to pay for a VPN when so many free ones are available. In truth, these so-called “free” VPNs are still businesses, and it costs money for them to operate a VPN service. To pay for server fees and other overhead costs, free VPNs often mine your internet traffic for personal info and browsing data, which is then sold to third-party advertisers. Sometimes free VPNs inject advertisements right into your browser, and other times they insert tracking cookies to monitor what you browse online.
On top of that, free VPNs tend to have far fewer servers, and those they do have are overloaded and slow. They often implement data caps or bandwidth limits, which will lead to long buffer times and TV shows getting cut off in the middle while watching RaiPlay. Most free VPNs, of course, do not have servers in Italy anyway.
Finally, using free VPN apps runs a high risk of contracting malware that can damage your device and steal your private data. In short, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
VPNs to avoid using with RaiPlay
If you just want a VPN to unblock RaiPlay, you might not care so much about the privacy-related reasons for using a VPN. But at their core, VPNs are privacy services. They can protect you while using unsecured public wifi, prevent your ISP from snooping on your behavior, and mask your device’s unique IP address so hackers and governments cannot trace your activity back to you. All VPN providers need to maintain a high standard of privacy and security in order to earn users’ trust and keep them protected.
Unfortunately, not all VPNs succeed at this. If you’ve been Googling around for a VPN, you might come across some of these big names with bad reputations. We recommend avoiding them:
Hola lost the trust of its once 50-million users when it hijacked their computers via a browser extension and used them to carry out DDoS attacks on websites and distribute copyrighted material including pornography.
The Hola VPN browser extension doesn’t work like a normal VPN. It uses a peer-to-peer model wherein users tunnel traffic through other users’ computers using their spare bandwidth. The problem is that you can be held liable for what other users–or Hola itself–do online.
We strongly advise readers to avoid Hola.
A recent complaint filed with the FTC accuses Hotspot Shield of illegal privacy practices and misrepresenting their product. One of the most popular free VPNs out there, Hotspot Shield is under pressure for allegedly hijacking its users HTTP requests to certain websites and redirecting them to affiliate sites from which Hotspot Shield profits. The company is also known for inserting tracking cookies into users’ browsers to monitor their online activity, then selling that data to third-party advertisers.
We advise readers avoid Hotspot Shield for the time being until an official judgment is made as to Hotspot Shield’s guilt or innocence.
How to use a VPN with RaiPlay
For novices, here’s a quick guide on how to use a VPN with Rai TV online:
- Sign up for one of the recommended VPN services listed above.
- Download and install your provider’s VPN app onto your device.
- Open the app and find the server selection page
- Filter the servers by country if they aren’t already, and choose a server in Italy
- Hit Connect and wait for the connection to establish.
- The app will give some indication that you are now connected to the VPN server. Open up RaiPlay in your browser and start watching!