Best vpns for streaming content

Only a few VPNs have what it takes to unblock streaming video on sites like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, HBO, BBC, YouTube and others. These sites and apps block most VPNs, but we’ll show you the best VPNs for streaming that still work in 2020. All of the VPNs we recommend also work well with Kodi. Torrenters should see our separate round up of the best VPNs for torrenting.

In this post, we get into detail on each of the providers that made this list, but if you are short of time, below is a summary list of the best VPNs for streaming.

Best VPNs for Fast, Buffer-free Streaming:

  1. ExpressVPN Clear leader for streaming! Superfast servers dotted around the globe deliver high-quality buffer stream streaming. Unblocks all major streaming services from any location. Includes 30-day money-back guarantee.
  2. NordVPN Best budget option with a vast network of servers that manage to hit good streaming speeds without compromising on security or privacy.
  3. Surfshark A solid all-around performer that unblocks streaming platforms with ease.
  4. CyberGhost Good value with good streaming speeds. Ease of set up and use makes for a decent beginners’ favorite.
  5. VyprVPN Strong security, good connection speeds, and unblocks US Netflix. Owns its own data centers.
  6. PrivateVPN A new entrant to the VPN market that works well with streaming services.
  7. IPVanish Good connection speeds and privacy features. Popular with torrenters and Kodi users.

Unblocking sites from abroad like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, and BBC iPlayer are among the most popular reasons to use a VPN. Short for Virtual Private Network, a VPN allows you to bypass the geographic restrictions on sites and apps like these, which only allow you to watch while in a certain country. By masking your real location with that of the VPN server, a streaming VPN makes it seem as though you’re accessing the streaming service from the US, Canada, UK, or anywhere else a server is available. A VPN also makes it possible to bypass blackout restrictions on live sporting events.

Unfortunately, many streaming sites and apps have caught on to this tactic and banned VPN users from accessing their websites, apps, and Kodi addons.

Best VPNs for Streaming

Now, only a handful of VPN services have the resources necessary to access streaming sites and bypass their firewalls. In this article, we’ve selected the six best VPNs for streaming based on the following criteria:

  • Ability to unblock geo-locked content
  • Fast download speed for uninterrupted, high-quality streaming
  • Strong security and a no-logs policy
  • Plenty of servers so you can access content anywhere in the world
  • Quick, competent customer support
  • Works with Kodi addons

1. ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN Nov 2020 Unblocks Multiple StreamsTested Nov 2020

Apps Available:

  • PC
  • Mac
  • IOS
  • Android
  • Linux

Website:  www.ExpressVPN.com

Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS

Works with:

  • Netflix app
  • Netflix browser
  • Hulu app
  • Hulu browser
  • HBO Now
  • BBC iPlayer
  • Amazon Prime Video
  • SlingTV
  • Kodi

ExpressVPN is a long-running champion of unblocking video streaming services online, although it doesn’t openly advertise its capabilities. Because of that, it’s not very obvious which servers users should connect to. We won’t post them here because they occasionally change and we don’t want to draw undue attention to them. Instead, users will have to contact customer service to ask which servers to connect to for which streaming service.

Luckily, ExpressVPN has a live chat service on their website that rarely keeps customers waiting for more than five minutes. They are professional staff who know the product well. They might ask you to prove that you are a real customer and not a shill for Netflix by asking for the email address under which you signed up for an account and the last server you connected to. Once you’ve passed the test, you’ll be given a shortlist of servers that should bypass the firewall.

Apps are available on Windows, MacOS, iOS, Android, Amazon Fire TV, Linux, and certain wifi routers. You can connect three devices at once.

Buffering shouldn’t be a problem as we found ExpressVPN to be the fastest VPN we’ve tested.

Pros:

  • Access geo-restricted content from just about anywhere
  • Blazingly fast server networks are excellent for HD streaming and speedy downloading
  • Military-grade encryption, security and privacy throughout
  • Operates more than 3,000 servers in 94 countries
  • Support is top-notch, fast and knowledgeable
  • A good all-rounder for Kodi users with dedicated apps

Cons:

  • Advanced configuration for power-users is a little limited

Our score:

4.5 out of 5

BEST VPN FOR Streaming:ExpressVPN is our #1 choice. Blazing fast and a reliable choice which unblocks all major streaming services including Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime. Great privacy features and keeps no logs. Try it risk-free with the 30-day money back guarantee.

Read our full ExpressVPN review.

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2. NordVPN

NordVPN Unblocks Multiple StreamsTested Nov 2020

Apps Available:

  • PC
  • Mac
  • IOS
  • Android
  • Linux

Website:  www.NordVPN.com

Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS

Works with:

  • Netflix app
  • Netflix browser
  • Hulu app
  • Hulu browser
  • HBO Now
  • BBC iPlayer
  • Amazon Prime Video
  • SlingTV
  • Kodi

NordVPN is the only other provider to perform on par with ExpressVPN. It, too, unblocks almost everything but requires knowing which servers to connect to. We recommend heading to the NordVPN knowledge base and simply searching for the streaming video service you want to unblock. In the appropriate page, NordVPN maintains a list of working servers. You can toggle those servers as favorites in the app to make them easier to find later.

NordVPN is great for users who want to watch a Netflix catalog outside of the US. We’ve successfully tested it with Netflix US, UK, Australia, Brazil, Italy, India, Netherlands, Spain, and Germany.

Apps are available for Windows, MacOS, iOS, Android, Amazon Fire TV, and Linux. You can connect up to six devices at a time.

Pros:

  • Easily bypasses restrictions on major geo-locked streaming sites
  • Fast connection speeds for streaming HD content without interruptions
  • Keeps no logs – whatsoever
  • High emphasis on security and privacy
  • 24/7 customer support via live chat

Cons:

  • Their mobile device apps  perform better than the desktop app

Our score:

4.5 out of 5

BEST BUDGET OPTION:NordVPN is a great value option. Good HD streaming speeds. Strong security features and allow up to 6 devices to be used simultaneously from one account. 30-day money-back guarantee.

Read our full NordVPN review.

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3. Surfshark

SurfShark VPN unblocks multiple streamsTested Nov 2020

Apps Available:

  • PC
  • Mac
  • IOS
  • Android
  • Linux

Website:  www.Surfshark.com

Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS

Works with:

  • Netflix app
  • Netflix browser
  • Hulu app
  • Hulu browser
  • BBC iPlayer
  • Amazon Prime Video

Surfshark provides access to around 1700+ servers in 60+ countries and unblocks some of the most popular streaming services effortlessly. It even works with particularly stubborn platforms like Netflix, BBC iPlayer, and Amazon Prime Video, and with decent speeds, there’s no need to worry about lag or buffering. Best of all, Surfshark has no connection limit, allowing you to protect every single device you own.

This VPN doesn’t have a list of which servers unblock which platforms, but as you can reach customer support 24/7 over live chat, you can find out which server to use in a matter of seconds.

Apps are available for Windows, iOS, Android, MacOS, and Linux.

Pros:

  • Unblocks numerous streaming services abroad
  • Connect as many devices as you like
  • Very affordable
  • Strong on security and privacy
  • 24/7 customer support via live chat
  • Accepts cryptocurrencies

Cons:

  • Relatively small (but expanding) network

Our score:

4 out of 5

UNLIMITED CONNECTIONS:Surfshark doesn’t limit the number of devices you can connect, so you can stream from anywhere. 30-day money-back guarantee.

Read our full review of Surfshark here.

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4. CyberGhost

Cyberghost Unblocks Multiple StreamsTested Nov 2020

Apps Available:

  • PC
  • Mac
  • IOS
  • Android
  • Linux

Website:  www.Cyberghost.com

Money-back guarantee: 45 DAYS

Works with:

  • Netflix app
  • Netflix browser
  • Hulu app
  • Hulu browser
  • HBO Now
  • BBC iPlayer
  • Prime
  • SlingTV
  • Kodi

CyberGhost recently ramped up its unblocking efforts to make more streaming services available to its users. It works with all of the websites tested. The app has a dedicated “Unblock streaming” section where you can choose a server according to the streaming service it unblocks. Not all of the ones we tested are on that page, but we were able to unblock them nonetheless. For example, Hulu isn’t listed, but the Netflix server was able to unblock it, anyway.

Things are looking up for CyberGhost subscribers, but bear in mind this is a fairly recent update, so we’ll see if it holds out. Live chat support is at customers’ disposal on the website, but only during business hours. A ticket submission system replaces it during off hours.

Apps are available for Windows, MacOS, iOS, Android, and Amazon Fire TV. You can connect up to seven devices at the same time.

Pros:

  • Unblocks most geo-restricted streaming content
  • Some of the fastest streaming servers we’ve tested
  • Kill switch on all apps and keeps no logs
  • Easy to use, select activity and be connected to the most appropriate server network

Cons:

  • Lack of configuration options will frustrate power users

Our score:

4 out of 5

VALUE & PERFORMANCE:CyberGhost is great for beginners Streams HD video reliably. Works well with Netflix but not so well with other popular streaming sites. 45-day money back guarantee.

Read our full CyberGhost review.

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5. VyprVPN

Unblocks Multiple StreamsTested Nov 2020

Apps Available:

Works with:

  • Netflix app
  • Netflix browser
  • Hulu app
  • Hulu browser
  • HBO Now
  • BBC iPlayer
  • Amazon Prime Network
  • SlingTV
  • Kodi

VyprVPN has recently re-emerged as a strong candidate for best overall unblocker. A few months ago customers had seemingly lost hope of it ever being able to unblock Hulu again. Quite recently, however, it was able to unblock everything in our tests, including the Netflix and Hulu apps. We’ll monitor it in the coming weeks to see if it can sustain its success, but for now, it stands among the heavyweights like ExpressVPN and NordVPN.

We didn’t test every streaming server on VyprVPN, but we can confirm that the New York server was effective in unblocking all streaming channels.

Apps are available for Windows, MacOS, iOS, and Android. Five simultaneous connections are allowed.

Pros:

  • Unblocks most popular geo-blocked sites
  • Fast connection speeds are great for streaming
  • Apps beginner-friendly and have good privacy features

Cons:

  • Marginally more expensive than some VPNs
  • Lacking options for advanced configuration

Our score:

4 out of 5

UNLIMITED DATA USAGE:VyprVPN is easy to use. Excellent speed and uptime as the entire server network is owned by VyprVPN. Not the cheapest option. 30-day money-back guarantee.

Read our full VyprVPN review.

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6. PrivateVPN

PrivateVPN Unblocks Multiple StreamsTested Nov 2020

Apps Available:

  • PC
  • Mac
  • IOS
  • Android
  • Linux

Website:  www.PrivateVPN.com

Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS

Works with:

  • Netflix app
  • Netflix browser
  • Hulu app
  • Hulu browser
  • HBO Now
  • BBC iPlayer
  • SlingTV
  • Kodi

PrivateVPN is a small new provider that’s making a big splash in the VPN market when it comes to unblocking Netflix. We’ve been able to unblock Netflix in pretty much every country we’ve tested so far, including the US, UK, Italy, Brazil, and France. PrivateVPN unblocks Hulu in both a browser and on the app, though the number of servers that unblock Hulu is a bit more limited. We had to ask customer service which streaming server to connect to.

A live chat service is available, but unfortunately, it is not available 24/7. You can submit a ticket during the off hours.

PrivateVPN offers up to six simultaneous internet connections on a single account, making it a great bargain. Apps are available for Windows, MacOS, iOS, Android, and Fire TV.

Pros:

  • Gaining a solid reputation for unblocking geo-restricted content
  • Streaming speeds are good enough for HD
  • Strong online security and privacy protection features

Cons:

  • Fewer streaming servers to choose from than other providers
  • Live chat is not available around the clock

Our score:

4.5 out of 5

Great Speeds:PrivateVPN good family choice. Unblocks Netflix. Good for HD Streaming. Could do with having more streaming servers and lacks 24/7 support. 30-day money back guarantee.

Read our full PrivateVPN review.

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7. IPVanish

IPVanish Unblocks Multiple StreamsTested Nov 2020

Apps Available:

  • PC
  • Mac
  • IOS
  • Android
  • Linux

Website:  www.IPVanish.com

Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS

Works with:

  • HBO Now
  • BBC iPlayer
  • Prime
  • SlingTV
  • Kodi

IPVanish seems to be struggling to unblock the most popular media streaming services as of late. It failed to unblock Hulu and Netflix altogether in our tests, despite a support ticket we submitted suggesting otherwise. Still, users can still watch Planet Earth and Game of Thrones on HBO Now and BBC iPlayer. IPVanish scores highly for protecting privacy and speed so if you are interested in a VPN for torrenting or a VPN that works well with Kodi it is a very good choice.

Apps are available for Windows, MacOS, iOS, Android, and Amazon Fire TV.

Pros:

  • Operates in over 60 countries, great for unblocking geo-restricted content
  • Impressive server connection speeds for HD streaming
  • Keeps no logs whatsoever

Cons:

  • Customer support is sometimes a little slow
  • Apps don’t work in China
  • Doesn’t offer a cryptocurrency payment method

Our score:

4 out of 5

UP TO 10 DEVICES:IPVanish is great for families. Handles several simultaneous connections well. Recommend for their high standard of privacy, but keep shopping if you want to unblock Netflix. 7-day money-back guarantee.

Read our full IPVanish review.

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What about all the other VPN providers?

Of course, there are dozens of VPN providers, but only a handful have solid track records of being able to reliably unblock media streaming channels like Netflix and Hulu. For this reason, we’ve excluded VPNs that do not and probably will not feature such capabilities. This includes the vast majority of free VPNs.

However, if you subscribe to a VPN service that reliably unblocks the streaming services above, let us know in the comments and we’ll consider adding it to the article.

VPN not working? Try this…

Before you leave an angry comment saying how wrong we are about whether a particular VPN works with a particular streaming service, try the following:

  1. Disable IPv6 (see instructions below)
  2. Clear your cookies, browser cache, and hosted app data (see instructions below)
  3. Make sure DNS leak protection is enabled and you are using the VPN provider’s DNS servers
  4. If you’re logged into any Google accounts, including the one on Chrome browser, log out of them.Google caches IP addresses, which can reveal your actual location.
  5. Disable GPS and any other location services on your computer, smartphone, or browser. If you’ve given Netflix permission to see your location in the past, you’ll need to toggle this off in your browser settings.
  6. Flush your DNS cache. In Windows, run Command Prompt in Administrator mode and typing ipconfig /flushdns
  7. Change your device’s time zone to the countries in which you’re trying to access Netflix.

When your device sends a web page request, most secure VPNs force those requests onto the IPv4 protocol. But some apps and websites can force requests to be sent on all possible channels, which results in a mismatched location exposing the use of a proxy service such as a VPN. Hulu and Netflix both use this tactic to weed out VPN users. To get around this, a simple solution is to disable IPv6 on your device altogether.

You might have attempted to access Hulu or BBC iPlayer in a web browser in the past and encountered an error due to being outside the country or using a proxy. The website in question could retain such information in a cookie or browser cache and continue blocking you even though a VPN is enabled now. If you’re connected to a working VPN but still get the proxy error message, then try wiping clean your browser cache, hosted app data, and cookies.

How to disable IPv6 on a Windows PC (Windows 10):

  1. Disconnect and close the VPN app
  2. Tap Windows Key+R to open the Run prompt
  3. Type ncpa.cpl and hit Enter to open your Network Connections
  4. Find the connection you are using, right click it, and select Properties
  5. On the Networking or General tab, uncheck the box that says “Internet Protocol Version 6 (TCP/IPv6)
  6. Click OK to save changes and close the Window
  7. Tap Windows Key+R and select Command Prompt (Admin), then hit Yes when asked if it’s okay for the program to make changes to your computer
  8. In the command prompt (black window), type ipconfig /flushdns and hit Enter.
  9. Reconnect to the VPN, refresh the Hulu page, and enjoy the video!

How to disable IPv6 on MacOS:

  1. Disconnect and close the VPN app
  2. Open the Apple menu.
  3. Choose System Preferences > Network > AirPort > Advanced
  4. Click TCP/IP.
  5. Click on the Configure IPv6 pop-up menu and select Off.
  6. Click OK and Apply (to apply the change).
  7. Reconnect to the VPN, refresh the Hulu page, and enjoy the video!

How to clear your browser cache, hosted app data, and cookies on Chrome

  1. Click the three dots in the top right corner of Chrome and go to Settings
  2. Scroll all the way down and click on Show advanced settings
  3. Under Privacy, click Clear browsing data
  4. Check Cookies and other site and plugin data, Cached images and files, and Hosted app data
  5. Hit Clear browsing data and wait for the process to finish
  6. Go back to the video and refresh the page with the VPN enabled. You will be prompted to log in again. After that, the video should be accessible. Enjoy!

How to clear your browser cache, hosted app data, and cookies on Firefox

  1. In the History menu, select Clear Recent History
  2. Press Alt to make the menu bar visible
  3. From the Time range to clear: drop-down menu, select Everything
  4. Next to Details, click the down arrow and choose select all items
  5. Click Clear Now
  6. Exit FireFox and re-open the browser. Navigate to the video page and log in again. Enjoy the video!

Why only US Netflix?

We only included tests for the US version of Netflix due to time constraints. There simply isn’t enough demand for us to test every VPN with every country. We may consider adding a few more countries at some point in the future.

Netflix US has the largest catalog of new TV shows and movies that are in high demand, so it is by far the most requested country to test.

number of netflix titles by country
Data from extreamist.com

Keeping track of which streaming servers work on which VPNs isn’t just a one-off task, either. The services in this article, including US Netflix, we check regularly. Netflix frequently blocks VPN servers, so staying up to date on multiple countries could soon accumulate to be such a huge task that it would require hundreds of hours.

Update: We now have separate articles for unblocking Netflix with a VPN in other countries, including Italy, Brazil, and Spain.

Not every VPN server is suitable for streaming

ExpressVPN, NordVPN, VyprVPN, CyberGhost, and PrivateVPN are at the top of their game when it comes to unblocking geo-locked streaming content. They are the only VPNs we know of that can unblock Netflix US both on a browser and when using the Netflix app. They can also both unblock Hulu, which has some of the most robust anti-VPN barriers in our experience.

Do not buy a subscription and simply expect any server network to work, however. The range of servers that can unblock Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, and HBO Now–even in a web browser–is very limited. For example, we recommend you contact ExpressVPN’s live customer support to ask which servers currently work with the streaming site you wish to access. NordVPN users can consult the knowledge base on the company website. Typically, only a handful of servers will be able to bypass a firewall at any one time.

According to our tests, we’ve curated the above list of VPNs based on how well they unblock some of the most popular streaming services. They also meet certain performance, security, and privacy standards that ensure high-speed connections to stream HD video, a no-logs privacy policy, and strong encryption.

VPN for Streaming FAQ

Why use a VPN to stream on Kodi?

Just like streaming websites and apps, official Kodi addons are often geo-blocked. By connecting to a VPN server in another country, your real IP address is masked by the VPN server, so the streaming source will see the server’s location and not yours.

We advise using a VPN with Kodi even if the addon you’re using isn’t geographically restricted. Even if a Kodi addon is used to access an official stream, the addon itself might not be official (e.g. the iPlayer WWW addon for BBC iPlayer). An addon that’s safe one day could be modified to be malicious a day later. A VPN will help protect against many common threats to Kodi users, including man-in-the-middle attacks that attempt to steal login credentials.

Finally, a VPN protects your privacy so that third parties can’t monitor what you watch, including your internet service provider.

What’s the difference between watching Netflix or Hulu in a browser and watching it on an app?

Netflix and Hulu are less likely to be geo-blocked on a browser than in their respective apps. This is because an app can override a VPN’s DNS settings and force DNS requests to go to the nearest DNS server. When the location given by the user’s IP address and their DNS server don’t match, a proxy is detected and the video is blocked.

DNS, or domain name system, works sort of like the internet’s phone book. Every internet connected device on the internet is assigned a unique IP address. Websites and apps usually have domains, however, such as “www.comparitech.com”. Translating an easy-to-remember domain into a usable IP address is the job of DNS servers. DNS servers are usually run by ISPs and public providers like Google.

Most good paid VPN services operate their own DNS servers, which assists in location spoofing. In a browser, the Netflix and Hulu websites have no power to change the VPN’s DNS settings. An app, however, can override the VPN’s DNS settings and reveal a mismatch between the IP address location and the DNS location, indicating that the user is connected to a VPN.

Very few–ExpressVPN, VyprVPN, and NordVPN–have figured out how to combat the Netflix and Hulu apps’ DNS override mechanism.

Which is better for online streaming: VPN or SmartDNS?

Smart DNS proxies were a popular means of unblocking streaming sites for a while, but they're not as effective as they once were. VPNs have proven to be more resilient whereas most smart DNS providers have been blocked by streaming services.

VPNs are more secure and private than smart DNS proxies. They encrypt all data traveling between your device and the VPN server. It's also easier to switch regions and try different servers on a VPN.

What is the best country to choose in VPN configuration to ensure the best privacy and security?

What country you choose to connect your VPN to depends on the streaming site you want to unblock. Most VPNs have the same security and logging policy on every server in their network, so it doesn't matter much as far as privacy and safety go. That being said, VPN companies usually rent out servers from data centers, and those data centers are subject to laws and regulations in their respective countries. So if it's really a concern, choose a country with strong privacy laws and no data retention requirements.

What's the best VPN for game console streaming?

Most game consoles don't support VPN apps and don't offer users the option to set up VPNs manually. That means you'll either have to set up a VPN on a wi-fi router or use a smart DNS proxy instead.

In either case, ExpressVPN fits the bill. It makes excellent router firmware for a select few router models that's far easier and more feature-rich than what you'll get on open-source alternatives. Every subscription also comes with the MediaStreamer smart DNS service, which you can set up on some game consoles, including Xbox and PlayStation.