Live sports have become big business. The broadcast rights for most major sporting events have been bought up by subscription channels, only some of which offer online streaming. Even if you pay up, you may face blackouts that prevent you from watching your home team online. Worse still, if you travel, you aren’t allowed to log in to those subscription channels because they only let you watch from the country you signed up in. In this article, we’ll show you how to bypass all that and stream live sports with a VPN.
Sports broadcasters have a different opinion than you do on what rights your subscription should include. They still impose restrictions on where you can watch from. These are called regional restrictions, or geo-locks, and you can read more about those later in this guide.
You can get around regional restrictions and get a better deal on sports subscriptions with a VPN. VPN stands for “virtual private network”, a service that encrypts all of the internet traffic from your computer or smartphone and routes it through an intermediary server in a location of your choosing. Once connected, the streaming service sees the location of the VPN server and not the user, unblocking geo-locked live streams.
If you haven’t the time to read all the details on each of the VPNs that made this list, here’s a quick summary of our top picks.
Best VPNs for streaming sports:
- NordVPN: Our top choice for streaming sports. Security-focused choice that doesn’t skimp on unblocking capabilities. Fast and secure servers make for reliable streams. Comes with a risk-free 30-day money-back guarantee.
- Surfshark: A quick, reliable VPN with a very affordable price. Connect as many devices as you like. Works with ESPN+, TSN, and more.
- ExpressVPN: Large server network that is geared for speed. Makes short work of accessing most streaming sports and other popular services from almost anywhere.
- CyberGhost: Packs a punch despite its low price. Some of the fastest servers in our testing. Easy to use and to get going.
- IPVanish: Fast enough to stream sports from abroad in high quality, plus strong security and a no-logs policy. Struggles with Netflix and Hulu.
- PrivateVPN: Good speeds and can unblock almost anything from abroad, including Netflix.
- Hotspot Shield: A highly versatile VPN that boasts consistently high speeds and the ability to unblock a huge range of geo-blocked services.
VPN criteria for streaming sports
When looking for the best VPNs for streaming sports, a few factors need to be prioritized:
- Fast speeds
- The ability to dodge regional restrictions
- Availability for a range of devices
- The ability to load the VPN on a router
- Good value for money
- A large server network
The best VPNs for streaming sports
Here is our list of the best VPNs for unblocking sports streaming platforms abroad:
Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS
NordVPN is our #1 VPN for streaming local sports. It operates more than 5,000 servers in 59 countries, including the USA, Canada, and the UK. There is even a “recommended server” utility in the NordVPN website, which will calculate the best server to connect to from your location. This is a great help when streaming sports because high speeds are vital. This VPN easily unblocks platforms like ESPN+, Sportsnet, and NBC Sports.
Security is one of NordVPN’s strongest aspects. There’s 256-bit encryption, a kill switch, and protection against DNS, IPv6, and WebRTC leaks, plus an ad-blocker and malware-scanner. Further, NordVPN keeps no logs whatsoever. Help is available 24/7 over email and live chat.
You can install the app on Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, and iOS and it can be set up manually on select routers.
- Fastest speeds we’ve seen
- Unlimited bandwidth and no data caps
- Unblocks most popular geo-locked streaming services
- Strong emphasis on security and privacy
- Apps for all major platforms
- Desktop apps sometimes take a while to connect
BEST VPN FOR SPORTS:NordVPN is our first choice. An extremely fast option which works reliably with popular streaming sports sites. Connects up to 6 devices simultaneously. Try it risk-free thanks to the 30-day money back guarantee.
Read our full review of NordVPN.
Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS
Surfshark is a speedy VPN that can handle just about anything. It offers access to 3,200 servers in 80+ countries and reliably unblocks popular services like NBC Sports, Kayo, and ESPN+ abroad. Better still, unlike many of its rivals, Surfshark lets you connect as many devices as you like from a single account.
It’s security-conscious, too, with effectively uncrackable 256-bit encryption, a kill switch, IPv6, WebRTC, and DNS leak protection, and a kill switch. Users can choose to block ads, malware, and trackers automatically. Surfshark follows a true no-logs policy, meaning your activities remain private at all times. 24/7 support is on-hand over live chat and email.
Apps are available for iOS, Android, MacOS, Linux, and Windows. However, you’ll have to manually install this service on your home router.
- Steady speeds and unlimited bandwidth
- Connect as many devices as you like
- Strong security and privacy credentials
- Unblocks some of the most popular streaming services abroad
- Accepts Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Ripple
- Customer support could be improved
BEST BUDGET VPN:Surfshark is a solid low-cost option with a lot to offer. It’s fast, reliable, and able to unblock plenty of stubborn services from abroad. Further, it boasts powerful security features and a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Check out our full Surfshark review for more information.
Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS
ExpressVPN has all of the qualities that you need in order to stream sports events. The company operates servers in 94 countries, including the USA, Canada, and the UK. This provider’s extensive network gives you a better chance of unblocking services from a wide range of smaller countries too.
You won’t have any difficulties using this VPN because it is designed to cater to novice users. It provides a wealth of security features too, including 256-bit encryption, a kill switch, and protection against DNS, IPv6, and WebRTC leaks. ExpressVPN refuses to log any personally identifiable information. The customer support team is available around the clock via live chat.
You can get ExpressVPN apps for Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, and Linux. You can manually install it on supported routers and there are browser extensions for Chrome and Firefox.
- Fast secure and stable connections ideal for HD streaming
- Unblocks all major streaming services
- Operates over 3,000 servers in 94 countries
- 24/7 chat support are well trained to handle complex situations
- Can only connect 5 devices at once
- Slightly more expensive than some of its rivals
QUICK AND RELIABLE:ExpressVPN is a blazing fast option that unblocks all major streaming sports sites. Great security and privacy features and keeps no logs. All plans come with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Read our full review of ExpressVPN.
Money-back guarantee: 45 DAYS
CyberGhost lets you connect 7 devices to its service at once. It has servers in the 89 countries including the USA, Canada, and the UK, many of which are designed for unblocking a specific streaming service. As well as RDS and ESPN+, CyberGhost works well with Netflix, NBC, and more.
This VPN’s security features are excellent. It integrates automatic wifi protection, 256-bit encryption, a kill switch, and DNS leak protection, and better still, all of these features are enabled by default. CyberGhost doesn’t store any dat that could identify you. Customer support can be reached 24/7 via live chat.
CyberGhost apps are available for Windows, macOS, Linux, iOS, and Android. The VPN can also be set up manually on routers
- Very good and unblocking geo-restricted sites and content
- Our tests revealed above-average HD streaming speeds
- Connect up to 7 devices simultaneously
- Easy to use apps for most platforms, supports manual install on routers
- Apps are great for beginners but lacks advanced configuration features for power users
STRONG ALL-ROUNDER:CyberGhost has a simple set up and is great at accessing geo-blocked streaming platforms. Good on privacy and security. 45-day money back guarantee.
Read our full CyberGhost review.
Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS
IPVanish offers very good speeds. If you want to stream sporting events over the internet, this service is a great choice. It has over 400 servers in the US alone and 1,700 in total, across 60+ other countries. This makes it ideal for bypassing local sports blackouts. Best of all, IPVanish has no connection limit.
There are all kinds of security features built-in, like 256-bit AES encryption, DNS leak protection, and a kill switch. Users can also scramble their traffic, which could help them get around particularly stubborn geo-blocking. IPVanish is a zero-logs provider and offers around the clock, live chat-based support.
IPVanish apps are available for Windows, macOS, iOS, Android and Amazon Fire TV devices. You can load it onto Linux sytems or a router, which will cover your set-top box as well as all the computers and mobile devices in your home.
- Operates in over 60 countries, great for unblocking geo-restricted content
- Good unblocking capabilities and streams in HD speeds
- Connect any number of devices
- Preferred by Kodi and Firestick TV for its remote-friendly apps
- Look elsewhere if you need to use apps in China
- Doesn’t offer any browser extensions
FAST AND RELIABLE:IPVanish has a large network of servers as well as fast speeds. Strong security and privacy features. No connection limit. 30-day money back guarantee.
Read our full review of IPVanish.
Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS
PrivateVPN has servers in 60 countries, including the USA, Canada, and the UK. This service is a good option for streaming and offers particularly high speeds, so it’s also great for other activities, such as file sharing. This VPN has no issues unblocking Netflix, ESPN, or TSN. Up to six devices can be connected simultaneously.
If you are traveling and you have to connect to the internet through hotel and café hotspots, PrivateVPN’s automatic wifi protection will stand you in good stead. The app also includes a kill switch, 256-bit encryption, and a stealth mode designed for bypassing especially strict online blocking. PrivateVPN doesn’t keep any logs.
You can get a PrivateVPN app for Windows, Linux, MacOS, iOS, and Android. You can also install the VPN manually on select routers.
- Gaining popularity for their growing list of sites they unblock
- Speeds are very impressive
- Strong security and privacy protection features
- Fewer servers to choose from than other providers higher on this list
- Doesn’t offer 24/7 support
GREAT SPEED:PrivateVPN is a good family choice. Unblocks most popular streaming sports and allows up to 6 devices on the same account. Small network of servers but fast connections. 30-day money back guarantee.
Read our full PrivateVPN review.
Money-back guarantee: 45 DAYS
Hotspot Shield is a solid choice with more than 1,800 servers in 80+ countries. Its speeds are more than fast enough for HD live streaming, and it reliably unblocks major platforms like NBC Sports, Netflix, and Amazon Prime Video from abroad. Users can connect up to five devices at any one time.
This VPN clearly takes your security seriously. It offers 256-bit AES encryption, a kill switch, and protection against DNS and IPv6 leaks, plus a feature that automatically connects whenever you use a public network. Just as important, Hotspot Shield doesn’t store any data that could be used to identify you. Help is available 24/7 over live chat.
Hotspot Shield has apps for iOS, Android, MacOS, Linux, and Windows. If you’d prefer, it can be manually installed on supported routers.
- Fast, reliable speeds
- Unblocks major streaming services
- Good range of security settings
- Working to repair reputation after past privacy issues
- Doesn’t accept Bitcoin
STREAM SPORTS ANYWHERE:Hotspot Shield makes it easy to access your favorite services abroad. It’s speedy, security-conscious, and can handle just about anything. What’s more, it offers a 45-day money-back guarantee.
Read our complete Hotspot Shield review.
How to unblock sports streaming services abroad
It’s really quite easy to use a VPN to stream local sports while traveling abroad. Just follow these steps:
- First, sign up for one of the VPNs above (we recommend NordVPN).
- Download the app and sign in.
- Connect to a server in the required country. You’d use a US server for NBC Sports, for instance, or a European server for Eurosport.
- Now just try using the service as normal. If you run into any problems, you can try clearing your cookies or get in touch with your VPN’s support team for more assistance.
Can I use a free VPN for streaming sports?
You may have seen that there are a number of free VPNs out there. Why should you pay for one of these services when you can get a VPN for free? The answer is that free VPNs are not very good. Some are scams and others are slow and don’t have many server locations.
Some excellent paid VPNs have free versions. These are available in order to help train potential customers on how to use the service. This is a loss leader intended to entice people into the paid service. Naturally, in these cases, the VPN company makes sure that the free version has a lot of restrictions on it. These restrictions are usually a limit on the server locations, a speed limit, and a monthly data throughput quota.
These restrictions mean that you won’t be able to use the free version for very long before your data allowance runs out. In many cases, the speeds allowed to free VPNs are not fast enough to watch live video streams. These factors are why we do not recommend free VPNs for sports streaming. You are much safer choosing a VPN provider with a privacy-first policy and a good reputation.
Sports streaming channels
There are a very large number of internet sports streaming services out there. If you can switch countries to check on the services available around the world, the list of sites that you can access sports from goes on and on. For example, here is a list of sports streaming services in the USA. This is probably not an exhaustive account of all the US sports streamers:
Sports streaming services in the USA
|Sports Channels 0 to G||Sports Channels H to R||Sports Channels R to Z|
|91,9 Sports Montréal||Hardcore Outdoors TV||Retro Football|
|AAC Digital Network||HBCU Gameday||RIDE Channel|
|AAW Wrestling On Demand||Hockey Night In Manchester||RMAC Network|
|Above The Game||HockeyTV||Roller Hockey TV|
|Ace Pro Wrestling Network||Hoops.Network||Rowing|
|Addictive Fishing||Hunt Channel||RTN Horse Racing|
|AL.com Football||Hunt365.TV||Ryan BacheldorFMX Motocross|
|All About Golf||IBtv||Rydeit|
|All Martial Arts||ICW On Demand||SAC|
|America East Conference||IGNITE Wrestling||Salomon TV|
|American Southwest Conference||IHSAA TV||SCIAC|
|AzBilliards TV||Imagine Media Auto Racing||Secret Golf|
|Back 9 Report TV||IMSA||Self Defense by Fawesome.tv|
|Ball is Life||Iowa Conference||Seymour Sports|
|Baseball by Fawesome.tv||Iowa State CYCLONES.tv||Shoot With Confidence TV|
|Baseball Drills & Tips Library||Ivy League Digital Network||SJC Monks All Access|
|Basketball by Fawesome.tv||JockJive Sports||Skate Life|
|Basketball Drills & Tips||Juice Magazine||SmartPak|
|beIN Sports Connect - US||Junior Sports Channel||Soccer by Fawesome.tv|
|Big & J's Feed The Hunt TV||KCAC||SoonerSports.TV|
|Big South Network||Kentucky Afield||Southland Conference|
|Blood & Bones Outdoors TV||K-StateSports||Sport Fishing|
|Blue Zone Sports||KySportsTV||Sportfishing with Dan|
|BMX TV||Lakers Nation||Sports & Outdoors by Videojug|
|Bowhunting.com||Landmark Conference||Sports and Entertainment|
|BTN2Go||Lax Sports Network||Sports by Fawesome.tv|
|BuckingBull TV||Lemans15 Racing||Sports Live|
|CAA.TV||Little East Conference||Sports Locker - Free Videos|
|Callaway Golf TV||Local Knowledge Fishing||Sportskool|
|Canal del Futbol||Lone Star Conference||Stadium|
|Capital Athletic Conference||Lucas Oil Racing TV||Stevenson University Athletics|
|Car TV - My Drift Fun||MAQ TV||StreetFightTips by Fawesome.tv|
|CarbonTV||MIAC||Structure Fishing Show|
|CARS Tour TV||Miami Hurricanes||Student of the Gun - SOTG|
|CBS Sports||Miculek.com - Gun Control||Sunshine State Conference|
|Centennial Conference||Midwest Conference||Super Speeder Auto Network|
|Clarion Golden Eagle Vision||MLS||Telearagua|
|Close Combat||MMA Warriors||Telemundo Deportes En Vivo|
|Combat Sports||Monumental||Tennis Channel|
|Cowboys Now||Motor Trend OnDemand||Tennis TV|
|CreekboxTv||Motor Vidz Race & Rally Gaming||TexAgs|
|Culinary Fighter||Motorz||Texan Live|
|CUSE.TV||Mountain East Conference||Texas All Outdoors|
|CZW Wrestling TV||MSU Denver Roadrunners||The American Digital Network|
|Dallas Mavericks||MY Combat Channel||The Angling Channel - Fishing|
|Darcizzle Offshore||My Gun TV||The Basketball Channel|
|DeerhunterTV||MyHuntFix||The BILLIARD Channel|
|Demand Progress Wrestling||NAIA Network||The Cube|
|DEVINSUPERTRAMP||NBA||The Fitness Channel|
|DGPT||NBC Sports||The Griz Open Air Adventures|
|Dillard||NBC Sports Gold||The MIAA Network|
|DineWild||NCAA March Madness Live||The Rugby Channel|
|Dodgers Nation||NCHC.tv||The SUP Channel|
|Drift Mission Auto Network||NECC||thegnac.tv|
|Driving Sports TV||NESCAC||theSNOWnetwork|
|Eat Sleep Race Autosports||New England Outback Network||theSURFnetwork|
|ECC Network||New York Giants||Tofu Drift Van|
|Empire 8 Conference||NFL||Trophy Pursuit|
|ETFinalScore East Texas Sports||NHL||Tuning TV México Auto Network|
|Extreme Sports||NHRA All Access||TVByDemand - Pro Wrestling|
|EZ DUZ IT Racing||NiaTV||TX Game Hunters|
|FairwayVision Golf Videos||NJCAA TV||UClickTV|
|FASTHockey||NLL TV||UEW WRESTLING|
|Federico Sceriffo Auto Racing||North Star TV||UFC|
|Fight Channel World HD||Northwest Conference||UMHB Cru Sports Network|
|Fight Channel World TV||NSIC||Undisputed Champion Network|
|Fight Network||NSN Sports||Utah Youth Rugby|
|fightTips Self Defense Guides||NWA Blue Collar Wrestling||Vaporvue|
|Fishin' Affliction TV||Oberlin Athletics||WAC Digital Network|
|FITE||Olympic Events||WashU Sports Network|
|FloSports||Ontario University Athletics||Watch TVG|
|FNTSY Sports Network||OPTIMA Network||WatchESPN|
|Food Plot TV||ountry Camo Outdoors||WaypointTV|
|Football345||Outdoor Action TV||WDIV Local 4 Detroit|
|FOX Soccer Match Pass||Outdoor Adventures Channel||West Virginia Mountaineers|
|FOX Sports GO||Outdoors in the Bluegrass||Westmont Sports Network|
|fuboTV Stream Live Sports||outhern Athletic Association||WhitetailTV|
|Funker Tactical||OVC Digital Network||Whole Hog Sports|
|Gameface Weekly||PacWest Conference||Wild TV|
|Gen7 Outdoors||PGA Championship 2017||Willow|
|GLVC Sports Network||PowerNation||Wired Outdoors|
|GNAC.TV||Premier Wrestling Federation||Women's Outdoor Network|
|Go Live Sports Cast||Pro Tips 4u||Women's Wrestling Network|
|Golf By Fawesome.tv||Pro Wrestling Network||World Poker Tour|
|Golf News Net||PSAC Network||World Wrestling Network|
|GoPro||Pursuit Channel||Wrangler Network|
|Great Midwest||QJBeat||Wrestling Talk|
|Greg's Garage TV||Racing!||WWE Network|
|GT Channel - Cars and Racing||RDP Motorsport||XBTV|
|Gulf South Conference||Red Bull TV||XDLWebTV Motorcycle stunts|
|Gun Talk Media||REEL H2O Fishing||Zoomin.TV Fútbol|
|GunStuff||ReelStream TV||Zoomin.TV Sports|
Streaming sports: blackouts and regional restrictions
Why are some sporting events geo-blocked?
Video streaming sites don’t usually let people access their content from other countries. This is because the owners of those events, movies or shows sells broadcast rights on a territory-by-territory basis. So, one company has the right to show a particular sporting event in one place and a different company has the rights to broadcast the same event, but to an audience in a different place.
In terms of broadcast contracts, it doesn’t matter where the broadcaster is located. What counts is where the viewer is. So, BT Sports may have the rights to show a particular event in the UK, but not in France. Therefore, you can only watch that event through BT sports if you are physically located in the UK. If you are in France, you will be blocked from watching BT Sports over the internet and you should subscribe to a video streaming service in France to see that event.
Why can’t I watch my local team play online?
Sports streaming restrictions are more complicated than regular entertainment streaming sites. This is particularly the case in the United States. Sports teams see live streaming as a rival to their stadium ticket sales, and when leagues sell the rights to broadcast their games they often put blackout clauses in the contracts. For example, you can watch Major League Baseball over the internet. However, if a team that is local to you is playing, whether home or away, you are not allowed to access the game live on the internet, even though you have to pay for a subscription to the live streaming service.
VPNs that have servers in several cities in the United States can help you get around the blackout problem. The streaming service doesn’t check on your home address when you try to access a game. Instead, it checks on your location through your internet address. If you choose a VPN location in a different city, then you can get access to a live stream of a game that includes your local team.
So how can I get around these restrictions?
VPNs get around geographic restrictions and let you use your usual streaming services even when you are abroad. When you log into a VPN, you have to select a server to send your traffic through. You will appear to be contacting the sports streaming service from that VPN location that you choose because the VPN puts its own address on the request and not yours. When the sports streaming host sends the video stream back, the VPN server passes that on to you.
VPNs for Sport Streaming FAQs
Should I use a VPN to stream sports?
Using a VPN is a good idea in general, since they'll prevent anyone monitoring the network from seeing what you get up to online. However, but these services are particularly helpful if you like to stream sports, since they also allow you to bypass any internet restrictions that your workplace, university, or country has in place, as well as any local sports blackouts. This not only lets you watch where you want, but gives you access to a wider range of content.
Is using a VPN to stream sports legal?
It's highly unlikely you'll face a ban for doing so, though; most of the time, you'll simply be shown an error asking you to disconnect (assuming the streaming service even realizes you're using a VPN). As ever, if there's any doubt, we encourage you to research your countries local laws before attempting to stream anything with a VPN.
Can I use a VPN to bypass blackouts in the US?
Yes! When you connect to a VPN, all of your web traffic is routed through a server somewhere else in the world. Of course, this changes your IP address and makes it look like you're wherever your chosen server is.
Normally, sports blackouts prevent you from watching your local team from playing. As such, bypassing local sports blackouts is as simple as choosing a VPN server in a different city.
Will using a VPN reduce my streaming speeds?
No matter which VPN you choose, your download speeds will be reduced somewhat. However, some providers have more of an impact than others.
Generally, you can expect a roughly 30% speed reduction. Of course, live HD video usually only requires around a 5 Mbps connection, so you shouldn't have any issues unless your internet is extremely slow to begin with.
- The 5 Best VPNs for accessing BT Sport outside of the UK
- How to watch ESPN anywhere with a VPN
- How to avoid MLB.tv blackouts
- The 5 Best Kodi Sports Add-ons
- Here’s how to watch beIN sports online with a VPN
- How to watch Premier League on Kodi and without Cable
- How to unblock DraftKings Fantasy Sports with a VPN
- VPN criteria for streaming sports
- The best VPNs for streaming sports
- 1. NordVPN
- 2. Surfshark
- 3. ExpressVPN
- 4. CyberGhost
- 5. IPVanish
- 6. PrivateVPN
- 7. Hotspot Shield
- How to unblock sports streaming services abroad
- Can I use a free VPN for streaming sports?
- Sports streaming channels
- Sports streaming services in the USA
- Streaming sports: blackouts and regional restrictions
- VPNs for Sport Streaming FAQs
- Should I use a VPN to stream sports?
- Is using a VPN to stream sports legal?
- Can I use a VPN to bypass blackouts in the US?
- Will using a VPN reduce my streaming speeds?
- See also