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:
- ExpressVPN Our top choice for streaming sports. Large server network that is geared for speed. Makes short work of accessing most streaming sports and other popular services from almost anywhere. 30-day money-back guarantee has your back.
- NordVPN Budget choice that doesn’t skimp on unblocking capabilities. Fast and secure servers make for reliable streams.
- 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.
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
So, if you have decided to install a VPN to improve your experience of streaming sports.
The best VPNs for streaming sports
Here is our list of the five best services that you should consider.
Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS
ExpressVPN is the leading service in the VPN industry and it has all of the qualities that you need in order to stream sports events. The company operates servers in 94 countries in the world, including the USA, Canada, and the UK. You can get access to more sporting events for free if you can get into streaming services in nations where that sport is not so popular, and so isn’t reserved for premium channels. The extensive network of ExpressVPN gives you a better chance of finding your favorite sport through a video site in a far-off place.
The service offers good speed and very strong security. This is one of the best VPNs for access to the Netflix and that shows that it can get past the regional restrictions of most video streaming sites.
You won’t have any difficulties installing or using this VPN app because it is designed to cater to non-technical users. The customer support team is available around the clock via live chat on the ExpressVPN website. You can get ExpressVPN apps for Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, and Linux. This VPN provider is unusual in that there is actually a utility for Linux that installs itself. This is a lot easier than having to follow manual set up instructions. You can install the VPN on routers and there is also a browser extension version for Chrome and Firefox.
All subscriptions benefit from a 30-day no-quibble money-back guarantee.
- Fast secure and stable connections ideal for HD streaming
- Unblocks all major streaming services
- Apps for Windows, MacOS, Android, iOS, and Linux
- Can install at the router level for Smart TVs
- Operates over 3,000 servers in 94 countries
- 24/7 chat support are well trained to handle complex situations
- Can only connect 3 devices at once
BEST VPN FOR HULU:ExpressVPN is our #1 choice. A blazing fast and reliable choice which unblocks all major streaming sports sites. Great security and privacy features and keeps no logs. Try it risk-free with the 30-day money-back guarantee.
Read our full review of ExpressVPN.
Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS
If you are looking for a better price than the deal that ExpressVPN offers, NordVPN is a good choice. NordVPN allows you to connect six devices to their service at once. That’s double the simultaneous connection allowance offered by ExpressVPN.
NordVPN operates servers in 61 countries, which includes the USA, Canada, and the UK. There is 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 transfer speeds are vital.
This VPN is another service that’s great for bypassing regional restrictions. You can install the app on Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS and it can be set up manually on Linux computers and routers. The NordVPN website includes instructions for loading the services on 29 different types of routers. The app of NordVPN offers some interesting extra security options. These are best for other activities, such as torrent downloads, but they should be turned off when streaming because they will slow down the connection.
- A budget provider with fast and reliable servers for HD streaming
- Unlimited bandwidth and no data caps
- Unblocks most popular geo-locked streaming services
- Major emphasis on security and privacy
- Apps for Windows, MacOS, iOS, Linux and Android, router configurations also available
- Desktop app and speeds aren’t always reliable
BEST BUDGET VPN:NordVPN is a good value choice. A great value option which works reliably with streaming sports sites. Connects up to 6 devices simultaneously. 30-day money back guarantee.
Read our full review of NordVPN.
Money-back guarantee: 45 DAYS
CyberGhost lets you connect devices to its service at once. It features a great app with a trendy design. The security features of this service are second to none. It integrates automatic wifi protection and you can opt to select from a list of activities, rather than a location when you connect to the server. It will then automatically configure itself for your session. Streaming video is one of those activities.
CyberGhost has servers in the 54 countries including the USA, Canada, and the UK. It is good for getting into the streaming services of terrestrial channels around the world. If you are in a developing country, you will find that the internet speeds you get there are a lot slower than in North America or Europe.
The app of CyberGhost is available for Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android. The VPN can be set up manually on routers and Linux computers.
New subscribers to CyberGhost get a 30-day money-back guarantee and you can pay with Bitcoin.
- 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 and Linux devices
- Apps are great for beginners but lacks advanced configuration features for power users
BEGINNERS' CHOICE:CyberGhost has a simple set up. Comes with a Speed Boost feature. Good on privacy and security. Streams HD video reliably. 45-day money back guarantee.
Read our full CyberGhost review.
Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS
IPVanish offers very good speeds. The company is based in the USA and it has a fast network of servers in its home country. So, if you want to catch US sporting events over the internet, this service is probably your best bet. They have 418 servers in 17 US cities. If you watch Major League Baseball games over the internet, having plenty of US city options is very important to avoid blackouts.
IPVanish has servers in 60 countries in total, so you will be able to sample streaming sports from all over the world with this service. The IPVanish app is available for Windows, macOS, iOS, Android and Amazon Fire TV devices. You can load it onto a router, which will cover your set-top box as well as all the computers and mobile devices in your home. A router install counts as just one connection no matter how many devices are connected to it. You are allowed a total of five simultaneous connections with this service. IPVanish offers its new customers a seven-day money-back guarantee.
- Operates in over 60 countries, great for unblocking geo-restricted content
- Good unblocking capabilities and streams in HD speeds
- Configure directly onto your wifi router
- 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. Uncongested network achieves good streaming speeds. Strong security and privacy features. Could do with having live customer support. 7-day money back guarantee.
Read our full review of IPVanish.
Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS
PrivateVPN has servers in 55 countries, including the USA, Canada, and the UK. The company is based in Sweden, but the support staff all speak English and they can even take control of your computer remotely if you are having problems following their instructions to fix a problem. They will fix it for you.
This service is a good option for streaming and offers strong security and privacy protection for other activities, such as file sharing. The company allows you six simultaneous connections to the service and a router install counts as one connection. You can get a PrivateVPN app for Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android. You can also install the VPN manually on Linux computers and routers.
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, which prevents other programs on your computer or mobile device from connecting to the internet without having the VPN turned on.
PrivateVPN offers a 30-day money-back guarantee to new subscribers.
- Gaining popularity for their growing list of sites they unblock
- Streaming speeds are good enough for HD
- Strong security and privacy protection features
- Works with Linux but requires manual configuration
- Fewer servers to choose from than other providers higher on this list
- Needs manual tweaking to work in China
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.
Free VPNs 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 fee 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|
Sport streaming regional restrictions
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.
If you travel for work, you will need to take out subscriptions for video services in several different countries if you want to keep watching your favorite sport. If you go abroad on vacation, you either have to miss a few weeks of sport, or take out a subscription in the country that you travel to. Of course, anyone would find that situation ridiculous.
The prospects of filling out an application form for a TV subscription in a foreign language would be daunting, and anyway, many streaming services also expect you to have a bank account in their country in order to pay for the service. This is particularly true within the EU where online service providers are expected to confirm a new customer’s location with two checks — one of which is the bank account location.
VPNs get around those regional restrictions that block you out of TV services 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.
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.
See also: How to avoid MLB.tv blackouts
VPNs for streaming sports
With a VPN you can get access to live sport streams from abroad. This can be a major money saver. For example, Eurosport is much cheaper than most national sports packages in Europe, but this is because they show most of their football matches in the wrong place — Italian Serie A in Denmark and the English Premier League in Romania, for example. By using a VPN you can explore the world and sniff out bargains.
The server locations that each VPN operates in give you more options. That is one of the reasons that ExpressVPN gets the number one slot in our list. Make sure that you get a VPN service fast enough for live streaming. Live streams tend to be less compressed than their on-demand counterparts, meaning they often require more bandwidth even if they appear to be in a lower quality.
All of the services in our list of the best VPNs for streaming sports offer refund periods. Take advantage of these offers to check out a few of them risk-free. Once you have your VPN installed on your computer, or on your router, your sports streaming options expand to the whole world.
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