Best streaming VPN 2023

Person in a blue shirt holding a phone with a blue backdrop and a VPN on the display in front of a TV with Netflix on it.
Credit: Petter Lagson

Person in a blue shirt holding a phone with a blue backdrop and a VPN on the display in front of a TV with Netflix on it.
Credit: Petter Lagson

The best streaming VPN will help keep you safe online while also letting you view content that's region-locked.

Despite how wonderful the internet can be, one of the strangest downsides is when movies or TV shows are only available in parts of the world that aren't where you're living. A streaming VPN, however, can overcome that obstacle.

While the best VPN can obviously do a good job here too, it's not quite the same. Security is one thing, but it's not the main focus of a streaming VPN list. Plus, you're generally going to want slightly different features too.

One thing that's more integral is speed. After all, you don't want to spend all of your time watching something buffer. Nobody likes a loading screens, especially when you're just trying to binge-watch a show.

With all of that in mind, we've found the best streaming VPN options out there and put them in our handy dandy list.

Best streaming VPN

  1. ExpressVPN
  2. Surfshark
  3. NordVPN
  4. ProtonVPN
  5. AtlasVPN
A white and green on/off symbol above a grey box featuring USA - Los Angeles as the location.
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Credit: ExpressVPN

1. Express VPN

Servers: 3,000+ in 94 Countries
Unblocks:
Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, BBC iPlayer, All4, YouTube
Devices:
Up to 5 connections on Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux, FireStick

ExpressVPN is a prime example of the saying "you get what you pay for". It costs a little more than the other services on this list, but in return, it has a fantastic app that works on most devices (including some routers), making it one of the most versatile options for streaming.

It's great with popular streaming platforms like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, HBO Max, Disney+, BBC iPlayer, DAZN, Kayo, Peacock, and so on. Better yet, the company regularly updates its servers to ensure that they can bypass the latest geo-restrictions and access the most comprehensive library of content available.

Catering specifically to streaming, ExpressVPN has a trick up its sleeve called MediaStreamer. This is a tool that's custom-built to reroute your connection through a DNS proxy instead of the VPN network. You don't get any of the security or privacy benefits this way, but you can reliably unblock your favourite streaming services time and time again without any penalties to your internet speed or the worry that it won't work.

With more than 3,000 different servers spread across 94 different countries, you’ve got a lot of choices when it comes to where exactly you can use it. It’s also pretty consistent, meaning you can basically go abroad to any country and still have access to your home region's content. Antarctica, anybody?

Read More: Best free VPN

2. Surfshark

Servers: 3,200 in 100 Countries
Unblocks:
Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, BBC iPlayer, All4, YouTube
Devices:
Unlimited connections on Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux, FireStick

You might remember Surfshark from ads such as this, and this. But it’s not only good for adverts that you legally can no longer watch online, it’s also great for unblocking everything you could possibly want to watch for an incredibly low price.

It costs you a mere £2 a month (at the time of writing) if you decide to spring for the 24-month plan, which is less than a single coffee in most places. It’s compatible with Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, BBC iPlayer, Disney Plus, HBO, and DAZN, and it can be used with Chromecast, Apple TV, PlayStation, and Xbox, with unlimited devices supported. So, regardless of the size of your family, everyone can load up and stream their favourite shows using Surfshark.

There are over 100 server locations, with 24/7 live chat support in the unlikely event something goes wrong, and above all else, it’s incredibly fast. You can stream in 4K without having to worry about buffering or your connection dropping out, allowing you to binge the best programmes in the best possible quality. Who wouldn't want that?

Read More: Best Android VPN

The NordVPN logo in white in front of a mountain and lake backdrop at night.
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Credit: NordVPN

3. NordVPN

Servers: 5,500 in 60 Countries
Unblocks:
Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, BBC iPlayer, All4, YouTube
Devices:
Up to 6 connections on Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux, FireStick

NordVPN is another service that specifically focuses on streaming, using SmartPlay technology to bypass the geo-restrictions of various different streaming services. This allows you to watch stuff from your home country while you’re abroad without having to concern yourself with finding a way around those restrictions.

NordVPN works with Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, BBC iPlayer, Disney Plus, Sling TV, HBO, and DAZN, and supports almost every device you'd use to watch TV and movies. Its extensive server list means you won't be short of choice, although not all of them will work with streaming services.

We found that the US, Canada, Australia, Brazil, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, and the UK all performed well with Netflix, but rest assured that if your chosen server doesn't work with your preferred streaming service, you can use the company's 30-day money-back guarantee to refund your subscription, allowing you to take your money and try a different service.

NordVPN also has a ton of explainer guides in case you’re less understanding of technology, and this means that anybody can use it without a single concern. It’s also one of the fastest VPNs, with the ability to download the VPN in order to use a double VPN feature, a kill switch, no logs, 256-bit encryption, and support for all major security protocols. There’s even a dedicated IP address and Onion over VPN to take things to the next level.

Read More: Best Disney Plus VPN

An internet window featuring a black map of the world surrounded by phone and other app windows in black and purple.
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Credit: Proton

4. Proton VPN

Servers: 1,800+ in 61 Countries (3 free)
Unblocks:
Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, HBO Max, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, All4, YouTube
Devices: Up to 10 connections on Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux, FireStick

Proton is among the best VPNs out there generally speaking, although it's mostly a dab hand when it comes to accessing virtually every streaming service. Its success rate with Amazon Prime Video, Disney Plus, HBO Max, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, All4, and YouTube is a little lower than our top entries on this list, namely when it comes to the UK specifically, but it earns its place with a competitive price point and wealth of security and privacy features as the cherry on top, such as its NetShield adblocker.

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While it boasts average speeds, the VPN Accelerator feature helps give Proton the edge. The provider says it can "boost speeds by up to 400%" by taking full advantage of your processor without the bottlenecks that come with other subscriptions. We can't say we saw that dramatic of a speed increase, but switching the VPN on doesn't hamper your broadband as many other services do.

There’s a free VPN option if you want to test it out, but it’s worth noting that this free option doesn’t actually unblock streaming content, so it’ll be more for if you want to find out how it works in your area. This grants you access to servers in three countries on one device.

If you'd rather try the full whack of 61 countries on up to 10 devices complete with all the streaming goodies, you can use it for up to 30 days and get your money back if you're not satisfied.

Read More: Best iPhone VPN

5. AtlasVPN

Servers: 750+ in 37 Countries (3 locations free)
Unblocks:
Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, HBO Max, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, YouTube
Devices:
Unlimited connections on Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux, FireStick

AtlasVPN is an up-and-comer on this list, standing against our top entries with a killer price tag. It's one of the cheapest options out there, all while unblocking a whole host of different streaming services on all the usual devices.

Its enticing price point comes with the compromise of a smaller server set, but its 750 servers are evenly spread across 40+ locations. Of course, not all of these are optimised for streaming, being most consistent with US and UK servers. Those wanting to connect to other home countries might be disappointed.

Much like Proton, AtlasVPN features a free tier so you can try it out before you buy. You'll get 5GB of data to use per month, it locks the streaming-optimised servers behind a paywall, and a few premium features are missing (such as tracker blocking and access to customer support), but you'll be able to get a feel of just how easy it is to connect.

If you find that the servers in your home country don't unblock the streaming platforms you want, or that they simply don't exist, you're backed by a 30-day money-back guarantee that'll fully refund your subscription within the first month of purchasing.

Read More: Best Wi-Fi routers

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

Don't worry if you've come this far and have encountered a few questions. We've tried our best to answer some of the most frequently asked queries below.

Is a VPN the only way to unblock streams?

Using one of our recommended VPNs is perhaps the best way to unblock streams, but it's not the only way. There are DNS services out there that offer none of the security benefits but can get around streaming restrictions.

That being said, many of our recommended VPNs come with their own DNS service built-in as a secondary option.

Is it illegal to use a VPN to stream?

There are a few countries in the world where using VPNs are against the law, such as Belarus, China, Russia, Iraq, North Korea, and the United Arab Emirates. Everywhere else, VPNs are perfectly legal to use.

Using a VPN to unblock streaming services like Netflix isn't illegal, but it is often against the terms and conditions as platforms try to protect regional viewing rights. Some might threaten to suspend your subscription if caught, but we've not witnessed any instances where this has happened.

What streaming services does a VPN unblock?

Most major streaming services can be accessed with a VPN, including Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, HBO Max, and more as we've touched on throughout this guide.

Unblocking streaming services is a tricky business, however, and not all VPNs are up to the task. It's always a good idea to check with your VPN provider to ensure that the service you want to access is supported in the country you want it in.

Can I use a streaming VPN to watch sports?

Yes, a streaming VPN can be used to watch sports by connecting you to a server in a different region where the content is available. For example, if you're away on business during a big fight or the Super Bowl, you can tune in by connecting to your home server in the US.

Are there free streaming VPNs?

There are very few trustworthy free VPNs out there, with Proton and AtlasVPN being two of the most notable. Sadly, even the free versions of these services don't cater to streaming, and won't unblock any services.

Other free VPNs that seem too good to be true often are, and we recommend you avoid them at all costs. In rare instances, they might actually get around geo-restrictions, but they lack important security features, may log your online activity, and may not offer fast or reliable speeds. Additionally, many free VPNs may sell your data to third-party advertisers, which can compromise your privacy and security. It's always a good idea to invest in a reputable VPN service that offers robust security features and reliable performance.

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