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The Best VPNs for Streaming

Streaming laptop.

Simon Migliano is a recognized world expert in VPNs. He's tested hundreds of VPN services and his research has featured on the BBC, The New York Times and more.

Fact-checked by Callum TennentAdditional Testing by David Hughes

Many VPNs struggle to bypass streaming geo-blocks, unable to beat the aggressive VPN detection techniques employed by international content platforms.

Only top-rated VPNs can unblock geo-restricted content on Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Disney+, Amazon Prime Video, and many more platforms. They maintain of vast pool of IP addresses that allow access to video content unavailable in your country or region.

Summary: The Best VPNs for Streaming

Here’s a summary list of the best VPNs for unblocking streaming services:

  1. ExpressVPN: Best VPN for Streaming Overall
  2. NordVPN: Best Runner-up for Streaming
  3. PrivateVPN: Best Cheap VPN for Streaming
  4. Surfshark: User-friendly VPN Ideal for Beginners
  5. CyberGhost: Best VPN Free Trial for Streaming

The best VPN for streaming is ExpressVPN, with an exceptional rating of 9.9/10. The VPN delivered Full HD and 4K streaming speeds across all media streaming devices, easily unblocking every major streaming platform we tested.

Top Streaming VPNs Compared

The table below compares our highest-rated streaming VPNs based on download speed, access to streaming services, Smart DNS availability, and more.

The VPNs we recommend have apps for Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, and Fire TV. Other than PrivateVPN, they also include a Smart DNS service to unblock streaming apps on Apple TV, PlayStation, and Xbox.

Further below you can also see which free streaming VPN we recommend, as well as the best VPNs by streaming service.

There’s also a dedicated section to fixing your streaming VPN if it’s no longer working to bypass geo-restrictions.

Why Trust Us?

We’re fully independent and have been reviewing VPNs since 2016. Our ratings are based on our own testing results and are unaffected by financial incentives. Learn who we are and how we test VPNs.

VPNs Tested for Streaming65
Streaming Services Tested97
Test DevicesWindows, Android, macOS, iOS, Fire TV & Apple TV

Analysis of the Best VPNs for Streaming

  1. 1. ExpressVPN: The Top Streaming VPN

    The best VPN for streaming Netflix, Hulu, HBO and Prime Video with fast speeds.

    Ranked #1 out of 65 VPNs for Streaming
    ExpressVPN's new app on mobile devicesVisit ExpressVPN

    • Works with 18 Netflix libraries incl. US
    • Impressive international speeds
    • Native Amazon Fire TV app
    • Unblocks HBO Max, Hulu, YouTube TV & more
    • VPN servers in 106 countries
    • User-friendly apps and Smart DNS

    • Expensive subscription plans
    • Only five simultaneous connections

    Overall Streaming Rating: 9.9/10

    This overall rating is calculated based on the following category ratings. For more details, read how we test streaming VPNs.

    • 9.9/10
    • 9.9/10
    • 9.8/10

    ExpressVPN is the best VPN for streaming overall. It’s extremely fast and works to stream international content on most major platforms including Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, BBC iPlayer, HBO Max, and Hulu.

    It works with 18 international Netflix libraries, and also unblocks smaller streaming services like DAZN, Zattoo, and Sling TV.

    It’s also great for accessing US Netflix and HBO Max from overseas, making it the best VPN choice for streaming outside the US.

    ExpressVPN's app for macOS

    Cheapest Price$6.67/mo over 15 Months See all plans
    No. of Netflix Libraries18
    US NetflixYes
    Works with FirestickYes
    Smart DNSYes
    Compatible with
    1. windowsWindows
    2. macosmacOS
    3. linuxLinux
    4. chromeosChromeOS
    5. iosiOS
    6. androidAndroid

    Fast International Speeds for HD Streaming

    ExpressVPN is very fast on both short-distance and long-distance connections, with no interference or connection drops.

    We measured average global download speeds of 85Mbps in our latest tests, which is ideal for buffer-free streaming. You’ll be able to watch all your favorite TV shows in HD or even 4K.

    ExpressVPN with Hulu on macOS

    For instance, we were able to load every streaming service in 4K quality using ExpressVPN on our Roku.

    If you’re looking to stream international sports, the VPN streams 4 different DAZN regions, and was the best VPN for NFL Game Pass, in our testing.

    Servers in 106 Countries & 3,000 IP addresses

    ExpressVPN isn’t only speedy, it’s safe and private, too. It maintains a privacy-first logging policy with no personally identifiable logs, and we’ve never experienced any IP, DNS, or WebRTC leaks during our tests.

    You’ll get access to over 3,000 IP addresses in 106 server locations. That means you’ll be able to find a VPN server in almost every country in the world.

    Although it doesn’t have specific servers for streaming, our tests have found that almost every ExpressVPN server works with streaming platforms. This makes using ExpressVPN to watch streaming content much simpler than other VPNs.

    In the video below, we demonstrate just how easy it is to stream US Netflix using ExpressVPN:

    Smart DNS & Native App for Fire TV Stick

    To stream content on devices that don’t support VPN apps, you can use MediaStreamer — ExpressVPN’s Smart DNS feature.

    MediaStreamer allows you to spoof your location and stream blocked content with ExpressVPN on Apple TV, games consoles, and smart TVs.

    Moreover, we found that it’s currently the best VPN for Chromecast. It comes with an intuitive app for Google TV and a dedicated app for routers.

    ExpressVPN is the best VPN for Amazon Prime Video and it has a native Fire TV Stick app. The app works with streaming content and streams Kodi add-ons and IPTV apps anonymously. It works well, but lacks some of the features of newer Firestick VPN apps.

    We explain how to use it in full detail, plus setup and troubleshooting guides, on our page dedicated to ExpressVPN for Fire TV.

    Good for British & Italian Streaming

    ExpressVPN works well with BBC iPlayer and is still the best VPN for watching Channel 4. It’s also the best VPN for getting an Italian IP address and streaming content from RaiPlay, MediaSet Infinity, and changing your YouTube TV location.

    ExpressVPN works with:

    • Amazon Prime Video
    • BBC iPlayer
    • Channel 4
    • Crackle
    • DAZN
    • Disney+
    • HBO Max
    • Hotstar
    • Hulu
    • ITVX
    • Kodi
    • Netflix
    • Paramount+
    • RaiPlay
    • SBS On Demand
    • YouTube TV
  2. 2. NordVPN: Best Runner-up for Streaming

    An impressive alternative to ExpressVPN that's also our top choice for BBC iPlayer.

    NordVPN Mobile App ScreenshotVisit NordVPN

    • High speed access to Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Disney+ and more
    • Consistently fast VPN speeds
    • Smart DNS and a good Fire TV app
    • Easy setup on wide range of devices
    • VPN servers in 111 countries
    • Verified no-logs policy

    • Some issues unblocking Netflix on Firestick
    • PayPal not accepted

    Overall Streaming Rating: 9.8/10

    This overall rating is calculated based on the following category ratings. For more details, read how we test streaming VPNs.

    • 9.8/10
    • 9.8/10
    • 9.9/10

    NordVPN is one of the best VPN services on the market, and it’s an excellent streaming VPN, too.

    The VPN’s impressive speeds allow for HD and 4K streaming without buffering issues. We measured a speed loss of just 10% connecting to the UK from New York.

    The VPN service works well with most popular streaming services including US Netflix, Disney+, and HBO Max.

    NordVPN's app for macOS

    Cheapest Price$3.29/mo over 2 years See all plans
    No. of Netflix Libraries17
    US NetflixYes
    Smart DNSYes
    Compatible with
    1. windowsWindows
    2. macosmacOS
    3. linuxLinux
    4. chromeosChromeOS
    5. iosiOS
    6. androidAndroid

    The Best Option for BBC iPlayer

    One of NordVPN’s highlights is how well it works with BBC iPlayer. Only a few VPNs can bypass the BBC’s VPN ban, and NordVPN is currently the best at doing it.

    The VPN service also offers a fully-featured Fire TV Stick app. Additionally, NordVPN’s Smart DNS feature works well on PlayStation, Xbox and Apple TV.

    Unblocks 17 International Netflix Regions

    NordVPN unblocks 17 Netflix regions. It’s the best VPN for watching Japanese Netflix from anywhere and it unblocks popular locations including the USA, Germany, Italy, and the UK. In our latest tests, we were able to watch every library in HD.

    Using NordVPN with US Netflix

    You can use NordVPN to stream US Netflix from overseas.

    It’s also a very safe and private VPN with a private logging policy and no IP, DNS, or WebRTC leaks.

    6,328 Servers in 111 Countries

    There are no servers dedicated to streaming like the ones CyberGhost offers. That’s because NordVPN’s SmartPlay feature does the hard work for you.

    With SmartPlay, you can pick any US server and it will automatically access all your favorite Netflix shows.

    NordVPN works with:

    • Amazon Prime Video
    • BBC iPlayer
    • Disney+
    • HBO Max
    • Hulu
    • Kodi
    • Netflix
  3. 3. PrivateVPN: Cheapest Streaming VPN

    Streams 10 international Netflix libraries for $2.00 per month.

    Image of PrivateVPN's app on mobileVisit PrivateVPN

    • Only $2.00 per month with a 2-year plan
    • Works with many streaming platforms
    • Custom app for Amazon Fire TV
    • Easy-to-use apps for popular devices
    • Strict no-logs policy
    • VPN servers in 62 countries

    • Small server network
    • Slower international speeds
    • No VPN browser extensions
    • No Smart DNS
    • Unreliable live chat

    Overall Streaming Rating: 9.8/10

    This overall rating is calculated based on the following category ratings. For more details, read how we test streaming VPNs.

    • 9.7/10
    • 9.9/10
    • 9.7/10

    PrivateVPN is a cheap VPN that makes streaming simple. It labels the servers that work best with specific streaming services, and it successfully streams Netflix, Hulu, Disney Plus, BBC iPlayer, Prime Video, HBO Max, and more.

    It also offers fast speeds, intuitive apps, and a privacy-friendly no-logs policy. This makes PrivateVPN an ideal choice for those who love streaming without compromising on their online privacy.

    PrivateVPN's app for macOS

    Cheapest Price$2.00/mo over 3 years See all plans
    No. of Netflix Libraries10
    US NetflixYes
    Works with FirestickYes
    Smart DNSNo
    Compatible with
    1. windowsWindows
    2. macosmacOS
    3. linuxLinux
    4. iosiOS
    5. androidAndroid

    Works with 10 Netflix Libraries

    One of PrivateVPN’s best features is the number of foreign Netflix libraries it can access. You’ll have access to 10 international Netflix catalogues with just one subscription.

    Testing PrivateVPN with Netflix on macOS

    At least one PrivateVPN server could stream US Netflix in our tests.

    The only VPN that works with more Netflix libraries is Windscribe. PrivateVPN also works with Hulu, HBO Max, and Disney+.

    Extremely Cheap & Great for Kodi Streaming

    You can install PrivateVPN on your Amazon Fire TV Stick in minutes with its native app, and it works well with Kodi, too. That means it’s a good choice for streaming on Smart TVs.

    Unlike CyberGhost, you don’t have to commit to a long subscription to access the big price discounts. You can trial PrivateVPN for free using its money-back guarantee, and it is cheap on even the shortest subscription plans.

    Small Server Network & Slow Customer Support

    The only drawbacks are PrivateVPN’s fairly small VPN server network and its inconsistent live chat support. The server network consists of just 150 servers in 62 countries, and live chat is only available intermittently.

    It’s also the only VPN in this list that doesn’t offer Smart DNS functionality or VPN browser extensions. This means it’s not a great choice for streaming on Smart TVs or games consoles.

    Unreliable Long-distance Speeds

    With just 150 servers, most of PrivateVPN’s in-demand servers are overly-congested — resulting in some unreliable speeds.

    Its long-distance speed results are still reasonable, though. Our download speed fell by 90Mbps connecting from New York into the UK.

    Despite its small server network, PrivateVPN is so effective and simple to use that it deserves its place as one of the best streaming VPNs. If you’re looking for an affordable streaming VPN, PrivateVPN is a great choice.

    PrivateVPN works with:

    • Amazon Prime Video
    • BBC iPlayer
    • Disney+
    • HBO Max
    • Hulu
    • Kodi
    • Netflix
  4. 4. Surfshark: Ideal for Beginners

    Fast speeds, Smart DNS, and user-friendly apps for beginners.

    Surfshark appVisit Surfshark

    • Works with most major streaming services
    • User-friendly app for Fire TV Stick
    • Smart DNS and router compatibility
    • GPS-spoofing tool on Android app
    • No-logs privacy policy
    • VPN servers in 100 countries

    • Not as fast as its top rivals
    • Access to BBC iPlayer is inconsistent
    • Not working with Hulu
    • Sometimes slow connecting to servers

    Overall Streaming Rating: 9.7/10

    This overall rating is calculated based on the following category ratings. For more details, read how we test streaming VPNs.

    • 9.7/10
    • 9.8/10
    • 9.6/10

    Surfshark is excellent for streaming Netflix, and other video platforms. The VPN consistently bypasses geographical restrictions with fast page loading, no lag, and high video quality.

    In addition to the intuitive custom VPN apps for desktop and mobile devices, Surfshark also works well on Apple TV due to its Smart DNS functionality. We also like its native app for Fire TV and Android TV devices.

    Surfshark's VPN app for macOS

    Cheapest Price$2.21/mo over 27 months See all plans
    No. of Netflix Libraries9
    US NetflixYes
    Works with FirestickYes
    Smart DNSYes
    Compatible with
    1. windowsWindows
    2. macosmacOS
    3. linuxLinux
    4. iosiOS
    5. androidAndroid

    Works with 9 International Netflix Libraries

    You can watch 9 different Netflix libraries through Surfshark’s VPN servers, including US Netflix.

    You can also watch Disney+ through every single Surfshark server, too. For this reason, we recommend it as the best VPN for Disney+.

    Access to BBC iPlayer is inconsistent, but you can watch it using Surfshark’s browser extensions. This doesn’t offer the same level of privacy as the VPN applications themselves, though.

    Surfshark is also our budget VPN choice to watch HBO Max from overseas.

    Surfshark unblocks the HBO Max app

    Surfshark is a good choice for unblocking HBO Max.

    Trust DNS & Smart DNS Options

    Surfshark is so reliable for streaming because of its Smart DNS and Trust DNS features, which act as a proxy to help to access streaming content reliably.

    If you need help to set up or use the apps to stream your favorite shows the Surfshark customer support team is also on hand 24/7 via live chat.

    3,200 Servers in 100 Countries

    While Surfshark has no dedicated streaming servers, almost all its US servers will work for streaming. In our most recent tests, only the St.Louis and Charlotte servers didn’t stream US Netflix.

    We also experienced great video quality and quick loading in our streaming tests.

    Secure, Fast & Affordable

    Founded in 2018, Surfshark may be new, but it does privacy right with a no-logs policy and plenty of security extras.

    It’s also very affordable – offering all of these features for just $2.21 per month on a two-year subscription.

    Surfshark works with:

    • All 4
    • Amazon Prime Video
    • Disney+
    • HBO Max
    • ITV Hub
    • Kodi
    • Sky Go
  5. 5. CyberGhost: Best VPN Free Trial for Streaming

    A simple VPN with 100+ dedicated streaming servers and Smart DNS.

    CyberGhost appVisit CyberGhost

    • 24-hour 100% free trial on PC and Mac
    • More than 100 servers dedicated to unblocking streaming services
    • VPN servers in 91 countries
    • Fast and reliable access to Netflix, Disney+ and other popular services
    • Good Amazon Fire TV Stick app and Smart DNS solution
    • Easy-to-use applications for most streaming devices

    • Slower international speeds
    • Browser extensions have very few server locations
    • Inconsistent access to BBC iPlayer and HBO Max

    Overall Streaming Rating: 9.7/10

    This overall rating is calculated based on the following category ratings. For more details, read how we test streaming VPNs.

    • 9.8/10
    • 9.8/10
    • 9.4/10

    CyberGhost is a very VPN for streaming. It offers 100+ dedicated servers for different streaming platforms and works with 10 major Netflix libraries, including the US.

    These streaming servers change their IP address frequently to help avoid the bans put in place by services like Netflix.

    You can try CyberGhost completely free for 24 hours on PC and Mac. There is also a seven-day trial available on iOS and a three-day one on Android.

    CyberGhost's VPN app for macOS

    Cheapest Price$2.03/mo over 28 months See all plans
    No. of Netflix Libraries10
    US NetflixYes
    Works with FirestickYes
    Smart DNSYes
    Compatible with
    1. windowsWindows
    2. macosmacOS
    3. linuxLinux
    4. iosiOS
    5. androidAndroid

    100+ Optimized Servers for Streaming

    CyberGhost’s applications make streaming simple by highlighting the server locations that unblock specific platforms.

    CyberGhost with Max on macOS

    The VPN gives you access to servers in 91 countries, with connection speeds that are fast enough for HD-quality video.

    But, in our speed tests CyberGhost lagged behind ExpressVPN and NordVPN over long-distance VPN connections.

    Simple VPN Applications for Beginners

    CyberGhost’s native VPN apps are easy to use and well-designed, especially its Fire TV Stick software.

    The VPN service also offers a Smart DNS solution that allows you to unblock content on devices such as gaming systems.

    If you ever run into issues with CyberGhost, you can contact its customer support team via live chat 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

    Overall, there are very few downsides to using CyberGhost other than its less-than-optimal ability to unblock BBC iPlayer and HBO Max.

    CyberGhost works with:

    • Amazon Prime Video
    • Disney+
    • Hulu
    • Kodi
    • Netflix

The Best Free VPN for Streaming

Free VPNs usually don’t work with streaming services. In addition, they often come with restrictive data and speed caps.

PrivadoVPN Free is the best free VPN for streaming we’ve reviewed. It’s the only safe free VPN to consistently US Netflix, Hulu, and many paid content platforms.

Windscribe Free is a close second. We verified it can stream 6 Netflix libraries, HBO Max, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, and even BBC iPlayer.

Windscribe Free Amazon Prime Video US

Windscribe Free unblocks all the major US streaming sites except for US Netflix.

However, the free VPN is no longer able to unblock American Netflix from overseas.

While PrivadoVPN and Windscribe are very effective free streaming VPNs, both impose a 10GB monthly data usage cap, which equates to roughly 4 hours of HD streaming per month.

VPNs for Popular Streaming Services

The five VPNs we recommend above are the best VPNs for streaming overall.

However, the right streaming VPN for you depends on the specific content platform you want to unblock from abroad.

The table below summarizes which VPNs we recommend for popular streaming platforms around the world, based on our streaming tests.

Streaming Service Best VPN
Netflix ExpressVPN
BBC iPlayer NordVPN
Channel 4 ExpressVPN
Disney Plus Surfshark
Amazon Prime Video ExpressVPN
Hotstar ExpressVPN
Hulu ExpressVPN
HBO Max ExpressVPN
Now TV/Sky Go Windscribe
Kodi IPVanish
Sling TV ExpressVPN
Paramount+ ExpressVPN

Below is a more in-depth look at the seven most popular content platforms and the VPNs we recommend to unblock them.

1. Netflix

A good VPN for Netflix will bypass Netflix’s geographic restrictions.

That means you’ll be able to watch movies and TV shows in the US, UK, Japan, France, and dozens of other countries.

Based on our latest tests, ExpressVPN is the best overall VPN for Netflix.

Testing ExpressVPN with Netflix on macOS

The VPN has excellent international speeds, responsive customer support, and a 30-day money back guarantee.

It also works with 18 Netflix libraries, including the US.

2. BBC iPlayer

BBC iPlayer is notoriously difficult to watch for anyone outside of the UK.

In fact, the BBC’s video service is becoming increasingly effective at detecting and blocking foreign VPN traffic.

NordVPN is currently the top VPN for BBC iPlayer. It’s extremely fast and unblocks BBC iPlayer on all its UK servers.

NordVPN with BBC iPlayer on macOS

Using NordVPN, you’ll be able to watch UK TV in HD without buffering or slow loading times.

3. Disney Plus

Using a VPN with Disney+ gives you access to movies from Marvel, Pixar, Disney, and more.

Most countries have access to Disney+, but if you’re in the US you can connect to a European server and stream Disney+ Star.

Likewise, users outside the US can access the Disney+ bundle package that includes Hulu and ESPN (with an additional fee).

The best VPN for Disney+ is Surfshark. That’s because it works to stream all Disney+ content on absolutely any server.

Unblocking Disney+ with Surfshark

Surfshark unblocks Disney+ on all of its servers.

You’ll need a payment method registered in one of the countries Disney+ has launched. If you don’t have this, follow the workarounds in our Disney+ VPN guide.

4. Hotstar

Disney+ Hotstar has video content that is split between Disney+, Hulu, ESPN+ and HBO Max in the US. It also has a free version that allows you to stream Bollywood favorites and TV shows, like Koffee with Karan.

ExpressVPN is our favorite VPN for Hotstar. It runs India virtual servers that deliver fast connections speeds into India from abroad.

ExpressVPN Hotstar Streaming

5. Amazon Prime Video

Amazon Prime Video has an international content library of over 20,000 movies and TV shows.

With a VPN, you can unblock Prime Video’s geo-restricted content and stream content from other regions. However, you’ll need to connect to a US server and register a new account.

Based on our tests, ExpressVPN is the best choice for Amazon Prime Video. To find out out why — and exactly how to use it — read our instructions for using a VPN with Amazon Prime Video.

ExpressVPN Amazon Prime Video

We used ExpressVPN to unblock ‘Jurassic World: Dominion’ on US Prime Video from the UK.

6. Hulu

Hulu is another difficult streaming service to unblock. All of Hulu’s movies and TV shows are strictly blocked for anyone from outside of the US.

To identify the best VPN for Hulu, we tested a number of randomized US servers from all our top-rated streaming VPNs.

ExpressVPN with Hulu on macOS

ExpressVPN worked very well with Hulu in our tests.

We found that ExpressVPN is the best VPN for Hulu. Once connected, it gave us access to shows like Fargo, The Simpsons, and The Handmaid’s Tale, all in HD.

7. HBO Max

HBO Max is the premium streaming service of HBO. To watch it, you’ll need an American (or Scandinavian) IP address.

Using a VPN with HBO Max gives you access to all the TV shows and movies from HBO, as well as the full WarnerMedia library.

Unblocking HBO Max using ExpressVPN

Unblocking HBO Max using ExpressVPN.

ExpressVPN is the best VPN for HBO Max. It reliably streams HBO Max from other countries, so you can watch Max Originals like Wonder Woman 1984, Friends, and Game of Thrones from outside the US.

How to Use a VPN for Streaming

Before you can watch geo-restricted streaming content, you’ll need to set up your VPN software.

If your chosen VPN service comes with custom apps then the installation process is very simple.

We created the video below to showcase how easy it is to unblock a streaming library in a foreign country with a VPN.

Below are simple step-by-step instructions on how to bypass streaming geo-restrictions using a VPN:

How to unblock geo-blocked videos with a VPN:

  1. Subscribe to a VPN service.
  2. Download the VPN software and follow the installation prompts.
  3. Once installed, log into the app using your subscription credentials.
  4. Select a VPN server in the country you’d like to connect to.
  5. Navigate to the streaming service you’d like to access and log in as normal.
  6. You’ll now have access to all of the movies and TV shows available in that country.

Streaming VPN Not Working?

Most streaming services try to stop users from accessing their content with a VPN.

They do this by blocking IP addresses they believe belong to VPN servers. This usually happens when a large number of users try to access the service using the same IP address.

You’ll know when your VPN IP address has been blocked because you’ll see a proxy error message:

How to bypass Netflix proxy error.

Netflix’s “streaming error” message.

These bans come in waves, and it’s often impossible to predict. However, a good streaming VPN will work hard to get around these blocks.

If your streaming VPN isn’t working, try these troubleshooting tips to fix it:

  1. Use our VPN leak test to see if your VPN is leaking your IP address or DNS requests. If it is, get in touch with the customer support to resolve the issue or change VPN services.
  2. Clear your cache and cookies, flush your DNS cache, and then relaunch the streaming service.
  3. Connect to a different VPN server and repeat solution #2. If there are no dedicated streaming servers, you should contact your VPN provider’s customer support team to find out which VPN servers are currently working with your chosen streaming service.
  4. Access the streaming service using a different browser. For example, sometimes you can access a certain service through Mozilla Firefox even if it’s not working on Google Chrome.
  5. Disable GPS and location services on your computer, smartphone, or browser.
  6. Disable IPv6 at the device-level.
  7. If all these solutions fail, try a different VPN service.

Specifically for Netflix, there are additional workarounds to try if your Netflix VPN isn’t working.

Which VPNs Are Bad for Streaming?

Most free VPNs aren’t good choices for streaming due to data and speed restrictions. Even some paid VPNs don’t make a dedicated effort to get past VPN bans.

Good streaming VPNs offer dedicated servers, Smart DNS, and consistently fast international speeds. These features cost a lot to maintain though, which means many popular VPN services simply don’t make the cut.

Popular VPNs that are bad for streaming include:

  • TunnelBear
  • AirVPN
  • TorGuard
  • Trust.Zone
  • Avira Phantom
  • Perfect Privacy

There are hundreds of other VPNs available that aren’t ideal for avid streaming fans. If you’d like a reliable service, we recommend choosing one of the five VPNs mentioned in this article.

How We Test Streaming VPNs

Our experts use a scientific testing system to rate each VPN for streaming.

For streaming specifically, we test for:

  • Easy access to multiple Netflix libraries
  • Consistent access to BBC iPlayer
  • Compatibility with streaming services such as Disney+, HBO Max, Hulu, Amazon Prime, and more

The following table summarizes how the best streaming VPNs performed in each of our key testing category:

For a more detailed look at the science behind our rating system, here’s an overview of each testing category and what percentage of the overall rating they make up.

1. Netflix: 35%

Minimum Requirement: Works with US Netflix.
We Recommend: Works with multiple international Netflix libraries.

Netflix is the most popular streaming service and the reason a lot of people invest in VPNs.

For this reason, a VPN’s ability to access Netflix makes up 35% of its final streaming rating.

Most people want access to US Netflix because it has the best content library, but we also give additional weight to VPNs that work with Netflix Japan or Netflix Canada.

The more reliable a VPN is for accessing international Netflix libraries, the better its rating.

2. Other Streaming Services: 35%

Minimum Requirement: Works with some other streaming services.
We Recommend: Consistent access to Amazon Prime, Hulu, HBO Max, Disney+, and more.

As more streaming services enter the marketplace, we reward the VPNs that stay on top of the game and and offer access to a variety of different platforms.

We test every VPN on Amazon Prime, Disney+, Hulu, HBO Max, and DAZN. The more sites the VPN works with, the higher it is rated in this category.

3. BBC iPlayer Streaming: 30%

Minimum Requirement: Usually works with BBC iPlayer.
We Recommend: Consistent and reliable access to BBC iPlayer, with dedicated servers.

BBC iPlayer is another popular geo-restricted streaming service that is notoriously hard to access from abroad.

We reward VPNs that have a track record getting around the BBC’s tough blocks. The more reliable the VPN is, the higher it is rated.


Is It Illegal to Use a VPN for Streaming?

In the US, UK, and most European countries it is completely legal to use a VPN to access different international content libraries. In other words, there is no risk that streaming with a VPN will result in legal penalties.

Many users are worried that bypassing geo-restrictions is somehow similar to piracy. Piracy is illegal because it allows people to access copyrighted material they have not paid for. When you use a VPN for streaming, you still pay for the platform you’re accessing.

Simply put, using a streaming VPN doesn’t allow you to access content for free, it simply allows you to circumvent licensing restrictions.

While using a VPN for streaming isn’t illegal, some streaming platforms do state that accessing geo-blocked content is against their terms of service.

Is Streaming Faster with a VPN?

In most cases, using a VPN will not increase your streaming speeds. In fact, VPNs marginally slow down your internet speeds as your traffic has to travel further before it reaches its destination.

However, your ISP may throttle your connection to streaming services to manage how much bandwidth you’re consuming.

In this case, installing a VPN can conceal the websites you’re accessing from your ISP and allow you to stream at normal speeds.

What is Smart DNS?

SmartDNS is a technology that reroutes your DNS (Domain Name Server) requests to servers in a different country.

Smart DNS alone does not encrypt your browsing data or mask your public IP address. However, it does allow you to access websites and services that aren’t available in your country.

That’s because the websites you visit will see your DNS requests have originated from a different country.

Smart DNS is often used to bypass geographic restrictions on devices that do not support native VPN applications. Once you’ve signed up to a VPN that support Smart DNS, you simply update the DNS settings of your device with the DNS details your chosen VPN server.

If you’re looking to configure Smart DNS on a particular device, take a look at our VPN Setup guides.

Smart DNS is by far the easiest way to watch restricted content on games consoles and Smart TVs. However, many VPN services simply don’t offer Smart DNS functionality.

If you’re looking for the best VPN with Smart DNS, we recommend using ExpressVPN, Surfshark or CyberGhost. They all come with a Smart DNS feature and unlock the most popular streaming services.

However, if you’re looking to watch streaming content on desktop or mobile, we strongly recommend using a full VPN over any Smart DNS feature.

Not only are VPNs more reliable than Smart DNS, they also encrypt your internet traffic and hide your IP address – protecting your privacy in the process.

A VPN will also allow you to access content from more regions than Smart DNS, which typically only supports US and UK streaming libraries.