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How To Use ExpressVPN With Apple TV

Headshot of Top10VPN.com Site Editor Callum Tennent

Callum oversees how we test and review VPN services. He's a member of the IAPP, and his advice about VPNs has featured in Forbes and the Internet Society. Read full bio

Find out how to use ExpressVPN to stream geo-restricted content on your Apple TV. You'll learn three simple setup methods and a series of troubleshooting tips.

Using ExpressVPN with Apple TV illustration

Connecting Apple TV to a good virtual private network (VPN) can give you access to streaming libraries from countries that would otherwise be closed to you. Netflix, for example, offers different libraries internationally, and BBC iPlayer is only available in the UK.

Unfortunately, Apple TV does not enable you to install VPN applications directly on the device – including ExpressVPN. With some workarounds, though, you can use ExpressVPN with Apple TV to stream Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Disney+, and more.

Once it has been set up, ExpressVPN works well on Apple TV. It successfully unblocks multiple international libraries with fast speeds and a simple user interface.

In this guide, we will give you step-by-step instructions on how to set up ExpressVPN on Apple TV. We’ll explain how to use the MediaStreamer Smart DNS service, how to mirror your screen from your iPhone or iPad, and how to install ExpressVPN on your router. We’ll also tell you how you can run the VPN on your PC, and piggyback Apple TV on its connection.

Based on our extensive research, we’ll also tell you why we think ExpressVPN is the best VPN for Apple TV.

EXPERT TIP: If you want to stream Netflix on Apple TV using ExpressVPN, the best option is to use MediaStreamer Smart DNS or run ExpressVPN on your router.

How To Set Up ExpressVPN on Apple TV

You can’t install ExpressVPN directly on Apple TV. However, there are four ways you can still use them together to unblock streaming services:

  1. Use AirPlay and mirroring to stream from your mobile device.
  2. Install ExpressVPN on your router.
  3. Use MediaStreamer, ExpressVPN’s Smart DNS feature.
  4. Connect Apple TV to the internet through your computer.

Here’s a table summarising of how these setup methods compare:

AirPlay MediaStreamer Smart DNS Install on Router Connect Via a Computer
Set-up Difficulty Very Easy Easy Hard Moderate
Location Spoofing Yes Yes Yes Yes
Netflix Support No Yes Yes Yes
Encryption Yes No Yes Yes
Hides Your IP Address Yes No Yes Yes
Average Speed Very Fast Very Fast Very Fast Fast

We’ll explain each of these setup methods in the following sections, starting with the easiest first.

How to Use AirPlay With ExpressVPN to Stream on Apple TV

AirPlay enables you to play videos from your Mac, iPad, or iPhone and cast them to your Apple TV. You can run the ExpressVPN app on your computer or mobile device to unlock content there, and then watch it on your TV. Using tvOS 14, you can now stream in 4K from your mobile devices to your Apple TV, too.

This is by far the simplest way to unblock restricted content on Apple TV using ExpressVPN, and it gives you the full protection of a VPN.

AirPlay does not work with Netflix, though, because Netflix has removed support for it. This means AirPlay is blocked on both the Netflix app and website. Your best option for Netflix is to use Smart DNS for US Netflix, or run ExpressVPN on your router for other Netflix regions.

To use ExpressVPN with AirPlay on Apple TV, follow these steps:

  1. Sign up for ExpressVPN and download the app on your Mac, iPhone, or iPad. You can get a 7-day ExpressVPN free trial on mobile devices, too.
  2. On a Mac, open the ExpressVPN app and select > Preferences > General. Make sure the “Allow access to devices on the local network” setting is ticked. Otherwise, your Mac can’t discover the Apple TV.
  3. Connect to a VPN server in the country of your choice. To watch BBC iPlayer, for example, connect to a server in the UK.
  4. Open the streaming service on your device and stream your chosen content.
  5. To enable AirPlay video streaming on a mobile device, tap the AirPlay icon in the video window. On a Mac, click the AirPlay icon and then select your Apple TV.
  6. Choose your Apple TV. Your mobile device and Apple TV need to be on the same Wi-Fi network.
  7. You will see your video on your TV.

EXPERT TIP: Apple mobile devices also support mirroring, a feature that shows the contents of your screen on your Apple TV. It’s not optimized for video, though, and it’s likely to give you poor-quality video with audio synchronization problems. Netflix blocks mirroring as well as AirPlay.

How To Use ExpressVPN MediaStreamer Smart DNS With Apple TV

Smart DNS services allow you to change the domain name servers (DNS) that your internet connection uses, so you appear to be in a different country.

You do not benefit from the encryption or privacy protections of a full VPN service, but it’s an easy way to unblock geo-restricted content on devices that don’t have native support for VPN applications.

ExpressVPN has an effective Smart DNS service called MediaStreamer. It works to stream BBC iPlayer, HBO Max, Hulu, US Netflix, and Prime Video on Apple TV. MediaStreamer only works to unblock US Netflix, but that’s usually enough – the US Netflix library is the biggest.

how to manually configure Smart DNS on an Apple TV, allowing you to stream US Netflix directly on the device.

MediaStreamer is a simple way to stream US Netflix directly on Apple TV.

The way you set up MediaStreamer depends on whether you have a static or a dynamic IP address. If your IP address changes over time (dynamic) it’s harder for ExpressVPN to identify you and give you access to MediaStreamer.

Whichever way you set it up, you’ll need to have an ExpressVPN account and you’ll need to tell ExpressVPN your IP address, so it can verify you as a paying subscriber and let you use its DNS servers.

In this section, we’ll show you:

How To Check Whether Your IP Address Is Static or Dynamic

On Windows, follow these steps to find out whether you have a dynamic IP address:

  1. Right-click the Start button and select Command Prompt
  2. At the prompt, type in ipconfig/all
  3. Find the line that says “DHCP Enabled”. If it says YES, that means you have a dynamic IP address. If it says NO, you have a static IP address.

On MacOS, follow these steps to find out whether you have a dynamic IP address:

  1. Go to your system preferences.
  2. Select Network, and then Advanced.
  3. Go to TCP/IP.
  4. Find “Configure IPv4”. If it says USING DHCP here, you have a dynamic IP address. If it says MANUALLY, you have a static IP address.

If you have a static IP address, skip ahead to these instructions. If you have a dynamic IP address, read on.

How To Set Up MediaStreamer on Apple TV With a Dynamic IP Address

If you have a dynamic IP address, ExpressVPN recommends you use the free Dynu service to create a dynamic hostname it can use to recognize you.

The IP address behind the dynamic hostname is updated by an app on your device whenever your IP address changes. As a result, the same hostname can always be used to reach you.

EXPERT TIP: You can simplify setup and avoid having to run additional software by giving ExpressVPN your IP address, even if it’s dynamic. However, you will have to open the ExpressVPN app to update your IP address whenever you want to use MediaStreamer.

How To Set Up Your Dynamic Hostname

To set up Dynu, you will need to install some software on a computer or mobile device. This will check, every two minutes, whether your IP address has changed. If it has, it updates Dynu with your new IP address, so your hostname still works.

Make sure you do this at home – your device needs to use the same external IP address as your Apple TV.

To set up your dynamic hostname, follow these steps:

  1. Visit Dynu’s website and create an account. You’ll need to provide your name and email address, and make up a username and password.
  2. Verify your email address by clicking the link that is emailed to you.
  3. Log in to Dynu.
  4. Select DDNS Services.
  5. Enter your choice of hostname in the Host box under Option 1. You can choose the Top Level domain name in the menu on the right. The default is fine.

    Dynu Hostname Entry Field

    Enter your choice of hostname.

  6. Click the Add button.
  7. Turn off the settings for Wildcard IPv4 Alias, Wildcard IPv6 Alias, and Enable IPv6 Address.

     Dynu IP Address Settings

    Enter your IP address settings.

  8. Click Save. Your new hostname is now ready to use.
  9. Now, you need to install the Dynu IP Update Client on your computer or mobile device.
  10. Open up the Update Client, and log in using your Dynu account details. Click Save.
  11. If MediaStreamer stops working, open the Dynu client and click Save to update your IP address.

Give ExpressVPN Your Dynamic Hostname

Now you have a dynamic hostname that ExpressVPN can use to recognize you. You need to tell ExpressVPN about it. Here’s how:

  1. Visit the ExpressVPN DNS settings page. Log in if required.
  2. Enter your dynamic hostname in the Dynamic DNS hostname box. It will be a combination of the hostname you chose and Dynu’s domain name, such as top10vpntest.casacam.net.
  3. Click Save Hostname.

Set Up MediaStreamer on Apple TV

Now that you’re authorized to use MediaStreamer, you can set it up on your Apple TV device.

  1. Go to the ExpressVPN setup page. Log in if required.
  2. On the right, take a note of the MediaStreamer IP address.
  3. Go to your Apple TV.
  4. On 1st, 2nd, and 3rd generation Apple TV devices, go to Settings > General > Network.
  5. On later Apple TV devices, go to Settings > Network.
  6. Choose your current connection, which will be Wi-Fi or Ethernet depending on how Apple TV is connected to the internet. If you’re using Wi-Fi, select your Wi-Fi network.
  7. Scroll down if necessary, and select Configure DNS.
  8. Select Manual.
  9. Make a note of your current DNS settings. If anything goes wrong or you stop using MediaStreamer, you can use these to restore your connection. If you haven’t used manual configuration before, you can set Configure DNS to Automatic to reset your DNS settings.
  10. Enter the IP address for MediaStreamer.
  11. On 3rd gen and earlier devices, restart Apple TV using Settings > General > Restart.
  12. Now you’re ready to stream movies from Netflix US on your Apple TV.

How To Use MediaStreamer on Apple TV With a Static IP Address

If you have a static IP address, you don’t need to use Dynu. You just need to find out your IP address. Use our IP checker tool and take a note of your IP address.

Now you need to give ExpressVPN your IP address so they can make sure you are a paying subscriber. Here’s how:

  1. Visit the ExpressVPN DNS settings page. Log in if required.
  2. Add your IP address under IP Address Registration. Click Register My IP Address. Toggle the option to Automatically Register My IP Address, which helps to track changes to your IP address.
  3. You can update your IP address by signing in to your ExpressVPN account or using the ExpressVPN app on your device.

Now that you’re authorized to use MediaStreamer, you can set it up on your Apple TV device using the instructions above.

How to Install ExpressVPN on Your Router

By installing ExpressVPN on your router, you can spoof your IP address and protect all of the devices in your house, including your Apple TV. You don’t need to install the VPN on any other devices: simply connect them to your router as you normally would.

Netflix VPN router

ExpressVPN comes with a dedicated app for routers.

The easiest way to install ExpressVPN on your router is to buy a pre-flashed router from Flashrouters. It’ll cost you a minimum of $150, but it’s far simpler than manually setting up a VPN router yourself.

If you’re looking to manually install ExpressVPN on your current router, you’ll need to make sure it’s compatible, first. You’ll need a router that fully supports the OpenVPN protocol – older routers usually only support L2TP/IPsec or PPTP. You can find all of the router models ExpressVPN works well with in our ExpressVPN review.

Most Asus routers support OpenVPN, while other models may need a change of firmware. This is a complicated process, but you can find instructions in our setup guide for how to install a VPN on your router, or read our detailed guide to setting up a VPN on Apple TV.

The basic steps are:

  1. Download and install the ExpressVPN firmware on your router.
  2. Configure the router using ExpressVPN’s dashboard.
  3. Connect your Apple TV to your router as you normally would.

When you have installed ExpressVPN on your router, you can find your Apple TV’s network settings in Settings > Network. Select “Configure Wireless” and choose your connection.

How to Connect Apple TV to ExpressVPN on Your PC

A final, alternative approach is to run ExpressVPN on your computer, and then connect Apple TV to the internet through your computer.

This gives you the full capabilities of a VPN, including protecting your privacy. The downside is that you need to have your computer running all the time you’re using Apple TV. You can’t use a phone for this.

To connect Apple TV to ExpressVPN on your computer, follow these steps:

  1. Download and install ExpressVPN on your computer. You’ll need to buy a subscription, but there’s a risk-free 30-day money-back guarantee.
  2. Set up a virtual router or a mobile hotspot on your computer.
  3. Configure ExpressVPN. Disconnect the VPN and change your protocol in ExpressVPN by selecting “Protocol” in the preferences menu. On Windows, choose the OpenVPN protocol. If you’re using MacOS, you’ll need to use L2TP/IPsec.
  4. Connect ExpressVPN. Choose a server in the country where you want to unblock content. For example, choose the US to stream US Netflix.
  5. Connect your Apple TV to your computer’s internet connection. On your Apple TV, go to Settings > Network. Select “Configure Wireless” and choose your computer’s connection.
  6. Stream media on your Apple TV. Your connection will go through your computer, and through the ExpressVPN service running there, protecting your privacy and unblocking restricted content.

Is ExpressVPN a Good Choice for Apple TV?

ExpressVPN is the best VPN you can get, and it’s our top VPN recommendation for Apple TV.

Apart from its fast speeds and ability to unblock geo-restricted content, ExpressVPN has a number of bonus features that make it a great choice for Apple TV:

  • Excellent apps for iPhone and iPad. This is great if you want to mirror your screen to Apple TV.
  • Superb support for routers. The router dashboard makes it easy to switch locations, so you can change which Netflix libraries you can see. It has a clear and attractive interface, too, making it user-friendly.
  • The option to buy a router with ExpressVPN pre-installed. It’s not the cheapest way to set up a VPN on Apple TV, but it eliminates the hassle.
  • A robust Smart DNS service called MediaStreamer. Using it, you can unblock geo-restricted content, although you don’t have the full protection of a VPN. It’s easy to set up.
  • Strong support for streaming. ExpressVPN unblocks 19 Netflix libraries across its entire estate of over 3,000 servers.

ExpressVPN is one of the fastest VPNs we’ve seen for international connections, with a modest speed loss even on long-distance connections, as shown in the table below:

Destination Server Download Speed Loss
UK (same country) 8%
USA (New Jersey) 17%
Germany 8%
Singapore 24%
Australia 27%

A speed loss of less than 30% between the UK and Australia is particularly impressive. Wherever you are in the world, you’ll be able to stream movies on Apple TV without buffering using ExpressVPN.

Our automated VPN speed test tool shows remarkably consistent results when using ExpressVPN to connect from the UK to New York, particularly compared to other VPNs that tend to vary in performance over time. You can see these results in the speed testing chart below.

VPN Speed Performance Comparison Chart

There are faster VPNs than ExpressVPN for same-country connections, but ExpressVPN remains the best VPN for streaming Netflix overseas on any platform. It also works with other streaming services including Amazon Prime Video, DAZN, Disney+, HBO Max, Hulu, and Now TV.

ExpressVPN is more expensive than comparable VPNs, though. Its cheapest price is $6.67/month, while its main competitor NordVPN costs just $3.71/month. Nevertheless, if you’re looking to use a VPN with Apple TV, ExpressVPN is worth the money.

Troubleshooting: Is ExpressVPN Not Working With Apple TV?

Of all the different methods of using ExpressVPN with Apple TV, MediaStreamer Smart DNS is by far the most likely to not work.

You’ll know MediaStreamer is not working by identifying either of the following issues:

  • You can only see your local streaming library.
  • You see an error message that says “Failed to load content”.

If you’re facing either of these problems, here are some common solutions to get ExpressVPN working with Apple TV again:

  1. Verify that your IP address is correctly registered with ExpressVPN.
    The IP address recorded in the DNS settings of your ExpressVPN account must match the IP address displayed in our IP checker tool. If they’re different, press the ‘Register my IP address’ button in your ExpressVPN account settings.
  2. Check that MediaStreamer unblocks the streaming service.
    If ExpressVPN’s Smart DNS tool doesn’t work with a streaming app, you’ll see your local library. This is because MediaStreamer bypasses any connection it cannot unblock and reverts to your local network connection.
  3. AirPlay: Make sure your Apple TV is connected to the same network as your phone.
    If your Apple TV is using its default settings, you can only AirPlay content when both devices are on the same Wi-Fi network. To fix this, either connect both of your devices to the same network or change your AirPlay settings so that this is not necessary. You can do this by visiting Settings > AirPlay > Allow Access > Everyone.

Changing Countries With ExpressVPN on Apple TV

The easiest way to change countries when using ExpressVPN on Apple TV is through the router app or connecting via a PC.

If you’re using MediaStreamer Smart DNS, you will not be able to change your server location natively.

MediaStreamer has a predetermined list of compatible streaming services. It uses the same DNS settings to stream HBO Max in the US and BBC iPlayer in the UK. If a geo-restricted streaming service is not supported, you will simply be shown your local library.

If you want to change countries using a Smart DNS solution like MediaStreamer, we suggest trying ControlD, Windscribe’s DNS service. This service allows you to freely choose between 63 countries.

EXPERT TIP: A VPN or Smart DNS service will not change your App Store or Apple account location. To do this, go to Settings > General > Apple TV Language. Then go to General > Region Format and select a region. This will give you access to apps that aren’t usually available in your region, such as Hulu outside of the US and BBC iPlayer outside of the UK.

The Bottom Line

ExpressVPN unblocks a large number of Netflix libraries and streaming services with fast international speeds. That’s why it’s a great choice for Apple TV.

There are a number of ways you can get ExpressVPN working with Apple TV. Installing it on a router will enable you to protect all your devices easily. If you don’t have a compatible router, you can use the MediaStreamer Smart DNS service to unblock content on Apple TV.

There are good apps for iOS and for desktop computers, so you can also try installing ExpressVPN on your iPhone or iPad and mirroring its screen, or installing ExpressVPN on your computer and sharing its connection with Apple TV.

About the Author


  • Headshot of Top10VPN.com Site Editor Callum Tennent

    Callum Tennent

    Callum oversees how we test and review VPN services. He's a member of the IAPP, and his advice about VPNs has featured in Forbes and the Internet Society. Read full bio