There is a good chance ESPN is your go-to place for watching sports. Unfortunately, ESPN and ESPN+ aren’t available outside the U.S. If you’re on a business trip abroad or decide to go on a last-minute vacation, the chances of streaming the game from your hotel room are slim without the use of a VPN. Keep reading, and we’ll show you the best VPN for ESPN and ESPN Plus.
- ESPN and ESPN Plus are separate services. If you’re outside the U.S., you can use a VPN to unblock ESPN and watch games with blackout dates.
- ExpressVPN grabs the top spot among the best VPNs for ESPN Plus and ESPN.
- NordVPN is a more affordable VPN option and, if you only stream occasionally, Windscribe has a free plan with 10GB of data per month.
Aside from general geoblocks, ESPN also has blackout dates in place due to local teams or sports networks usually holding the rights to broadcast the games. ESPN is allowed to broadcast the games outside of the local area, though, which is why a VPN will help you bypass the restrictions.
In this article, we are going to talk about the difference between ESPN and ESPN Plus, as well as which VPN providers are good enough to bypass geoblocks. If you don’t have the time to read it, though, we recommend ExpressVPN. Read on to find out more.
05/29/2022 Facts checked
Rewrote this article, updating the providers and including an explanation of the difference between ESPN and ESPN+.
Yes, you can watch ESPN with a VPN. We recommend ExpressVPN for its fast speeds and reliability at getting past geoblocks if you are outside the U.S.
ESPN+ is ESPN’s stand-alone streaming service, but the regular ESPN app is free to anyone as long as you provide a valid zip code. However, to stream the ESPN channels, you need a valid TV provider login or a streaming platform such as Sling TV. Plus, if you are outside the U.S., you will need to use a VPN to get past the geoblocks ESPN has put in place.
Top VPNs for ESPN & ESPN Plus
Average speedDownload Speed92 MbpsUpload Speed9 MbpsLatency5 ms
- : PayPal, Credit card, Bitcoin, PaymentWall
Average speedDownload Speed94 MbpsUpload Speed9 MbpsLatency6 ms
- : PayPal, Credit card, Google Pay, AmazonPay, ACH Transfer, Cash
- : 6
Average speedDownload Speed95 MbpsUpload Speed9 MbpsLatency200 ms
- : PayPal, Credit card, Google Pay, Amazon Pay
- : Unlimited
Average speedDownload Speed94 MbpsUpload Speed9 MbpsLatency2 ms
- : PayPal, Credit card
- : Unlimited
Average speedDownload Speed94 MbpsUpload Speed9 MbpsLatency4 ms
- : PayPal, Credit card, Amazon, Paygarden, Apple Pay, Google Pay
- : Unlimited
What Makes the Best VPN for ESPN & ESPN Plus?
There are a few essential features that make a great virtual private network. Having fast speeds is a must because you don’t want to suffer from buffering issues or low resolution (check out our fastest VPNs guide). To access ESPN, you also need plenty of U.S. servers and you want to have the ability to switch servers easily if one can’t get past the dreaded geoblocks.
Another must-have for a VPN is impeccable security and privacy, including a solid no-logs policy. Below are our top five VPN picks for streaming ESPN.
- ExpressVPN — Plenty of U.S. servers and fast connection speeds
- NordVPN — Excellent security with an affordable plan
- Surfshark — Affordable VPN with unlimited simultaneous connections
- Windscribe — Free plan with 10GB of data per month
- Private Internet Access — Cheap VPN, but has slow speeds
All of the VPNs we chose have enough U.S. servers to successfully bypass ESPN and ESPN Plus’ regional restrictions, whether that’s because you’re outside the country or you need to sidestep a blackout date. They also have top security features and a strict no-logs policy.
The 5 Best VPNs for Streaming ESPN & ESPN Plus
Here are the five best VPNs for ESPN and ESPN Plus, starting with our top pick, ExpressVPN.
More details about ExpressVPN:
- Pricing: $6.66 per month
- Website: expressvpn.com
- Good U.S. server selection
- Fast connection speeds
- Excellent privacy & security
ExpressVPN has a decent U.S. server network (24 VPN server locations), giving you plenty of options if you do experience any blackout dates. Plus, ExpressVPN can get into most major streaming sites with ease. That includes both ESPN and ESPN+, so when it comes to watching that all-important game, it won’t be a problem for you.
There’s an app for almost any device, and it’s easy to use, even for beginners. You’ll also be protected by ExpressVPN’s top security, including AES-256 encryption, which will protect your data from being seen. ExpressVPN also has a kill switch that will instantly block the internet connection if the VPN fails.
Fastest Speeds With ExpressVPN
ExpressVPN is an incredibly fast VPN; it’s likely you won’t really notice that you’re even using a VPN. This means you’ll get the best streaming experience possible, including top resolution and no buffering issues. No matter what streaming service, you will have no trouble getting around those blackout dates and watching your shows.
The downside to ExpressVPN is the price. It’s expensive, but don’t let that put you off, as you’re paying for a high-quality VPN. If you opt for one of the long-term plans, you can lower the monthly cost, and there is a 30-day money-back guarantee in case it’s not the VPN for you. You can learn more by reading our in-depth ExpressVPN review.
More details about NordVPN:
- Pricing: $3.19 per month
- Website: nordvpn.com
- Excellent security features
- Fast NordLynx protocol
- Affordable long-term plan
- Expensive monthly plan
NordVPN and ExpressVPN are very closely matched, but in this instance, NordVPN just barely loses out on the top spot. Although NordVPN has an impressive collection of servers, its actual U.S. selection is the smallest on this list — though there’s still enough servers to get you past ESPN and ESPN Plus blackout dates.
The NordLynx protocol has been designed to get the best viewing experience. It’s optimized to focus on giving the fastest streaming speeds possible and makes changing servers seamless. This is great if you’re watching sports or shows online like YouTube TV, for instance. If you want to know more, then read our NordVPN review.
Great Security and Privacy With NordVPN
OpenVPN is the go-to protocol, but NordVPN’s proprietary protocol, NordLynx, offers faster speeds, and it uses the newer ChaCha20 cipher for encryption. This affords users 256-bit encryption that’s even faster than AES.
On top of that, it offers extra security features, such as double-hop servers and a kill switch. Double VPN servers basically provide twice the encryption because your traffic is routed through two servers instead of one. A kill switch will completely cut your connection to the internet if the VPN stops working — keeping you and your data safe.
If you’re planning to use NordVPN for just one month, the pricing is still expensive. That said, NordVPN offers a more affordable price with its two-year plan. It also has a 30-day money-back guarantee to fall back on.
- Unlimited GB
- Unlimited GB
More details about Surfshark:
- Pricing: $2.49 per month
- Website: surfshark.com
- Unlimited data & devices
- No user forum
In the relatively few years Surfshark has been around, it’s built an expansive selection of servers. There are 25 servers based in the U.S. alone, making it easy to find a decent VPN server to get past the ESPN geoblocks and blackout dates. Surfshark’s server network and fast speeds make it a good choice for watching ESPN Plus online.
Surfshark stands out over the other VPN services we’ve mentioned on this list as it allows you to have an unlimited number of devices connected at once. That means you can be watching the game on ESPN Plus, while family and friends are playing online games or streaming Sling TV or other streaming services.
Surfshark is a cheap VPN. You might think it’s lacking in security features because of the price, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Surfshark implements the same secure encryption as our top VPN picks and also has a no-logs policy. Plus, it has unique features such as CleanWeb, which blocks ads, trackers, malware and phishing attempts on your devices.
Like ExpressVPN and NordVPN, Surfshark’s monthly plan is the most expensive. Opting for the two-year plan will make Surfshark the cheapest of the three at $2.49 per month. Our Surfshark review goes over the service as a whole, but you can try it free on mobile for seven days. If you’re still not sure, it has a 30-day money-back guarantee too.
- Unlimited GB bandwidth, Unlimited devices, Secure VPN, Ad blocker, Cookie pop-up blocker.
- Unlimited GB
- Everything in Starter, plus Antivirus protection, Identity protection, Email Breach and Credit Card Alerts, Online Alias
- Unlimited GB
- Everything in One, plus Data removal
- Unlimited GB
More details about Windscribe:
- Price: 10GB free; $5.75 per month per server
- Website: windscribe.com
- 10GB free version
- No-logs policy
- Easy to use
- Cluttered UI
- Three-day money-back guarantee
Windscribe –one of the best free VPNs for live sports — offers a limited free plan with 10GB of data per month. Included in the free plan are U.S. servers, which are great for watching ESPN, but the number of servers is limited to 10. However, you can still bypass most geoblocks to watch the intended content, including ESPN’s blackout dates.
It can be a little slow to load initially, but once loaded it streams smoothly. Overall, it’s a secure VPN that doesn’t keep logs. Plus, its paid plan offers a decent server spread with a lot more server location options for the U.S. Windscribe is also compatible with many device types and offers the same easy-to-use app across them all.
Windscribe’s Ad and Malware Blocker
Although not available on the free plan, Windscribe has its own ad and malware blocker called R.O.B.E.R.T. You can pick what type of content you want it to automatically block, including porn, gambling sites, ads and trackers, and much more. You can also block specific domains and ensure that all of your connected devices are protected by the same blocklist.
Windscribe’s free plan is great, but it’s important to understand that the 10GB of free data per month can easily be swallowed up by streaming.
If you want access to more servers and data for a cheap price, you can enroll in its build-a-plan option. This lets you craft your own plan with a minimum purchase of $2. Each server location comes with 10GB of data for $1 per month.
If you think you’ll easily burn through that, though, you can add unlimited bandwidth for $1 per month — that also comes with R.O.B.E.R.T. You can read more about Windscribe’s free and paid plans in our Windscribe review.
- Up to 15 GB free with email confirmation and Tweet
- Unlimited GB
5. Private Internet Access
More details about Private Internet Access:
- Price: $2.19 per month
- Website: privateinternetaccess.com
- Dedicated IP addresses
- Highly customizable
- Slow servers
Private Internet Access (PIA) has more than enough servers to get you past ESPN’s geoblocks and blackout dates, with a server spread that covers 84 countries. In the U.S. alone, there are servers in 19 locations. What’s more, you can have 10 devices connected with a single PIA subscription.
PIA gives you the option to use a dedicated IP address, which helps you avoid blocklists and constant security warnings from popping up on your device screen. Plus, a dedicated IP address is helpful for getting into ESPN and ESPN+ consistently when you want to bypass a blackout date.
Protect Your Connection With Mace
PIA has developed its own security feature called MACE, which blocks ads, trackers and malware. Instead of sending the blocking requests from a tracking server, it sends the DNS request to your local IP address and stops it from going through. By doing it this way, MACE is faster and more memory-efficient than other VPN ad blockers.
Just like with other VPNs we’ve mentioned, PIA’s monthly plan is expensive. That said, its three-year plan is one of the most affordable VPN plans available. Plus, it offers a 30-day money-back guarantee. Find out more by reading our PIA review.
What’s the Differences Between ESPN & ESPN Plus?
People get confused between ESPN and ESPN Plus, but it’s simple to tell the difference.
The regular ESPN app is free to anyone; all you need is a valid zip code in an ESPN service area. You can find the latest video clips, sports highlights and sports news, plus much more on the ESPN app.
However, if you want to watch exclusive content and big events, then you’ll need ESPN Plus, which is a separate paid service that can be accessed via the main ESPN website or app.
ESPN Plus brings additional ways to watch live sports from around the world, like paying for big events such as boxing in the U.K. or watching live UFC PPV events (which ESPN has the sole rights for in the U.S.). An ESPN Plus subscription also gets you access to restricted content that you can’t find anywhere else.
Can You Watch ESPN Online With a Free VPN?
Yes, you can use a free VPN to stream ESPN online. However, there are only a few free VPNs that we recommend, and two of the best ones are Windscribe and ProtonVPN. That said, they both have downsides to consider.
Windscibe’s free plan has a 10GB per month data limit, which won’t last long once you start streaming.
ProtonVPN offers unlimited data, but it limits its speeds on the free plan. It also only offers free servers in three countries — Japan, the Netherlands and the U.S. You can check out our ProtonVPN review if you want to know more.
The main thing to remember is that there is a reason why many VPNs are free and, for the most part, they’re simply not good enough. There are also many terrible free VPNs that just don’t work as intended or have a sole purpose to steal and sell your data, while others might come riddled with malware, and so on.
It’s best to go with a reputable VPN that your budget allows, but we have a guide on the best free VPNs if you really need one.
Final Thoughts: Best VPNs for ESPN
If you made it all the way to the end, you now know that ESPN and ESPN Plus are separate services and that you need a paid subscription to access ESPN Plus. You will also need a VPN if you want to spoof your IP address and get past geoblocks and blackout dates to watch games in your area.
ExpressVPN is our winner here, due to its fast and reliable speeds, as well as its ability to get past ESPN geoblocks with the number of U.S. servers it has. NordVPN is a close second. It’s a top VPN that has a manageable price. However, any of the VPNs you choose from this list will be able to stream ESPN or ESPN Plus.
Have you tried to stream ESPN with a VPN? Did it work for streaming ESPN or have you found a better VPN for streaming services? Let us know in the comments below. As always, thanks for reading.