Streaming services allow you to watch sports on the go and only pay for what you watch, so it’s no surprise that 79% of sports fans prefer them over cable TV. However, streaming content can sometimes be restricted to specific regions and countries. That’s why you need the best VPN for sports.
Short for “virtual private network,” a VPN encrypts your internet traffic and spoofs your location, allowing you to bypass any geoblocks imposed by your streaming site. Although there are many VPNs on the market, not all are great at unblocking sports content.
- ExpressVPN is the best and most reliable VPN for unblocking sports streaming content, thanks to its fast speeds.
- NordVPN is also a premium VPN service boasting decent speeds and great security features to stream live sports.
- CyberGhost and Surfshark are affordable options, but if you don’t want to pay a dime, choose Windscribe.
In this guide, we’ll unveil our five best VPN picks for live sports streaming, whether you need to access ESPN, Hulu, Sling or DAZN or watch the NFL or NBA. We’ll also show you their pros, cons, and standout features. Before we delve into that, let’s dig deep into the factors we considered in constructing this list. If you just want a quick answer, ExpressVPN is our top pick.
Updated Windscribe pricing: the paid plan increased to $5.75 per month from $4.08. The Build-a-Plan minimum purchase also increased to $3 from $2. Also updated Windscribe’s free data cap to 15GB due to it offering 5GB extra permanently when you tweet about the service.
First of all, choose a VPN with fast download speeds and low latency. Next, install the VPN and connect to a nearby server. Finally, open your sports streaming app and enjoy your game.
Yes, a VPN can help unblock free sports streaming sites with ease. All you need to do is choose a VPN with great download speeds and connect to a nearby server.
The Top VPNs for Sports
Average speedDownload Speed91 MbpsUpload Speed9 MbpsLatency4 ms
- : PayPal, Credit card, Bitcoin, PaymentWall
- : 5
Average speedDownload Speed92 MbpsUpload Speed9 MbpsLatency22 ms
- : PayPal, Credit card, Google Pay, AmazonPay, ACH Transfer, Cash
- : 6
Average speedDownload Speed85 MbpsUpload Speed9 MbpsLatency4 ms
- : PayPal, Credit card
- : Unlimited
Average speedDownload Speed95 MbpsUpload Speed8 MbpsLatency115 ms
- : PayPal, Credit card
- : Unlimited
Average speedDownload Speed70 MbpsUpload Speed9 MbpsLatency37 ms
- : PayPal, Credit card, bitcoin
- : 7
What Makes the Best VPN for Sports?
In putting together this list, we looked for VPNs with a large server network, excellent speeds and premium security and privacy features. We also chose VPNs that you can use across multiple devices. After testing and reviewing several VPNs, the following are our top picks.
- ExpressVPN — Overall best VPN for live sports streaming
- NordVPN — Feature-rich VPN for watching live games
- Windscribe — Best free VPN for streaming live sports
- Surfshark — Best VPN for streaming on multiple platforms
- CyberGhost — Great usability and security features for streaming sports
Speed is the most critical factor here. To stream live games, you’ll need a VPN with high download speeds and low latency; otherwise, you’ll experience lags, buffering and poor video quality. Other factors that slow down or stop streams are the throttling and bandwidth caps some VPNs have.
Further, we looked for VPNs with decent server counts and distribution, since that makes it possible to stream sports across different countries and regions. Also, we made sure that each of the VPNs on this list has key security and privacy features, including AES-256 encryption, a kill switch, leak protection and obfuscation, as well as a no-logs policy.
Finally, a good VPN service for streaming live sports should allow use across multiple devices, including phones, laptops and tablets. This is a vital feature because many sports fans use different devices to stream. According to Google, 30% of sports fans stream using their tablet or smartphone, while 80% of fans juggle several devices to enjoy a full game experience.
The 5 Best VPNs for Sports
Now, let’s dive deep into each of our five top picks for sports streaming to show you why they made the cut.
More details about ExpressVPN:
- Pricing: $6.67 per month for 12 months, plus three months free
- Provider website: expressvpn.com
- Impressive speeds
- Fast & secure Lightway protocol
- Apps for multiple platforms
- More expensive than competitors
- No malware/ad blocker
ExpressVPN tops this list because of its consistently high speeds, so it’s no wonder it clinched the overall fastest VPN title. This means that you can watch your live games without worrying about video lags and choppy sound. It also has an extensive server network (3,000 servers in 94 countries), which is important because the closer a server is, the faster your speeds. Plus, with a lot of servers, ExpressVPN is great at sneaking past geoblocks and blackouts.
ExpressVPN has a built-in speed test, which offers a speed index (download speed and latency) for each server. Although it doesn’t have dedicated streaming servers like CyberGhost, it breaks into top streaming sites like BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime and Hulu without struggle (see our how to watch Hulu with ExpressVPN guide). In addition, ExpressVPN doesn’t place limits on your data or bandwidth while streaming.
Fast Streaming Speeds With the Lightway Protocol
Thanks to a lightweight codebase, ExpressVPN’s Lightway protocol provides faster connections than the more common OpenVPN and IKEv2 protocols. For travelers, Lightway’s support for obfuscation, AES-256 encryption and always-on protection are crucial. To enjoy your live game, we recommend combining Lightway with UDP rather than TCP since you’ll get better speeds that way.
ExpressVPN is the most expensive VPN on this list, but you can save some money by subscribing for the 12-month deal. Each plan comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee. Read our ExpressVPN review to learn more, or take advantage of the 30-day money-back guarantee to try it out.
ExpressVPN is our best overall VPN for streaming sports games, thanks to its fast download speed and low latency. This VPN service ups the ante with the Lightway protocol, which is built for speed and excellent for streaming. Although it’s a tad more expensive than its competitors, ExpressVPN’s 12-month deal provides good value for the money.
More details about NordVPN:
- Pricing: $3.99 per month for the two-year plan
- Provider website: nordvpn.com
- Excellent security features
- Built-in ad & malware blocker
- Decent speeds
- Poor latency
- Expensive monthly plan
As is the case in many of our reviews, NordVPN claims the second spot. Although it’s not as fast as ExpressVPN, it boasts decent speeds. NordLynx, NordVPN’s take on the WireGuard protocol, delivers better speeds than OpenVPN.
However, the main reason NordVPN makes this list is because it has a wealth of security features, making it a good choice for highly censored regions and difficult streaming services like DAZN and ESPN+. You get the military-grade AES-256 encryption, a kill switch, split tunneling and DNS leak protection. Further, there are less common features like dark web monitoring and an ad/malware blocker.
Stream on Free Sites Using the Built-In Malware Blocker
Free sports streaming services often come with a trove of malicious ads and pop-ups. Typically, you’ll have to run through several redirects before getting access to a game. CyberSec, NordVPN’s built-in ad and malware blocker, uses a known blocklist to ward off suspicious activity on your streaming service. However, it’s turned off by default, so you have to activate it manually.
NordVPN is an affordable VPN and you can save more money with the two-year deal. Each plan comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
NordVPN came second on this list, thanks to its decent connection speeds and wealth of security features. It’s a budget alternative to ExpressVPN and its ad and malware blocker makes streaming using free sites a breeze. Our biggest gripe with NordVPN is its high latency, which can cause some lags and buffers. Check out our full NordVPN review to learn more.
- : Unlimited GB
- : 6
- : Unlimited GB
- : 6
More details about Windscribe:
- Pricing: 15GB free; $5.75 per month for unlimited bandwidth (one-year plan)
- Provider website: windscribe.com
- Generous free plan
- Build-a-plan option
- Unlimited bandwidth
- A small number of servers
- Relatively slow
For the most part, we don’t wholeheartedly recommend using free VPNs (read our free VPN guide), but Windscribe is an exception. Its free plan, which gives you 15GB, is an incredibly generous offer. For streaming high-definition live games, though, this data cap may not be enough. Fortunately, you can get unlimited data for $1 a month, which is one of the best deals you can get for unlimited bandwidth.
Windscribe used to have dedicated streaming servers known as Windflix, but the VPN has since done away with them, giving all its servers the same streaming ability. You can easily unlock streaming sites like BBC iPlayer, Hulu and Amazon Prime Video with Windscribe’s servers.
Sports streaming costs can quickly rack up, so if you want to build a cost-effective streaming plan, Windscribe is the way to go. Instead of purchasing the VPN’s entire server network, you can purchase locations (say, servers in the U.S.) for just a dollar per location. For another dollar, you can get unlimited data. There’s a minimum checkout value of $3 per month, but for that small sum you can knock yourself out streaming your favorite games securely.
Windscribe’s free plan is capped at 2GB and 10 servers, but you get 10GB if you sign up. You can get another 5GB by tweeting about the service, giving you a total of 15GB per month. Further, you can customize your own plan, but you only get a three-day money-back guarantee.
Although Windscribe is not the fastest VPN, it placed third, primarily because it’s cost-effective. Also, it comes with flexible pricing upgrades and unlimited bandwidth, data and connections.
- : Up to 15 GB free with email confirmation and Tweet
- : 15 GB
- : Unlimited
- : Unlimited GB
- : Unlimited
More details about Surfshark:
- Pricing: $2.49 per month for the two-year plan
- Provider website: surfshark.com
- Unblocks many streaming services
- Relatively cheap
- No user forum
While some VPNs struggle to unblock major sports streaming platforms, Surfshark seems to have no difficulties in that regard. From our testing, we noticed that the VPN easily unblocked several streaming platforms, including ESPN, Hotstar, BBC iPlayer, Hulu and beIN Sports. It’s also fast enough to stream sports at 4K resolution.
Surfshark has the key features you’d expect from a VPN, from AES-256 encryption and a kill switch to split tunneling and DNS leak protection. You also get not-so-common features like a double VPN and an ad blocker that blocks trackers, malware, phishing sites and ads. Considering that Surfshark only came onto the VPN scene in 2018, its features and 3,200 servers in 65 countries are quite a coup.
Unlimited Simultaneous Connections, Bandwidth and Data
If you’re sharing your sports streaming accounts with your family, or you’re streaming with multiple devices, Surfshark is worth a look. It comes with unlimited simultaneous connections and there’s no data or bandwidth limit either, so you don’t have to worry about data-heavy streams. Plus, you can share your account with your family or friends to cut down costs.
Surfshark offers some of the most affordable plans on the market. Its best deal is the two-year plan and each plan comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Surfshark gives you the basic VPN streaming features at a lower price than ExpressVPN and NordVPN. It’s great at unblocking the major streaming platforms, and there’s no limit to the number of devices you can use. Read our Surfshark review or use the 30-day money-back guarantee to check it out.
More details about CyberGhost:
- Pricing: $2.29 per month for the three-year plus three months plan
- Provider website: cyberghostvpn.com
- Affordable streaming choice
- 45-day money-back guarantee
- Dedicated streaming servers
- Doesn’t unblock many major streaming services
The fifth spot on our list goes to CyberGhost, a VPN that provides decent performance at affordable prices. It’s not quite as fast as ExpressVPN and NordVPN, but it has no annoying bandwidth or data limit, which ensures you can stream without worrying about lags and freezes. CyberGhost has the largest server count of the VPNs we reviewed (around 7,800 in over 90 countries), but some are virtual servers.
In addition, CyberGhost allows you to connect up to seven devices at once, but you can get past that limit if you install it on your router. Unfortunately, CyberGhost failed to unblock major streaming sites like Hulu, Amazon Prime and BBC iPlayer in our testing.
Enjoy Games With Streaming-Optimized Servers
CyberGhost has a network of dedicated streaming services that make streaming faster and easier. These servers make your streaming site load fast and you don’t have to worry about constant disconnects and lags. Fortunately, CyberGhost performs regular server tests to ensure that the servers are up to scratch performance-wise.
CyberGhost is easily one of the most affordable VPNs if you’re willing to commit to a long-term plan. The three-year plan is one of the best VPN deals out there. You can also try out the VPN for one day for free, and it comes with a 45-day money-back guarantee — the longest among the VPNs on this list.
CyberGhost is the best cheap VPN for streaming, especially when you sign up for the three-year plan. With no bandwidth caps, you can stream without delays or pauses. The major drawback, however, is that it’s not great at unblocking the major streaming sites. Read our CyberGhost review to learn more or use the 45-day money-back guarantee to take it for a spin.
A handful of VPNs did not make our top five list but are well worth a mention since they have decent features for streaming sports live.
Private Internet Access
Private Internet Access (PIA) has a lot going for it, and it could have made the list because of its great download speeds and low latency — features that are both necessary for lag-free streaming. Plus, it has servers in 84 countries, making it an excellent option for outsmarting geoblocks and blocklists.
However, PIA struggles when it comes to actually unblocking streaming sites. For example, we couldn’t access Hulu with this VPN provider (read our guide on how to watch Hulu with VPN), while it took more than one try to access BBC iPlayer. That’s why PIA didn’t make our top five list. However, all in all, it’s a reasonable budget choice. Read our PIA review to learn more.
If this article was a top seven list, VyprVPN would have made the cut. When we tested VPNs for speed, VyprVPN clocked in at the third position. However, we have a number of concerns about this service.
First off, it’s become way too expensive — even more costly than ExpressVPN. While VyprVPN is one of our overall fastest VPNs, its download speed in particular was not too impressive, which doesn’t bode too well for streaming live sports. Read our VyprVPN review for more insights.
Why You Should Use a VPN for Streaming Sports
There are three core reasons you’ll need a VPN to cheer your favorite sports team on. For starters, most streaming sites are only available in their country of origin. Take Sky Sports, for instance. If you travel outside of the U.K., you won’t be able to get access. In such cases, you’ll need a U.K. IP address, and that’s where a VPN comes in handy. It spoofs your location, tricking the streaming service into believing that you’re in the U.K.
Secondly, you could be in your home country and not get access to sports content. This happens when a local TV channel has exclusive rights to show a specific game and forbids other platforms from showing it locally. Often, you’ll have to wait until the live match is over before getting access. However, a VPN is an excellent workaround since it can change your location and get around any copyright issues.
Finally, a VPN helps you to watch live games without interruptions by your ISP. ISPs can throttle your connection speeds if they detect a high-bandwidth action, like HD streaming, especially during peak hours. With a VPN, you can cloak your internet traffic, ensuring that your ISP cannot tamper with your connections.
Can You Use a Free VPN for Sports?
Free VPNs can help you access sports streams, but they often don’t have a no-logs policy and may end up selling your data to advertisers and hackers. Besides, free VPNs typically decrease your streaming speeds and you get limited security features. That said, if you want to use a free VPN, Windscribe and ProtonVPN are the best.
What Are the Best Sports Streaming Services?
Although there are hundreds of sports streaming service providers, a few stand out. ESPN does a great job covering American sports with a great mix of analysis, highlights and live matches (see our guide on how to watch ESPN). If you’re outside the U.S. you’ll need the best VPN for ESPN to watch your favorite sports event.
In the U.K., the BBC iPlayer is a go-to option, giving you access to football, cricket, cycling, golf and soccer content.
DAZN is also a great choice since it covers over 8,000 events and has services in more than 200 countries. Amazon Prime Video focuses on Thursday-night football games, but there’s the option to add several sports-focused channels. beIN Sports is another great streaming channel, although it focuses primarily on football content.
Other services worth mentioning include Sling, Hulu and Hotstar. Be sure to read our comprehensive guide on how to watch Hotstar.
In this guide to the best VPN services for streaming sports, it’s clear that ExpressVPN is the best choice, owing to its great download speeds and latency. The same can be said if you’re looking for the best VPN for DAZN, too. NordVPN is a close second, particularly because of its watertight security features.
If you don’t have the budget for ExpressVPN or NordVPN, we recommend opting for cheaper but useful options like CyberGhost and Surfshark (read our CyberGhost vs Surfshark guide to see how the two compare.
Further, if you don’t want to spend a dime on unblocking sports content, Windscribe is your best option (see how it compares to another affordable VPN in our Surfshark vs Windscribe guide).
Have you ever tried to watch a live sports game with a VPN? Which VPNs did you try and did you experience any lag or buffering with any of them? Which VPN gave you the best results? Share your thoughts with us in the comment section below, and as always, thanks for taking the time to read this article.