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How to get around ESPN blackout restrictions in 2024

How to get around ESPN blackout with VPN

ESPN, and its online streaming service ESPN+, is arguably one of the best platforms to catch the latest and most relevant sports matches. From MLB, NBA, NHL, NFL, Formula 1, Premier League, and more, here, you can cheer for your favorite team live, even local leagues. However, you can eventually run into the error message ‘This content is subject to blackout’ on ESPN, meaning you just came across the occasional ESPN+ blackout.

Unfortunately, ESPN+ blacks out games in certain regions to uphold the various broadcasting agreements that bind this streaming service. ESPN+ monitors users’ IP addresses and doesn’t broadcast matches if the detected geographical location falls into a restricted zone. So, those seeking to watch a Dallas Stars match live online won’t be able to do so in Texas, the team’s home State. And this applies to many more sports event broadcasts on ESPN. But there’s no need to fret just yet – we’ve found that VPNs are the best tools to bypass these ESPN restrictions. By using a streaming-friendly VPN, you can select a different server in the US and obtain an IP address where your desired event is being broadcasted. This way, you can enjoy the stream as if you were there.

However, not every VPN can unblock blacked out ESPN+ content. Because of this, we tested numerous providers to find the ones capable of doing so. Read on to learn more about the best VPNs for ESPN, how they work, and how to use this software to get around local ESPN blackouts to access any game you want live online.

How to get around ESPN blackout with a VPN

  1. Subscribe to a secure VPN. We’ve had the best unblocking and streaming experience with NordVPN, now 72% off
  2. Install the VPN on your device and log into your account
  3. Connect to a server where the ESPN+ stream is available. You might need to consult blackout maps for specific sporting events for this.
  4. Head over to ESPN+ website and stream the latest games live!

Bypass ESPN blackouts with NordVPN

Best VPN to get around ESPN blackout in 2024

  1. Best VPN to bypass ESPN blackout
    9.6
  2. Reliable VPN for getting around game blackout on ESPN
    9.3
  3. The most frugal way to bypass the blackout on ESPN+
    9.2

What does blackout mean on ESPN and why is it used?

ESPN applies blackout restrictions, which are specific limitations on certain live sports events in specific regions. These restrictions aim to protect local sports networks and promote attendance at live games. ESPN+ monitors your IP address and geographic location, and blocks access to sports matches if you are within the blackout zone. Unfortunately, subscribing to ESPN+ doesn’t bypass blackouts on its own. Many users have encountered the infamous ‘This content is not available for your package or region’ ESPN blackout message. It means the live game you’re trying to watch is currently blocked or, in other words, blacked out in your location.

To put it into perspective, there are two types of live sports broadcasts in the USA – local and national live streams. National broadcasts are available on services such as ESPN+ and FuboTV, but local games are often unavailable due to rights-holder agreements. For instance, those living in California and Colorado cannot watch Dodgers play against Rockies live online, only via local cable channels.

ESPN+ not working: this content is not available for your package or region

It doesn’t help matters that every major sporting event broadcast on ESPN has a slightly different approach to blackouts, which games are blacked out, and when you can stream them after. And there’s no one comprehensive ESPN blackout schedule or map that would show everything all at once. At best, you can search for ESPN’s blackout policy in your location regarding a specific sports event at a time.

You have two options if you’re dying to watch the most relevant matches live. The first is to travel to the stadiums and local arenas and root for your favorites from the stands. The other, less time and money-consuming alternative is subscribing to a reliable VPN to get around ESPN blackouts. It’s the most effective way to access all restricted content on ESPN+ with a single button press.

Get around ESPN+ blackout with NordVPN

NordVPN is the best choice to get access to blacked out games on ESPN Plus. With top-notch performance and robust restriction bypassing methods, you’ll be watching the matches live online in crisp 4K UHD quality.

9.8 /10
Best VPN for ESPN+
Fastest speeds in the industry
30-day money-back guarantee

Best VPNs to bypass ESPN+ blackouts

  1. NordVPN – the ultimate VPN for ESPN Plus in 2024
  2. Surfshark – reliable VPN to get around ESPN Plus blackout
  3. PrivateVPN – the budget way to bypass the blackout on ESPN+

Our team tested 30 premium sports streaming VPNs to find the ones that seamlessly bypass ESPN+ blackouts. The core aspects we considered beneficial to the streaming experience were the number of servers in the US, speed, streaming-oriented features, and pricing. Let’s take a closer look at our top recommendations.

1. NordVPN – the best VPN to unblock ESPN+ blackout games

9.6
Top VPN provider
Number of countries covered
Number of countries covered:
111
Number of servers
Number of servers:
6400
Support
Support:
24/7 live chat, Email
  • Large US server selection
  • SmartPlay for bypassing geo-blocks
  • Fastest speeds for smoothest streaming
  • Only 10 simultaneous connections

The best way to get around ESPN blackout is NordVPN. The service offers over 2000 servers across 16 US cities, netting you instant access to blacked out ESPN+ games. During testing, we had no issue streaming various sports games live, from Bruins and Dodgers to Buffalo Bills, New York Jets, and more.

Thanks to the NordLynx protocol, our connection speeds were excellent, retaining up to 90% of the initial speed. It led to a lag-free 4K UHD viewing experience on ESPN. The unique SmartPlay feature was also handy, helping us bypass geo-blocks on devices that don’t support VPN software natively, like Roku. And if you need extra assurance, you can use obfuscated servers to hide any VPN usage tracks for easier blackout bypassing.

NordVPN has applications for desktop, mobile, and streaming peripherals, such as Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, and Android TV. You can even install it on a router if you need more than 10 simultaneous connections.

Currently, you can get this reliable ESPN VPN for 72% off, if you don’t miss out the the latest NordVPN deals. You can also try it out with a 7-day free trial and continue risk-free backed up with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

For a deeper investigation of NordVPN, read our NordVPN review.

2. Surfshark – ESPN VPN with great geo-block bypassing capabilities

9.3
Top VPN provider
Number of countries covered
Number of countries covered:
100
Number of servers
Number of servers:
3200
Support
Support:
24/7 live chat, FAQ
  • Over 600 servers in the US
  • Smart DNS for content unblocking
  • Blazing fast due to WireGuard
  • Some features cost extra

Surfshark is another dependable VPN to easily bypass ESPN blackout on your streaming device. With around 600 speedy servers in 25 US cities alone, it effectively lets you unblock many restricted sports matches without a fuss. This provider is also suitable for those who want buffer-free live streaming, as it retained around 85% of the original connection speed when testing.

Another useful thing that Surfshark offers for streaming enthusiasts is Smart DNS. With it, you can bypass ESPN+ local blackouts on any device. Our experts also liked Camouflage and NoBorders modes. These mask VPN traffic as regular traffic, helping bypass VPN blocks – handy since ESPN+ does block VPNs.

You can bypass ESPN blackouts on an unlimited number of devices with just one Surfshark account. And like with all top streaming VPNs, this one works on PC, mobile, routers, and streaming gadgets.

Subscriptions start with a generous 83% discount, provided you take advantage of current Surfshark promo codes. If you don’t want to dive head first, just test the waters with a free 7-day trial through any mobile app store and continue anywhere. And remeber, all Surfshark plans come with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

For a deeper investigation of Surfshark VPN, read our Surfshark VPN review.

3. PrivateVPN – the most affordable ESPN+ streaming VPN

Number of countries covered
Number of countries covered:
63
Number of servers
Number of servers:
200
Support
Support:
24/7 live chat
  • Servers across 12 US cities
  • Stealth VPN feature
  • Stable OpenVPN protocol
  • Unaudited no-logs policy

PrivateVPN is one of the cheapest ways to get around a pesky ESPN blackout. Packing 200+ servers in over 63 countries, it offers connection points in 12 US cities, which are more than enough to access blacked out games. Also, this service includes cutting-edge WireGuard connections for Windows with reliable and stable OpenVPN tunneling protocol for everyone else, fully capable of HD streaming.

One ace up PrivateVPN’s sleeve is the Stealth VPN feature. It’s especially great at circumventing content restrictions, including a surprise ESPN blackout, at a tiny cost in your connection speed. But while there are apps for all major OS, including Android TV, Amazon Fire TV, and routers, this service doesn’t offer browser extensions. On the other hand, it makes up for it by offering 10 simultaneous connections for seamless VPN sharing.

PrivateVPN is the best choice for those who wish to bypass ESPN Plus blackout but on a tighter budget. Right now, you can save 85% on your first subscription if you don’t forget to check out the latest PrivateVPN discounts. Furthermore, the service has a 7-day free trial and a 30-day money-back guarantee, giving you plenty of room to test this service without losing any money.

For a deeper investigation of PrivateVPN, read our PrivateVPN review.

Comparison of the best vpn to watch ESPN Plus in your local area

💼 Provider
🌐 Provider’s website
www.nordvpn.comwww.surfshark.comwww.privatevpn.com
🌎 US servers2000 servers across 16 cities600 servers across 25 citiesServers in 12 cities
🍿 Gets around ESPN blackout✅ Yes✅ Yes✅ Yes
🖇️ Simult. connections10Unlimited10
📺 Smart DNS✅ SmartPlay✅ Smart DNS❌ No
🔒 Obfuscation✅ Obfuscated servers✅ Camouflage and NoBorders modes✅Stealth VPN
🖥️ Device supportWindows, Android, Linux, macOS, iOS, Apple TV, Android TV, Amazon Firestick, Roku, routers, browsersWindows, Android, Linux, macOS, iOS, Android TV, Amazon Firestick, routers, browsersWindows, Android, Linux, macOS, iOS, Android TV, Amazon Firestick, routers
🔎 Free trial
✅ Yes, 7-days✅ Yes, 7-days✅ Yes, 7-days
💵 Lowest price$3.39/month$2.19/month$2.00/month
🏷️ Best deal72% OFF83% OFF85% OFF

If you’re seeking the ultimate ESPN+ blackout workaround tool, NordVPN is your go-to solution. This service offers over 2000 servers across 16 US cities, so you get plenty of options to ignore ESPN blackout restrictions with just a few clicks. Plus, the NordLynx tunneling protocol guarantees smooth broadcasts even in 4K for you to catch every detail without any lag.

How can a VPN help to get around ESPN blackout?

ESPN+ is a region-locked service that checks every visitor’s IP address before letting them in. At first, it weeds out everyone who doesn’t have a US IP. Then, it checks what State you are in and automatically curates your stream selection by blacking out any games happening in your location.

NordVPN unblocked ESPN+ and got around blackout

A VPN helps bypass ESPN blackout restrictions by letting users connect to another US State where the local game they want to watch isn’t blacked out. All you have to do is select a server in the US state that broadcasts the game nationwide. It’s also handy if you’re traveling outside the country and don’t want to miss any games broadcasted on ESPN Plus.

The rest is fairly easy if you’re armed with a capable VPN for bypassing sports blackouts. However, you have to keep in mind that the process of unblocking such content on ESPN is slightly different, depending on what device you want to use.

How to get around ESPN & ESPN+ live blackouts on desktop

You can bypass ESPN blackout using a secure VPN with fast streaming servers, like NordVPN. Connect to a server in the country where your desired sports event is broadcasted, then visit the ESPN+ website to enjoy the live stream! Here’s a quick guide on using a VPN on your computer:

  1. Download an ESPN VPN compatible with Windows and macOS. Our top choice is NordVPN, with user-friendly applications for both systems.
    NordVPN deal for ESPN blackout workaround
  2. Install it on your PC and log into your account
  3. Clear all the cookies from your browser’s cache
  4. Connect to any US server that broadcasts the match nationwide
    NordVPN connected to US to watch ESPN+
  5. Go to ESPN+ and watch any blacked out game you want in your area!

Bypass blackouts with NordVPN

How to get around ESPN live blackouts on mobile

Things are a bit trickier for those who want to get around ESPN+ blackouts on phones. The platform forces mobile users to turn on GPS location tracking to further confirm their location. IP addresses differ from your GPS location, so VPN software cannot mask it.

In addition to a VPN, in this case, you also need a GPS spoofer app. But in order for it to work properly, you have to root your phone, which isn’t an option if you want to keep your phone’s warranty or are just not that tech-savvy.

But we found somewhat of a solution for that, too – Surfshark’s GPS spoofing feature. Given it’s available only for Android, it helped us bypass the ESPN blackout on mobiles that run on this OS. Here’s what you have to do:

  1. Get a robust mobile VPN, ideally with GPS spoofing feature. Surfshark worked the best in our tests
  2. Download your VPN from Google Play or the Apple App Store
  3. Pick a safe GPS spoofer for your smartphone (Android users can take Surfshark for both features)
  4. Follow instructions of your spoofer app (may involve jailbreaking or rooting)
  5. Launch your VPN application
  6. Connect to a server in the US state that bradcasts ESPN+ games
  7. Open the ESPN+ app or website to enjoy unlimited sports!

Still, during testing we saw that you’re more likely to access local blacked out games on ESPN on devices that don’t have GPS modules. Namely, these are computers and streaming peripherals, such as smart TVs, Chromecast, Roku, Apple TV, Android TV, etc. But since these don’t support VPN software natively, you’ll have to install the VPN on your router first.

VPN not working for ESPN plus: solutions

ESPN+ might not work with a VPN for a myriad of reasons. We found that it usually happens because of faulty VPN software – that is, using services that don’t work with this streaming platform. But if you switched to a tried & tested provider and still experience problems, here’s what you can do:

  • Change the server. ESPN+ blocks VPN traffic by blacklisting IP addresses associated with such software. It’s likely you landed on a blocked one. So, just connect to another server in the same State or a whole other region in the US.
  • Check for IP & DNS leaks. IP addresses and DNS requests contain data about your actual location. And if one or the other is leaking, you won’t be able to bypass local geo-blocks on ESPN. We recommend testing for leaks and ensuring your VPN’s security features are turned on.
  • Clear your browser cache. Cookies also store location data, which might make getting around restrictions nigh impossible. It’s good practice to clear out your browser’s cache before you try using a VPN to unblock anything in your area.
  • Disable the antivirus & firewall. These two might be flagging VPN traffic as malicious, making it harder for the VPN to establish a connection. We suggest whitelisting your VPN in the antivirus and firewall settings to check if that helps solve the issue.

Of course, keeping software up to date and rebooting your device after any major change is also a step in the right direction. We further advise getting in touch with your VPN’s customer support as the problem might be technical and need help from experts.

Can I use a free VPN to get around ESPN blackout?

While we understand the temptation, we don’t recommend using free VPNs to get around blackouts on ESPN+. First and foremost, most costless providers lack US servers, so there’s not much choice where to connect to unblock games. You won’t be able to do much if the VPN only has a few servers in the New York area.

Another crucial aspect of free VPNs is that they throttle connection speeds and facilitate spotty connections. You might just end up missing crucial moments of the match because it either lagged or your VPN got disconnected. Not to mention the fact that such providers collect user data and sell it to third parties for profit.

Our research has shown that you’ll have the best chance and experience at bypassing ESPN+ blackout by using premium VPNs. NordVPN had the most reliable track record, unblocking blacked out games every time. What’s more, you don’t actually have to pay for it right away. Combining the 7-day free trial with the 30-day money-back guarantee lets you use it scot-free for well over a month.

Try NordVPN today

Conclusion

ESPN+ is among the best streaming platforms, broadcasting a variety of popular sports leagues, such as MLB, NBA, MLS, and tons more. But subscribers don’t always get to watch everything available here due to blackouts. Unfortunately, if you want to cheer for your home team, you won’t be able to do so while watching the game online.

And yet, it is possible to bypass ESPN Plus blackout using a tried & tested streaming VPN. Our team tested various candidates and NordVPN performed the best, both in terms of unblocking blacked out games and in stream quality. Plus, it has a multitude of servers across the US, SmartPlay for easier geo-block circumvention, and obfuscation to better deal with VPN blocks.

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You may also like to read:
How to watch ESPN from anywhere
How to bypass NHL blackouts
How to watch out-of-market NFL games
How to watch NBA games online
How to bypass MLB blackouts
How to stream UFC games live


FAQ

Why can’t I watch games on ESPN+

ESPN+ blackout games due to broadcasting rights. When a sports league or team sells exclusive rights to a cable TV or streaming service like ESPN+, they enforce blackout rules to protect these deals. This means certain games or events are unavailable in specific regions to encourage viewership through authorized channels, preventing unauthorized streaming or viewing.

Why does ESPN+ blackout games?

ESPN+ blackout games when the platform lacks broadcasting rights for a sports event in your region. If you encounter blackout messaging, it means the specific match isn’t available on ESPN+ in your region. However, you can avoid it using a robust VPN, like NordVPN, and changing your virtual location.

Why is ESPN blacked out in my area?

ESPN is blacking out games in your area because it doesn’t have the broadcasting rights to a specific sports league or match. ESPN+ detects your geographic location via your IP address, so if you see the message “This content is subject to blackout”, the event you’re requesting is not available in your area. So, be sure to check your local sports networks to find the television network carrying the event. If you don’t use cable, you can bypass these blackouts and stream any game with such reputable VPNs as NordVPN.

How to watch blackout games on ESPN+?

You can easily get around ESPN blackout by using a streaming-focused VPN, such as NordVPN. Just connect to a server in the US state that broadcasts your wanted sports match and simply head over to the ESPN+ website to watch it hassle-free.

Why can't I watch MLB on ESPN+?

If you can’t access a specific MLB game on ESPN+, a regional MLB blackout may be in place. Due to broadcasting rights, nearby games are only available on your local sports channels. To bypass MLB blackouts on ESPN, you have to use a VPN and change your location by connecting to a server in other state.

Which VPN is best for ESPN blackout?

NordVPN is the best VPN to get rid of ESPN blackout restrictions. It’s affordable, easy to use, and guarantees top-tier performance on all 2000+ servers across 16 US locations. Furthermore, it’s compatible with desktop, mobile, and dedicated streaming devices so you can enjoy unlimited ESPN anywhere.

Can ESPN+ detect and blacklist your VPN?

Yes, if ESPN+ detects multiple users with the same IP addresses associated with VPNs, it promptly blocks them. It’s also rumored that ESPN+ employs a VPN firewall to prevent encrypted traffic. However, best ESPN VPNs bypass it using obfuscation tools, disguising VPN connections as regular HTTPS traffic.

How to bypass ESPN blackout on Roku?

To bypass ESPN blackouts on Roku, you’ll have to switch your virtual location with reliable sports streaming VPNs. Since Roku doesn’t support them directly, install the VPN on your router, connect to a server in the state where the broadcast is available, and enjoy sports with no ESPN blackout restrictions.

Why is ESPN blacked out on DirecTV?

DirecTV blacks out some sports events on ESPN due to broadcasting rights held by local channels. As such, DirecTV makes local games unavailable on ESPN in their respective regions. Luckily, you can bypass the blackouts on DirecTV by connecting to a server in a different state using top VPNs, like NordVPN.

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