Watched by over 90 million American households, ESPN is one of the most popular sports networks in the world by far. And that should come as no surprise given just how much content it offers its viewers. It’s no surprise that majority of people are interested in how to watch ESPN online.
ESPN is best known for its live sports broadcasts, keeping fans up to date with all the latest games and matches in the world of American athletics. The channel covers football (NFL), basketball (NBA), baseball (MLB), hockey (NHL), and even less popular sports like curling and mixed martial arts. But that’s not all—ESPN programming also includes dozens of sports talk and documentary shows.
You’ll find multiple recaps, college sports highlights, sports debates and more on their daily schedule. Plus, alongside the main ESPN channel, there are even more side channels to watch. ESPN Classic, for example, airs archived sports footage from the last few decades, while ESPNews focuses entirely on sports updates and press conferences. There’s even a channel solely for college athletics—ESPNU.
With all that content available, it’s no surprise that fans of US sports across the world want to watch ESPN. However, while ESPN does have an online platform where you can watch live and on-demand content (WatchESPN), you may have noticed that you can’t access it from any country other than the US.
Why can’t you access ESPN internationally?
If you’ve tried to access WatchESPN before, you’ve probably noticed that it’s blocked in your country. Whenever you try to access live ESPN content, you’ll just be redirected to another page. This is because of a measure called geo-blocking.
Geo-blocking is a way for websites to restrict access to users in a specific location. In the case of ESPN, it’s used to stop people outside the US from watching their channels online. There are many reasons why TV networks geo-block their content, from licensing restrictions to advertising issues.
Thankfully, even though WatchESPN is geo-blocked, you can still watch it online with a little extra work. To solve the problem of how to watch ESPN outside the US, there are two steps you’ll need to follow – the first is to sign up for a VPN.
What is a VPN and how does it help?
A VPN is a service that helps you get around geo-blocking measures (and protects your privacy in the process). When you use a VPN, your internet traffic will be rerouted through a server in another country. In the case of ESPN, you’ll need to use your VPN to connect to a US server. This will give you a US IP address, making it impossible for the ESPN website (or any other website) to tell that yyou’re not located in the US.
These days, as watching foreign content becomes more and more popular, there are hundreds of VPN providers on the market. Of course, not every VPN will be up to the task of streaming ESPN content. In particular, there are three main features you need to look out for:
- US Servers:
Since ESPN is geo-blocked in every country except the US, you’ll need to connect to a VPN server in the US. Luckily, the majority of standard VPN providers have plenty of US servers.
- High Connection Speeds:
When you’re watching a game, the last thing you want is for your stream to freeze up right before a big win. Choosing a VPN with great connection speeds will help you avoid buffering and lag so that you can enjoy matches in real-time without interruption
- Unlimited Bandwidth:
If you can’t get enough of US sports, make sure you choose a VPN with unlimited bandwidth. Bandwidth determines how much content you can watch each payment cycle; if it’s not unlimited, you might not be able to catch all the games and shows you’re interested in.
If privacy is important to you too, don’t forget to choose a VPN with good encryption and features like a no-logs policy (which means the VPN doesn’t track your online sessions) and a kill switch (which stops your traffic leaking if your VPN connection drops).
Which VPN is best for ESPN?
If you need help choosing the right VPN for watching sports on ESPN, we’ve put together a list of some of the top options.
What makes ExpressVPN so great for streaming ESPN online is the platform’s superfast speeds, perfect for high definition viewing. When you watch your favorite sports in HD with the speedy ExpressVPN servers, you’ll feel like you’re right there in the court or arena. This provider has over 20 servers available in the US, along with no logs and a kill switch to protect your privacy.
Another great, high-speed option is IPVanish. This VPN also boasts fast connectivity, made possible by the fact that they own their own servers (unlike some smaller VPN services which rent and share servers with competitors). With over 300 US servers, you’ll have no problem getting connected and watching all the ESPN content you want.
If privacy is one of your top concerns, try NordVPN. Alongside all the usual security features, their Double VPN feature routes your traffic through not one, but two servers to protect you even further. On top of that, they have 1,800+ US servers on their network, which are optimized for ultra-fast video streaming.
Check our NordVPN test results
What’s the next step?
After you’ve completed the first step in discovering how to watch ESPN online (signing up to a VPN provider), the second and final step is to register with an ESPN provider.
Once you have a VPN running on your device, you’ll be able to access the WatchESPN website—but you’ll also notice there’s a second block in place. This one stops you from watching ESPN unless you’re signed up to one of their partner providers. While most of these providers are American cable companies that only US residents can register with, don’t fret.
There are five main options you can sign up to internationally:
- DirecTV Now
- Sling Television
- Youtube TV
These are paid services ranging from under $10 a month to over $40 a month. The one you choose will depend on your budget and which other channels you’re interested in watching.
Once you’ve made your choice, signing up is simple. First, make sure you activate your VPN and set it to a US server, as some of these providers may geo-block their signup page. Once your VPN is online, head to the registration page, enter your details and pay.
Most international credit and debit cards work fine. However, if you’re having trouble, you can also pay with PayPal. If your chosen provider requires a US address, you can often get one for free. Just search ‘virtual US address’ online. These services are usually used for package forwarding, but they work for website registrations too.
As soon as you’ve signed up and paid, just head back to the WatchESPN website, log in with your new service provider, and you’ll be able to watch all the sports games and talk shows you want.
All in all, the process is simple. Just choose a VPN service and sign up for an ESPN provider – two easy steps are all you need to enjoy football, soccer, basketball, tennis, wrestling and more to your heart’s content. Better still, you can share the sports goodness with all your friends and family by signing in to your VPN on your Apple TV or Fire TV Stick and streaming the content to your TV (make sure your VPN provider has a compatible app before you register).