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With the advent of online streaming, there’s no need to get a cable subscription to access popular sports channels, such as ESPN. Instead, you can subscribe to an online streaming service that offers various TV channels.
Unfortunately, these streaming platforms are still plagued by some frustrating issues, namely, geographical restrictions. If you’re outside the USA, you’ll have difficulty watching a majority of sporting events. And even when you’re in America, there’s a chance you’ll be struck by local blackouts.
Thankfully, a VPN (Virtual Private Network) can curb these issues effortlessly. It redirects your connection through a server in a different location, thus tricking online services into thinking you’re someplace else. Of course, ESPN isn’t blind to this and frequently blocks VPN services. That’s why only a few providers work reliably for this purpose. Luckily, we did all the grunt work of finding out which VPNs work best at streaming ESPN from anywhere.
How to watch ESPN with a VPN – quick guide
Watching your favorite American athletes compete requires a simple three-step process:
- Subscribe to a VPN with plenty of servers in the US. Our top choice is NordVPN, currently available for 68% off!
- Install the VPN on your device and connect to a server in the US
- Tune into ESPN and enjoy top-notch sports!
Why do you need a VPN to watch ESPN in 2022?
The main culprit for ESPN’s exclusivity in the US is geographical restrictions. Broadcasters typically have arrangements that only permit them to show sports matches in specific locations. Naturally, TV broadcasters can ensure this compliance quite easily through cable providers. Meanwhile, online streaming platforms have to block IP addresses outside the US from accessing their service.
Luckily, a VPN for ESPN can grant you access to an IP address in the US, allowing you to circumvent these restrictions. Unsurprisingly, some of these addresses get blocked, but high-quality VPN services quickly renew them. Furthermore, you need to choose from the fastest VPN providers because a virtual private network connection inevitably reduces your internet speed.
A VPN grants additional benefits besides geo-unblocking. For example, ISPs (Internet Service Providers) are notorious for throttling your connection if you’re using up a lot of bandwidth while streaming. However, by enabling a VPN, your web traffic is masked with military-grade encryption, hiding your activities from your ISP and preventing interference.
Best VPNs for ESPN: overview
As mentioned before, not every VPN service will work with ESPN. It needs to fulfill specific requirements to combat geo-blocking effectively and grant a pleasant streaming experience. In particular, it requires:
- An extensive server network
- Fast VPN tunneling protocols
- A reasonable VPN price
- Reliable geo-unblocking capabilities
- Extensive device compatibility
- WebRTC, DNS, and IP leak protection
Of course, if you want to use a VPN besides watching ESPN, there are other features that you will need. Below we’ll cover the main features of the top three ESPN VPN services.
1. NordVPN – the best VPN for streaming ESPN
24/7 live chat, Email
- Excellent security
- Flawless privacy practices
- Fastest speeds
- Great server list (5200+ servers in 60 countries)
- Custom apps for Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, and more
- Great app design and website
- 24/7 live chat and good knowledge-base
- Fair price
- Awesome for Netflix
- Good for torrenting
- Great for China and other restricted countries
- No router app
The ultimate tool to get around ESPN geographical restrictions is NordVPN. It has a vast server fleet, wicked-fast tunneling protocols, and is compatible with various devices.
First off, NordVPN is equipped with 5200+ servers in 60+ countries. Some of these servers are using RAM-only technology to avoid storing data on hard drives. Furthermore, exceptional connectivity is ensured with the proprietary NordLynx tunneling protocol.
Besides ESPN, NordVPN is frequently used to unlock bonus content on Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime Video, and more. Plus, the SmartPlay feature allows you to circumvent geo-restrictions on practically any device. Otherwise, you can use the dedicated apps for Android TV, Amazon Fire TV Stick, and Kodi.
NordVPN can also guarantee private browsing, thanks to its jurisdiction in Panama. Additionally, it went through multiple independent audits of its zero-logs policy. Lastly, privacy enthusiasts can minimize personal information sharing by purchasing the VPN anonymously using cryptocurrencies.
One NordVPN account enables you to secure six different devices simultaneously. If you need more, it’s possible to set up a router with a VPN connection. Then all devices on that network will gain the benefits of a virtual private network.
You can test out NordVPN completely risk-free by grabbing the 7-day free trial on the Google Play Store. You’ll need an Android device to claim this offer, but there are no other restrictions. After that, subscription prices start at $3.71/month and are protected with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
For a deeper investigation of NordVPN, read our NordVPN review.
2. Surfshark – ESPN VPN with unlimited connections
24/7 live chat, FAQ
- Strong encryption
- Excellent performance
- Unlimited simultaneous connections
- Almost zero logs
- 24/7 live chat
- Unlocks Netflix and other platforms
- Great for torrenting
- 30-day money-back guarantee
- Supports plenty of platforms and devices
- No-logs policy hasn't been audited
Surfshark is the ideal option if you want a VPN for your entire family. It enables unlimited connections, excellent streaming performance, and top-notch security.
For starters, Surfshark uses 3200+ servers in 65+ countries. Additionally, it’s one of the VPN services that offer a 100% RAM-only server fleet. Besides that, customers can alternate between WireGuard and IKEv2 tunneling protocols.
In addition to ESPN, Surfshark is perfect for unblocking more shows on HBO Max, Disney+, Hulu + Live TV, and countless other streaming platforms. Moreover, you can utilize the geo-unlocking abilities of this VPN by using the Smart DNS feature. For example, you can enable this feature on gaming consoles and various smart TVs.
Surfshark customers can enjoy confidentiality because of its jurisdiction in the Netherlands. Furthermore, it went through multiple third-party audits to ensure that data was kept secure. Best of all, you can purchase a subscription anonymously by utilizing cryptocurrencies.
A stand-out feature of this VPN service is the Surfshark One package. It adds bonus features that very few VPN providers offer. For example, you’ll be graced with protection against viruses, a private search engine, and data breach monitoring.
You can test the waters with Surfshark by claiming the 7-day free trial on either the Apple App Store or Google Play Store. It doesn’t include Surfshark One, but there are no other restrictions. Alternatively, pricing starts at $2.21/month and is insured with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
For a deeper investigation of Surfshark VPN, read our Surfshark VPN review.
3. Atlas VPN – the cheapest VPN for ESPN
Email, tickets, FAQ
- Good security
- 24/7 email support
- Unblocks Netflix US
- Allows torrenting
- WireGuard tunneling protocol
- Few countries
- Apps lack features
If you’re looking for the best possible savings, consider Atlas VPN. It’s exceptionally cheap, permits limitless connections, and is optimized for streaming.
Firstly, Atlas VPN runs a network of 700+ servers in 27+ countries. Furthermore, users can choose from WireGuard and IKEv2 tunneling protocols to conduct VPN connections.
If you’re ever tired of ESPN, you can use Atlas VPN to access more movies on BBC iPlayer, Netflix, YouTube TV, and much more. Additionally, the VPN is compatible with Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS devices.
In terms of security, Atlas VPN offers a fair number of reliable features. For example, you can use SafeSwap to access the web from multiple IP addresses, improving privacy significantly. Secondly, the VPN blocks web trackers and domains that are used to distribute malicious ads and malware. Moreover, Android users can enable split tunneling and choose which apps should go through the encrypted VPN tunnel.
If you’re unsure about Atlas VPN, you can try it out by using its free plan. It limits server selection and comes with a 10GB/month data cap. Otherwise, premium pricing starts at $1.39/month and is shielded with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
For a deeper investigation of Atlas VPN, read our Atlas VPN review.
Best streaming services to watch ESPN
If you’re interested in ESPN’s primary content, your best bet is the official ESPN Player. It offers over 10,000 matches live sports events every year, plus various original films and documentaries.
Furthermore, there’s the ESPN+ add-on that carries extra content that’s unavailable on the ESPN Player. It provides a wide range of sports matches, including combat sports (UFC), rugby, soccer, tennis, golf, cricket, and even college sports.
Alternatively, various third-party streaming services bundle the ESPN channel with other channels you may be interested in. Such platforms include:
- Fubo TV
- Sling TV (Sling Orange)
- Hulu + Live TV
- YouTube TV
The main issue is that all of these options are only available in the US. Therefore, it’s no use considering them before getting a VPN for the US. But once you’ve picked your sport-unblocking combo, it’s time to set everything up on your preferred home theater.
How to watch ESPN on your device
Watching ESPN with a VPN on a particular device can be pretty tricky if you’re not familiar with the setup process. That’s why we’ll provide a few general guidelines on getting everything up and running on the most popular devices.
How to watch ESPN on PC (Windows and Mac)
- Choose a reliable VPN provider. We recommend NordVPN, the #1 VPN for streaming
- Install the VPN software and connect to a server in the US
- Subscribe to a streaming service with ESPN available
- Launch the streaming service and watch ESPN from anywhere!
How to watch ESPN on mobile devices (Android and iOS)
Unsurprisingly, Android and iOS mobile devices are popular because of their ease of use and portability. And with a VPN that can easily spoof your location, you’ll have no trouble watching ESPN on the go.
- Pick a worthwhile VPN service. Our top choice for mobile devices is NordVPN
- Download the VPN app and connect to a server in the United States
- Visit the Apple App Store or Google Play Store and search for your streaming services official app
- Install the streaming app and watch any US-exclusive sporting event!
How to watch on smart TVs
Although smart TVs usually support popular TV channels, they aren’t compatible with VPN software. As such, you need to set up a router with a VPN connection and then connect your smart TV to that network. Then you’ll be able to circumvent geographical restrictions without needing a VPN on your TV.
- Subscribe to a VPN that’s manually configurable on routers. Our go-to option is NordVPN
- Set up a US VPN connection on your home router
- Connect your smart TV to the VPN-secured router network
- Tune into any US-exclusive channel, including ESPN!
How to watch ESPN on streaming devices
If you’re using a regular TV, you’re likely connecting an external device to access various streams. Typically these devices support additional third-party apps as well, such as a VPN.
How to watch ESPN on Amazon Fire Stick
The Amazon Fire TV Stick is a small device that connects to the HDMI port of any screen and turns it into a fully functioning smart TV. Best of all, it supports VPN software natively.
- Pick a VPN that has a dedicated FireOS app. Our favorite choice is NordVPN
- Connect the Fire Stick to any compatible TV
- Search for the VPN app of your choice
- Startup the app and connect to any server in the USA
- Install the app for your chosen streaming service
- Tune into ESPN from anywhere in the world!
How to watch ESPN on Kodi
Kodi is an open-source software suite that’s compatible with a wide variety of TVs and other devices. It’s used to facilitate third-party software, such as a VPN, and browse through freely-available channels.
- Subscribe to a VPN that has a Kodi app. We recommend NordVPN
- Download the VPN, install it, and connect to the United States
- Browse for the ESPN channel
- Watch US-exclusive sports matches anywhere!
How to watch ESPN on Roku
Unfortunately, Roku devices do not support VPN software natively. Therefore, you’ll need to connect it to a router network that’s set up with a VPN connection. Alternatively, you can also install Kodi on Roku and use a VPN through it.
- Reset your Roku
- Set up your router with a VPN server in the US. We recommend using NordVPN
- Connect your Roku to the router network
- Search for the ESPN channel and watch anything you desire!
How to watch ESPN on Apple TV
Sadly, Apple TV is also incompatible with VPNs and requires a connection to a manually configured router. Otherwise, you can also facilitate a VPN through it by installing Kodi on Apple TV.
- Choose a VPN that’s configurable on routers. Our top recommendation is NordVPN
- Set up the VPN on your home router with a server in the US
- Connect your Apple TV to the router network
- Search for ESPN on the App Store
- Install the app and enjoy US-exclusive matches!
How to watch ESPN from anywhere
If you’re not in the US, you can’t watch ESPN – it’s as simple as that. Luckily, a VPN will circumvent geographical restrictions regardless of your country of origin. All you need to do is choose a service that has plenty of US server choices. And if you intend on using the VPN for other purposes as well, it’s best to pick a provider that’s versatile and suitable for your country.
How to watch ESPN in Europe
Europe is probably the most significant ESPN fanbase outside the US. And luckily for them, they can access the US-exclusive network by using a VPN that’s equipped with servers in America. And once you have a VPN at your disposal, you’ll need to create an ESPN account with a US-based address. Alternatively, you can subscribe to any streaming service that doesn’t require such details and has the ESPN channel available.
How to watch ESPN in Canada
Sadly, USA-neighboring Canada doesn’t get access to ESPN either. Die-hard fans will have to use a VPN for Canada that also has access to servers in the US. Then they can create an account for ESPN or subscribe to a third-party service that has access to the ESPN channel.
How to watch ESPN in Australia
If you’re an Australian resident, you can access ESPN via the Foxtel TV Sports HD Pack. But if you’re a cord-cutter, you’ll need a VPN with US servers and a streaming service with ESPN. Then you’ll be able to access the best ESPN has to offer from anywhere!
How to watch ESPN in the UK
UK citizens will need the assistance of a UK VPN if they are to watch ESPN from their home country. All that’s needed is a US connection, a streaming service with ESPN, and any device that can run both.
Can’t access ESPN with a VPN?
As mentioned earlier, ESPN isn’t too fond of VPN services circumventing geographical restrictions of their streaming platforms. Typically, they block IP addresses that are associated with VPN providers. If you’re having trouble accessing ESPN with a VPN, try some of these solutions:
- Connect to a different US server. Either that particular server is banned, or that region is experiencing a blackout.
- Clear your browser cache and cookies. Some web trackers and cookies could be exposing your actual location.
- Check for DNS and IP leaks. If a VPN is leaking your IP address, it can’t circumvent geo-blocking effectively.
- Switch tunneling protocols. Some VPN providers have alternative tunneling protocols that are meant to hide VPN traffic.
If all else fails, contact the customer support of your VPN provider. They’ll guide you through everything that needs to be done.
Can I watch ESPN for free?
The chances of watching ESPN for free are practically zero. For starters, most free VPN services aren’t stellar at unblocking geographical restrictions. Secondly, they are riddled with countless other issues that make them unbearable, such as:
- Abysmal connection speeds
- Monthly data caps
- Tiny server fleets
- Outdated security features and vulnerabilities
- Potential data logging and selling
A much safer alternative is to utilize a VPN with a free trial. These services don’t hold anything back and let you try out all available features. After that, there’s also a 30-day money-back guarantee to further test everything out.
What’s available on ESPN
ESPN is known as the go-to channel for all types of sports, including football, NBA, boxing, MMA, F1, cricket, and much more. Currently, fans should be especially excited to watch the NFL conference championship. Alternatively, you can also stay up to date with the Australian Open in Melbourne.
Overall, ESPN has you covered no matter what your cup of tea is.
You’ll need two things to watch ESPN outside the United States – a VPN and a streaming service. Most importantly, the virtual private network needs servers in the US, and the streaming platform should have ESPN in its channel catalog. Then you’ll be able to watch ESPN without cable from anywhere in the world!
What do you think is the best VPN for watching ESPN? Share your findings by leaving a comment!
Can I use a free VPN to watch ESPN?
No, a free VPN won’t be able to unlock ESPN. These services get their IP addresses blocked pretty quickly due to overuse.
Is it legal to use a VPN with ESPN?
What streaming services have ESPN available?
You can watch ESPN content by subscribing to Fubo TV, Sling TV (Orange), Hulu + Live TV, YouTube TV, or ESPN+.
Ethan is a security researcher and digital privacy advocate. He spends his time unraveling various anonymity and security tools, plus contributing to open-source projects. Otherwise, he keeps a low profile by hiking or cycling around the countryside.