ESPN is the go-to streaming service for many sports fans, covering such sporting events as NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL, and plenty more. However, if you live outside the US or just briefly staying abroad, you’re likely missing out on some important games. The thrill & excitement of an intense, high stakes game lost – all because ESPN is geo-blocked.
However, a reliable and tested VPN can curb these issues. Even ESPN blackouts and ISP bandwidth throttling won’t bother you any more. This software redirects your internet traffic through a server in the US, making it appear as if you’re actually there. And once ESPN detects that you’re in the right place, it lets you in on all the fun.
But remember – ESPN is especially good at detecting and blocking VPN traffic. Not any run-of-the-mill service can bypass the strict restrictions and remain undetected. As such, we tested numerous providers and came up with the list of the best ESPN VPNs that actually work with ESPN and can unblock it effortlessly.
How to watch ESPN with a VPN: quick guide
Best VPNs for streaming ESPN online: shortlist
- The best VPN for ESPN9.6
- ESPN VPN with top-notch security9.3
- Fast & affordable VPN for ESPN9.1
- Well-equipped ESPN VPN8.9
- VPN for ESPN with streaming servers8.5
Why do you need a VPN to watch ESPN in 2023?
ESPN is only available in the US due to broadcasting and licensing agreements. Anyone finding themselves outside the country (even for vacation or business reasons) won’t be able to access this service. It checks your IP address before letting you in, and if it’s not the correct one, say goodbye to streaming live matches.
Another issue with ESPN is the regional blackouts. Many US citizens cannot stream every game they want on ESPN as they too are subject to geographical restrictions. So, someone residing in California isn’t able to watch a Los Angeles Kings game because only local broadcasters of that particular State have the right to show a specific match.
Thankfully, a robust sports streaming VPN can circumvent these issues. You’re granted a US IP by connecting to a VPN server located in this country, bypassing the blocks imposed by ESPN. And picking servers in different States helps with the pesky blackouts. This way, you’ll be enjoying unrestricted access to any sporting event you’re a fan of.
Adding to that, this solution lets you say goodbye to ISP bandwidth throttling. If you’re engaging in bandwidth-hungry activities like streaming, your Internet Provider can and will slow down your internet. It often leads to constant buffering and potato quality videos whenever you’re trying to watch anything. But a VPN puts a stop to that by encrypting your internet traffic – the ISP can’t restrict something they can’t see.
Best VPNs for ESPN: overview
- NordVPN – the top VPN to unblock ESPN
- Surfshark – speedy ESPN VPN to bypass blackouts
- Atlas VPN – the cheapest way to watch ESPN
- ExpressVPN – performance-focused VPN for ESPN
- CyberGhost – ESPN VPN with specialized servers
Our team tested 29 premium VPNs to find the ones that work with ESPN. We specifically focused on geo-block bypassing capabilities, speed, US server selection, extensive device compatibility, and robust protection measures. The result is a list of providers that reliably unblock ESPN and regional matches without slowing down your internet.
1. NordVPN – the best VPN for streaming ESPN
24/7 live chat, Email
- Exceptionally fast with NordLynx
- Expansive US server fleet
- SmartPlay for easier streaming
- Only six simultaneous connections
The ultimate tool to get around ESPN geo-blocks is NordVPN. It has 2000+ servers in the US alone, with the option to pick one by city. And the speeds are some of the fastest in the industry, too, thanks to the proprietary NordLynx protocol. We got instant access to ESPN and the videos didn’t buffer or lag.
Furthermore, NordVPN offers a great feature toolkit. Obfuscated servers hide VPN usage tracks, letting you bypass VPN blocks, while SmartPlay combines VPN encryption with Smart DNS technology for circumventing geo-blocks on practically every device you own. Best of all, this service has apps for Android TV, Amazon Fire TV, and Kodi.
You can test NordVPN before committing 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, subscriptions come with a 68% discount 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
- Infinite connections
- Smart DNS for geo-block bypassing
- Cutting-edge security measures
- Some features cost extra
Another great ESPN VPN is Surfshark. Out of the massive fleet of 3200+ servers in 100+ countries, there’s around 600+ city-level US servers to choose from. Stable connectivity is a guarantee no matter which one you pick, due to the speedy WireGuard protocol. It, combined with Software Defined Networking (SDN), ensures encrypted traffic is routed via the fastest path, resulting in better internet speed.
ESPN or any other VPN-unfriendly service won’t be able to detect that you’re using Surfshark due to Camouflage and NoBorders modes. You can even fake your location on mobile with the GPS spoofing feature available for Android. Finally, Smart DNS technology reliably helps circumvent geographical restrictions, no matter which device you’re using to stream ESPN.
Test the waters with Surfshark by claiming the 7-day free trial on either the Apple App Store or Google Play Store. Alternatively, you can subscribe right away with 83% off, insured with a 30-day money-back guarantee. Plus, all plans come with unlimited simultaneous connections, letting the whole household enjoy what they want at the same time.
For a deeper investigation of Surfshark VPN, read our Surfshark VPN review.
3. Atlas VPN – the cheapest VPN for ESPN
Email, tickets, FAQ
- WireGuard-fuelled speeds
- No device limit
- Dedicated streaming servers
- No router support
The most affordable way to watch ESPN is with Atlas VPN. Connect to any server of the 7 US cities and you’ll be tuning into NFL, NBA, and MLB in no time. Moreover, the service lets you pick from streaming-optimized servers for a better viewing experience. Together with WireGuard they maintain commendable speeds, resulting in stutter-free videos.
Atlas VPN offers a fair number of reliable features. Android users can enable split tunneling and choose which app traffic goes through the encrypted tunnel, and which don’t. And SafeBrowse takes care of pesky advertising that ruins not only videos, but browsing in general. However, while the service is compatible with Android TV and Amazon Fire TV, there’s no option to install it on your router.
Although Atlas VPN has a free version, it doesn’t support streaming and has a very limited server selection. As such, going premium is the better option, especially when there are up to 85% discounts. And you don’t have to stick with the subscription if you don’t like it, not with the 30-day money-back guarantee. Just don’t forget to check the available coupons.
For a deeper investigation of Atlas VPN, read our Atlas VPN review.
4. ExpressVPN – ESPN VPN with great connectivity
24/7 live chat, email
- Servers in various US cities
- Great at bypassing restrictions
- Lightway for superb speeds
ExpressVPN is a suitable VPN for ESPN with optimal performance. The fleet spanning 94+ countries includes 15 city-level locations across the US, more than enough for accessing exclusive content. Just pick the in-house Lightway tunneling protocol first, and you’ll be streaming the latest NBA matches in HD quality.
The built-in Stealth VPN technology instantly bypasses any ESPN attempts to block VPN traffic. You can even encrypt specific apps only with the functional split tunneling feature. All ExpressVPN subscriptions also come with the MediaStreamer option for quicker geographical restriction circumvention.
While not as cheap as NordVPN or Surfshark, ExpressVPN comes with a reasonable 49% discount. And you can potentially lower the price further by trying various codes and coupons. Unsure about commiting? No need to be wary when there’s a 30-day money-back guarantee to back you up.
For a deeper investigation of ExpressVPN, read our ExpressVPN review.
5. CyberGhost VPN – secure VPN to watch ESPN from anywhere
24/7 live chat
- Large US server list
- Great WireGuard implementation
- Independently-audited no-logs policy
- macOS and iOS have fewer features
Access to ESPN is also guaranteed with CyberGhost. And it shouldn’t be surprising when 1500 US servers across 11 cities are yours for the taking. Just as with Atlas VPN, this provider offers the WireGuard protocol and dedicated streaming servers for easier geo-block bypassing. And like the competition, it facilitates sublime video quality with zero buffering.
With CyberGhost, you get split tunneling for optimizing encrypted traffic. You can even customize how the VPN behaves in certain situations with Smart Rules. Then there’s Content Blocker for all your ad-blocking needs, accompanied by ID Guard Monitoring and a Security Suite.
CyberGhost is another affordable provider that you can pay 84% less for. Trying discount codes is also recommended for getting a better deal. Other than that, subscribing is risk-free, thanks to the lengthy 45-day money-back guarantee.
For a deeper investigation of CyberGhost, read our CyberGhost review.
Best ESPN VPNs compared
|Providers||NordVPN||Surfshark VPN||Atlas VPN||ExpressVPN||CyberGhost|
|US servers||2000 servers across 16 cities||600 servers across 25 cities||Servers in 7 cities||Servers in 15 cities||1500 servers across 11 cities|
|Speed||648 Mbps||614 Mbps||N/A||248 Mbps||0 Mbps|
|Obfuscation||Obfuscated servers||Camouflage and NoBorders modes||No||Built-in StealthVPN||No|
|Split tunneling||Yes (Windows, Android, Android TV)||Yes (Windows, Android)||Yes (Android)||Yes (Windows, macOS, Android, routers)||Yes (Windows, Android)|
|Device support||Windows, Android, Linux, macOS, iOS, Android TV, Amazon Firestick, Roku, routers||Windows, Android, Linux, macOS, iOS, Android TV, Amazon Firestick, routers||Windows, Android, Linux, macOS, iOS, Android TV, Amazon Firestick||Windows, Android, Linux, macOS, iOS, Android TV, Amazon Firestick, Roku, routers||Windows, Android, Linux, macOS, iOS, Android TV, Amazon Firestick, routers|
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 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:
|Streaming service||ESPN channels||Price||Free trial|
|Hulu + Live TV||ESPN, ESPN+, ESPN2, ESPN3, ESPNU, ESPNews, ACC Network, SEC Network||$69.99/month||No|
|Sling TV Orange plan||ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN3||$40.00/month||No|
|DIRECTV STREAM||ESPN, ESPN2||$74.99/month||5-day|
|YouTube TV||ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, ESPNews||$72.99/month||21-day|
|fuboTV||ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN3, ACC Network, SEC Network||$74.99/month||7-day|
|Vidgo||ESPN, ESPN Deportes, ESPNU, ESPN2, ESPN3||$69.99/month||No|
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 and mobile
- Choose a reliable VPN provider. We recommend NordVPN, the #1 VPN for streaming
- Download the software from the provider’s website or the app store and install it
- Pick a suitable server located in the US
- Subscribe to a streaming service that includes ESPN
- Launch the service and tune into the latest sports events from anywhere!
How to watch ESPN 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
- Stresm 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. These include Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Roku, and various other streaming peripherals. Typically these devices also don’t support additional third-party apps as well, such as a VPN.
- Sign up for a router-compatible VPN. NordVPN is easy to install on all kinds of routers
- Install the VPN client on your router
- Connect to a server in the United States
- Reboot your streaming peripheral and connect it to the newly-secured network
- Download any preferred streaming service app with ESPN on it
- Enjoy live sporting event streams!
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 servers. 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. It’s very likely that you got an IP address already blacklisted by the service.
- 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 or DNS requests, it can’t circumvent geo-blocking effectively.
- Enable VPN masking. Stealth VPN technology and obfuscated servers hide the fact that you’re using a VPN, letting you bypass VPN blocks.
- Disable GPS tracking. This mainly concerns mobile users – disable GPS tracking via the Settings as it may be clashing with your newly-acquired US IP address.
- Reinstall TAP drivers. If you tried installing several VPN services on your router, the TAP drivers probably got corrupted in the process and are not interfering with the VPN connection. Install them anew.
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?
There’s no way to watch ESPN for free long-term. At most, you can get a few days of free streaming by getting trials of services that include ESPN in their roster. Currently, there’s:
- DIRECTV STREAM – 5-day free trial
- YouTube TV – 21-day free trial
- fuboTV – 7-day free trial
And getting a free US VPN isn’t an option either as most limit bandwidth severely and don’t support streaming altogether. Moreover, most costless providers don’t bother to refresh their IP pool, so even if you manage to find one that is fairly decent, all its servers are likely already blacklisted by ESPN.
While you’ll have to pay to stream ESPN if you want constant access to games, you don’t have to pay for a VPN service just yet. Many reputable providers offer free trials and money-back guarantees – combining them lets you unblock ESPN without paying a dime for over a month, in most cases. And once the testing period ends, you can get another with a different VPN.
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, NBA, UFC, and Premier League.
Overall, ESPN has you covered no matter what your cup of tea is.
|Basketball||NBA, WNBA, The Basketball Tournament, NCAA|
|Soccer||Bundesliga, La Liga, Premier League, Champions League, MLS|
|Baseball||MLB, Northwoods League, NCAA Baseball|
|Tennis||Australian Open, Wimbledon, US Open|
|Golf||PGA Tour, The Masters, PGA Championship|
|Fighting||UFC, Top Rank, PFL, WWE|
|Motor sports||F1, F2, F3, SRX|
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!
Our testing has shown that NordVPN is the best VPN to unblock ESPN. It reliably got us access to ESPN and even helped bypass local blackouts. Furthermore, the streams were in crisp 4K UHD quality with no lagging to ruin the viewing experience.
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. However, not every premium provider is able to gain access to this US-only content. We recommend checking out our tested ESPN VPNs that reliably bypass geographical restrictions.
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, DIRECTV STREAM, or Vidgo. Keep in mind that these services are geo-restricted, meaning you’ll need a VPN to change your virtual location and unblock them.