Streaming is here to stay, and it’s now how most of us watch TV and films, whether it’s at home or on the go. But if you want to watch geo-locked content from other countries - or just don’t want to give up your privacy while you watch - you’ll want to use one of the a VPN while you stream.
Whether you’re trying to watch American Netflix, HBO, or Hulu from the UK, trying to get onto iPlayer from outside the UK, or another geo-locked streaming platform entirely, you’ll need a VPN. Do bear in mind that accessing any of these services from another country could violate their terms of service, and you risk losing your account, so proceed at your own risk.
Streaming VPN buying advice
We've ranked what we think are the best VPNs overall, but your priorities might be slightly different if your main concern is streaming video, which is why we've put together this separate ranking of VPNs that we think are great for watching TV and films online.
If you’re looking for a VPN for streaming, there’s probably one thing on your mind: speed. That’s what you need to make sure you can watch films and TV from anywhere in the world in crisp HD - or even 4K - without worrying about artifacting or pixelation.
Beyond that, you’ll want reliability so that the connection doesn’t drop just at the moment of the big plot twist, a wide range of server locations to make sure you can access all the content you want, and quick server updates to try and keep up with Netflix and other platforms' attempts to limit access from abroad.
A wide range of supported devices will also help, as you’ll probably want to watch from your laptop, phone, games console, streaming stick, or something else we haven’t thought of. Also keep an eye out for specific streaming modes which are optimised for the best possible performance.
With all that in mind, here are our five recommendations for the best VPN for streaming.
Best VPN for streaming
Currently sitting at the top of our overall VPN chart, NordVPN is also our top choice for streaming thanks to a high server count, steady speeds, and wide device support.
With more than 5,500 servers around the world you've got great odds of finding a fast connection in your country of choice. It also means you're much more likely to find a server that works for Netflix, which is notorious for shutting down VPN access. The more servers you can choose from, the more likely you are to find one that works.
You can also install the NordVPN app on just about any device you could ever want to use for streaming, and enjoy the built-in ad-blocker and malware protection in case you're trying to stream from any dodgy, less-than-legal sites (not that you should be doing that, of course).
Based in Panama, NordVPN is also great from a privacy perspective, even if that isn't the biggest concern for streaming, but it also offers impressive speeds, good customer support, and a very user-friendly interface.
All you need is a NordVPN account, which is available for as little as US$2.99/£2.29 per month if you commit to three years.
ExpressVPN is another great VPN for streaming thanks to its combination of simple setup, speedy servers, and broad coverage - though it's not the cheapest VPN around.
There are more than 3,000 servers across 94 countries, so you should have no problem finding one in whatever location you want. Even better for HD streaming, there's a built-in speed test tool that will recommend the best locations and servers for you based on speed. The tool takes a few minutes to run, but that's worth it for avoiding the trial-and-error of picking a server.
You can install ExpressVPN on a range of devices, including a browser extension or even directly into your router to cover all of your internet access in one go.
The price is the only downside, as you'll pay a little bit more per month than with some rivals. Luckily we currently have an exclusive offer for a reduced rate of $6.67/£5.05 per month if you sign up for 15 months, and there are six month or one month options available too.
CyberGhost is a great low-cost, easy-to-use VPN with one great feature for new users: a dedicated streaming mode that automatically gives you the ideal settings for accessing your streaming service of choice.
The 'Unblock Streaming' mode lets you pick the exact service you want to use (BBC iPlayer, for example) and then chooses a server to suit you, factoring in both location and speed to give you the best odds of a working connection. Alternatively, you can manually choose from more than 3,600 servers across 58 countries, and that's growing rapidly.
There are apps available for just about every device, though bear in mind that some - such as the Mac client - run slightly older versions, so features won't be identical across every app.
You can choose to pay for CyberGhost on a month-by-month basis for £11.99/$12.99, but prices drop dramatically if you commit to longer, right down to £2.10/$2.75 per month for three years.
Find out more and get CyberGhost here.
Read our CyberGhost review.
PureVPN is a great all-rounder that has one big selling point: servers in more than 140 countries.
That means you're almost guaranteed to be able to find a server that will let you connect to your streaming service of choice with decent speeds, with a total of over 2,000 servers to choose from.
Perhaps best for streaming users, it's one of the fastest VPNs around, and the app interface is dead-easy to use.
Plus, if you don't mind committing to a year in advance, it can be one of the cheapest, costing just £2.60/$3.33 per month. That's compared to the regular monthly price of £8.40/$10.95.
Read more in our PureVPN review.
Our final suggestion is Surfshark, which is the cheapest VPN in our overall top 10 and enables users to connect to Netflix and other streaming services without trouble.
It has fewer servers and countries than others listest here, at 800 and 50 respectively, but most users will find that that's plenty for their streaming needs.
It isn't the fastest VPN available, but for the price it's worth considering. The cheapest option is just £1.53/$1.99 per month.
Read our full Surfshark review here.