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The Best VPNs for Streaming

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Simon Migliano Head of Research at Top10VPN
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Simon is a recognized world expert in VPNs. He's tested hundreds of VPN services and his research has featured on the BBC, The New York Times, CNet and more. Read full bio

The best VPNs for streaming let you watch geo-blocked content on Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Disney+, HBO Max, DAZN, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, and more.

The best VPN apps deliver fast, unrestricted access to HD movies, documentaries, and TV shows that aren’t available in your country or region. They change your IP address and unblock region-restricted streaming services on Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, and Fire TV.

You can use the table below to compare the fastest and most reliable VPNs for streaming based on average speed, access to streaming services, and Smart DNS availability.

Other than PrivateVPN, the VPNs we recommend in this article also have a Smart DNS tool to use them on Apple TV, PlayStation, and Xbox.

Find the best VPN for each specific streaming platform later in this article. You can also see which free streaming VPN we recommend.

We also advise you on what to do if your streaming VPN is no longer working to bypass geo-blocks.

Why Trust Top10VPN.com?

We’ve spent thousands of hours testing and reviewing VPNs for streaming, using our bespoke streaming test process to recommend the best streaming VPN software.

Here is our top-level VPN streaming data:

  • VPN services tested: 70
  • Total hours of testing: 30,000+
  • Weekly speed tests: 3,000+
  • Streaming platforms tested daily: 12
  • Additional features tested: Fire TV app, Smart DNS & router compatibility

We prioritize access to US Netflix because it hosts the largest number of TV shows and movies. To find the best VPN for other Netflix libraries and services like Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, and HBO, skip to the best VPNs by streaming service.

The Top Streaming VPNs: Summary Test Ratings

Use the following table to compare how the best streaming VPNs perform in each key testing category:

The 5 Best VPNs for Streaming in 2022

  1. 1. ExpressVPN: The Top Streaming VPN

    The best VPN for streaming Netflix, Hulu, HBO and Prime Video with fast speeds.

    Ranked #1 out of 70 VPNs for Streaming
    ExpressVPN's new app on mobile devices
     96% 
    (1,777 user reviews)
    Visit ExpressVPN

    Pros

    • Works with 10 Netflix libraries incl. US
    • Impressive international speeds
    • Native Amazon Fire TV app
    • User-friendly apps and Smart DNS
    • VPN servers in 94 countries
    • Well-informed 24/7 live chat support

    Cons

    • Expensive on shorter plans
    • Inconsistent access to BBC iPlayer

    Overall Streaming Rating: 9.6/10

    This overall rating is calculated based on the following subcategory ratings. For more details, read about how we test streaming VPNs.

    • 9.89.8/10
    • 9.29.2/10
    • 9.99.9/10
    • 9.29.2/10
    • 9.99.9/10
    • 9.89.8/10

    ExpressVPN is the best VPN for streaming overall. It’s extremely fast and works to stream international content on most major platforms including Netflix, Prime Video, BBC iPlayer, HBO Max, and Hulu.

    It works with 10 international Netflix libraries, and also unblocks smaller streaming services like Zattoo and Sling TV.

    It’s great for accessing US Netflix (see the video above) and HBO Max from overseas, making it the best VPN choice for streaming outside the US.

    If you’re looking to stream international sports, the VPN streams 4 different DAZN regions.

    Cheapest Price$6.67/mo over 15 Months See all plans
    US NetflixYes
    No. of Netflix Libraries10
    International Speed74Mbps
    Works with FirestickYes
    Smart DNSYes
    Compatible with
    1. windowsWindows
    2. macosMac OS
    3. iosiOS
    4. androidAndroid

    Fast international speeds for HD streaming

    ExpressVPN is very fast on both short-distance and long-distance connections, with no interference or connection drops.

    We measured average global download speeds of 73Mbps in our latest tests, which is ideal for buffer-free streaming. You’ll be able to watch all your favorite TV shows in HD or even 4K.

    94 server locations & 3,000 IP addresses

    ExpressVPN isn’t only speedy, it’s safe and private, too. It maintains a privacy-first logging policy with no personally identifiable logs, and we’ve never experienced any IP, DNS, or WebRTC leaks during our tests.

    You’ll get access to over 3,000+ IP addresses in 94 server locations. That means you’ll be able to find a VPN server in almost every country in the world.

    ExpressVPN's server list

    ExpressVPN has streaming-optimized servers in 94 locations.

    Although it doesn’t have specific servers for streaming, our tests have found that almost every ExpressVPN server works with streaming platforms. This makes using ExpressVPN to watch streaming content much simpler than other VPNs.

    Smart DNS and native app for Fire TV Stick

    To stream content on devices that don’t support VPN apps, you can use MediaStreamer – ExpressVPN’s Smart DNS feature.

    MediaStreamer allows you to spoof your location and stream blocked content with ExpressVPN on Apple TV, games consoles, and smart TVs.

    Moreover, we found that it’s currently the best VPN for Chromecast. It comes with an intuitive app for Google TV and a dedicated app for routers.

    ExpressVPN also has a native Firestick app. The app works with streaming content and streams Kodi add-ons and IPTV apps anonymously. It works well, but lacks some of the features of newer Firestick VPN apps.

    Not recommended for BBC iPlayer

    Streaming BBC iPlayer with ExpressVPN is inconsistent due to the BBC’s increased efforts to block VPN traffic.

    If you’re looking for reliable access to BBC iPlayer, both PrivateVPN and NordVPN are better choices right now.

    ExpressVPN works with:

    • Amazon Prime Video
    • BBC iPlayer
    • DAZN
    • Disney+
    • HBO Max
    • Hulu
    • Kodi
    • Netflix
    • Paramount+
    • Sling TV
  2. 2. NordVPN: Fastest VPN for Streaming

    The best VPN for BBC iPlayer and the fastest for streaming HD video.

    NordVPN Mobile App Screenshot
     94% 
    (246 user reviews)
    Visit NordVPN

    Pros

    • High speed access to Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Disney+ and more
    • Consistently fast VPN speeds
    • Smart DNS and a good Fire TV app
    • Easy setup on wide range of devices
    • VPN servers in 60 countries
    • Verified no-logs policy

    Cons

    • Some issues unblocking Netflix on Firestick
    • PayPal not accepted

    Overall Streaming Rating: 9.5/10

    This overall rating is calculated based on the following subcategory ratings. For more details, read about how we test streaming VPNs.

    • 99.0/10
    • 9.79.7/10
    • 9.59.5/10
    • 9.99.9/10
    • 9.99.9/10
    • 9.39.3/10

    NordVPN is one of the best VPN services on the market, and it’s currently the fastest streaming VPN, too.

    The VPN’s impressive speeds allow for HD and 4K streaming without buffering issues. We measured a speed loss of just 21% connecting to New York from overseas.

    The VPN service works well with most popular streaming services including US Netflix, Disney+, and HBO Max.

    Cheapest Price$3.71/mo over 2 years See all plans
    US NetflixYes
    No. of Netflix Libraries11
    International Speed83Mbps
    Smart DNSYes
    Compatible with
    1. windowsWindows
    2. macosMac OS
    3. iosiOS
    4. androidAndroid

    The best option for BBC iPlayer

    One of NordVPN’s highlights is how well it works with BBC iPlayer. Only a few VPNs can bypass the BBC’s VPN ban, and NordVPN is currently the best at doing it.

    The VPN service also offers a fully-featured Fire TV Stick app. Additionally, NordVPN’s Smart DNS feature works well on PlayStation, Xbox and Apple TV.

    Streams 11 international Netflix regions

    NordVPN unblocks 11 Netflix regions. The most popular locations include USA, Germany, Italy, Japan, South Korea, and the UK. In our latest tests, we were able to watch every library in HD.

    Using NordVPN with US Netflix

    You can use NordVPN to stream US Netflix from overseas.

    It’s also a very safe and private VPN with a no-logs policy and no IP, DNS, or WebRTC leaks.

    5,155 servers in 60 countries

    There are no servers dedicated to streaming like the ones CyberGhost offers. That’s because NordVPN’s SmartPlay feature does the hard work for you.

    With SmartPlay, you can pick any US server and it will automatically access all your favorite Netflix shows.

    NordVPN works with:

    • Amazon Prime Video
    • BBC iPlayer
    • Disney+
    • HBO Max
    • Hulu
    • Kodi
    • Netflix
  3. 3. PrivateVPN: Cheapest Streaming VPN

    Streams 14 international Netflix libraries for $2.00 per month.

    Image of PrivateVPN's app on mobile
     98% 
    (1,735 user reviews)
    Visit PrivateVPN

    Pros

    • Only $2.00 per month with a 2-year plan
    • Works with many streaming platforms
    • Custom app for Amazon Fire TV
    • Easy-to-use apps for popular devices
    • Strict no-logs policy
    • VPN servers in 63 countries

    Cons

    • Small server network
    • Slower international speeds
    • No VPN browser extensions
    • No Smart DNS
    • Unreliable live chat

    PrivateVPN is a cheap VPN that makes streaming simple. It labels the servers that work best with specific streaming services, and it successfully streams Netflix, Hulu, Disney Plus, BBC iPlayer, Prime Video, HBO Max, and more.

    It also offers fast speeds, intuitive apps, and a privacy-friendly no-logs policy. This makes PrivateVPN an ideal choice for those who love streaming without compromising on their online privacy.

    Cheapest Price$2.00/mo over 36 months See all plans
    US NetflixYes
    No. of Netflix Libraries14
    Works with FirestickYes
    Smart DNSNo
    Compatible with
    1. windowsWindows
    2. macosMac OS
    3. iosiOS
    4. androidAndroid

    Access to 14 Netflix libraries

    One of PrivateVPN’s best features is the number of foreign Netflix libraries it can access. You’ll have access to 14 international Netflix catalogues with just one subscription.

    PrivateVPN working with US Netflix.

    PrivateVPN reliably works to stream US Netflix.

    The only VPN that works with more Netflix libraries is Windscribe. PrivateVPN also works with Hulu, HBO Max, and Disney+.

    Extremely cheap and great for Kodi streaming

    You can install PrivateVPN on your Amazon Fire TV Stick in minutes with its native app, and it works well with Kodi, too. That means it’s a good choice for streaming on Smart TVs.

    Unlike CyberGhost, you don’t have to commit to a long subscription to access the big price discounts. PrivateVPN is cheap on even the shortest subscription plans.

    Small server network and slow customer support

    The only drawbacks are PrivateVPN’s fairly small VPN server network and its inconsistent live chat support. The server network consists of just 150 servers in 63 countries, and live chat is only available intermittently.

    It’s also the only VPN in this list that doesn’t offer Smart DNS functionality or VPN browser extensions. This means it’s not a great choice for streaming on Smart TVs or games consoles.

    Unreliable long-distance speeds

    With just 150 servers, most of PrivateVPN’s in-demand servers are overly-congested — resulting in some unreliable speeds.

    Its long-distance speed results are still reasonable, though. Our download speed fell by 38% connecting from abroad into New York.

    Despite its small server network, PrivateVPN is so effective and simple to use that it deserves its place as one of the best streaming VPNs. If you’re looking for an affordable streaming VPN, PrivateVPN is a great choice.

    PrivateVPN works with:

    • Amazon Prime Video
    • BBC iPlayer
    • Disney+
    • HBO Max
    • Hulu
    • Kodi
    • Netflix
  4. 4. Surfshark: Best for Disney Plus

    Fast speeds, Smart DNS, and access to eight popular streaming services.

    Surfshark app
     82% 
    (121 user reviews)
    Visit Surfshark

    Pros

    • Works with most major streaming services
    • User-friendly app for Fire TV Stick
    • Smart DNS and router compatibility
    • GPS-spoofing tool on Android app
    • No-logs privacy policy
    • VPN servers in 65 countries

    Cons

    • Not as fast as its top rivals
    • Access to BBC iPlayer is inconsistent
    • Not working with Hulu
    • Sometimes slow connecting to servers

    Overall Streaming Rating: 8.8/10

    This overall rating is calculated based on the following subcategory ratings. For more details, read about how we test streaming VPNs.

    • 9.29.2/10
    • 7.57.5/10
    • 9.39.3/10
    • 8.68.6/10
    • 9.99.9/10
    • 9.39.3/10

    Surfshark is excellent for streaming Netflix, and other video platforms. The VPN consistently bypasses geographical restrictions with fast page loading, no lag, and high video quality.

    In addition to the intuitive custom VPN apps for desktop and mobile devices, Surfshark also comes with an effective native VPN app for Fire TV devices, and Smart DNS functionality.

    Cheapest Price$2.30/mo over 26 months See all plans
    US NetflixYes
    No. of Netflix Libraries11
    International Speed79Mbps
    Works with FirestickYes
    Smart DNSYes
    Compatible with
    1. windowsWindows
    2. macosMac OS
    3. iosiOS
    4. androidAndroid

    Works with 11 international Netflix libraries

    You can watch 11 different Netflix libraries through Surfshark’s VPN servers, including US Netflix.

    You can also watch Disney+ through every single Surfshark server, too. For this reason, we recommend it as the best VPN for Disney+.

    Access to BBC iPlayer is inconsistent, but you can watch it using Surfshark’s browser extensions. This doesn’t offer the same level of privacy as the VPN applications themselves, though.

    Surfshark is also our budget VPN choice to watch HBO Max from overseas.

    Surfshark unblocks the HBO Max app

    Surfshark is a good choice for unblocking HBO Max.

    Trust DNS and Smart DNS options

    Surfshark is so reliable for streaming because of its Smart DNS and Trust DNS features, which act as a proxy to help to access streaming content reliably.

    If you need help to set up or use the apps to stream your favorite shows the Surfshark customer support team is also on hand 24/7 via live chat.

    3,200 servers in 65 countries

    While Surfshark has no dedicated streaming servers, almost all its US servers will work for streaming. In our most recent tests, only the St.Louis and Charlotte servers didn’t stream US Netflix.

    Thanks to its fast international speeds, we also experienced great video quality and quick loading in our streaming tests.

    Secure, fast and affordable

    Founded in 2018, Surfshark may be new, but it does privacy right with a no-logs policy and plenty of security extras.

    It’s also very affordable – offering all of these features for just $2.30 per month on a two-year subscription.

    Surfshark works with:

    • All 4
    • Amazon Prime Video
    • Disney+
    • HBO Max
    • ITV Hub
    • Kodi
    • Sky Go
  5. 5. CyberGhost: Best for Streaming Servers

    A simple VPN with 100+ dedicated streaming servers and Smart DNS.

    CyberGhost app
     94% 
    (320 user reviews)
    Visit CyberGhost

    Pros

    • Easy access to Netflix, Disney+ and other popular services
    • Very fast local speeds
    • Amazon Fire TV Stick app and Smart DNS
    • Easy-to-use apps for all devices
    • No personally-identifiable logs
    • VPN servers in 91 countries

    Cons

    • Slower international speeds
    • Limited (free) VPN extensions

    Overall Streaming Rating: 8.6/10

    This overall rating is calculated based on the following subcategory ratings. For more details, read about how we test streaming VPNs.

    • 88.0/10
    • 99.0/10
    • 8.58.5/10
    • 7.97.9/10
    • 9.99.9/10
    • 9.29.2/10

    CyberGhost is an excellent VPN for streaming. It offers 100+ dedicated servers for different streaming platforms and works with 2 major Netflix libraries: the US and Italy.

    These streaming servers change their IP address frequently to help avoid the bans put in place by services like Netflix.

    Cheapest Price$2.29/mo over 3 years See all plans
    No. of Netflix Libraries2
    Works with FirestickYes
    Smart DNSYes
    Compatible with
    1. windowsWindows
    2. macosMac OS
    3. iosiOS
    4. androidAndroid

    Smart DNS and Fire TV Stick

    CyberGhost is so effective at bypassing geo-blocks because it comes with a Smart DNS tool. This technology changes the DNS server that your traffic is routed through.

    You can find out how to configure Smart DNS on CyberGhost’s support website. You can also set up the VPN on your Fire TV Stick quickly and easily.

    100+ optimized servers for streaming

    The VPN’s applications also make streaming simple by highlighting the server locations that support the platforms you need.

    There are 91 countries available and connection speeds are fast enough for HD-quality video.

    CyberGhost's dedicated Netflix servers.

    CyberGhost has servers that are specifically optimized for streaming Netflix.

    Though it is fast on some same-country connections, CyberGhost’s speeds lag behind ExpressVPN and NordVPN over long-distance VPN connections.

    Simple VPN applications for beginners

    CyberGhost’s custom VPN apps are easy to use, good-looking, and, most importantly, safe. A no-logs policy ensures your online activity is private, and the VPN has never leaked our IP address or DNS requests.

    If you ever run into issues when streaming with CyberGhost you can contact a member of the customer support team via live chat 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

    There’s very few downsides to using CyberGhost other than its inability to work with BBC iPlayer and HBO Max. If you’re looking for a simple way to watch streaming content on multiple devices, it’s a great option.

    CyberGhost works with:

    • Amazon Prime Video
    • Disney+
    • Hulu
    • Kodi
    • Netflix

The Best VPNs by Streaming Service

The five VPNs we recommend above are the best VPNs for streaming overall.

However, the right streaming VPN for you depends on the specific content platform you want to unblock from abroad.

This section highlights the best VPNs for individual streaming websites and apps.

The table below summarizes the best VPN for each streaming service. We’ve added more details on each platform below the table.

Streaming Service Best VPN
Netflix ExpressVPN
BBC iPlayer NordVPN
Disney Plus Surfshark
Prime Video ExpressVPN
Hulu NordVPN
HBO Max ExpressVPN
Now TV/Sky Go Windscribe
Kodi IPVanish
DAZN ExpressVPN
Sling TV ExpressVPN
Paramount+ ExpressVPN

Here’s a full list of the top VPNs for each major streaming service, along with the results of our streaming tests:

1. Netflix

A good VPN for Netflix will bypass the service’s geographic restrictions.

That means you’ll be able to watch movies and TV shows in the US, UK, Japan, France, and dozens of other countries.

Based on our latest tests, ExpressVPN is the best overall VPN for Netflix – especially if you’re outside the US.

The VPN has excellent international speeds, responsive customer support, and a 30-day money back guarantee.

It also works with 10 international Netflix libraries, including the US.

2. BBC iPlayer

BBC iPlayer is notoriously difficult to watch for anyone outside of the UK.

In fact, the BBC’s video service is becoming increasingly effective at detecting and blocking foreign VPN traffic.

NordVPN is currently the top VPN for BBC iPlayer. It’s extremely fast and unblocks BBC iPlayer on all its UK servers.

You’ll be able to watch UK TV in HD without buffering or slow loading times.

3. Disney Plus

Using a VPN with Disney+ gives you access to movies from Marvel, Pixar, Disney, and more.

Most countries have access to Disney+, but if you’re in the US you can connect to a European server and stream Disney+ Star.

Likewise, users outside the US can access the Disney+ bundle package that includes Hulu and ESPN (with an additional fee).

The best VPN for Disney+ is Surfshark. That’s because it works to stream all Disney+ content on absolutely any server.

You’ll need a payment method registered in one of the countries Disney+ has launched. If you don’t have this, follow the workarounds in our Disney+ VPN guide.

4. Amazon Prime Video

Amazon Prime Video has an international content library of over 20,000 movies and TV shows.

Contrary to common belief, a VPN will not unblock Amazon Prime Video’s geo-restricted content. You can only stream content from the region where your account is registered.

Therefore, a VPN is a mostly useful for watching your home version of Amazon Prime Video while traveling abroad.

To access the US Amazon Prime Video library from abroad, sign up while connected to a US VPN server, and use a US payment method or a digital gift card.

Based on our tests, ExpressVPN is the best VPN for Amazon Prime Video. It works on every US server and streams movies without any buffering or lag.

The five best VPNs for Amazon Prime Video are:

  1. ExpressVPN
  2. PrivateVPN
  3. NordVPN
  4. Surfshark
  5. Windscribe

5. Hulu

Hulu is another difficult streaming service to unblock. All of Hulu’s movies and TV shows are strictly blocked for anyone from outside of the US.

To identify the best VPN for Hulu, we tested a number of randomized US servers from all our top-rated streaming VPNs.

We found that NordVPN is the best VPN for Hulu. Once connected, it gave us access to shows like Fargo, The Simpsons, and The Handmaid’s Tale, all in HD.

6. HBO Max

HBO Max is the premium streaming service of HBO. To watch it, you’ll need an American IP address.

Using a VPN with HBO Max gives you access to all the TV shows and movies from HBO, as well as the full WarnerMedia library.

ExpressVPN is the best VPN for HBO Max. It reliably streams HBO Max from other countries, so you can watch Max Originals like Wonder Woman 1984, Friends, and Game of Thrones from outside the US.

What’s the Best Free VPN for Streaming?

Free VPNs usually don’t work with streaming services. In addition, they often come with restrictive data and speed caps.

Windscribe Free is the best free VPN for streaming. It’s the only safe free VPN to consistently unblock content platforms at good speeds.

Windscribe Free unblocks all the major US streaming sites except for US Netflix.

Testing Windscribe Free, we verified it can stream 6 Netflix libraries, HBO Max, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, and even BBC iPlayer. However, it is no longer able to access US Netflix from overseas.

It’s very effective for a free VPN service, but it has a 10GB monthly data cap, which equates to roughly 3 hours of HD streaming per month.

Why You Need a VPN for Streaming

Man using a streaming VPN

Using a VPN can greatly improve your streaming experience. If you’re at home, you can use a VPN to access thousands of movies and TV shows that aren’t available in your country.

If you’re travelling, you can use a VPN to access all of the content from home that you miss.

Streaming services like Netflix, HBO Max, and Amazon Prime Video restrict their content to users in specific locations. For example, US Netflix has over 5,500 titles, whereas Australia only has 2,000.

What’s more, some services like HBO, BBC iPlayer, and Hulu are only available in one country.

That means there’s a huge number of shows available that you can only access with a VPN for streaming.

There’s even more on offer if you’re a fan of sports. If you subscribe to a sports streaming service and don’t want to miss a game from home, simply switch on your streaming VPN and log in.

When you use a VPN, you hide your IP address and mask your location so that streaming websites think you’re browsing from a different country. This allows you to watch all of the content that’s unavailable in your region.

Unfortunately, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to find a VPN service that reliably works with major streaming websites.

That’s because most services are now extremely effective at identifying and banning IP addresses belonging to VPN servers.

There are still a handful of high-quality VPN services that consistently work to access international streaming libraries with fast speeds and low prices.

Just make sure to connect to a server in the country where the movie or TV show is available to watch.

How to Use a VPN for Streaming

Before you can watch foreign streaming content, you’ll need to set up your VPN software.

If your chosen VPN service comes with custom apps then the installation process is very simple.

To stream movies and TV shows with a VPN:

  1. Subscribe to your chosen VPN service.
  2. Download the VPN software and follow the installation prompts.
  3. Once installed, log into the app using your subscription credentials.
  4. Select a VPN server in the country you’d like to connect to.
  5. Navigate to the streaming service you’d like to access and log in as normal.
  6. You’ll now have access to all of the movies and TV shows available in that country.

If you want to watch Netflix, Hulu, HBO Max, or similar streaming platforms then you’ll have to buy a subscription to those services first.

While using a VPN can unlock different international content libraries, it can’t get you free access to each platform.

Video on How to Stream with a VPN

We created the video below to showcase how easy it is to unblock a streaming library in a foreign country with a VPN:

Streaming VPN Not Working?

Most streaming services try to stop users from accessing their content with a VPN.

They do this by blocking IP addresses they believe belong to VPN servers. This usually happens when a large number of users try to access the service using the same IP address.

You’ll know when your VPN IP address has been blocked because you’ll see a proxy error message:

How to bypass Netflix proxy error.

Netflix’s “streaming error” message.

These bans come in waves, and it’s often impossible to predict. However, a good streaming VPN will work hard to get around these blocks.

If your streaming VPN isn’t working, try these troubleshooting tips to fix it:

  1. Use our VPN leak test to see if your VPN is leaking your IP address or DNS requests. If it is, get in touch with the customer support to resolve the issue or change VPN services.
  2. Clear your cache and cookies, flush your DNS cache, and then relaunch the streaming service.
  3. Connect to a different VPN server and repeat solution #2. If there are no dedicated streaming servers, you should contact your VPN provider’s customer support team to find out which VPN servers are currently working with your chosen streaming service.
  4. Access the streaming service using a different browser. For example, sometimes you can access a certain service through Mozilla Firefox even if it’s not working on Google Chrome.
  5. Disable GPS and location services on your computer, smartphone, or browser.
  6. Disable IPv6 at the device-level.
  7. If all these solutions fail, try a different VPN service.

Specifically for Netflix, there are additional workarounds to try if your Netflix VPN isn’t working.

How We Test Streaming VPNs

Our experts use a scientific testing system to rate each VPN for streaming.

For streaming specifically, we test for:

  • Easy access to multiple Netflix libraries
  • Consistent access to BBC iPlayer
  • Compatibility with streaming services such as Disney+, HBO Max, Hulu, Amazon Prime, and more
  • Fast connection speeds for buffer-free streaming
  • Smart DNS technology to make bypassing geo-restrictions easier
  • VPN apps for multiple streaming devices like Fire TV Stick, Apple TV, and others

For a more detailed look at the science behind our rating system, here’s an overview of each testing category and what percentage of the overall rating they make up.

1. Netflix Streaming: 20%

Minimum Requirement: Works with US Netflix.
We Recommend: Works with multiple international Netflix libraries.

Netflix is the most popular streaming service and the reason a lot of people invest in VPNs.

For this reason, a VPN’s ability to access Netflix makes up 20% of its final rating.

Most people want access to US Netflix because it has the largest content library, but we also give additional weight to VPNs that work with more libraries, like Netflix Japan or Netflix Canada.

The more reliable a VPN is for accessing international Netflix libraries, the better its rating.

2. BBC iPlayer Streaming: 20%

Minimum Requirement: Usually works with BBC iPlayer.
We Recommend: Consistent and reliable access to BBC iPlayer, with dedicated servers.

BBC iPlayer is another popular geo-restricted streaming service that is notoriously hard to access from abroad.

We reward VPNs that have a track record getting around the BBC’s tough blocks. The more reliable the VPN is, the higher it is rated.

3. Accesses Other Streaming Services: 20%

Minimum Requirement: Works with some other streaming services.
We Recommend: Consistent access to Amazon Prime, Hulu, HBO Max, Disney+, and more.

As more streaming services enter the marketplace, we reward the VPNs that stay on top of the game and and offer access to a variety of different platforms.

We test every VPN on Amazon Prime, Disney+, Hulu, HBO Max, and DAZN. The more sites the VPN works with, the higher it is rated in this category.

4. Speed: 20%

Minimum Requirement: Less than 40% speed loss.
We Recommend: No more than 10% speed loss.

VPN speeds are important to streaming. The faster the VPN is, the less lag and buffering you will experience.

You should be able to stream in Full HD or 4K when using a streaming VPN.

Our experts regularly run both manual and automated speed tests to ensure our speed testing data is up-to-date. We test for both local and long-distance speeds to calculate an overall rating for each VPN’s speed capabilities.

5. Smart DNS: 10%

Minimum Requirement: Smart DNS is not a minimum requirement.
We Recommend: The VPN comes with Smart DNS functionality.

Smart DNS allows you to use a VPN’s DNS servers to reroute your web traffic through another country.

This is the easiest way to access region-restricted content on TVs, consoles, and other devices without native VPN applications.

We test every streaming VPN for Smart DNS integration. Top-rated services offer simple Smart DNS functionality that works to access international streaming content easily.

6. Streaming Device Support: 10%

Minimum Requirement: Compatible at router level.
We Recommend: Native VPN apps for multiple streaming devices.

As long as you can install a VPN on a router, you can use it for all of your streaming devices.

However, this process is complicated and not user-friendly. We reward the VPNs that have designed and created VPN apps for specific devices and platforms.

We test the compatibility of each VPN for Fire TV Stick, Apple TV, Xbox, PS5, and more.

Our experts then test these apps to see if they’re user-friendly and useful for watching streaming content.

FAQs About Streaming VPNs

Is It Illegal to Use a VPN for Streaming?

In the US, UK, and most European countries it is completely legal to use a VPN to access different international content libraries. In other words, there is no risk that streaming with a VPN will result in any form of legal penalty.

Many users are worried that bypassing geo-restrictions is somehow similar to piracy. Piracy is illegal because it allows people to access copyrighted material they have not paid for. When you use a VPN for streaming, you still pay for the platform you’re accessing.

Simply put, using a streaming VPN doesn’t allow you to access content for free, it simply allows you to circumvent licensing restrictions.

While using a VPN for streaming isn’t illegal, some streaming platforms do state that accessing geo-blocked content is against their terms of service.

What is Smart DNS?

SmartDNS is a technology that reroutes your DNS (Domain Name Server) requests to servers in a different country.

Smart DNS alone does not encrypt your browsing data or mask your public IP address. However, it does allow you to access websites and services that aren’t available in your country.

That’s because the websites you visit will see your DNS requests have originated from a different country.

Smart DNS is often used to bypass geographic restrictions on devices that do not support native VPN applications. Once you’ve signed up to a VPN that support Smart DNS, you simply update the DNS settings of your device with the DNS details your chosen VPN server.

If you’re looking to configure Smart DNS on a particular device, take a look at our VPN Setup guides.

Smart DNS is by far the easiest way to watch restricted content on games consoles and Smart TVs. However, many VPN services simply don’t offer Smart DNS functionality.

If you’re looking for the best VPN with Smart DNS, we recommend using ExpressVPN, Surfshark or CyberGhost. They all come with a Smart DNS feature and unlock the most popular streaming services.

However, if you’re looking to watch streaming content on desktop or mobile, we strongly recommend using a full VPN over any Smart DNS feature.

Not only are VPNs more reliable than Smart DNS, they also encrypt your internet traffic and hide your IP address – protecting your privacy in the process.

A VPN will also allow you to access content from more regions than Smart DNS, which typically only supports US and UK streaming libraries.

Which VPNs Are Bad for Streaming?

Most free VPNs aren’t good choices for streaming due to data and speed restrictions. Even some paid VPNs don’t make a dedicated effort to get past VPN bans.

Good streaming VPNs offer dedicated servers, Smart DNS, and consistently fast international speeds. These features cost a lot to maintain though, which means many popular VPN services simply don’t make the cut.

Popular VPNs that are bad for streaming include:

  • TunnelBear
  • AirVPN
  • TorGuard
  • Trust.Zone
  • Avira Phantom
  • Perfect Privacy

There are hundreds of other VPNs available that aren’t ideal for avid streaming fans. If you’d like a reliable service, we recommend choosing one of the five VPNs mentioned in this article.

Can You Use a VPN to Stream with Kodi?

Kodi is a popular streaming media player. Millions of people use free Kodi add-ons to watch sports, movies, and TV shows.

Some Kodi add-ons host copyrighted works, which poses a problem for streaming users. Internet service providers (ISPs) can issue fines to Kodi users or block Kodi traffic, which is why using a VPN with Kodi is vital.

A VPN masks your real IP address, preventing your ISP from seeing your streaming activity. You can learn more about streaming with Kodi in our guide to the best VPNs for Kodi.

About the Author


  • Simon Migliano Head of Research at Top10VPN

    Simon Migliano

    Simon is a recognized world expert in VPNs. He's tested hundreds of VPN services and his research has featured on the BBC, The New York Times, CNet and more. Read full bio