ESPN is the umbrella name for a group of sports-centric channels available online, as well as via satellite and cable television providers. The sports network’s streaming service is called ESPN+ and is available via your computer’s browser or an app for your favorite device. Subscriptions go for $4.99 per month or $49.99 per year. The service is also available as part of a Disney+ bundle, which includes Disney+, Hulu, and ESPN+ for $12.99 per month.
Due to the sports network’s policies and agreement with the various leagues and organizations governing the sports they broadcast (which includes baseball, American football, basketball, soccer, and much more), ESPN+ is unavailable outside of the United States.
This makes it tough for U.S. sports fans traveling internationally, or for American ex-pats residing outside of the U.S., to keep up with their favorite sports and teams. While not the focus of this article, it should be mentioned that ESPN+ also restricts broadcasts of certain sports due to regional blackout rules. (More about that later.)
Can I Use a VPN to Watch ESPN+?
Luckily, there is a way for international travelers and US expats to get around ESPN’s international blackout: by using a Virtual Private Network (VPN). A VPN is an excellent tool for accessing streaming content that’s normally blocked in your area.
A VPN temporarily assigns your connected device a new IP address. An IP address is used to identify your device on a network (the internet), as well as to identify which device made a request and where a response should be sent to, much like your home’s address identifies you to your postal service.
An IP address can also be used to identify a device’s geographical location. This is how streaming services and other online services detect your location and decide whether or not to allow access to their content.
A VPN can assign your device a new IP address, making it appear as if you’re on the other side of the country or on the other side of the world.
In this article, I’ll tell you about seven VPN providers that offer reliable unblocking for ESPN, as well as reliable protection for the rest of your online activities.
How to Watch ESPN by Using a VPN
Using a VPN to view ESPN from outside the US, or to view regionally-blocked games, requires just a few easy steps:
- Subscribe to an ESPN-capable VPN provider. (I recommend NordVPN.)
- Install the VPN provider’s app(s) on your device(s).
- Log into the VPN service.
- Select a server located in the U.S.
- Start the ESPN app, or visit the ESPN website, and enjoy the game!
What Is the Best VPN for Watching ESPN?
Extensive rounds of testing revealed that the seven VPNs listed below are the best way for international travelers and American ex-pats to access ESPN from anywhere around the globe.
If the game is starting and you don’t have much time, here’s the pre-game summary:
- NordVPN: The #1 VPN an ESPN+ subscription. NordVPN offers fast connections, excellent content unblocking, and top-notch online security. All for a reasonable price.
- Surfshark: Best Budget Bet for ESPN+. This budget provider offers a fast-growing global server network, fast connections, and a bargain-basement price.
- ExpressVPN: Premium VPN for ESPN+. This provider’s reliable server network delivers fast download speeds, making it an optimal choice for jumping into the action with no long timeouts for buffering.
- CyberGhost: Best bet for VPN rookies. This provider is the perfect choice for sports fans who want reliable access to ESPN+ without having to deal with technical mumbo-jumbo. Offers streaming servers specially designed to work with ESPN+.
- Private Internet Access: Reliable access to ESPN+. PIA provides reliable access to geo-controlled content, like ESPN+. The provider’s medium-sized global server network does an excellent job of protecting and enhancing online activities.
- PrivateVPN: Small but mighty. There is no doubt that this provider’s global server network could stand some expansion. That said, their US-based servers offer reliable access to ESPN+ and other US streaming services.
- Atlas VPN: Unlimited connections to ESPN+. The only viewing limits you’ll have will be inflicted by ESPN+ itself. This is because Atlas VPN protects and enhances an unlimited number of connections on a single account.
You’ll find that all VPN providers have their own particular strengths and weaknesses. While some providers may boast fast connections, others offer increased privacy. Still, others may offer a somewhat limited server network but excel in connection speeds.
When ranking the best VPNs for American sports fans to use to watch ESPN+ when outside the US, I considered the following factors:
- Reliable access to ESPN+ and other US streaming services
- Top-notch global server coverage, with servers in the US
- Fast download speeds
- Excellent privacy and security protections
- Native app support for at least the top 4 device platforms
Here is my list of the top seven best VPNs for watching ESPN+:
NordVPN should prove to be an attractive VPN option for sports fans. The reasonably-priced provider offers reliable access to ESPN+ and other streaming services.
In addition to unblocking ESPN+, the provider is known for offering reliable access to Netflix streams in the US, Canada, Japan, the U.K., the Netherlands, France, and Italy. They even offer a helpful Netflix information page on their website.
NordVPN has nearly 5,600 servers located in 60 countries around the globe. Over 1,970 of those servers are located in 17 cities throughout the United States. The provider’s owned-and-operated servers keep outside contractors away from the NordVPN network and your personal data.
NordVPN’s connection speeds are some of the best around and can easily handle the HD streams that ESPN+ and other streaming services offer. NordVPN connections can also easily handle other online activities, like gaming and file sharing. The provider never imposes daily or monthly data caps.
A kill switch option, the blocking of ads and malware, DNS leak protection, and IPv6 leak prevention all join with military-grade encryption to protect your connection. Plus, the provider offers “Double VPN” protection (which routes your connection through two servers) and obfuscated connection options.
A no-logs policy and acceptance of cryptocurrency round out the provider’s security and privacy protections. The provider runs all of its servers 100% from RAM, writing no data of any kind to an actual hard drive. This ensures that all data is completely wiped from the hard drive whenever a server is rebooted.
The provider’s multi-platform support includes apps for Windows, macOS (with native M1 support), iOS, Android, Amazon Fire, Linux, and Android TV devices. Chrome, Edge and Firefox extensions are also available.
All of your devices can be protected thanks to the provider’s compatibility with numerous router makes and models. Up to 6 devices can connect simultaneously using the same set of login credentials.
- Over 1,970 U.S. VPN servers
- HD-capable connections
- Excellent privacy and online security
- Reasonable pricing
- Excellent access to streaming sites
- The app interface could be friendlier
BEST VPN FOR ESPN+:NordVPN is the best VPN option for ESPN+ viewers looking to get the most out of their subscription. The service provides reliable, well-protected connections to streaming services for a reasonable price. A 30-day money-back guarantee is available.
Read my full review of NordVPN.
Surfshark makes the list this time around thanks to its reliable unblocking of ESPN+ and other geo-blocked streaming services, fast-growing server network, and its bargain-basement pricing.
Surfshark’s global server coverage (3,200+ servers stationed in 95 countries) has shown healthy growth recently, doubling its numbers since last year. The provider unblocks ESPN+, as well as other streaming services, such as Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, Hulu, and more. (The provider offers access to 30+ Netflix libraries around the globe.)
Surfshark’s connection speeds match up well with its competitors. The provider easily handles both HD and 4K content.
Military-grade encryption, kill switch protection, and ad and malware blocking options protect your online activities. Your privacy is also well-protected, thanks to a strict no-logs policy and a Bitcoin subscription payment option.
Native app support includes apps for the iOS, Android, Android TV, Linux, macOS (with native Apple Silicon support), Windows, and Amazon Fire platforms. Firefox, Edge and Chrome browser extensions are also available. Router support is also available. The provider allows a generous unlimited number of simultaneous connections.
Customer support is covered by a searchable support library, a contact form, and live support chat.
- Reliable connections to NBC and other services
- Unlimited simultaneous connections
- Comprehensive privacy and security protections
- Fast-growing global network
- Fast download speeds
- No 24/7 support agent chat
PERFECT FOR BUDGET-MINDED VIEWERS:Surfshark delivers top-notch access to ESPN+ and other streaming services. Unlimited connections offer VPN protection for large groups. The provider’s low-priced multi-year subscriptions are a major plus. A 30-day money-back guarantee is available.
Read my full review of Surfshark.
ExpressVPN is a reliable way for American residents currently outside of U.S. borders to catch all of their favorite of the on-field action. The provider’s fast connections offer reliable access to ESPN+.
The provider not only offers reliable access to ESPN+, but also to other streaming services based in the United States – and internationally. This includes Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, Disney+, and many others.
ExpressVPN’s global server network includes 3,000+ servers in 94 countries, with hundreds of those located in 16 U.S. cities.
Download speeds from this provider were the fastest of any VPN service tested in our most recent speed tests. HD and 4K streams are no problem for ExpressVPN, and you’ll never face the delay-of-game penalty called a data cap.
Military-grade encryption, a kill switch option, and DNS leak and IPv6 leak protection cover your online activities. Meanwhile, the provider’s strict no-logs policy and Bitcoin subscription payment option protect your offline privacy. The provider runs all of its servers completely from RAM, writing no data to a physical hard drive. This ensures that all data is wiped from the server whenever it is rebooted.
Native app support includes apps for the iOS, macOS, Windows, Android, Chromebook, Amazon Fire TV, Kindle Fire, and Linux platforms. Browser extensions for the Firefox, Edge, and Chrome platforms are also available.
Up to 5 simultaneous connections are allowed using the same set of login credentials. Users can also protect all of their connected devices by taking advantage of the provider’s excellent router features.
ExpressVPN’s MediaStreamer DNS service opens access to ESPN+ and other streaming services for set-top streaming boxes, game consoles, and Smart TVs. It should be noted that MediaStreamer connections are not encrypted.
- Unblocks ESPN+ and other streaming services
- Wide-ranging global server coverage
- HD- & 4K-capable connections
- Excellent app support
- More expensive than many competitors
- Doesn’t label streaming servers
VERSATILE VPN PROVIDER:ExpressVPN is an excellent everyday service that does a good job of providing access to ESPN+ and other streaming services. The provider’s fast connections are well protected, and their apps are available on all popular device platforms. While the provider is fairly expensive, a 30-day money-back guarantee is available.
Read my full review of ExpressVPN.
CyberGhost should catch the eye of ESPN fans who don’t have much experience using a VPN. The easy-to-use provider offers excellent access to many streaming services, without a bunch of complicated settings to wade through.
CyberGhost has over 8,000 servers located in 90+ countries. Many of those servers are streaming-optimized, offering access to ESPN+, Netflix, Hulu and numerous other streaming services around the world.
CyberGhost’s streaming-optimized servers deliver extremely streaming-friendly connection speeds, easily handing the HD and 4K streams.
In addition to the usual bank-grade encryption, kill switch, and DNS/IPv6 leak protection, CyberGhost offers the ability to block ads and malicious websites, as well as block online tracking. The provider can also force websites to serve up secure versions of their pages.
Your privacy is well-protected thanks to the provider’s “no server logs” policy and Bitcoin subscription payment option.
Easy-to-use apps are available for the Android, Android TV, Amazon Fire, iOS, macOS, Linux, and Windows platforms. Firefox and Chrome browser extensions also make the starting lineup.
In addition, the provider is compatible with numerous router makes and models. Up to 7 devices can connect to the service at once.
In addition to excellent VPN service, the provider offers a password manager and an ID Guard feature that alerts users if and when their email address is exposed in a data breach. The provider’s “Security Suite for Windows” provides antivirus, malware blocking, the ability to customize how much personal data Microsoft can access, and a utility that scans your PC’s hard drive for outdated and vulnerable versions of applications.
- Streaming-optimized servers in numerous international locations
- HD- and 4K-optimized connection speeds
- Easy-to-use apps for most platforms
- Comprehensive privacy and security protections
- Apps missing advanced options that some users prefer
- Some servers are a bit slow
EASY-TO-USE AND STREAMING-OPTIMIZED:CyberGhost is the best VPN option for novice VPN users. Easy-to-use apps provide access to streaming-optimized connections for numerous streaming services, including ESPN+. A 45-day, no-risk money-back guarantee is available.
Read my full review of CyberGhost.
5. Private Internet Access
Private Internet Access (PIA) provides reliable access to ESPN+ and other streaming sites.
The provider has more than 3,300 servers stationed in over 80 countries, providing access to geo-fenced streaming services, including ESPN+, as well as content from most spots around the globe.
PIA’s native support is available for most popular platforms, including Android, Android TV, iOS, Windows, macOS and Linux devices. Chrome, Opera and Firefox browser extensions are also available, as is compatibility with multiple router makes and models.
Up to 10 devices can be connected at once on a single account.
PIA’s download speeds were definitely not the fastest in my tests. However, the provider’s download speeds provide more than enough bandwidth for streaming, as well as any other popular online pastime. The provider never calls a virtual rainout with data caps or bandwidth throttling.
PIA provides excellent protection for your internet connection, thanks to its use of government-grade encryption, IP/DNS leak prevention, and a kill switch. The service also offers blocking of ads, trackers, malware and perilous sites.
No server logs are ever saved to a PIA server, and the provider also accepts Bitcoin as subscription payment. This helps protect your usage and payment privacy.
PIA’s live support chat option, trouble ticket tracking form, and searchable support database are there when you need them.
- Supports ESPN+ and many other popular streaming platforms
- Comprehensive security and privacy
- Fast connections
- No streaming-enhanced servers in app
- Doesn’t work in some restrictive regions
RELIABLE ACCESS TO ESPN+:Private Internet Access delivers reliable access to ESPN+ streams, as well as other geo-fenced content. Fast, well-protected connections make the provider a great choice for all online activities. A 30-day money-back guarantee is available.
Read my full review of Private Internet Access.
PrivateVPN, while working with a rather limited global server network, offers excellent access to ESPN+ and other streaming services in many locations around the globe.
While 200+ servers spread among 60+ countries around the world is by no means “comprehensive” global server coverage, the provider’s server network does do a comprehensive job of unblocking streaming services in its covered locations.
The provider delivers plenty of horsepower in the connection speed department, offering optimal access to HD and 4K streams. PrivateVPN imposes no bandwidth limitations or data caps.
The provider protects your internet activities with kill switch, DNS/IPv6 leak protections, as well as auto-reconnect, and “Stealth VPN” protections. (Stealth VPN makes your VPN activity appear to be normal internet traffic.)
A strict no-logs policy and a cryptocurrency payment option offer excellent privacy protection.
App support is limited to the Android, iOS, macOS, and Windows platforms. No browser extensions are available. You can protect the rest of your connected devices by accessing the provider’s router features. You can also connect up to 6 devices to the service simultaneously using a single login.
- Reliable ESPN+ access
- Stealth VPN helps hide your VPN activity
- Up to 6 simultaneous connections
- Server numbers need improvement
- Multi-platform support limited to “big 4” device platforms
SUPER SECURE PROVIDER:PrivateVPN provides access to ESPN+ as well as many other streaming providers and offers a “Stealth VPN” option that helps disguise your VPN activity as normal browser traffic. A 30-day money-back guarantee is available.
Read my full review of PrivateVPN.
7. Atlas VPN
Sports fans will want to take advantage of Atlas VPN’s fast connections, as well as its support for their favorite streaming-capable devices.
The provider’s global server network is admittedly one of the smallest on this list, spanning a mere 750+ servers spread among 32+ countries. However, it should be noted that the provider’s global network delivers reliable access to ESPN+, other IPTV streams, and other geo-controlled content in the countries where it has located its servers.
Atlas VPN’s streaming-ready connections provided download speeds ranking in the top 10 during my testing. You’ll never have your viewing binges spoiled by data caps or bandwidth limitations.
Atlas VPN uses banking-grade encryption, kill switch and other protective measures to keep your online activities undercover. The provider’s Safebrowse and Safebrowse Plus options keep you safe from various online browsing perils while also blocking unwanted ads.
All Atlas VPN servers run with no logs, meaning there is no tracking of your online antics. If you prefer to pay using some form of cryptocurrency you will need to look elsewhere for VPN service.
Native app support from the provider is available in the form of offerings for Android, iOS, macOS, Windows, Android TV and Amazon Fire TV devices. While the provider lacks support for Linux, browser extensions and routers, I am assured that all three are on the way.
The provider puts no limit on the number of devices that can be simultaneously connected to its servers by a single user.
Live agent chat is available, but only if you’re a paying customer. Email, a contact form, and a support library are available to all.
- Fast, streaming-ready connections
- Comprehensive app support
- Works well with numerous streaming services
- Live chat limited to paying customers
- No support for browsers, routers or Linux devices
- Server coverage could be better
UNLIMITED ACCESS TO ESPN+:Atlas VPN provides reliable access to ESPN+ and other streamers, as well as other geo-fenced services and sites. Reliable connection protection for an unlimited number of devices is available. The global server network coverage could stand some improvement. A 30-day money-back guarantee is available.
Methodology for Assessing VPNs for ESPN+
When you’re mulling over VPNs to allow you to watch all of the ESPN+ sporting action there are several important factors to consider. Not just any VPN will do the job, as not all of them offer the necessary features and abilities.
Here are the critical aspects of VPN providers that I mull over, as well as why they merit consideration:
- Connection Speed: Fast download speeds are a must if you expect to enjoy your VPN-provided streaming experience. Slow connections cause extended buffering, pauses in the middle of a play, and other non-happy happenings. I conduct connection speed tests on a regular basis to assure that each VPN on my lists offer streaming-ready connections.
- Streaming access: Reliable access to ESPN+, Netflix, and other streamers is vital for an enjoyable streaming experience. All of the VPNs on my list offer reliable access to streaming services, including ESPN+, Hulu, Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and more.
- Global Server Network: A large global server network is an advantage, no matter what online activity you enjoy. Also, look for a large number of servers located in each country, as helps ensure that a single server won’t be overloaded with users, slowing its performance.
- Value: A VPN should ask a reasonable price for its service offerings. All of the VPNs I include on my lists offer an excellent value for their asking price.
- Ease of Use: Easy to use VPN apps are a must when the big game is starting, so you can connect quickly and start watching the game. Apps should also offer support for your favorite device, browser, or router. The VPNs I include on my lists offer easy-to-use apps for most popular devices.
- Security and Privacy: A VPN should provide comprehensive online security and privacy protection. All of the VPNs on my list offer banking-level encryption, an automatic kill switch and DNS/IP leak protection at a minimum. Many providers offer additional protections. None of the providers on my list save any logs related to your online activities.
My research doesn’t end here, as the list above includes just a few of the factors I consider as a part of my comprehensive VPN testing methodology. This data-driven approach provides a better understanding of each VPN and their service offerings. This allows me to recommend only VPNs that are a good fit for my readers’ needs.
Can I Use a Free VPN to Watch ESPN?
Wagering on sporting events isn’t allowed in most states, and I wouldn’t bet on accessing ESPN+ with a free VPN, either.
ESPN+ and other streaming services have become skilled at detecting when a viewer is using a VPN to access their service from outside the designated viewing area. When they detect a VPN IP address, they blacklist it. That means the VPN provider needs to quickly set up a new VPN server with a new range of addresses.
This constant game of virtual “Whack-a-Mole” can be expensive, and I guarantee that a free VPN provider doesn’t have the resources to keep up.
You’ll also find that using a “free” VPN can cost you in terms of convenience, privacy, and security.
When you use a freebie VPN, you may be forced to wait in a queue with other users until one of the limited connections on one of their servers becomes available.
Once you’re given the green light to connect, you may be automatically connected to a server of the provider’s choosing, or you’ll likely find a limited number of server options.
When it comes to security and privacy, many “free” VPNs keep their servers humming by tracking their users’ online activities and selling the info to advertisers and other interested parties.
Some free VPNs have been found to insert unwanted advertisements and tracking cookies into their users’ browser sessions.
It’s up to you, but to me, it just doesn’t seem like a good idea to put your privacy and security at risk just to save a few bucks. Pay for the VPN subscription.
What Sports Are Available on ESPN+?
The following sports are available on ESPN+:
- Major League Baseball
- Pro and College Basketball
- Pro Soccer
- American Pro and College Football
- Professional Boxing
- Much, much more
What Else Is a VPN Good for?
Besides having the ability to open blocked streaming content from other countries, a VPN also opens access to other online sites and services, including gaming and even financial sites that might normally be blocked. But it doesn’t stop there.
A VPN also encrypts your internet connection, preventing your Internet Service Provider from tracking your online activities and throttling or blocking your connection simply because you’re engaging in “unapproved” activities like peer-to-peer file sharing.
That same connection encryption offers unbeatable protection when you’re using your device with a public Wi-Fi hotspot, especially if you’re shopping, banking or conducting other online activities.
Hackers love to monitor other users’ online activities on unprotected hotspots, as it allows them to steal credit card numbers and other valuable info. They can’t do that when you’re using a VPN.
ESPN+ VPN FAQ
Is It legal to Use a VPN to Watch ESPN?
It is completely legal to use a VPN to view ESPN+ and other streaming services. As long as you're not using a VPN to commit criminal acts, you're in the clear in most countries.
Can a VPN Help Me Avoid ESPN+ Blackout Restrictions?
Yes. ESPN+ imposes blackout restrictions on some sporting events, due to its contracts with various sports leagues. A VPN can make it appear as if you're connecting from another geographical location, allowing you to avoid these geographical blackout restrictions.
Can I Use Any VPN to View ESPN+?
Not all VPNs will provide reliable access to ESPN+. However, all of the VPNs on this list will provide reliable access to ESPN+.
It’s a Wide World of Sports out there, and there is no reason for you to miss a second of the action simply because you’re either visiting or living outside U.S. borders. A VPN offers U.S. fans unfettered access to their favorite sports on ESPN+, no matter where they are.
A VPN – like my top choice, NordVPN – offers users the ability to access blocked content, no matter where they’re traveling around the globe, while also protecting their internet connection from throttling.
A VPN also protects your online activities from being monitored or blocked, keeping your important personal and business information safe from prying eyes.
For more information, visit the NordVPN website.
“Track and Field” by Senior Master Sgt. Kevin Wallace licensed under Public Domain
- Can I Use a VPN to Watch ESPN+?
- How to Watch ESPN by Using a VPN
- What Is the Best VPN for Watching ESPN?
- 1. NordVPN
- 2. Surfshark
- 3. ExpressVPN
- 4. CyberGhost
- 5. Private Internet Access
- 6. PrivateVPN
- 7. Atlas VPN
- Methodology for Assessing VPNs for ESPN+
- Can I Use a Free VPN to Watch ESPN?
- What Sports Are Available on ESPN+?
- What Else Is a VPN Good for?
- ESPN+ VPN FAQ
- Is It legal to Use a VPN to Watch ESPN?
- Can a VPN Help Me Avoid ESPN+ Blackout Restrictions?
- Can I Use Any VPN to View ESPN+?