The Apple TV is Apple’s popular entry in the set-top video streaming device category. The device offers the ability to stream video and audio, play games and even order a Papa John’s pizza via your high-definition or 4K TV.
Much of the streaming content available on the Apple TV is geographically restricted. However, there is a way to avoid these virtual content roadblocks.
A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is the best way available to access blocked content, made possible by its ability to make it appear as if a user is located in another country.
A VPN can “spoof” the location of a user by assigning their device a new, temporary IP address. This allows you to access online content that’s blocked in your region.
For example, if you want to view BBC iPlayer content, a VPN can make it appear as if you’re connecting to the service from inside in the U.K.
A VPN also encrypts your internet connection, protecting your online activities from the prying eyes of third parties, such as hackers or your ISP.
When considering VPNs for your Apple TV, the following factors are most important: global server coverage, connection speeds, security and privacy, as well as the availability of pre-configured routers (as there are no native Apple TV apps available from any VPN provider).
Best VPNs for Apple TV
I put all of my favorite VPN providers through rigorous testing, and these 5 VPNs worked best with the Apple TV:
- ExpressVPN: Provides optimal router support and preset router options. Extensive global server coverage ensures content access, and the provider’s connection speeds are able to handle streams from any app on the Apple TV.
- NordVPN: Military-grade encryption protects speedy connections, delivering safe access to your favorite content. Global server coverage could be better, but should still be up to most viewers’ needs.
- CyberGhost: Delivering the fastest speeds on this list, this provider delivers router-optimized protections at a low price.
- IPVanish: Owns and operates its VPN servers, putting another layer of protection between you and the nosy net nellies. Speedy connections and optimal security protections are the rule here.
- Surfshark: This provider delivers HD-capable, well-protected connections. While its server coverage could stand a bump, it’ll be sufficient for most uses. Offers a somewhat unusual unlimited simultaneous connection policy.
Please keep in mind while reading these mini-reviews that pre-configured routers are important, as no native VPN apps are available for the Apple TV.
This means that users will need to either configure their current router to use a VPN (if it’s compatible) or purchase a pre-configured router.
I evaluated and ranked the top Apple TV VPNs using the following criteria:
- Comprehensive global server coverage
- Fast enough connections for HD and 4K HDR streams
- Top-notch customer support
- Strong privacy and security protections
- Availability of pre-configured VPN routers
Here’s my list of the top 5 VPNs for use with the Apple TV.
ExpressVPN is the Apple of my eye when it comes to the best VPN for use with the Apple TV. The provider offers comprehensive global server coverage, fast connections and top-notch customer support.
The provider has stationed over 3,000 VPN servers in 94 countries around the world. This almost guarantees that you’ll have access to the geo-blocked content that you covet, including from such popular streaming services as Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer and more.
ExpressVPN provides some of the fastest connection speeds in this collection of providers, delivering the power to easily keep up with the HD and 4K HDR content offered by services on the Apple TV.
You can binge your favorite television shows thanks to ExpressVPN’s lack of bandwidth restrictions and data caps.
The provider’s comprehensive customer support includes 24/7 live support chat, a searchable support library, email support and a support ticket tracking system.
ExpressVPN provides military-level encryption for your internet connection. In addition, the service keeps absolutely no logs of your online activities and accepts Bitcoin as payment.
Although no native VPN apps are available for the Apple TV, ExpressVPN does offer native apps for most popular devices (including Windows, iOS, macOS, Android, Linux and Amazon Fire TV devices) and provides instructions for using their service routers.
Pre-configured routers are available if you’d like to skip the whole configuration process.
You can also use ExpressVPN’s MediaStreamer DNS service to access blocked content on the Apple TV and other set-top streaming boxes, albeit without the encrypted protection of the service’s VPN coverage.
- Excellent global server coverage
- Connection speeds that can easily handle HD video
- Excellent customer support
- Top-notch security and privacy protection
- Offers pre-configured routers
- More expensive than other providers
BEST VPN FOR APPLE TV:ExpressVPN is my top choice for use with the Apple TV. The provider offers fast connections and wide server coverage, and router support makes it easy to use their service with the Apple TV. 30-day money-back guarantee.
Read our full review of ExpressVPN.
NordVPN is my #2 choice for Apple TV VPN protection because of its HD and 4K-capable connections, great customer support and excellent privacy and security coverage.
NordVPN’s global server coverage sits somewhere in the middle of the VPN industry, with nearly 5,200 servers stationed in 60 countries. This coverage is sufficient to unblock most of the global content you may have your eye on, including Netflix, BBC iPlayer and Hulu.
NordVPN’s connection speeds are easily up to the speed requirements for HD and 4K content. The provider imposes no bandwidth limitations or data caps on its connections.
The customer is king at NordVPN, with 24/7 support chat, email support and a searchable knowledge base available.
Privacy and security are also top priority NordVPN, as it provides 256-bit encrypted connections and follows a strict no-logs policy. A Bitcoin payment option rounds out the privacy protections.
The provider lacks a native Apple TV app (as do all of the VPNs on this list), but it does offer native apps for most popular devices (including Windows, iOS, macOS, Android, Linux and Android TV devices), and its comprehensive router compatibility ensures your Apple TV and all your other connected devices will be covered. Pre-configured routers are also available.
Users can also take advantage of NordVPN’s Smart Play DNS service, which provides access to blocked content, but doesn’t include the encryption of the service’s VPN offering.
- Servers in 61 countries around the globe
- HD and 4K-ready connections
- Excellent privacy and security coverage
- Apps could be more user-friendly
BEST FOR BUDGET:NordVPN is the best option for value-minded Apple TV owners who would rather spend their money on movies than VPN coverage. High points include its 4K-ready connections and excellent customer support. 30-day money-back guarantee.
Read our full review of NordVPN.
CyberGhost sits smack in the middle of this 5-way competition, delivering excellent connection speeds, decent global server coverage and excellent security and privacy protections.
This provider’s global server coverage consists of nearly 3,700 servers in 59 countries around the world. CyberGhost’s server coverage is comprehensive enough to provide access to plenty of geo-blocked content, such as Netflix, Hulu and BBC iPlayer.
CyberGhost’s connection speeds are the fastest in this top 5, providing plenty of speed to allow watching your favorite flick in its full 4K HDR glory. No bandwidth or data caps means you can binge to your heart’s content.
CyberGhost’s customer support includes live support chat, a searchable support library and a support ticket system.
Online security will be the least of your worries when you’re connected to CyberGhost’s VPN servers, as the provider protects your connection with military-grade encryption.
Your privacy is well protected when you use this provider, as it follows a strict no-logs policy and accepts Bitcoin to protect your subscription payment information.
As is usual for this lineup, CyberGhost doesn’t offer an Apple TV app, although it does offer apps for the Windows, iOS, macOS, Android, Linux, Amazon Fire TV and Android TV device platforms.
CyberGhost works well with numerous router makes and models, and pre-configured routers are available.
- Global server coverage offers wide-ranging content access
- Fast connections = smooth 4K streaming
- Pre-configured routers available
- No logs and accepts Bitcoin
- No kill switch protection available for routers
BEST FOR 4K HDR VIEWERS:CyberGhost is the best choice on this list for Apple TV users that demand 4K HDR versions of their favorite films. Pre-configured routers make CyberGhost an easy way to get connected quickly. 45-day no-risk money-back guarantee.
Read our full review of CyberGhost.
IPVanish fills out this roundup thanks to above-average connection speeds, excellent router support and top-notch security.
IPVanish is the only provider on this list to own and operate their VPN server farms, adding an extra layer of security by ensuring no third-party operators have access to their servers. Their operation amounts to 1,300+ servers in 50+ countries.
Sadly, the provider does not unblock Netflix in other countries, but it can open access to other services, including BBC iPlayer, HBO Now, Amazon Prime Video and Sling TV.
IPVanish provides connections that are easily up to smoothly streaming the HD content that comes pouring out of the Apple TV. The provider doesn’t impose any bandwidth limitations or data caps on its connections.
The provider’s customer support folk offer excellent support, with email support, 24/7 live support chat and a searchable knowledge base.
Although the provider doesn’t keep your payment information undercover due to its lack of a cryptocurrency payment option, you won’t need to worry about your online travels being tracked thanks to IPVanish’s no-logs policy.
Your VPN connection will be encrypted using military-grade encryption, so no one can look over your shoulder while you’re paying your bills, shopping online or doing any other online activities.
While IPVanish doesn’t have a native Apple TV app available, it does provide apps for the Windows, iOS, macOS, Android, Linux and Amazon Fire TV platforms. It offers extensive router compatibility, and pre-configured routers are also available.
- Pre-configured routers available
- Owns and operates its VPN servers
- Top-notch customer support
- Short money-back guarantee period
- Lacks cryptocurrency payment options
MOST SECURE VPN:IPVanish keeps things close to its vest with its self-owned and -operated servers, offering excellent security to its customers. They could improve their privacy protections with a private payment option. 7-day money-back guarantee.
Read our full review of IPVanish.
Surfshark makes it into the top 5 due to its well-protected connections, excellent content-unblocking abilities and optimal privacy protections.
While 500+ servers stationed in 50+ countries isn’t exactly the best, their server farms are well-placed, offering excellent content-unblocking opportunities for most of the streaming providers with apps on the Apple TV, including Netflix, Hulu and BBC iPlayer.
Surfshark delivers connection speeds well above the requirements to deliver HD video. Depending on your usual connections speeds, they could be up to 4K streaming.
Customer support consists of 24/7 live support, along with a contact form and a searchable FAQ library, adding up to comprehensive support.
Military-grade encryption keeps your online viewing habits safe from prying eyes. Meanwhile, no one can track a history of your online travels thanks to the service’s “no user logs” policy. You can also use Bitcoin to protect your payment records.
As usual, no app is available for the Apple TV platform, but Surfshark does provide apps for Windows, iOS, macOS, Android, Linux and Amazon Fire TV devices. You can also use Surfshark with numerous brands of routers, and ready-to-go routers are available as well.
The provider also offers a smartDNS feature that gives you access to blocked content, but lacks the encrypted protection offered by the provider’s VPN service.
If you have a large number of other devices in your family, like I do, you’ll be glad to know the provider allows unlimited simultaneous connections on a single set of login credentials.
- Opens access to content in plenty of countries
- Unlimited simultaneous connections
- Top-notch security and privacy protection
- Global server coverage could stand to be improved
- Connection speeds, while adequate, could be better
UNLIMITED PROTECTION:Despite a somewhat low server count, Surfshark can still deliver nearly all of the content you’d ever want to your Apple TV. Unlimited simultaneous connections means not everyone has to watch the same thing. 30-day money-back guarantee.
Read our full review of Surfshark.
How to Use Apple TV With a VPN
Enhancing your Apple TV viewing session by using a VPN may seem somewhat daunting at first, but it’s actually reasonably easy to do:
- First, subscribe to a VPN.
- Set up the VPN on a compatible router (or purchase a pre-configured router).
- Select a VPN server located nearest to the streaming content you’d like to access.
- Make sure your Apple TV is connected to the VPN-protected router.
- Grab the popcorn and start streaming!
Is a Free VPN a Good Option For Use With an Apple TV?
I strongly urge you to not attempt to use a “free” VPN with your Apple TV.
For one thing, most free providers require you to use their apps and don’t offer an Apple TV app or router compatibility. So it may not even be possible to use one.
Even if you can somehow connect your router to a gratis VPN provider using an OpenVPN connection, many providers only allow free users to access a limited number of servers, which slows things down too much for streaming.
Plus, free VPNs are known to throttle their users’ connections and impose data caps on their use. Neither are optimal for streaming.
Additionally, most “free” VPN providers make their money by tracking their users’ online activities and then selling that information to the highest bidder. Or, they’ll inject unwanted ads and tracking cookies into your browsing sessions.
It’s a much better idea to pay a few bucks a month for a good VPN, rather than take a chance on jeopardizing your privacy with a free VPN.
Alternatives to Using a Router
If you don’t wish to install a VPN on your router, whether it’s because you’re not comfortable with flashing your router’s firmware or you just can’t justify the purchase of pre-configured router, there is another way to use a VPN with your Apple TV.
Set Up a VPN-Protected Wi-Fi Hotspot
If you have a Windows or macOS computer, you can use it as a VPN-protected Wi-Fi hotspot.
Many Windows PCs and macOS computers have both a wired Ethernet connection and a Wi-Fi connection, which allows them to share their VPN connection.
You can run a VPN app on your computer and then share your computer’s Wi-Fi connection as a hotspot, allowing you to connect to it with your Apple TV, protecting its connection.
I strongly recommend that Apple TV users take advantage of the benefits of using a VPN with their little black set-top box.
A VPN opens access to a world of previously unavailable content, keeps third parties from monitoring your activities and prevents your connection from being throttled in the middle of a bingeing session.
I recommend ExpressVPN for its optimal global server coverage, top-notch privacy protections and fast connections. The provider is an excellent way to open your viewing horizons, while also protecting the security of your internet activities.
For more information or to purchase a subscription, visit the ExpressVPN website.