If you’re a resident of the U.S., I don’t have to tell you how great some of the content on the “vast wasteland” of American television really is.
Unfortunately, if you’re a U.S. expatriate or a U.S. citizen visiting abroad, you’re likely missing out on that wealth of entertainment.
U.S. television fans outside of the country have likely come up against virtual roadblocks when they’ve attempted to connect to the U.S. version of Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, or any other stateside-based streaming service.
Netflix and other streaming services – including those run by the major U.S. networks (ABC, CBS, NBC, and FOX) – restrict access to their servers to only those users inside the borders of the United States. The networks’ contracts with television and movie producers restrict where a show or film is available.
This means that American television fans who are missing out on episodes of their favorite shows can’t get a quick fix when they’re traveling or residing outside U.S. borders.
Or can they? Yes, yes they can – thanks to a handy tool called a Virtual Private Network (VPN).
A VPN is the best way available to provide access to streaming services located inside U.S. borders while you’re outside of those borders. A VPN opens access to U.S. content by making it appear as if you’re stateside, no matter where you really are.
A VPN “spoofs” your location by assigning your device a new, temporary IP address located inside the United States. As far as the rest of the internet is concerned, you’re using the internet stateside.
In this article, I’ll provide information about the 5 best VPNs for accessing U.S. streaming television services when you’re outside U.S. borders.
How to Watch U.S. TV Abroad by Using a VPN
When you’re looking to unblock U.S. television streams, follow these steps:
- Subscribe to a VPN service with servers located inside U.S. borders. (My VPN of choice is NordVPN.)
- Install your provider’s app(s) on your device(s).
- Log into the VPN service.
- Select a server located in the United States.
- Connect to your favorite network’s streaming service.
- Enjoy the show!
Best VPNs for Watching U.S. TV Streaming Services From Abroad
After putting my top VPN providers through rigorous testing, the following 5 VPNs have earned a place in the top 5 VPNs to open up U.S. streaming television content for your viewing pleasure:
- NordVPN: #1 choice. This provider’s reasonable price might be the first thing you notice, but their reliable unblocking powers and top-notch security and privacy protections will keep you renewing your subscription.
- Surfshark: This provider will be an attractive option for users looking for a low-cost option to protect all of their devices at once. Plus, the provider’s above-average connection speeds will stream any type of content.
- ExpressVPN: This provider delivers reliable access to U.S. streaming providers. The provider’s fast connections, excellent U.S. server network, and top-notch security and privacy protections add up to the top VPN for accessing U.S. streaming television services.
- CyberGhost: This provider should prove to be a draw for first-time VPN users looking for an easy way to open access to U.S.-based television streams and to protect and enhance all of their other online activities.
- PrivateVPN: Despite its small global server network, this no-logs provider does an excellent job of unblocking content in the U.S. and other locations. Fast connections mean HD and 4K streams will provide smooth playback.
When ranking the best VPNs for U.S. streaming services, I considered the following factors:
- Reliable server network, with servers inside the United States
- Reliable access to U.S.-based TV streaming services
- Fast connection speeds with no data caps
- Top-notch security and privacy protections
- Comprehensive native app support
Here are the top 5 best VPNs for expats who want to access streaming TV providers based in the United States.
NordVPN should prove to be the best choice on this list for users looking for top-notch service at a reasonable price. The provider’s attractive prices belie their excellent service offerings.
The provider has over 5,200+ servers located in 60 countries around the globe. 1,970+ of those servers are stationed in 15 U.S. cities providing plenty of reliable access to U.S.-based television streams. The company is currently in the process of moving its entire server network to a fully owned-and-operated model.
While NordVPN ranks at the top of the list when it comes to connection speeds. If your ISP connections can handle it, HD and 4K streaming content is no issue for this provider’s connections. Plus, there’s never any worry about data caps or bandwidth limitations spoiling the fun.
This provider does a top-notch job of protecting your connection thanks to its kill switch protection, DNS leak, and IPv6 leak prevention, and its ability to block ads and malware. The provider’s NordLynx connection protocol is based on WireGuard and offers improved performance and protection.
Privacy after the fact is also not an issue thanks to the provider’s no-logs policy and Bitcoin payment option. The provider also runs all of its servers 100% from RAM, meaning no data is ever written to a physical hard drive. All data is completely wiped from the hard drive each time a server is rebooted.
The provider’s app support has all of the major platforms covered thanks to apps for Windows, macOS (native M1 Mac support included), iOS, Android, Amazon Fire, Linux, and Android TV devices. Chrome and Firefox extensions protect your in-browser viewing sessions.
If you need to protect more than 6 devices at once, or if your connected device isn’t on the above list, you can take advantage of the provider’s comprehensive router compatibility to protect all of your devices.
- 1.970+ servers in the U.S.
- HD and 4K-capable connections
- Tip-top privacy and security
- Reasonable prices
- Comprehensive app support
- Kill switch protection must be enabled on an app-by-app basis
BEST U.S. STREAMING VPN OPTION:NordVPN offers a high level of features for streaming fans. The provider’s super-fast connections, excellent U.S. server coverage, and app support for most popular streaming devices make it an optimal VPN choice for streaming U.S.-based content. A 30-day money-back guarantee is available.
Read my full review of NordVPN.
Surfshark offers reliable access to U.S. streaming services on an unlimited number of devices, and it does that while offering low-priced subscription options that will keep bargain hunters happy.
The provider has 3,200+ servers located in 65 countries around the globe. Surfshark has 600+ servers in the U.S., stationed in 23+ cities around the country. The provider offers access to 30+ Netflix libraries around the globe.
Surfshark’s download speeds can easily handle the HD and 4K video streams that popular streaming services offer today. (Depending on your usual connection speeds.) Plus, there are no data caps or bandwidth limitations.
Surfshark’s online protection delivers military-grade encryption, kill switch protection, and IPv6 and DNS leak prevention. In addition, the provider’s “CleanWeb” feature blocks ads and online trackers.
The provider never saves any logs related to your online activities, and it also accepts the Bitcoin anonymous payment option. High security marks all around.
The provider’s native app coverage delivers protection for the iOS, Android, Android TV, Linux, macOS (with native M1 Mac support), Windows, and Amazon Fire device platforms. Chrome and Firefox browser extensions are also available.
Surfshark also offers a smart DNS feature that opens access to blocked content for streaming boxes, smart TVs, and game consoles. However, keep in mind that the smart DNS feature doesn’t offer connection encryption like the provider’s VPN service does.
While the provider allows unlimited concurrent connections on the same set of login credentials, you may need to protect devices not on the above list. That’s when you can take advantage of the provider’s router features.
- Offers reliable access to numerous streaming services
- Unlimited simultaneous connections
- Top-notch privacy and security protections
- Speedy connections
- Fast-growing global server network
- Slow speeds from time to time
- No streaming-optimized servers
BEST BARGAIN-PRICED VPN:Large families, small businesses and even fraternal organizations will benefit from Surfshark’s unusual unlimited simultaneous connections allowance. And, they will definitely appreciate Surfshark’s low, low price for its subscriptions. The provider’s speeds are well up to the task of streaming. A 30-day money-back guarantee is available.
Read my full review of Surfshark.
ExpressVPN is the best way to gain reliable access to television streaming providers based in the United States.
The provider has over 3,000 servers stationed around the globe, covering 94 countries. Many of those servers are based in the U.S., in 28 locations around the country. Those servers provide reliable access to multiple streaming television providers, including Netflix, Hulu, YouTube TV, ABC Go, ESPN, and many more!
ExpressVPN’s connections are reliably fast, providing more than enough bandwidth to handle the HD and 4K streams that most streaming providers offer. The provider never imposes data caps or bandwidth limitations on their customers.
ExpressVPN protects your online activities with government-grade encryption, kill switch protection, and IPv6 and DNS leak prevention. The provider’s proprietary “Lightway” protocol is optimized for performance and security.
Plus, a strict no-server-logs policy and a Bitcoin payment option combine to help to keep your privacy protected offline as well. NordVPN’s TrustedServer technology runs all servers totally from RAM, never writing any data to a physical hard drive. All data is wiped from the server whenever it is rebooted.
Native apps are available for macOS, iOS, Android, Android TV, Windows, Linux, and Amazon Fire devices. Chrome, Edge, and Firefox browser extensions are available to protect in-browser viewing sessions.
The provider’s MediaStreamer DNS service opens access to U.S. content for Apple TV and other streaming devices, like gaming consoles and smart TVs. However, MediaStreamer doesn’t encrypt your internet connection like the provider’s VPN service does.
If you have other devices that need protecting, or if 5 simultaneous connections aren’t enough, use the service’s excellent router compatibility to protect all of your devices via a single point of access.
- Comprehensive server coverage in the USA
- Reliably unblocks U.S. streaming television content
- Comprehensive privacy and security protections
- Top-notch native app support
- More expensive than many of its competitors
- Doesn’t offer streaming-optimized servers
VERSATILE VPN PROTECTION:ExpressVPN is an attractive option for U.S. expats looking for a VPN to view stateside streaming services from outside the U.S. The provider has a large number of stateside servers, and it delivers fast download speeds, which are perfect for streaming. The provider is priced a bit on the “premium” end of the pricing spectrum. A 30-day money-back guarantee is available.
Read my full review of ExpressVPN.
CyberGhost should prove to be an attractive VPN option for first-time VPN users looking for an easy yet efficient way to unblock U.S. television from outside U.S. borders.
7,100+ servers, located in 90+ countries add up to comprehensive global server coverage. And, with over 1,200 servers located around the United States, the provider also delivers excellent U.S. content-accessing power. (The provider has numerous streaming-optimized servers located in the U.S.)
CyberGhost’s download speeds land somewhere in the middle ranks of this top 5, but that’s plenty fast. HD and 4K streams are child’s play for this provider. No data caps will ever cut off the action.
Plus, an automated HTTPS Redirect feature forces websites to serve up HTTPS versions of their web pages.
Your privacy is well-protected thanks to the provider’s total no-logs policy and willingness to accept Bitcoin in return for their considerable services.
This provider’s excellent app support has you covered, with native app support is available for Android, Android TV, iOS, macOS, Linux, Windows, and Amazon Fire devices. Chrome and Firefox browser extensions are also available.
If you need protection for other devices, or if you require more than 7 simultaneous connections, you can make use of the provider’s comprehensive router support.
A password manager is also available from the provider, as well as an ID Guard feature that alerts users when their email address is exposed as part of a data breach. CyberGhost’s Security Suite for Windows includes antivirus, malware blocking, a way to customize how much of your personal data Microsoft can access, and a utility that scans your PC’s hard drive for outdated and vulnerable versions of software.
- Streaming-optimized servers in the U.S.
- 4K-capable connection speeds
- Easy-to-use apps
- Top-notch privacy and security
- Apps lack some advanced options preferred by some users
- Has issues with some U.S. streaming services
CyberGhost’s easy-to-use apps will be an attractive option for new VPN users, especially since they connect to streaming-optimized servers based in the U.S. The provider’s fast connection speeds and optimal online protections are a bonus. A 45-day money-back guarantee is available.
Read my full review of CyberGhost.
PrivateVPN delivers excellent U.S. television access, delivering content with fast download speeds and optimal security and privacy protections.
A server count of 200+ spread among 60 countries is admittedly not impressive when compared to the other 4 providers on this list. However, the provider’s U.S. servers do an excellent job of unblocking U.S. streaming services, including HBO, CBS All Access, and many more.
The provider delivers connection speeds that are easily up to the requirements of HD and 4K streaming providers. And you need not worry about having the fun cut short, as PrivateVPN never imposes data caps on their customers’ usage.
Government-quality encryption protects PrivateVPN connections, along with a kill switch and DNS leak, and IPv6 leak protection. Plus, the provider’s proprietary Stealth VPN protection makes your VPN activity appear to be normal browser activity.
A strict no-server-logs policy, along with a Bitcoin private payment option, ensures your privacy is well protected.
App support is solid but unspectacular, with apps for the Android, iOS, macOS, Windows platforms. If you need more than 6 simultaneous connections or require protection for other platforms, you can use the provider’s top-notch router compatibility.
- Reliable access to U.S. streaming services
- HD and 4K streams are no problem
- Up to 6 concurrent connections
- Servers are spread thin
- Multi-platform support could be better
FAST SPEEDS, REASONABLE PRICE:PrivateVPN provides reliable access to U.S. television providers via fast and well-protected connections. The provider is also reasonably priced. A 30-day money-back guarantee is available.
Read my full review of PrivateVPN.
Can I Use a Free VPN to Watch U.S. Television Streaming Services From Abroad?
I’m not going to say using a free VPN service to watch U.S. television streaming services won’t work, I’m just going to say you probably won’t be satisfied with the experience, and you’ll certainly be putting your online security and privacy at risk.
First off, streaming providers have become adept at detecting when a viewer is attempting to connect to their servers via a VPN provider. When a streamer detects that an incoming IP address belongs to a VPN provider, they blacklist that address.
This means the VPN provider must then set up new IP addresses. It’s a game of back-and-forth. A free VPN can’t afford to compete in this virtual game of hide-and-seek.
Plus, when you connect to a freebie VPN provider, you may be forced to cool your heels in a queue before you can connect. Once you’re allowed to connect, you’ll have a limited selection of servers to choose from. That is if you’re allowed to choose a provider and aren’t automatically connected to a server of the provider’s choice.
Odds are, the server you’re connected to won’t do a good job of accessing U.S. streaming content.
As for the “free” part of “free VPN,” that’s really a misnomer. A “free” VPN isn’t really free. The price you pay is that of both convenience and privacy. Sans-fee VPNs are known to throttle their customers’ connection speeds. That’s not good for streaming – or any other online activity, for that matter.
Plus, many free VPNs keep the lights on by logging their customers’ online activities, saving the information, and selling it to the highest bidder.
Also, some freebie VPNs will inject unwanted ads and tracking cookies into their users’ browsing sessions. Those tracking cookies stick around long after you’ve disconnected from the free VPN’s servers.
While you may save a few bucks upfront by using a “free” VPN, the unseen costs are the dearest. You can have excellent VPN service for the price of a fancy cup of coffee, so why not splurge?
What Else Can a VPN Do?
While the focus of this article has been about providing a way to view U.S.-based television streaming services while you’re outside of the country, it should be noted that a VPN can do so much more.
In addition to unblocking U.S. streaming services, a VPN can also unblock content in other countries, including gaming content, websites, and other services. Just pick a VPN server stationed in your country of choice, connect, and the content becomes available.
The same encryption that prevents your ISP from detecting your online activities acts as a safety shield from less-than-scrupulous users around the net – or at the next table down at Starbucks.
Expats VPN FAQs
What Is the Best VPN for the USA?
The best VPN for the USA is NordVPN. The list also includes Surfshark, ExpressVPN, CyberGhost, and PrivateVPN. Any of these providers would provide an excellent experience for general American internet travels, or for watching American TV while abroad.
What Is the Best Free VPN for U.S. Expats?
American expats, or anyone, should never use a free VPN for any reason. Free VPNs are a privacy hazard, as they often track users' activities and sell that information to advertisers. They also make you wait in a queue, impose data caps on your usage, and throttle your bandwidth. Steer clear of free VPNs - you'll be glad you did.
There is no reason for you to miss out on your favorite shows and movies just because you’re no longer inside the borders of your homeland, the United States.
A VPN – like my pick, NordVPN – provides reliable access to your favorite streaming content, no matter where in the world it’s located. Plus, NordVPN delivers fast download speeds, as well as top-notch security and privacy for all of your connected devices and online activities.
For more information or to purchase a subscription, visit the NordVPN website.
- How to Watch U.S. TV Abroad by Using a VPN
- Best VPNs for Watching U.S. TV Streaming Services From Abroad
- 1. NordVPN
- 2. Surfshark
- 3. ExpressVPN
- 4. CyberGhost
- 5. PrivateVPN
- Can I Use a Free VPN to Watch U.S. Television Streaming Services From Abroad?
- What Else Can a VPN Do?
- Expats VPN FAQs
- What Is the Best VPN for the USA?
- What Is the Best Free VPN for U.S. Expats?
- What Is the Best VPN for American TV?