If you are a sports fan, few things can compare to spending an evening in front of your HD TV watching your favorite game munching on bagels. Likewise, you know how frustrating it is to get locked out of your sports streaming subscriptions just because you’re traveling. Why, you don’t have to be an Englishman to have a crush on Premier League, or French to fancy Tour de France. The love of sports knows no borders.
Why You Need a VPN for Sports
But borders keep interfering with your love of sports, nonetheless. Irrespective of your preferences, be it Formula 1, the Olympics, NFL, WWE, or College Basketball, you most likely want an international mix of sports in your streaming package. The problem is sports is a highly-regulated industry subject to copyright restrictions.
If some tournament is unavailable in your country, the copyright holder hasn’t made a deal with any of your local broadcasters. That’s when you need a Virtual Private Network to bypass the restriction.
Likewise, you can be in your home country and get locked out of your local sports events. Blackouts occur when a local broadcaster has exclusive rights to live stream a particular game in your region. That way, your sports streaming channel can not broadcast the game and you can’t live stream an event featuring your favorite local teams.
A VPN helps you bypass international and local blackouts by assigning you an IP address of a country or region where streaming of your favorite sports events is not blocked.
For the record, BestVPN.org does not condone illegal streaming or piracy disguised by VPNs. A VPN is primarily a means of privacy and security protection. Use it wisely and keep out of trouble.
How a VPN Unblocks Sports Streaming
Online cable TV subscriptions allow you to access an impressive mix of the US, Middle East, European, and international sports streams.
Sling TV is a go-to option if you want to access the US TV channels with just one subscription. It comes packed with over 30 channels, including all flavors of ESPN, Fox Sports, TNT, NFL Network, Golf Channel, BeIN US, and whatnot. Speaking of BeIN Sports, its Middle East repositories offer an amazing assortment of sports packages, including Bundesliga and the English Premiership. Sky Sports buys you as many sports channels as money can buy while Eurosport is a must-have for many European residents.
The bad news is you can’t access your sports streaming subscription being outside of the country where you bought it. So you get locked out of your Sling TV the moment you leave the U.S. soil.
A VPN allows you to pretend like you are in the country where streaming a particular game is allowed. By using a VPN, you can access these and many other sports streaming services, get yourself a subscription and stream as much as you want privately.
Is VPN for Sports Legal?
A VPN in itself is perfectly legal in most countries. Streaming official sports events locked in your region is something you shouldn’t be boasting on your Facebook page, however. Of course, spoofing into the U.S. and buying a Sling TV subscription is not as bad as streaming sports on piracy sites. You are paying the copyright holder after all.
Nonetheless, unblocking geo-blocked sports streams is still a breach of copyright, which can land you a hefty fine in most EU countries and in the U.S.
With that in mind, you need a trustworthy and secure VPN for sports streaming because you want to keep your online activity private.
How to Choose a VPN for Sports
The catch with a VPN is it routes your traffic through its servers. It means two things for your privacy. First, your traffic is encrypted and hidden from your snooping Internet Service Provider. Second, your VPN could potentially monitor your browsing activity and share that data with law enforcement if compelled.
That is why you want a VPN that doesn’t monitor your online activities. So the first thing to look out for in a VPN is its privacy policies, namely logging.
Trustworthy VPNs stick to a zero-logs policy, which means they do not monitor your browsing activities or store connection metadata.
Some decent providers log aggregate connection metadata for troubleshooting purposes, or when your subscription is metered or has caps on simultaneous connections. But being decent, such VPNs religiously delete these logs every few hours or days.
Connection logs can potentially be used against you if copyright sharks compel your VPN to hand over your account data. Which brings us to the next critical criterion – how a VPN provider protects its users from court orders, copyright trolls, and all that jazz.
Many companies change their jurisdictions to privacy-friendly locations like Romania, Hungary, Seychelles, Hong Kong, or Panama, where they can’t be compelled to disclose customers’ data.
Some companies don’t keep any logs whatsoever. That way, if a zero-logs provider is incorporated in the U.S. and can be compelled to cooperate with law enforcement, it has nothing it could share with authorities in the first place.
Next in line is watertight security to ensure your VPN is not leaking your private data. You want to be looking for a provider that offers OpenVPN protocol with military-grade encryption, typically 256-bit AES complete with DNS leak protection and a kill switch since it’s the optimal configuration that ensures your privacy.
You need consistently high speeds for streaming live sports events. Otherwise, awkward buffering pauses turn the whole experience into a torture.
Established companies with a broad server coverage tend to offer superior speeds. Look for the feature called streaming-optimized servers. With servers tagged for streaming, you don’t need to look for a server manually, testing speeds for a dozen of locations. Instead, you just pick a streaming-optimized server in a location that’s closest to where you are physically and stream in HD without buffering.
Look for a VPN offering ample server coverage in the region into which you want to spoof. You don’t want a VPN with only two servers in Oceania if your goal is to stream Australian sports channels.
For a complete breakdown of important VPN features (cross-platform client, ease of use, mobile apps and more), please read my brief VPN Guide for Beginners.
Without further ado, below is a list of top-notch VPNs that help you stream sports privately.
VyprVPN is an established provider operating in more than 60 countries, including 9 locations in the U.S. alone. Deploying robust security with 256-bit AES encryption and OpenVPN protocol, VyprVPN successfully bypasses the toughest of firewalls, including that of China. Perhaps, the reason for this superior efficiency in bypassing firewalls is its proprietary Chameleon protocol, which protects your traffic from Deep Packet Inspection (a technique used by firewalls to distinguish VPN traffic and selectively block it).
Another advantage of VyprVPN is it owns its servers instead of renting them, so the provider has the full control over the hardware and privacy of the data flowing through its network. It also enjoys Swiss jurisdiction with its pro-privacy laws.
Complete with apps for all major desktop and mobile platforms, VyprVPN can cover all your devices and allows up to 5 simultaneous connections. A 3-day free trial is available.
NordVPN is a VPN worth trying if you are a streaming buff looking to use a VPN on multiple devices simultaneously. Allowing 6 simultaneous connections, NordVPN runs one of the largest networks of 3350 servers across 60+ countries.
Providing consistently high speeds, NordVPN allows you to stream sports in HD quality while protecting your privacy with military-grade encryption, OpenVPN, Double VPN, and a kill switch. It is also based in off-shore Panama, adhering to a strict no-log policy.
Offering a generous 30-day money-back guarantee, NordVPN kicks in at $12 per month, $69 per year and $79 for two years.
3. Buffered VPN
Buffered VPN is a Hungarian VPN offering quality service and flawless streaming, especially for Windows devotees. Boasting a laundry list of features, Buffered VPN comes pre-loaded with a nifty Port Discovery Mode, which scans WiFi networks for open ports so that you can hitchhike without a password while enjoying a secure, encrypted connection.
Buffered VPN works with the OpenVPN protocol, providing a solid security and decent speeds. Its subscriptions are covered by a 30-day money-back guarantee but are somewhat pricey at $13 and $99 per month and year respectively.
IPVanish could easily become your instant crush since it runs a humongous network of 1000 servers in 60 locations, and allows 5 simultaneous connections. It’s also a zero-logs provider that accepts Bitcoin, so its U.S. jurisdiction doesn’t hurt its popularity.
IPVanish is a great VPN for sports due to its high download speeds and easy-to-use native client for Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android and manual setup guides for a wealth of other platforms. If you are new to VPNs, IPVanish could just make the cut because it’s usability is top-notch.
IPVanish costs $10 per month or $78 a year and backs your first-time purchase with a 7-day refund policy. Bitcoin is accepted.
5. Express VPN
Express VPN is a solid option for streaming sports, with an impressive network of streaming-optimized servers in 94 countries and great speeds ideal for HD streaming. With sleek VPN clients for most platforms including mobile, Express VPN allows three simultaneous connections.
Its customer service is one of the best in the industry, so if you need help setting up a specific sports streaming service, ping them via live chat.
With a 30-day money-back guarantee, Express VPN comes at $13 in monthly and $100 in its yearly subscription. Bitcoin is accepted.
6. CyberGhost VPN
CyberGhost has a decent network spanning 1.000 servers speedy enough for flawless HD sports streaming while its cross-platform VPN software is easy-to-use. Based in Romania, CyberGhost VPN enjoys a great pro-privacy climate and keeps no logs, not even connection metadata.
Despite its ease of use, CyberGhost is rock-solid in terms of security, with OpenVPN, 256-bit AES encryption, DNS and IPv6 leak protection, a kill switch, malware and ad blocker.
A single license grants you 5 simultaneous connections while offering one of the most wallet-friendly pricing tiers on the market - $12/mo, $72/year, and $84/2 years.
PrivateVPN offers particularly high speeds in short-distance connections, while long-distance streaming might experience buffering delays occasionally. It’s solid on the security front, with OpenVPN, AES-256, kill switch, NAT firewall, and port forwarding.
Allowing 6 simultaneous connections, it is competitively priced at $8.21 per month, $16.88 per trimester, and $54 per year, complete with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
If you don’t appreciate being limited by a selection of 7 big-name providers (I certainly don’t), below are some more VPNs for sports streaming totally worth a mention:
- Ivacy allows 5 simultaneous connections and provides excellent speeds for HD streaming thanks to optimized servers and a decent network. It may not be the best option for mobile platforms, though.
- Le VPN could just make the cut because it offers servers in as many as 114 countries, which means you can stream sports from virtually any country. Providing HybridVPN and good speeds for streaming, it’s dirt-cheap at $4.95 per month. It’s also French, so you want to steer clear of spoofing into France because its laws are strict on copyright infringement.
- Bullet VPN is based in Estonia, which is good for your privacy. Offering great speeds, a plug-and-play Virtual Router, P2P, SmartDNS, and 3 simultaneous connections, it’s cheap and efficient.
- TorGuard might be another self-evident contender for sports streaming due to its great selection of servers, high-end security, DDoS protection, advanced customizations, OpenVPN, 5 simultaneous connections, and a dedicated IP service.
- Invisible Browsing VPN provides blazing-fast speeds and supports a wealth of platforms, including routers. P2P is allowed, and they offer a 24-hour free trial.
- Trust.zone features 130 servers optimized specifically for streaming, gaming, or P2P torrenting while successfully unblocking all your sports channels. It also has a free trial.
- Unblock.us is a fine VPN for sports offering some of the most wallet-friendly subscriptions for its SmartDNS and SmartVPN servers that bypass any geo-block you throw at them.
- Safer VPN might just be an ideal VPN for sports streaming with 700+ servers in 34 countries. Its intuitive software comes complete with a kill switch and robust security. A free trial is available.
To steer clear of legal complications, you need to monitor news about your VPN provider religiously. If something changes about its privacy policies and it enables logging, or changes jurisdiction, or makes it to the headlines for cooperating with authorities, you need to switch providers quickly.
The market is changing rapidly while copyright trolls and surveillance agencies are looking to turn all VPNs into their honeypots. PureVPN, for instance, has been recently caught logging user data and sharing it with the FBI. Likewise, HideMyAss was found providing user logs to the US authorities consequently helping them put Cody Kretsinger behind bars.
Unblocking geo-restricted sports streams in the UK can land you a 10-year prison sentence, especially if you stream with Kodi. In the U.S. and across the E.U., a DMCA notice can lead to a hefty fine, so it only makes sense to stay abreast of the industry news.
Finally, test your VPN regularly for DNS, IPv6 and WebRTC leaks to make sure it’s not leaking your private data, exposing your identity.
Don’t feel intimidated by the wealth of VPN criteria, technical specs, and features if you are new to VPNs. Your best bet would be to pick a handful of VPNs from the list, read through their full reviews, and test one or two before subscribing to a long-term plan. Fortunately, reputable providers on the list honor their refund policies, so you are able to run your tests without breaking the bank.
I hope this roundup helps you pick an ideal VPN for sports streaming, but if you have more VPN suggestions, or would like to share your experience unblocking sports channels, feel free to leave your comment below.