Updated April 22, 2019
ESPN. It's in the game.
Without a doubt, ESPN is the world's most famous sports broadcaster. However, millions of sports fans around the world are unable to access ESPN because they live in, or have traveled to, a country where access to the broadcaster’s content is blocked. A virtual private network (VPN) is the most effective way of overcoming the location-based restrictions, so that you can watch your favorite sports.
Here, we offer you an easy-to-follow guide on how to stream content from ESPN from a blocked location. Our experts have tested numerous VPN services and narrowed them down to the ones best suited for viewing ESPN. Some of the considerations we made when comparing VPN service providers is the general speed of the VPNs, as well as the size and reliability of their server network.
The Best Sports Broadcaster that Many Sports Fans Wish They Had
US-based ESPN is easily among the most watched sports broadcasters worldwide. With more than 10 distinct channels, this broadcaster dominates the market for streaming content in professional sports and men’s college sports. However, even as it boasts unrivaled popularity, ESPN blocks users from most countries in the world from accessing and viewing its broadcasts.
In addition to streaming sports content directly on its websites, ESPN also provides its users with the option of following live sports on their smartphones and tablets using the WatchESPN app. The broadcaster has a wide variety of live TV channels: ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN3, ESPNU, ESPNews, ESPN Desportes, ESPN Goal Line, ESPN NBA, ESPN Buzzer Beater, Longhorn Network, and SEC Network.
Many sports fans prefer ESPN to other live sports broadcasters for many reasons, not least because each of the broadcaster’s many channels is dedicated to specific sports. Unfortunately, when a majority of these avid sports fans outside attempt to open ESPN on their browser or on the app, an error message is promptly displayed, indicating that the service is not available in their current location. Needless to say, this can be quite discouraging.
The reasons for the implementation of these location-based restrictions are the terms in the international licensing agreements which ESPN is party to. The broadcaster has been granted the right to air sports events at specific times and regions. To determine the location from which you are accessing their website or app, ESPN first checks your IP address.
If the IP address of your device is not within the US, the connection is blocked. The good news is that with the right tool—a VPN—you can bypass those blocks. A VPN masks the IP address of your devices, making it appear as though you are opening the website or app from the location of your choosing. In this case, it would be the US.
In addition to IP masking, providers of VPN services also ensure that your Internet connection is private and secure, out of the reach of the now ubiquitous online surveillance by nosey government agencies and attacks from malicious hackers. In this case, however, our experts’ top priority when testing various VPNs was the reliability of the service when it came to circumventing ESPN’s location-based restrictions.
Admittedly, there is no shortage of free VPNs online and, to be fair, some of them offer good basic services. However, even the best free VPN will not suffice if you’re interested in accessing and streaming content from the most popular broadcasters, including Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer and ESPN.
The reason for this is the fact that top-ranking broadcasters and streaming services invest a fortune in building firewalls that prevent users outside their regions of coverage from accessing their content—and these firewalls are becoming increasingly sophisticated. Your best bet is having a premium VPN service provider on your side, which is equally dedicated to developing superior technology that can easily bypass Geo-blocks and offer you a seamless, buffer-free streaming experience.
Streaming ESPN Outside the US Using WatchESPN
The first step to watch ESPN live outside the US is connecting to a server that your VPN service has located in the US so that you get a US IP address. Note that this will only work if you already own a subscription account on an American cable. It is, therefore, imperative that all your details are ready when you are signing in.
This method comes in handy when you’re traveling outside the US for a brief period, or if you have friends or family residing in America and are subscribed to cable. Keep in mind, though, that VPN services are not all identical. The reliability of the VPN you use and its encryption technology, among other things, will determine your viewing experience.
Top 3 VPN for Streaming ESPN Outside the US in 2018
The considerations that our experts made when testing these VPN services for ESPN include high-speed HD streaming, the number of US servers available, DNS leak protection to completely hide users’ location, mobile/desktop apps, and the user interface.
For buffer-free HD/UHD streaming of ESPN content, ExpressVPN ranked highest as it boasts of 23 US server locations. Globally, the VPN provider has a broad network of server locations spread over 78 countries. It was among the top performers in our Geo-unblocking and speed tests.
ExpressVPN does not keep its users’ data logs. It does, however, retain some metadata related to the total amount of data a user transfers in a day, as well as the server location. The VPN uses AES-256 encryption standards and features a kill switch to ensure that your identity remains hidden in case the VPN connection drops for whatever reason.
Based in the British Virgin Islands, ExpressVPN is outside the jurisdiction of US and UK government authorities, meaning that the provider cannot be easily compelled to give away your data. It has apps for all platforms: iOS, Android, MacOS, Windows, and Linux.
NordVPN comes in a close second, with a notable network of 57 server locations worldwide. When it comes to streaming ESPN content, the difference between this VPN provider and ExpressVPN is marginal.
You can be sure that you will never miss connecting to ESPN, thanks to NordVPN’s impressive 275 standard physical US servers. Peace of mind comes with the NordVPN package as well, as it is based in Panama, out of the reach of repressive laws w demand that Internet service providers reveal your data to authorities.
You enjoy an additional layer of anonymity when you make payments using Bitcoin. For stronger security, NordVPN offers features such as a double-hop VPN service which tunnels all your data through not one but two VPNs. Like, ExpressVPN, it has a no-logs policy and compatibility across all major device platforms.
Furthermore, this provider has specials servers tailored to ultra-high-speed streaming, so you can watch ESPN free as you tour Nepal, for example.
User-centered technology is one of the main things that have made IPVanish maintain its place among the top ESPN VPNs. With over 60 server networks in different countries, and over 300 dedicated physical US-located servers, it’s easy to see why this VPN provider made the list. Another unique advantage which IPVanish has is the fact that it owns all its physical servers, unlike many providers who rent servers, so connectivity and speed are top-quality.
Although it may be based in the US, IPVanish adheres to a strict “no-logs” policy that is reinforced by AES-256 encryption, as well as OpenVPN default protocol, SHA512 authentication, and robust DHE-RSA 20148 key exchange feature impressive forward secrecy. Finally, this VPN supports Android, iOS, MacOS, and Windows.
Using Sling TV to Stream ESPN
The on-demand service, Sling TV, allows you to view TV channels on television, desktop, and mobile. Like its satellite and cable TV counterparts, Sling TV offers TV series, news, games, and movies with the exception that the content is delivered online. You can access ESPN, ESPN2, and ESPN3 through the basic package of Sling TV.
Unfortunately, the service is only available in the US, and accepts only US credit cards. On the upside, you need not have a cable subscription to use the service. The good news is that you can pay for the service by using PayPal to buy a Sling TV gift card worth $100, $50, or $25. The cheapest package for the service (the $20 Sling Orange) can get you a month’s subscription of ESPN.
Keep in mind that you must switch on your VPN and connect to a US server to buy a Sling TV account. Failure to do so would lead to an error message when you attempt to make the purchase.
After configuring your VPN, select a US location before going to the subscription page on the Sling TV website, and redeeming your gift card. Once you’re there, follow the instructions on the website to sign up and you’re ready to start streaming ESPN.
A Final Thought from VPN Base
There’s no good reason why you shouldn’t keep up with your favorite sports simply because you don’t reside in the US. A top-ranked, highly reliable VPN, along with the PayPal gift card and SlingTV account, ensure that you’re plugged into the heart-stopping adventure of the sports world no matter that your location in the world may be.