Best VPN for Streaming

VPNs are perfect for accessing geo-restricted streaming content. They allow you to watch all your favorite movies, TV shows, and online videos no matter where you are in the world. Whether you regularly travel for work or you’re looking to unblock certain content only available in other countries, if you want to know what is the best VPN for streaming, you’ve come to the right place!

In this post, we’ve pitted the top three VPNs — ExpressVPN, NordVPN, and Surfshark — head-to-head to see which one comes out on top!

What we tested

For our testing, we selected four of the most popular platforms for watching online content —Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime Video, and YouTube. We tested the VPNs’ abilities to avoid detection (certain platforms will block your access if they detect that you’re using a VPN), how quickly each of the platforms initially load, and whether or not there is noticeable buffering.

Netflix results

Who doesn’t have a Netflix account these days? No VPN streaming test would be complete without including it!

 Was it detected?Initial loading performanceVideo loading performance
ExpressVPNNeverExcellentNo buffering
NordVPNNeverNoticeably slower than normalSome considerable buffering
SurfsharkSome servers were detectedExcellentSome considerable buffering

ExpressVPN easily came out on top here. It suffered no detection issues, loaded instantly every time, and we experienced no buffering either. The same can’t be said for the others, however. NordVPN performed somewhat slowly in both initial loading and buffering tests, but it was able to go fully undetected. Unfortunately, Netflix was able to detect Surfshark when connected to some servers, and when we were able to stream content, there was some noticeable buffering. Initial loading was speedy, however.

Winner: ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN — best for Netflix

BBC iPlayer results

Those Brits produce some superb stuff, so we wanted to see how good the VPNs were at unblocking content from across the pond!

 Was it detected?Initial loading performanceVideo loading performance
ExpressVPNNeverExcellentSome servers had some noticeable buffering
NordVPNNeverExcellentNo buffering 
SurfsharkSome servers were detectedExcellentNo buffering

iPlayer is notorious for being able to detect VPNs, so we were excited to see which ones performed best in that regard. Fortunately, both ExpressVPN and NordVPN passed with flying colors. Surfshark, however, once again was detected when connected to some servers. iPlayer loaded super quickly when using all three VPNs, but ExpressVPN did suffer some buffering issues on certain servers, which the other two did not.

Winner: NordVPN 

For BBC iPlayer, you can’t beat NordVPN

Amazon Prime Video results

We wanted to see how well the VPNs can unblock content from Amazon because it can sometimes prove to be a challenge.

 Was it detected?Initial loading performanceVideo loading performance
ExpressVPNNeverExcellentNo buffering
NordVPNNeverExcellentNo buffering
SurfsharkSome servers were detectedNoticeably slower than normalNo buffering

Once again, it was only Surfshark that suffered detection issues. It was also the only VPN that Amazon Prime Video didn’t load instantly when using, too. It didn’t run into any buffering issues, however, but neither did ExpressVPN or NordVPN.

Winner: ExpressVPN and NordVPN (tie)

Surfshark — not performing as well as we would’ve hoped

YouTube results

Although it’s the most popular video-sharing website in the world, it’s not accessible in every country, so this was an essential test.

 Was it detected?Initial loading performanceVideo loading performance
ExpressVPNNeverExcellentNo buffering
NordVPNNeverExcellentNo buffering
SurfsharkNeverExcellentNo buffering

As you can see from the table above, all three VPNs performed superbly in every aspect when tested on YouTube. If watching YouTube is the primary reason you’re looking for a VPN, take your pick!

And the winner is…

With two wins apiece to their names, it’s a two-way tie between ExpressVPN and NordVPN! Unfortunately, if the main reason you’re looking for a VPN is for streaming, it’s difficult to recommend Surfshark.

Whether you should opt for either ExpressVPN or NordVPN, however, will depend on which streaming service you use most frequently. If you spend more time watching Netflix rather than BBC iPlayer, you’ll want to choose ExpressVPN. If it’s the opposite that’s true, you’ll want to go for NordVPN.

Still not sure which VPN is the right one for you? Check out our other VPN buyer’s guides here:

Best Paid VPN
Best Free VPN
Fastest VPN