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VPNs and Streaming Services: Navigating Geoblocks and Content Restrictions

Miklos Zoltan

By Miklos Zoltan . 18 June 2024

Founder - Privacy Affairs

Alex Popa

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If you’re like me and love streaming your favorite shows and movies, you’ve probably encountered the frustrating reality of geoblocks and content restrictions.

These barriers can prevent you from accessing certain content based on your geographic location.

But don’t worry—there’s a solution! VPNs (Virtual Private Networks) can help you navigate these restrictions and unlock a world of entertainment.

In this article, I’ll share my personal experiences with VPNs and streaming services, explain how VPNs work to bypass geoblocks, and recommend some of the best VPNs for streaming.

Let’s dive in!

Understanding Geoblocks and Content Restrictions

Streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, and Disney+ offer a vast library of content.

However, due to licensing agreements and regional restrictions, not all content is available in every country.

This is where geoblocks come into play—they restrict access to content based on your geographic location. For example, a show available on Netflix US might not be accessible if you’re in the UK.

As a frequent traveler and streaming enthusiast, I’ve faced these geoblocks more times than I can count.

It’s incredibly frustrating when you’re eager to watch a new release or continue a series, only to find it’s unavailable in your current location.

How VPNs Bypass Geoblocks

VPNs work by masking your real IP address and routing your internet traffic through a server in a different location.

This makes it appear as if you’re browsing from that server’s location, allowing you to bypass geoblocks and access content restricted to that region.

Here’s a simple breakdown of how VPNs help you access restricted content:

  1. Connect to a VPN Server: When you connect to a VPN, you select a server in the country where the content you want to access is available.
  2. IP Address Masking: The VPN masks your real IP address with one from the server’s location.
  3. Access Restricted Content: Streaming services see the IP address of the VPN server, not your actual location. This allows you to access content that’s available in the server’s country.

My Personal Experience with VPNs for Streaming

I’ve tried several VPNs over the years to enhance my streaming experience. Here are some of my top recommendations based on performance, reliability, and ease of use:

1. ExpressVPN:

ExpressVPN is my go-to VPN for streaming. It’s incredibly fast, which is crucial for watching high-definition content without buffering.

ExpressVPN has servers in 94 countries, allowing you to access a wide range of content. I’ve used it to watch Netflix US, BBC iPlayer, and Hulu with no issues.

Their 24/7 customer support is also a huge plus if you run into any problems.

2. NordVPN:

NordVPN is another excellent choice. It has over 5,500 servers in 60 countries and offers specialized servers for streaming.

I love their SmartPlay feature, which ensures a seamless streaming experience by automatically connecting you to the best server.

NordVPN also provides strong security features, so you’re protected while you binge-watch your favorite shows.

3. CyberGhost:

CyberGhost is user-friendly and offers dedicated streaming servers optimized for services like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Disney+.

With over 7,000 servers in 90 countries, CyberGhost provides excellent global coverage. I’ve found it particularly useful for accessing European content while traveling in Asia.

4. Surfshark:

Surfshark is a budget-friendly option that doesn’t compromise on quality. It offers unlimited simultaneous connections, which is perfect if you have multiple devices.

Surfshark’s CleanWeb feature blocks ads and malware, enhancing your overall streaming experience. I’ve used it to access various regional libraries on Netflix, and it works like a charm.

5. ProtonVPN:

ProtonVPN is known for its strong focus on privacy and security. It’s developed by the team behind ProtonMail, so you can trust that your data is in good hands.

ProtonVPN has servers in over 50 countries and offers a free plan with no data limits, making it a great choice for budget-conscious users who still want access to restricted content.

Tips for Using VPNs with Streaming Services

1. Choose the Right Server: When using a VPN, select a server located in the country where the content you want to access is available. Most VPN apps allow you to choose servers by country, making it easy to find the right one.

2. Test Different Servers: Sometimes, streaming services may block certain VPN servers. If you encounter this issue, try connecting to a different server in the same country. Most top VPNs have multiple servers in popular regions.

3. Clear Your Cache and Cookies: Streaming services can sometimes detect your real location through cookies and cache stored in your browser. Clearing them can help ensure your VPN works effectively.

4. Use Browser Extensions: Some VPN providers offer browser extensions that can be more effective for streaming. These extensions are easy to use and can help you quickly switch locations.

5. Stay Updated: VPN providers frequently update their server lists to bypass new blocks implemented by streaming services. Keep your VPN app updated to ensure you have access to the latest servers.

Did You Know?

  • Netflix’s War on VPNs: Netflix has been actively blocking VPNs to enforce its licensing agreements. However, top VPNs like ExpressVPN and NordVPN continually update their servers to stay ahead of these blocks.
  • Global Content Access: With a reliable VPN, you can access content libraries from around the world. For example, Japanese Netflix has a unique library of anime and other regional content that you can enjoy from anywhere.
  • Improved Streaming Quality: Some VPNs offer features like split tunneling, allowing you to route only your streaming traffic through the VPN. This can improve streaming quality by reducing the load on the VPN server.

Additional Considerations for Using VPNs with Streaming Services

1. VPN Speed and Performance: When it comes to streaming, speed is critical. VPNs can sometimes slow down your internet connection due to the encryption process. To minimize this impact, choose a VPN known for its fast speeds and reliable performance. ExpressVPN and NordVPN are particularly renowned for their high-speed servers.

2. Streaming-Specific Features: Some VPNs offer features specifically designed to enhance streaming. For example, CyberGhost has dedicated streaming servers that are optimized for different streaming services. Surfshark’s CleanWeb feature blocks ads, which can be especially useful when streaming content from ad-supported services.

3. Device Compatibility: Ensure that the VPN you choose is compatible with all your devices. Most top VPNs offer apps for Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, and even smart TVs and gaming consoles. This way, you can enjoy your favorite shows on any device without hassle.

4. Simultaneous Connections: If you have multiple devices or a family that loves to stream, look for a VPN that offers multiple or unlimited simultaneous connections. Surfshark is great for this, as it allows unlimited connections on a single subscription.

5. Pricing and Plans: While free VPNs can be tempting, they often come with limitations and security risks. Investing in a reliable paid VPN service ensures better performance, security, and customer support. Many VPN providers offer discounts and multi-year plans, making them more affordable in the long run.

Real-World Examples and Personal Insights

As someone who travels frequently, a reliable VPN has become an essential tool for me. Here are a few personal insights and real-world examples of how VPNs have enhanced my streaming experience:

1. Accessing Netflix US in Europe: While traveling in Europe, I often find that my favorite shows and movies on Netflix US are unavailable. By connecting to a US server using ExpressVPN, I can easily access the full US Netflix library. The connection is always fast, and I can stream in HD without any buffering.

2. Watching BBC iPlayer Abroad: BBC iPlayer has some fantastic content that’s only available in the UK. When I’m outside the UK, I use CyberGhost to connect to a UK server. CyberGhost’s dedicated streaming servers ensure a smooth and reliable connection, allowing me to enjoy BBC content from anywhere.

3. Streaming Anime on Japanese Netflix: I’m a big anime fan, and Japanese Netflix has a unique selection that’s not available in other regions. NordVPN’s SmartPlay feature makes it easy to access Japanese Netflix. The connection is always fast, and the streaming quality is excellent.

4. Using Surfshark for Family Streaming: With Surfshark’s unlimited simultaneous connections, my entire family can enjoy different streaming services on multiple devices. Whether it’s watching Disney+ on the TV, Hulu on a tablet, or Netflix on a laptop, Surfshark handles it all seamlessly.


Navigating geoblocks and content restrictions can be frustrating, but with the right VPN, you can unlock a world of entertainment.

Whether you’re traveling or simply want to access a wider range of content, a VPN is an essential tool for any streaming enthusiast.

Based on my experiences, ExpressVPN, NordVPN, CyberGhost, Surfshark, and ProtonVPN are excellent choices that offer fast, secure, and reliable access to streaming services worldwide.

So, grab your popcorn, connect to a VPN, and enjoy unlimited streaming freedom!

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