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The best VPN for streaming in Australia
Streaming geoblocked content in Australia can be as easy as choosing the right VPN.
There are many uses for a virtual private network (VPN). Security and privacy are primary functions. Finding cheaper deals overseas. Accessing corporate or university websites. And then there’s streaming video content that’s typically geoblocked.
While NordVPN and ExpressVPN fight it out as the top two VPN contenders as far as our reviews are concerned (we’ve reviewed 15 VPNs), Windscribe comes out on top as the best choice for streaming, with speedy results across US, UK and Australian services. Using a VPN for streaming unlocks new overseas content or allows you to stream Australian content when you’re out of the country.
- : Best VPN for streaming in Australia
- : Best cheap VPN for streaming
- : VPN with the best reputation
- : Best streaming VPN for versatility
- : Best VPN deal for streaming
- : Best rated VPN (overall)
Best for (streaming)
Cheapest subscription price
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US buffering speeds
UK buffering speeds
AU buffering speed
|Best VPN for streaming||US$5.75/mth||View Plans||Fast (Netflix, HBO, Hulu)||Fast (BBC iPlayer)||Fast (Kayo, Stan)|
|Best cheap VPN for streaming||US$2.08/mth||View Plans||Fast (Hulu, HBO, Peacock); Moderate (Netflix)||Moderate (BBC iPlayer)||Fast (Kayo, Stan)|
|Best VPN reputation||US$8.32/mth||View Plans||Fast (Netflix, HBO, Hulu)||Fast (BBC iPlayer)||Fast (Stan); Moderate (Kayo)|
|Best VPN versatility||AU$11.99/mth||View Plans||Fast (Netflix, HBO, Hulu)||Fast (BBC iPlayer)||Fast (Stan)|
|Best VPN deal||US$4.99/mth||View Plans||Fast (Netflix, HBO, Hulu)||Moderate (BBC iPlayer)||Fast (Stan)|
|Best rated VPN (overall)||US$3.99/mth (initial pricing)||View Plans||Fast (Netflix, HBO, Hulu)||Fast (BBC iPlayer)||Fast (Stan)|
Data effective 26/5/2020. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
Best VPN for streaming in Australia
Windscribe has its fair share of VPN foibles, but streaming isn’t one of those. Assuming your internet connection is fast enough—we recommend NBN 50 as a minimum for seamless VPN streaming—Windscribe was quick to load libraries and fast to buffer for popular US streaming services, including American Netflix, HBO Max and Hulu. While you can expect a bigger speed hit when connecting to UK servers (true of any VPN), Windscribe was still fast to stream BBC iPlayer content. Similarly, for those who use a VPN all the time or are looking to access Australian content while travelling, Windscribe tackled Stan and Kayo with ease, the latter of which is particularly adept at sniffing out VPNs.
For an alternative, consider ExpressVPN (more on that below) or Surfshark if you’d like unlimited simultaneous connections (like Windscribe).
Best cheap VPN for streaming
The cheapest overall VPN that we’ve tested is Atlas VPN, which has fast streaming results for most services but couldn’t bypass Kayo’s geoblocking efforts. That’s where the second-cheapest overall VPN we’ve tested steps in: PureVPN. While monthly pricing only edges into the top five, PureVPN’s annual subscription and two-year offer both step into the top three. There’s also a 31-day money-back guarantee on all PureVPN subscriptions if you want to test streaming before committing to a long-term subscription. If you do, try out the Windows software, which offers fast streaming results and, even if there is a block, it’s a temporary hurdle that’s bypassed by using the convenient ‘change server’ button.
For alternatives, consider PrivadoVPN for its cheap monthly pricing and 10 simultaneous connections as well as Private Internet Access VPN (even if their streaming results weren’t as impressive).
The VPN with the best reputation
According to Australian user-review website Trustpilot, ExpressVPN has a 4.7 out of 5 rating after 11,000 reviews. More than 9,000 of those reviews are five-star scores (85%), too. From a streaming perspective, it’s easy to see why ExpressVPN is so popular. ExpressVPN unblocked every service we tested it with, with the only proviso being that Kayo had moderate buffering speeds. That’s still impressive, though, particularly because only Windscribe and PureVPN were able to bypass Kayo’s VPN countermeasures in our tests (and Kayo had slow buffering with PureVPN). ExpressVPN is held back by five simultaneous connections, but it’s an easy-to-use streaming companion with lots of server locations.
For alternatives, consider Hotspot Shield (more on that VPN below) or TunnelBear if you only want to stream US and UK services.
4. Hotspot Shield
Best streaming VPN for versatility
Hotspot Shield may not have scored as highly as ExpressVPN and NordVPN, but it’s still the VPN service I use the most every week. Why? It’s incredibly easy to use, boasts very speedy servers, and does a great job at bypassing geoblocks (US services in particular). Admittedly, Peacock only has moderate buffering speeds and Kayo stops Hotspot Shield from bypassing its VPN blocks. Fast speeds for streaming, though, mean fast speeds for downloading, and Hotspot Shield has such a minimal impact when using Australian servers that you’ll likely forget it’s on. While the main Hotspot Shield subscription only has five simultaneous connections, the Hotspot Shield Premium Family plan covers up to 25 (even if it’s not particularly cheap).
For speedy alternatives that are equally easy to use and have great advanced features, go with NordVPN or ExpressVPN.
Best VPN deal for streaming
The great thing about ProtonVPN is it has a free version to take for a spin so you can get a feel for it. That won’t offer the best streaming results, though, so we’d advise taking advantage of the 30-day money-back guarantee on a premium plan. Of those, there’s a two-year deal that works out to be around US$80 cheaper than a similar biennial plan from NordVPN. In terms of streaming, Proton VPN offers speedy buffering for all of the US services we tested as well as Stan in Australia. Unfortunately, it couldn’t get past Kayo’s VPN block, and UK tests reaped moderate-speed buffering results.
For a cheap alternative with similar performance, consider PrivadoVPN.
Top-rated VPN (overall)
NordVPN is our pick for the best overall VPN. This includes everything from overall value, server locations, connection speed, security and anonymity, and advanced features. There’s a reason that more than 14 million people use NordVPN around the globe. You can also get comparable first-year pricing or cheaper biennial pricing with NordVPN, though the price goes up after those initial long-term periods. Regardless of whatever you pay for NordVPN, it had fast buffering speeds for almost every test service we threw at it. The only exception is Kayo, but that’s not surprising given the popularity of NordVPN and the diligence of Kayo at blocking VPNs.
For a similarly rated contender, consider ExpressVPN.
What to look for in a VPN for streaming
When you’re shopping around for a streaming VPN, it really matters to pick which services you want to stream. If you’re only interested in a particular geoblocked streaming service or a selection from a particular country, you’ll have more options. For those after a more versatile streaming solution, we’d advise going with Windscribe or ExpressVPN.
Use the selections highlighted above as a general guide for accessing content in the US, UK and for Australian services. The latter streaming services will be of interest to expat Aussies or those travelling as it’s a great way to keep up with content back home by connecting to an Australian server. Note that Kayo is very, very good at blocking VPN workarounds.
Once you’ve determined what you want to stream, focus on cost. Generally, you can expect to pay in US dollars for most VPN services, plus they work out cheaper per month if you buy a longer subscription. Use the ranking below as a guide to the most versatile VPNs that we’ve reviewed when it comes to streaming:
- Atlas VPN
- Hotspot Shield
- Hola VPN
- VPN Unlimited
- Private Internet Access
- Surfshark VPN
- Norton Secure VPN
- CyberGhost VPN
- Mullvad VPN
How we choose the best streaming VPNs
We take a range of factors into account when reviewing a VPN for everyday use. But when it comes to streaming, there are some very focused considerations. For starters, we like a VPN that’s easy to use and has a good selection of platform compatibility.
Most important of all is that a VPN works with common international streaming services, ideally with the default servers per country so you don’t have to click around to find one that works. For testing US streaming services, we connect to the closest US VPN server to test streaming from HBO Max, Hulu, Peacock and the Netflix US library.
For UK testing, we connect to a UK VPN server and see whether it’s possible to access BBC iPlayer, plus how long it takes to load the library and buffer content (true of all services). For Australian services, we connect to an Australian VPN server to test Kayo and Stan, including Stan Sport. Other factors we consider for a great streaming VPN are cost, deals for longer subscriptions, overall versatility, as well as overall rating (our own and user scores).
Frequently asked questions about streaming with a VPN
Netflix does allow for VPN use, but if it detects your VPN, the content will be limited to TV shows and movies that have global rights. Using a VPN to bypass this feature may be a violation of user terms and conditions.
Assuming you have a fast enough internet connection to handle the inherent speed drop of using a VPN server, certain VPNs are great for streaming. Consider Windscribe, ExpressVPN and NordVPN as the top three according to our tests.
Some free VPNs may allow for streaming, but free VPNs usually have speed or data restrictions so they’re not the best fit. Free VPNs also tend to have limited server locations, so you might not even be able to access the region you want for streaming geoblocked content.