A VPN is standard equipment if you’re going online, and you never want to use public Wi-Fi without one. While you’re keeping yourself safe, you might as well get some other benefits too.
Some VPNs give you access to NFL content you may not be able to see otherwise. Streaming services don’t always give you access to every game every week, and if your home team’s stadium doesn’t sell out, then you may not even be able to watch the game that’s playing across the street. With a good VPN, though, you can log on to servers in other locations, ensuring you never miss a minute of action.
Below we’ll get into all the ins and outs of picking the best VPNs for watching NFL games while also keeping yourself safe.
If you’re going to use a VPN to access NFL programming, you might as well use one that improves your online security as well. No one keeps you safer than NordVPN. The company uses the latest technology, including the OpenVPN protocol, AES-256 encryption, and multihop to guarantee you are safe from hackers.
Heck, even the government can’t track you when you’re using NordVPN. The company is based in Panama, where no government agencies can subpoena its customers’ records. Just to be on the safe side, NordVPN doesn’t keep any records on its customers. NordVPN also costs as little as $3.99 a month.
NordVPN subscription plan
Cost per month
You can use any VPN to access Netflix in your country, but here’s a little secret not everyone knows: Every country has its own Netflix content. Netflix U.K. has shows and movies that aren’t available in the States. Netflix France has its own content. Germany has its own content. Japan has its own content. NordVPN, one of our best VPNs for Netflix, lets you log in to servers in all those countries and stream all that extra content.
2. Surfshark - Best with additional sports streaming options
Surfshark delivers NFL programming and a lot more sports content from around the globe. You can get great features such as split tunneling, plus tools for torrenting and a choice between shared and dynamic IP addresses. Add all that to top-notch security and you can see why Surfshark is near the top of our list of best VPNs.
Headquarters in the British Virgin Islands
With plenty of sunshine and sand, the British Virgin Islands is a lovely place to have offices. The location provides Surfshark more than great scenery though. BVI is outside the Five Eyes, Nine Eyes, and 14 Eyes surveillance organizations. Member countries of those organizations have agreed to share intelligence information with one another, and that information includes the customer data of all companies that do business within their boundaries. Call us cautious, but that makes us nervous. We’re glad Surfshark executives get to enjoy such a nice climate year-round because it means we can rest easy when we use the company’s VPN.
Did You Know: Member countries of Five Eyes, Nine Eyes, and 14 Eyes have agreed to share intelligence information with one another. That includes data about their citizens.
We’re lucky: Our bosses don’t mind if we sneak out of the office every once in a while and do our work remotely from the coffeehouse. Of course, they expect us to use a secure VPN any time we’re on public Wi-Fi. That’s no problem. The connection slows a little when we’re running apps such as Spotify at the same time, but with Surfshark we can use split tunneling to route Spotify through the coffeehouse Wi-Fi even while we’re logged on to the VPN. We save bandwidth and never have to worry that our Hozier playlist will hang up.
Like all the VPNs on this list, Surfshark does a great job getting access to NFL games — even the ones blacked out in our area. We don’t just get our kicks watching the gridiron though. Basketball, baseball, soccer: We love them all. Heck, we even like curling. With Surfshark, we don’t have to choose. The company offers easy access to all the best streaming sports services, from NBA League Pass to MLB.tv to UFC’s Fight Pass, so we never miss a game, a match, or a bout.
Of course, Surfshark isn’t a perfect VPN. There is no phone support and it’s not the fastest VPN we’ve tested, but overall it’s a solid VPN for the money.
IPVanish doesn’t have the name recognition of companies such as NordVPN and ExpressVPN, but it provides the same level of protection as those companies plus some great features. For instance, you can install IPVanish on all your devices — no matter how many you have — and use all those devices at the same time if you want. Plus IPVanish offers the WireGuard protocol and lightning-fast speeds. You get all that for a monthly subscription that’s almost $2 less than ExpressVPN’s price.
Unlimited Simultaneous Connections
There are VPNs that protect only one or two devices, but IPVanish has a different philosophy. If you buy a subscription, then the company will allow you to install its software on an unlimited number of devices. Not only that, but you can also use all those devices at the same time, since IPVanish allows an unlimited number of simultaneous connections. Yet IPVanish’s price — just $10.99 for a single-month subscription — is competitive with every other VPN on the market, including those one-device companies.
One of the things we appreciate most about IPVanish is the company’s commitment to investing in new technology. IPVanish has been instrumental, for instance, in developing the WireGuard protocol. A protocol is the instructions for how a VPN deploys its various encryption methods, and for many years OpenVPN has been the industry standard for VPN protocol. OpenVPN is open source and it has been around long enough to have been vetted by thousands of programmers.
WireGuard is open source, too, and it uses far less code, so it provides a faster connection. WireGuard hasn’t been around quite as long as OpenVPN, but its reputation is growing. If you really want the security of OpenVPN, then you can get that with IPVanish — but now you can choose WireGuard as well.
FYI: Like OpenVPN, the WireGuard protocol is open source. Because WireGuard uses around 90 percent less code, however, it is much faster than OpenVPN.1
Trust us: If you’re planning to use a VPN to watch NFL games, you’ll want to make sure you choose a fast one. There’s nothing worse than having your stream hang up just as the defense is about to deliver a bone-rattling hit on the quarterback, or as the tight end is making a circus catch in the end zone with no time left on the clock.
No worries about any of that with IPVanish. Its speeds are fast across the board. With the VPN running, our Windows latency increased by just 12 percent and our Mac latency increased by only 6 percent. Given that the industry average is 35 percent, those numbers are pretty remarkable.
Ivacy offers a great affordable alternative to some of the top-tier VPNs without sacrificing quality. Plans start at just $1.19 a month, and you get 1 TB of cloud storage thrown into the bargain. You’ll also still get AES-256 encryption, split tunneling, and unrestricted access to NFL games.
Lots of Subscription Options
We’re fans of choice, especially when it comes to VPN subscription plans. Sometimes what we want is a single-month subscription, since a long-term contract can feel so restrictive. Most VPNs offer deep discounts when you make a commitment up front, though, and we do like to save money. Luckily Ivacy offers tons of choices so we can always get what we want, whether that’s single-month plans, one-year plans, or even five-year plans. Even better: All of Ivacy’s prices are among the most affordable on the market.
Price per month
Dedicated IP Addresses
Ivacy specializes in dedicated IP addresses. In fact, dedicated addresses are the only kind of address the company offers. We normally recommend dynamic IP addresses, but dedicated addresses have their advantages. They’re almost as safe as dynamic addresses, but because they don’t change like dynamic addresses, the websites you visit always know who you are. With dynamic addresses, you may find that secure sites ask you repeatedly to verify your identity. Dedicated addresses can make your online experience faster and more convenient. Many VPNs offer dedicated addresses for an extra price, but they’re included with Ivacy’s price.
Ivacy is a good deal even if you’re interested only in the VPN itself. The deal gets even better when you consider that the company throws in 1 TB of cloud storage for no additional cost. That’s 250,000 photos, 500 hours of HD video, or 6.5 million documents. And, because you’re storing files in the cloud, they are accessible from wherever you are in the world. You can share them easily, any time, with friends, family, and coworkers. We’re not sure exactly why a company that specializes in VPNs would have cloud storage to spare, but we’re not going to complain about a free perk.
A list like this is only as good as the research that goes into it. That’s why we take our time and assess every VPN using an extensive set of criteria. We consider what each company does to ensure security, what kinds of speeds you can get using the VPN, whether a subscription comes with any special features, and how much a subscription costs. Only once we’ve evaluated all the VPNs out there and compared them with one another do we feel confident saying which ones will work best when you’re trying to watch the NFL. You can find a more detailed explanation of our process in our complete guide to VPNs or check out our brief outline below.
For this list, we were primarily interested in VPNs that could provide greater access to NFL games. There are many ways to watch NFL content. You may use a streaming service from a broadcast network such as FOX Sports or Paramount. On the other hand, you may use a more direct service such as NFL Network. You may find games blacked out on any of these services though. All the VPNs on this list let you log in to streaming content from remote servers so no one can tell where you’re actually located, which helps you avoid blackouts. It also allows you to access the NFL even if you’re traveling abroad.
Definition: A blackout is when a TV station doesn’t air a particular sporting event in a particular geographic area. Most blackouts happen when the team doesn’t sell enough stadium tickets to the event.
The bottom line matters, so price is one of the first things we look at. Some VPNs are just too expensive, no matter what perks they offer. Generally, we like to see prices between $10 and $13 for single-month subscription plans, but we also expect companies to offer significant discounts if we sign up for long-term contracts.
A year’s subscription, for example, should cost somewhere between $3 and $5 per month. Within that range, we have to consider what we’re getting for our money. We like low-cost VPNs, but we’re also willing to pay a little more for a VPN that is particularly secure or has a wide range of bonus features.
Speed is always an important consideration when it comes to VPNs, but especially when you’re thinking about VPNs to use with streaming services. All VPNs slow down your connection some, but the trick is to find the ones that slow it down as little as possible.
We’re interested in three kinds of speed: upload speed, download speed, and latency. We test for all three. First we check a device’s speed without the VPN running, which gives us a baseline number. Then we run the VPN and check the speed again. Comparing our results gives us a percentage we can then use to rank various VPNs side-by-side. We do this using both a Windows device and a Mac device, so we can say with confidence how well a VPN will perform on each operating system.
Security is at the heart of what a VPN does. A VPN that doesn’t conceal your identity and protect your data when you are online isn’t worth the money. A free VPN can cost you in the long run if it’s not secure. Security, though, isn’t a simple matter. Rather, it involves several independent factors.
Company location: VPNs based in Five Eyes, Nine Eyes, or 14 Eyes countries can be forced to turn over customer data to government agencies, so we prefer VPNs located in places like Panama, the British Virgin Islands, and Switzerland.
Encryption: A VPN is an encrypted tunnel — that’s the definition. The better the encryption, the better the VPN. We like companies that use AES-256 encryption, which is the same method employed by the U.S. government, including spy agencies and the military.
Protocols: Protocols are the instructions a VPN uses for how to employ its encryption methods. There are many different protocols out there, and each one provides a different benefit. All things being equal, we prefer the OpenVPN protocol because it’s open source and has a proven track record.
IP addresses: There are essentially two kinds of IP addresses: shared and dynamic. A shared address keeps you safe because when multiple users share the same address, no one from the outside can tell who is doing what online. Dynamic addresses keep you safe by rotating frequently, so no one knows which address you’re using at any given moment. Both get the job done, but dynamic addresses make you just a little harder to track.
Multihop: This technology routes your internet connection through multiple encrypted tunnels. As you may expect, doing so provides extra layers of security.
Kill switch: A kill switch logs you out of all your apps and websites if you lose your VPN signal. That way, no one can see what you’re up to even if your connection is dropped.
If a VPN is secure, then we don’t necessarily need a lot of extra features. They’re always nice to have, though, and sometimes they can even boost our productivity.
Servers and server locations: The nearer you are to a server, the stronger the signal is likely to be. The more servers a VPN maintains, the less crowded each one will be. In general, we look for VPNs with lots of servers spread out over lots of geographic locations.
Split tunneling: Split tunneling lets you log on to the normal internet at the same time you’re using a VPN. That can help save bandwidth and money because you don’t have to route everything through the VPN — just your sensitive data.
Streaming access: A VPN that can access Netflix doesn’t just allow users to sign on to Netflix. You don’t need a VPN for that. It allows you to sign on to Netflix all over the world, giving you access to content only available in other countries. The best VPNs help you access entertainment from all kinds of streaming services in locations around the globe.
Torrenting: Torrenting is another way to get lots of music, film, and television content, but torrenting is notoriously unsafe. A VPN with torrenting capabilities lets you download files without risking your own data.
We also consider customer service when we review a VPN. A VPN is a technology, and, like any technology, it isn’t always easy to operate. Help lines and customer support are important. We don’t expect VPNs to have 24/7 phone lines. That kind of setup may actually put you in some danger, since companies would have a means to identify you. We like 24/7 online chat help, however, and we tend to give bonus points to VPNs that offer it.
If you’re a serious fan of the NFL, you need a VPN. No matter which streaming services you subscribe to, you’ll find it hard to find some games in some regions. If you travel overseas, then you may find it difficult to watch any games at all.
With the right VPN, you can always sign on to your service through a remote server, and no matter where you are you can choose the games you want to watch.
Want to know even more about the best VPNs for the NFL? Check out our answers to your frequently asked questions below.
Yes, you can watch NFL games with a VPN. No matter how you access NFL content — whether it’s through FOX Sports, NFL Game Pass, or NFL Sunday Ticket — you can get the same content through a VPN. In many cases you can get more content, since you should be able to unblock blacked-out games and see games that aren’t broadcast in your region. The trick is to find a VPN that provides that access. Streaming services become more savvy all the time at blocking VPNs, so you’ll need one like NordVPN that always lets you connect.
To watch football on a VPN, you first choose a streaming service to get your content. That may be a service provided by a traditional network, such as FOX Sports or ESPN, or it may be a more specialized streaming service such as NFL Game Pass. Once you’ve signed up for the service, simply log on to your VPN and then log on to the service. If you find that a game is blacked out in your area, then use the VPN to sign on to a server in a different geographic region before you sign on to your streaming service.
Sign up with a content provider.
Sign up with a VPN that can access that content provider.
NordVPN is better than ExpressVPN. Both companies provide a secure encrypted tunnel and both offer features such as split tunneling, but NordVPN offers some additional features you won’t find with ExpressVPN, such as multihop. NordVPN is cheaper than ExpressVPN, too, whether you look at the month-by-month price or the annual rate.
ExpressVPN costs $12.95 a month if you’re purchasing only a month of service, which puts it at the high end among VPNs. The price falls somewhat if you sign up for six months or a year of service. Six months costs $9.99 and one year costs $6.67.