ESPN broadcasts in no less than 200 countries.
But if you want to stream its premium video content, you’ll have to be in the US to subscribe and watch.
Without using a VPN, you can’t bypass its geo-restrictions and may only access its articles and the audio recordings of its radio shows and podcasts.
But you probably already know this. You may already be aware that ESPN+ is blocked outside the US. What you may not realize is that concealing your traffic with a VPN doesn’t always work.
Which leads us to the main question:
Does ESPN block VPN services?
ESPN doesn’t block VPN services because it can’t. But what it can do is reject IPs linked to specific servers.
That’s mainly because the interests of ESPN’s copyright holders take priority. This sports broadcasting juggernaut imposes blackouts and displays error messages to make sure that no users in unpermitted areas get to see its programming.
In turn, using a VPN to spoof your location and unblock its geo-restricted shows goes against its terms and conditions.
If you get busted, you won’t be banned for life, nor will you get locked out of your account. ESPN still wants your money and attention, after all.
Instead, it will blacklist your VPN IP address so that you can’t use it again to circumvent its region locks. And since VPN servers are generally shared, this endeavor isn’t too difficult.
How does ESPN block VPNs?
ESPN blocks VPN IPs by checking third-party databases and analyzing devices’ DNS settings.
Certain companies gather information about IPs and share their records with streaming services. ESPN takes note of the ones known to belong to VPNs and blocks them accordingly.
Moreover, the platform may override your device and peek into your DNS settings. When it learns about your ISP’s DNS server and its location doesn’t match your IP, it may conclude that you’re using a VPN.
What to do if your VPN is not working with ESPN
If your VPN is not working with ESPN, here’s what you can do:
- Use another US server
Connecting to a different VPN server gives you a fresh IP that may not be on the streaming platform’s blacklist yet.
Here’s how to do it on PIA (Private Internet Access) for Android:
1. Take note of your current VPN IP.2. Disconnect from the server you’re using.
3. Tap Current Region.
4. Choose another US VPN server.
5. Once connected, check whether you have a new VPN IP.
6. Enjoy ESPN programming from anywhere.
- Clear cache memory
The cached data stored in your web browser or ESPN app may expose your real IP and, by extension, your actual location.
To make sure that this information doesn’t sabotage your VPN connection, follow the steps below. We used Chrome as an example, but the steps will be similar on other major browsers:
1. Disconnect from your US VPN server.
2. Close the ESPN page.
3. Press Ctrl + H to open Chrome history.
4. Click the Clear browsing data button.
5. Go to the Advanced tab.
6. Leave the Cookies and other site data and Cached images and files boxes checked.
7. Select your preferred time range.
8. Click the Clear data button.
9. Reconnect to your US VPN server.
10. Visit the ESPN site again to see if the issue is resolved.
- Configure your split tunneling settings
Split tunneling allows you to use your VPN on preferred apps and sites only. So, if ESPN is not on that list, its traffic may pass outside the encrypted tunnel, exposing your real IP and location in the process.
Here’s how to check if that’s the case on ExpressVPN for Windows:
1. Click the hamburger icon.
2. Choose Options and go to the Genaral tab.
3. If Split tunneling’s Manage connection on a per-app basis box is checked, select Settings.
4. If the Do not allow selected apps to use the VPN circle is shaded, remove ESPN from the field when you see it.
5. If the Only allow selected apps to use the VPN circle is shaded, add ESPN to the field when you don’t see it.
6. Click every OK button on-screen.
7. Connect to a US VPN server.
8. Enjoy your sports programs on demand.
- Download your latest app versions
Older iterations of your VPN software, ESPN app, and/or web browser are more prone to performance issues, resulting in IP data leakage.
So, make sure to install the most recent updates to get rid of bugs.
- Restart your device
Restarting your phone, tablet, or computer can solve various technical issues.
Powering your device off for about a minute can magically unblock geo-restricted ESPN content with your VPN on.
- Go with a more reliable ESPN VPN
If you still can’t get your VPN to work with ESPN after doing everything we recommended, you should subscribe to a better service.
But first things first:
How to unblock ESPN with a VPN
To unblock ESPN with a VPN proven to work like PIA, do the following:
1. Visit PIA’s website and pick a subscription.
2. Download the right app for your device.
3. Launch PIA.
4. Tap Current Region.
5. Connect to any US server location.
6. Once connected, enjoy ESPN from abroad.
What are the best VPNs for ESPN?
After testing multiple services, we found that the best VPNs for ESPN are PIA, CyberGhost, and ExpressVPN.
1. Private Internet Access
PIA’s impressive American server fleet is the envy of the industry. It can provide you with IPs from all 50 states. Plus, it has two US locations dedicated to streaming.
Thanks to its 10Gpbs hardware, it can deliver super fast connection speeds. If your ISP normally throttles your bandwidth when watching videos online, PIA can make your experience much smoother.
Alternatively, you can use its Smart DNS service to stream ESPN on a device that doesn’t natively support any of its apps. Smart DNS connections are unencrypted, so expect no speed loss.
- Dedicated IPs
- WireGuard, OpenVPN, and IKEv2/IPSec protocols
- 10 simultaneous device connections
- Verified no-logs policy
- Fourteen Eyes country headquarters
Private Internet AccessHave your pick of US server locations and easily bypass ESPN’s geo-blocks wherever you are.
As of writing, CyberGhost has 1,300+ 10Gbps servers in 11 American cities coast to coast.
More importantly, it offers hardware specifically-optimized for ESPN+, minimizing the chances of buffering and sluggishness.
- Dedicated IPs
- Seven simultaneous device connections
- Free trials for Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android
- Colocated US servers
CyberGhostEnjoy the smoothest streaming experience with this fast and reliable VPN.
ExpressVPN has 24 server location options in the States. You can use any of them to unblock ESPN.
This VPN vendor hasn’t completed its 10Gbps hardware upgrade, but it has prioritized its US network. So, you don’t have to compete against other users for server resources when you obtain an American IP.
If you want to watch ESPN on your smart TV or any other device that doesn’t support VPN software directly, you may use ExpressVPN’s DNS service called MediaStreamer.
- Lightway proprietary tunneling protocol
- Five simultaneous device connections
- Free trials for iOS and Android
- No streaming-only servers
- No dedicated IPs
ExpressVPNEasily unblock ESPN outside the states and stream on all your devices with this high-performing VPN.
Does ESPN block VPN services? No, but it uses data from third parties and its own research to blacklist their servers’ IPs.
Although no VPN is safe from ESPN’s blockers, you have a higher chance of getting around the sports behemoth’s geo-restrictions with PIA, CyberGhost, and ExpressVPN.