When you’re streaming a live sporting event, there’s only one thing that can make the experience better: more speed. Keeping HD playback smooth and free of lag requires as much bandwidth as you can spare. If your speed drops or if your ISP cuts the stream, you’ll be stuck staring at a buffering screen instead of keeping track of the live action.
To ensure the fastest connections and a private live sports viewing experience, it’s always best to use a VPN every time you stream. With a virtual private network, your information travels through an encrypted tunnel to the internet, keeping it safe from prying eyes and suspicious ISPs. No one will be able to determine the source or the content of your web traffic, allowing you to stream any sport from any site around the world, all in complete privacy.
- 1 How to Choose the Best VPN for Live Sports Streams
- 2 Where to Stream Live Sports Online
- 3 Use Kodi to Stream Live NFL, NBA, NHL, UFC, and More
- 4 Speed Up Your VPN Even More
How to Choose the Best VPN for Live Sports Streams
Privacy and speed are two of the most important factors in a good VPN for live sports broadcasts. Nearly every VPN on the market promises top scores in both of these areas, so how can you tell which one is worth your time? We’ve narrowed the list down with a few reliable recommendations. Each one was selected using the criteria listed below, ensuring you’ll always have fast and secure access to live HD sports streams no matter where you live.
- Speed – The end-all benchmark for streaming-centric VPN services, plain and simple. Top-quality providers keep fast connections despite the VPN market’s reputation for slow downloads. With a good VPN, your videos will play without long buffering waits.
- Server network – The more servers your VPN operates, the better the chances you’ll find a fast, lag-free connection near your home. It also lets you choose new virtual locations to catch geo-restricted sports streams otherwise unavailable in your country.
- Bandwidth restrictions – Some VPNs put a hard cap on how much bandwidth you can use each month. If you run out during the middle of a game, you’re out of luck! Our recommended VPNs have unlimited bandwidth with no throttling or other restrictions.
- Logging policy – Online privacy is built upon a VPN’s logging policy. With no logs, your data is never stored and can’t be accessed by third parties or government agencies. It’s the only way to ensure your stream remains private and secure.
- Device compatibility – Watching live sports isn’t just for desktop PCs. With the right software you can catch the game on your smartphone, tablet, even TV box set. In order to take advantage of a VPN on these devices, you’ll need custom software installed on each one.
ExpressVPN: The Fastest VPN
When speed is at the top of your list, ExpressVPN should be, too. The well-respected VPN provider has earned its reputation as the fastest service on the market, scoring consistently high marks on speed test and latency rankings across the board. It’s especially impressive considering this provider operates a network of 145 servers in 94 different countries, nearly all of which deliver the same fast connections. If you ever suspect your stream is getting sluggish, ExpressVPN’s custom apps for Windows, Mac, and Android offer built-in speed tests so you can verify and switch servers if necessary.
ExpressVPN’s speed doesn’t come at the cost of privacy. All data to and from your device is secured with 256-bit AES encryption and backed by a strict zero-logging policy on all traffic, DNS requests, and IP addresses. Anything you download and anything you stream will stay locked down and private, no matter what. Your local service will also be protected by an automatic kill switch and DNS leak prevention, both of which keep your identity secure even if your connection drops.
More features from ExpressVPN:
- Lightweight and intuitive software for a wide variety of devices, including Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, and iOS.
- Strong privacy and anonymity for reliable internet access in censorship-heavy countries like China.
- No restrictions on bandwidth, speed, P2P network downloads or torrent traffic.
- Incredibly reliable access to Netflix.
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IPVanish: Speed and Security
IPVanish focuses on the things that matter most to VPN users: speed and security. Keeping your activity private is easy with IPVanish’s solid 256-bit AES encryption, zero-logging policy on all traffic, and DNS leak features on its custom software. You’re also guaranteed extra anonymity through its network of over 850 servers in 60 different countries, complete with 40,000 shared IP addresses!
Alongside its incredible privacy features, IPVanish also delivers fast speeds on all types of downloads, including torrents, P2P networks, Kodi streams, and live sports broadcasts. With such a large server network in place, you’ll always be able to find a low-latency connection that delivers uninterrupted streams. And with unlimited bandwidth and no restrictions on traffic, speed, or server switching, you can watch live sports all day, every day.
IPVanish also includes the following features:
- Easy-to-use custom apps for all major operating systems and devices, including laptops, smartphones and tablets.
- Fast and secure servers allow for smooth HD videos and live sports streams through Kodi.
- Download movies and sports clips via torrent with full privacy and anonymity.
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NordVPN: Fast Streams, Lots of Servers
NordVPN offers one of the largest server networks of any VPN provider, over 1,070 nodes in 60 different countries, a number that’s constantly on the rise. The practical side of this means you’ll never have a problem locating a fast, low-latency server in the location of your choosing. Need a U.S. IP address to catch a live NFL stream? NordVPN has dozens of servers across the continent, all you have to do is sign in and start watching.
All of your web surfing, streaming, and downloading is secured with 256-bit AES encryption as well as NordVPN’s all-encompassing zero-logging policy that covers everything from traffic to time stamps, bandwidth logs, and even IP addresses. You’ll also be able to take advantage of full DNS leak protection, an automatic kill switch, unlimited bandwidth, and absolutely no restrictions on torrents or P2P network traffic.
More of NordVPN’s top features:
- Specialized servers that offer unique features such as double encryption, onion routing, and DDoS protection.
- Private access to the internet, even in countries like China, Russia, and Turkey.
- Custom software and apps for Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, iOS, and more.
- Reliable streaming connections to Netflix.
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VyprVPN: Extreme Privacy
Keeping your activity hidden is what VyprVPN does best. The service has some of the most versatile privacy features of any VPN, including a proprietary technology known as Chameleon. With Chameleon in place, any identifying information attached to encrypted data gets another layer of encryption added to it, effectively blocking deep packet inspections. DPI is often used in countries like China whose government censors the internet. Chameleon makes it virtually impossible to determine the source, contents, or destination of each piece of data, giving you a thoroughly secure online experience everywhere in the world.
VyprVPN also owns and operates its entire network of servers, over 700 in 70 different countries. This gives the company complete control over who accesses the server rooms, who performs upgrades, and who maintains the hardware. Third parties never enter the picture, which means your data is safe in VyprVPN’s hands. Backing this up are zero-logging policies for both DNS requests and traffic, creating the perfect environment for completely secure, completely private online streaming.
VyprVPN also includes the following features:
- Custom software for a wide variety of devices, including Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, and iOS smartphones.
- Powerful privacy features for the best VPN access in China and the Middle East.
- Unlimited bandwidth and no restriction on P2P traffic or torrent downloads.
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PureVPN: Great Privacy, Reliable Connections
PureVPN attacks the problems of online privacy from a variety of angles. Instead of offering simple encryption and location variability, PureVPN ups the ante with a host of related services to keep you safe online. Ever wanted an ad-blocker as part of your VPN? How about web filters, malicious app blockers, and anti-virus software you can rely on? With PureVPN in place you’ll not only protect your data from hackers and snooping ISPs, you’ll also gain peace of mind from an entire suite of security software, all designed to keep you safe while you stream.
PureVPN delivers all of these extras alongside an impressive array of standard VPN features. Users get 256-bit AES encryption, unlimited bandwidth, DNS leak protection, and a strict zero-logging policy on all traffic. There’s also no restriction on torrent or P2P networks, which opens the door for even more sports streaming sources. All of that is backed by a self-owned network of over 750 servers in 141 countries. PureVPN is an excellent service for anyone who needs a little extra security along with their private connection to the internet.
PureVPN’s features at a glance:
- Excellent compatibility with custom apps for all modern operating systems, smartphones, TV box devices, and more!
- Advanced security features include anti-virus protection, ad-blocking, and anti-phishing measures.
- Unlimited server switching and five simultaneous connections.
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Where to Stream Live Sports Online
Got the urge to ditch cable TV and watch all of your sports online? There are tons of options at your disposal, everything from paid HD services to highlight channels and lower quality unofficial replay streams. Finding a reliable source for your favorite sports can be tricky, though, especially if you don’t want to miss live events as they happen. Below are a few of our recommended sources for fast, high-quality live broadcasts that let you stream games without jumping through a dozen different hoops.
- Cordcutters NFL – A guide to several popular methods of watching U.S. football games online.
- MLB.tv – Watch Major League Baseball games live from a variety of internet connected devices. A monthly or yearly subscription is required.
- NHL.tv – Catch all the latest professional hockey games from the comfort of your own computer.
- NBC Sports – Watch a wide range of sports highlights, interviews, and excerpts.
It’s worth noting that some of the above services only allow users from certain countries to access their streaming content. In most cases, using a VPN and switching your virtual location to match the website’s preferences will bypass the region blocks.
Use Kodi to Stream Live NFL, NBA, NHL, UFC, and More
Services like ESPN, PlayStation Vue, FuboTV, and Hulu have started to pick up more and more live sporting events as the years go by. In order to get comprehensive coverage, however, you have to jump between websites, often missing games because of temporary outages or imposed geographical restrictions. A tidy solution to these issues is to download Kodi, a free and open-source media center that supports a wide range of third-party add-ons, many of which specialize in live, high-quality sports streams.
The only real downside to Kodi add-ons is they’re often unreliable. Many of them appear and disappear on a regular basis, dropping coverage for certain channels without notice. A few have stuck around and proven their value to the community, however. Below we’ve collected the best resources for streaming a variety of sports on your Kodi installation.
- Watch the NBA on Kodi – Live professional basketball streams.
- Watch the NFL on Kodi – Streams of live American football games, highlights, and more.
- Watch MLB on Kodi – Professional baseball streams from across the U.S. and Canada.
- UFC Replay on Kodi – Keep track of the latest UFC and MMA bouts.
- Watch NHL Online – Use Kodi to watch all your favorite hockey teams.
- Stream Live TV on Kodi – Catch live TV broadcasts for local and worldwide sporting events.
Although Kodi is completely legal to use, a number of ISPs consider its add-ons potentially harmful, which can result in speed throttling or copyright infringement notices. If you plan on accessing live sports streams through Kodi, always make sure you use a VPN. Any of the recommended VPNs above work well with Kodi, or you can check out our list of the best VPNs for Kodi for more suggestions.
Speed Up Your VPN Even More
Using a fast VPN is important for high quality live sports streams, but sometimes even the best service doesn’t feel like it’s fast enough. There are dozens of factors that contribute to your internet speed, including everything from your local service provider to the hardware sitting in your house. To make sure nothing gets in between you and the game, follow the tips below to diagnose and break through the toughest speed bottlenecks.
- Experiment with different encryption – VPNs usually rely on the OpenVPN protocol to encrypt and manage traffic, as it offers the best balance of speed and privacy. If your VPN offers the option, however, you can switch over to L2TP/IPSec or PPTP protocols. They’re a little less secure than OpenVPN, but you’ll often get a much better connection speed, which is perfect for sports streams. Check your VPN’s software for these advanced options.
- Change VPN servers – Several factors contribute to an individual server’s speed, including the number of connected users, software configurations, and the physical distance between you and the server. You might have a favorite VPN server you like to use, but if your live stream is stuck buffering, try changing to a new one to see if that clears it up. Most slow VPN issues can be quickly resolved by switching servers.
- Use a different device – Some devices just can’t handle high-quality live streams, especially HD or 4K videos. Tablets, smartphones, and low-end laptops will often stutter when presented with a stream that’s too much for them to handle. If this is the case, speed isn’t the issue, just hardware limitations. Change over to your main desktop PC and see if that helps.
- Use a wired connection – Wi-Fi isn’t the most reliable way to connect to the internet. Disconnects are common, and speeds can be surprisingly slow when compared to a wired connection. If you can’t get your device to connect, try grabbing a network cable and plugging it directly into your router.
- Switch traffic ports – Another advanced feature some VPNs offer is the ability to switch ports. Some ISPs throttle traffic from VPNs, artificially slowing your connection to a crawl. To combat this, look through your VPN software to see if you can change ports. Some of the most common alternatives include TCP 80 and TCP 443, neither of which are usually monitored by ISPs.