Article updated on February 26, 2024 at 8:45 AM PST

Best VPN for Your Smart TV

Your smart TV is a vector for data privacy exposure -- but these VPNs can help keep your viewing activity hidden from prying eyes.

Our Experts

Written by 
Attila Tomaschek,
Moe Long
Our expert, award-winning staff selects the products we cover and rigorously researches and tests our top picks. If you buy through our links, we may get a commission. Reviews ethics statement
Attila Tomaschek
Attila is a Staff Writer for CNET, covering software, apps and services with a focus on virtual private networks. He is an advocate for digital privacy and has been quoted in online publications like Computer Weekly, The Guardian, BBC News, HuffPost, Wired and TechRepublic. When not tapping away on his laptop, Attila enjoys spending time with his family, reading and collecting guitars.
Expertise Attila has nearly a decade's worth of experience with VPNs and has been covering them for CNET since 2021. As CNET's VPN expert, Attila rigorously tests VPNs and offers readers advice on how they can use the technology to protect their privacy online and
Moe Long Senior Editor
Moe enjoys making technical content digestible and fun. As a writer and editor for over a decade, he has bylines at MakeUseOf, WhistleOut, TechBeacon, DZone, Tech Up Your Life, and Electromaker. When he's not hammering away at the keyboard, Moe enjoys spending time with his partner and dog, listening to vinyl, and watching film.
Expertise Apps, operating systems, software
Why You Can Trust CNET
Speed Tests
Eval. Points
VPNs Tested

We intensively test each VPN, making sure it meets our standards for privacy, speed and usability.

Editors' choice
See Price at ExpressVPN

Best Overall VPN


Privacy protection and transparency

Savings 49% off with 12-mo plan (+3 free months)
  • Strong commitment to privacy and transparency
  • Forward-thinking security enhancements
  • Excellent for streaming
  • Streamlined, easy-to-use app across platforms
  • Privacy-friendly jurisdiction (British Virgin Islands)
  • DNS leaks detected (but immediately addressed)
  • Expensive
  • Only eight simultaneous connections
  • Apple TV app needs work
Price $13 a month, $60 for six months or $100 for a year
Latest Tests DNS leaks detected, 25% speed loss in 2024 tests
Network 3,000 plus servers in 105 countries
Jurisdiction British Virgin Islands

ExpressVPN is currently CNET’s pick for the best VPN for smart TVs, in addition to being the best VPN overall with a score of 8.8/10 on our VPN rating scale. It’s a veteran VPN provider that consistently demonstrates a strong commitment to privacy and transparency. It’s also excellent for streaming and the easiest VPN app to use on any platform, including smart TVs. But the best comes at a premium price -- ExpressVPN is one of the most expensive VPN providers currently on the market. The service costs $13 per month, $60 every six months or $100 per year, which is considerably more expensive than the $11 per month or $60 per year that Surfshark charges. NordVPN is more in line with ExpressVPN on price at $13 per month or $100 annually (after a promotional $60 price for the first year).

Though fast enough for streaming content on your smart TV, ExpressVPN’s speeds are not quite as fast as some of its competitors, based on our latest speed tests. In 2024, we measured a 24.8% average speed loss with ExpressVPN. This is still fast, considering that many VPNs can slash your internet speeds by 50% or more. However, we saw substantially better speeds from NordVPN (11% speed loss) and Surfshark (17% speed loss). Still, ExpressVPN’s speeds were largely consistent and aligned with our expectations across protocols and server locations. Overall, we registered the fastest speeds through ExpressVPN’s proprietary Lightway protocol, which is engineered for speed and security. Speeds were generally faster to relatively closer server locations like New York City and the UK, and slower to distant locations like Australia and Singapore.     

Building on its industry-leading audit count, the company’s latest independent audit is slated to be published soon, and ExpressVPN says it collects no logs, a claim bolstered by a . In addition to its transparency efforts, ExpressVPN’s privacy protections are top-notch and forward-thinking. The provider recently upgraded its proprietary open-source Lightway VPN protocol with post-quantum protection to help guard against future threats from quantum computers, along with encryption enhancements to better protect against threats like eavesdropping and man-in-the-middle attacks. And ExpressVPN’s TrustedServer technology elevates the protections of the traditional RAM-only server architecture by reinstalling the entire software stack with every reboot.   

In addition to offering excellent privacy protections, ExpressVPN delivers the most consistent and streamlined VPN app experience for your smart TV. Its minimalist interface is simple to use, whether you’re an advanced VPN user or if you’ve never used one before. The app settings are easy to navigate and finding a server location is straightforward. We like how the app always connects in a snap, which isn’t always the case with other VPNs -- like Surfshark -- which often struggle to connect immediately on the first attempt. ExpressVPN effortlessly unblocks all sorts of streaming content, including Netflix, Disney Plus, Hulu and Amazon Prime Video. During our testing, we were consistently able to stream content in 4K quality without any buffering issues. If you’re not satisfied with the service, you can request your money back within 30 days of your purchase.   

See Price at Surfshark

Best Cheap VPN


Extensive features at a great price

Savings $2.69/mo with 24-mo plan (+4 free months)
  • Lots of unique security features
  • Unlimited simultaneous connections
  • RAM-only server network
  • Inconsistent speed performance
  • 14 Eyes jurisdiction (Netherlands)
  • No transparency reports
Price $11 per month, $48 for the first year (or $59.54 for 2yrs)
Latest Tests No leaks detected, 17% speed loss in 2023 tests
Network 3,200-plus servers in 100 countries
Jurisdiction Netherlands

Surfshark boasts an impressive suite of privacy and security features, unlimited simultaneous connections, an easy-to-use interface and an expansive global network. It's still significantly cheaper than most of its competitors. Along with standard VPN features such as a kill switch and DNS leak protection, some of the more notable Surfshark features include camouflage mode (which hides the fact you're using a VPN), split-tunneling, NoBorders mode (which lets you use Surfshark in regions where VPNs are restricted) and multihop VPN connections. You'll also get access to Surfshark's CleanWeb technology, which blocks ads and malware and helps you avoid phishing attacks. 

One innovation we've appreciated is Surfshark’s Nexus network, which connects the VPN's entire array of servers together and allows you to choose multiple servers to route your connection through. The functionality is somewhat similar to Tor, but Surfshark says it's faster. With its Dynamic MultiHop, IP Randomizer and IP Rotator functions, the Nexus network can give you a few extra layers of protection while you use the VPN -- which can be particularly beneficial to users with critical privacy needs. Surfshark says it doesn't log any user activity. Although no-logging claims are virtually impossible to prove with 100% certainty, German cybersecurity firm Cure53 declared Surfshark's security to be "solid" in its 2021 security audit of the VPN. Surfshark says a new audit is forthcoming by the end of this year. Deloitte performed a 2023 independent audit vouching for Surfshark’s no-log policy.

Surfshark rates consistently as one of the fastest VPNs available. This is why we were surprised that one of the only issues we had with Surfshark came in our speed test. While it still ranks as one of the fastest VPNs we've tested -- with an internet speed loss of just 8% over the WireGuard protocol -- we were disappointed with the inconsistent speed results we got using OpenVPN. Although its average 28.5% speed loss with OpenVPN isn’t bad, other companies like ExpressVPN and NordVPN delivered better results. Surfshark offers more than 3,200 servers in 100 countries. The continued expansion of its server network could potentially help bring some more consistency to the VPN's speeds. In our tests, Surfshark had no problems unblocking Netflix and Amazon Prime Video content, but we did run into a fair bit of trouble accessing Disney Plus. After trying various servers in the US and other countries where Disney Plus is available, we were able to access the content. You may need to test a few servers yourself before gaining access to Disney Plus content with Surfshark. 

Surfshark offers cheaper introductory prices that jump after the first billing cycle. Even so, Surfshark manages to keep its standard prices lower than most other VPNs. Its monthly plan sets you back $11. The yearly plan starts out at $48 for your first 12 months, then jumps to $60 for any additional years of service. If you opt for the two-year plan, you'll pay $60 total up front for the initial two years combined, then $60 per year for any additional 12-month terms. If you're not satisfied with the service for any reason, Surfshark offers a 30-day money-back guarantee. Although the two-year deal gets you Surfshark’s lowest pricing, we don’t recommend signing up for more than 12 months of service with a VPN. While that fast, secure VPN may be great initially, it could suffer a data breach, experience a speed loss drop or get acquired by a shady company. 

See Price at NordVPN

Best VPN for Speed


Perfect for power users

  • Reliable, competitive speeds
  • RAM-disk servers
  • Feature-rich software
  • Visual server map could use additional functions
  • Discounts steeper for longer contracts
  • Only six simultaneous connections allowed
Price 67% off + 3- month VPN coupon with every 2-year plan bought
Latest tests No leaks detected, 11% speed loss in 2024 tests
Network 6,000-plus servers in over 60 countries
Jurisdiction Panama

NordVPN is one of the biggest and most recognized names in the industry, and for good reason. NordVPN is an excellent VPN overall, offering anything and everything you'd want in a quality VPN service. It's the fastest VPN we tested, secure, easy to use on all platforms and has an excellent global network of servers -- many of which are optimized for things like streaming and security. 

NordVPN's speed and security are both top-notch and can give VPN users a solid streaming experience while keeping your activity private at the same time. With NordVPN, you'll be safe and secure behind its AES 256-bit encryption along with your choice of IKEv2/IPsec, OpenVPN or NordLynx VPN protocols. NordLynx is built on the WireGuard protocol but uses a double network address translation system that gives each user the same IP address and each individual VPN tunnel a unique IP address to help protect your privacy while affording you the fast speeds you can get via the WireGuard protocol. Essentially, this double NAT system ensures that none of your personal data is stored on the VPN server, giving you fully private internet access. 

NordVPN's Help section is filled with useful guides on how to get the service working on your smart TV. You'll find step-by-step instructions on how to get the VPN setup on a host of different routers as well as how to set it up on your Fire TV and Google TV. You’ll be able to stream Loki on Disney Plus, browse the web securely, and protect from DDoS attacks while playing Halo Infinite without hurting your internet speeds.

See Price at IPVanish

Best Beginner VPN


Simple, newbie-friendly interface

Savings 66% off with 12-mo plan
  • Unlimited simultaneous connections
  • Simple, user-friendly interface
  • 24/7 customer support with live chat and phone support
  • IPVanish identified during DNS leak tests
  • US jurisdiction
  • Buggy features with platform limitations
Price $12 a month or $54 for the first year (then $90 annually)
Latest tests No leaks detected, 26% speed loss in 2023 tests
Network 2,000-plus servers in 75-plus locations across 52 countries
Jurisdiction United States

IPVanish is an excellent user-friendly VPN for streaming. In our testing, IPVanish easily unblocked international Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Disney Plus libraries. You can install a VPN on your router for use with a smart TV, or use it on Android TV, Fire TV, and a slew of other platforms. There’s even an elusive Apple TV app, so you’ve got the option to use streaming boxes instead of your smart TV.

We appreciate IPVanish’s uncomplicated app design, including a handy Quick Connect creature that lets you tap into an optimal server near you. Sometimes Quick Connect doesn’t use the best option, but manual server selection is always an option. Sporting servers in 52 countries, IPVanish’s network lags behind competitors like Surfshark and ExpressVPN, which boast twice that. We recommend checking IPVanish’s server page for the full list. While IPVanish isn’t packed with options and server locations, its straightforward design works well for VPN beginners. If you just want an intuitive VPN for streaming videos on Disney Plus, Netflix and other services, IPVanish is a solid choice. 

Pricing is pretty reasonable with monthly plans setting you back $13, and annual packages costing $45 (which includes three free months for a total of 15) before spiking to $90 a year. The two-year tier option costs $68 (including three free months of service), after which it goes for $90 every 12 months. Despite its maximum initial savings, we don’t recommend paying for more than a year at a time for a VPN. With diverse streaming device support, great geo-protected content unblocking and a simple app design, IPVanish is one of the best beginner-friendly VPNs for smart TVs.

About VPNs for smart TVs

You've got a smart TV with internet capabilities? We don't have to tell you about all the great apps and services available to you. There are all sorts of cool options, whether you're interested in watching your favorite TV shows on Netflix, binge funny animal videos on YouTube or listen to today's top tunes. Entertainment like this is just a click of the remote away. Having all the popular streaming services and apps on your TV is a cool feature, but if your TV is left unprotected, apps, services, and even your ISP can view your personal data without you knowing it. That's where a VPN (or virtual private network) can come in handy. Through encryption, a VPN can mask your IP address and keep your online activity private.

Using a VPN on your smart TV will improve upon your viewing experience by boosting your security and connection speeds. Plus, cross-platform compatibility will allow you to use the service on VPN routers, Android devices, and even on an Amazon Fire TV stick. An added bonus of using any of the best VPNs for your smart TV is the ability to watch TV shows and movies that you may not have been able to view previously due to geographic restrictions. Sure, this can also be accomplished using a Free VPN provider, but there are a bunch of security issues that can come with using such a service including data caps, bandwidth restrictions, and weaker privacy features. The risks outweigh the rewards here. You'd be better off spending a little dough to keep your online experience a secure one.

We put together a guide of the best VPNs for your smart TV by testing apps on different devices, running internet speed tests and unblocking dozens of streaming services.

Show more

What is the best VPN for smart TVs right now?

The best VPN for smart TVs overall is ExpressVPN, which is easy to install on a router, works with tons of streaming boxes and offers an off-the-shelf Wi-Fi router with a preloaded VPN. Surfshark is a spectacular feature-rich yet value-priced VPN. NordVPN is one of the fastest and most reliable VPNs, making it a terrific choice for smart television use. IPVanish is also a great VPN for beginners.

Show more

Other VPNs we tested

Hotspot Shield

We don’t recommend Hotspot Shield for critical VPN use due to its US jurisdiction, in addition to its use of its proprietary, closed-source Hydra VPN protocol. If security and privacy aren't your primary concern, then Hotspot Shield works decently as a smart TV VPN. Although we may not be completely sold on its privacy protections, we are sold on its speed -- Hotspot Shield is fast.

It's also excellent for streaming content on your smart TV. With servers located in more than 80 countries around the world, you'll have access to a wide selection of geographic regions with Hotspot Shield.

Hotspot Shield's Support section and overall customer service experience leave quite a bit to be desired. The Support section is a bit convoluted and Search doesn't always output exactly what you're looking for, so it might take some work to find what you're after. The live chat feature is only available to premium customers. Once you find what you're looking for, the guides and tutorials are sufficient to get you set up, but the path there isn't as clean as with other VPNs. Like the others in this list, Hotspot Shield offers apps for Fire TV and Google TV, as well as tutorials on how to set the VPN up on your router.

If you're willing to spend $13 per month or $96, you'll get a super-fast smart TV VPN that's great for unblocking content in Hotspot Shield. If you're concerned at all about its US jurisdiction, you'd be better off going with another option like ExpressVPN, NordVPN, Surfshark or IPVanish. Because of its middling price and average security with US jurisdiction, it’s tough to recommend Hotspot Shield over VPN rivals for all but the most casual users.

Read our Hotspot Shield review.


CyberGhost VPN may not offer all the bells and whistles as the other VPNs on this list, but it may not have to because it's ridiculously easy to use. It also has servers specifically optimized for streaming on various services, which makes it a great choice for your smart TV.

It's not the fastest VPN on the block, but you shouldn't run into any trouble streaming content buffer-free. CyberGhost has servers located in 100 countries around the world, making it one of the best in terms of global network coverage. 

If you decide to hook a VPN up to your smart TV via a router, CyberGhost does provide detailed instructions in its Help center on how to do so, although it doesn't offer custom router firmware like ExpressVPN does. If you have a Fire TV or Google TV, you'll be able to download the CyberGhost VPN app directly to your TV. CyberGhost VPN also offers a smart DNS solution that will give you access to its DNS servers in the US, UK, Germany and Japan.

CyberGhost VPN can also be quite budget-friendly. You’ll pay $13 monthly, $42 every six months for the bi-annual plan, or $57 total for a 26-month package, after which you’re billed annually. It's one of the cheapest smart TV VPNs, and a very capable one if you're fine with a VPN that's not chock-full of advanced options. There’s even a generous 45-day money-back guarantee. Even for that price, better options are available, like ExpressVPN, NordVPN, Surfshark and IPVanish.

Read our CyberGhost review.

Show more

How we test VPNs for smart TVs

With so many VPN options available, it can be difficult to cut through the advertising to find the right software for your needs. We rigorously tested dozens of VPNs to assess performance, privacy and value. More specifically, we analyzed average speed loss, checked for DNS leaks and tried out apps on different devices. In addition, we compared costs to determine the best price-to-performance ratios. For smart TV use, we looked at streaming service content unblocking, performing hands-on tests with Netflix, Disney Plus, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video and a handful of other platforms. Because some televisions require a router VPN, we consulted each VPN provider’s help guides and also factored in streaming device app compatibility.

Show more

Do VPNs work with smart TVs?

VPNs do work with smart TVs, although how you go about setting up a virtual private network on your television depends on its operating system. If you’ve got an Android TV (also called Google TV) or Fire TV, you can install a VPN app directly on your device. For certain televisions running Roku, LG’s WebOS or Samsung’s Tizen OS, you’ll need to use a router-based VPN rather than downloading software on your smart TV. Luckily, nearly every VPN provider delivers whole-home router support, but depending on your hardware the process might be tricky. 

Using your VPN on a streaming device may be easier

If you’re using an operating system like Roku, WebOS or Tizen that doesn’t support directly downloadable VPN apps, you’ll need to install software on your router. While some companies like ExpressVPN sell routers preloaded with a VPN, most don’t -- so it’s a do-it-yourself setup. Using a Fire TV stick, Android TV media streamer or Apple TV and a VPN app is the simplest solution, but there are several ways to use a VPN for streaming on your television.

Show more

Factors to consider in a VPN for your smart TV

Based on our years of comprehensively testing VPNs, here are the main factors to think about when selecting a VPN for your smart TV.

Platform compatibility

Most VPNs include Android TV and Fire TV apps, so if you’re using a television set with one of those operating systems, you can download a compatible app. Otherwise, you’ll need to run a VPN on your router or purchase a router with a preloaded VPN. 

Streaming service unblocking

You’ll want to ensure your VPN provider allows access to the streaming services you want to use. Whether you’re trying to watch US Netflix from abroad or enjoy UK Disney Plus and Netflix libraries at home in the States, it’s crucial to have one of the best VPNs for streaming. Think about the streaming services you use the most and sign up for a VPN that works with those apps.

Speed loss

All VPNs throttle your internet upload and download speeds, but the amount of speed loss varies. The fastest VPNs only drop your connection marginally, meaning you can stream 4K videos flawlessly. Some companies suffer from greater speed reductions, which might translate to buffering streams or noticeable dips in quality. 

Server network

A reliable VPN for your smart TV features a large network of servers. You’ll want to check out the number of total servers as well as the amount of different countries available. The more choices you’ve got, the easier it is to find an ideal location to connect to. For example, if you’re on holiday in London, you’ll ideally want to use a London server rather than one in Stratford-upon-Avon (still in the UK, but further away from your physical location in London). Generally, the closer a VPN server is to your actual location, the faster speeds and more reliable connection you’ll enjoy. 


While there are free VPNs, most of CNET’s top VPN recommendations aside from ProtonVPN are paid options. The total cost depends on when you sign up (there are often competitive seasonal deals) and whether you prepay (an annual subscription or multiyear purchase typically saves you a meaningful amount). Although a multiyear package usually gives you the best possible pricing, we don’t recommend shelling out for more than a year at a time. While a VPN provider may be secure, fast and value-packed when you sign up, it could suffer a data breach, go out of business or get acquired by a disreputable organization. Thus, we suggest sticking with a year-long subscription instead for the most savings and the lowest risk. 

Help guides and customer support

VPNs aren’t necessarily difficult to install, but running one on a router or setting it up on certain platforms like Linux isn’t as simple. Therefore, you might want to choose a VPN provider with robust help documentation. Live support over online chat, phone and email is great for situations when you’ve got troubleshooting or billing questions. 

Privacy and security

One of the main reasons to invest in a VPN is for additional privacy and security. At the very least, we recommend a VPN with a kill switch and strong encryption. You should also make sure your VPN provider has a no-log policy (while this is tough to verify, it’s nonetheless important). 

Show more

Best VPN for smart TV FAQs

What's the best VPN for your smart TV in 2024?

  • ExpressVPN received a CNET Editors' Choice Award for best overall VPN. We evaluate VPNs based on their overall performance in three main categories: speed, security and price. Express isn't the cheapest, but it's among the fastest and, so far, is the most secure.
  • Surfshark, with its lower price, is a close second among our picks, thanks to its impressive performance and unlimited devices.
  • NordVPN, our third choice, is a die-hard heavy hitter. It costs more than Surfshark but less than Express, has an enormous network that's constantly getting faster and more secure and is easily the most reliable service we've tested.
  • IPVanish is one of the most user-friendly VPNs available, and even touts an Apple TV app so if you want to eschew using your smart TV’s built-in software, you can still use a VPN for streaming movies and television shows.
Show more

Why should you use a VPN on a smart TV?

Today's TVs aren't only for watching cable or local network programming. They're also for video-on-demand streaming, and some content is regionally locked. If the programming you want to watch isn't available in your country, you can use a VPN on your smart TV to spoof your location to access virtually any of the content you may want. Even if unblocking geo-restricted video content on your smart TV isn't of interest to you, you might want to use a VPN on your smart TV to prevent your ISP from monitoring your viewing habits or keeping track of the internet activity generated by your smart TV.

Show more

Which VPN works on a smart TV?

Most VPNs work with any smart TV, but the process for setting up a VPN on your television varies based on your device’s operating system. For televisions running Android TV or Fire TV you can download a VPN app directly on your machine. But for Roku, LG’s webOS, or Samsung’s Tizen OS, you’ll need to run a VPN on your router. Luckily, you can always pick up a dedicated media streamer like an Amazon Fire device, Android TV box or Apple TV and install a dedicated VPN app if you don’t want to mess with a router-based install. 

Show more

Do VPNs work on smart TVs for Netflix streaming?

You can stream Netflix on a smart TV using a VPN either to access US libraries while traveling abroad or to unblock foreign Netflix catalogs.

Show more