Updated: May 17, 2017
* This Solution STILL WORKS to watch ESPN in Europe *
- Start with getting a VPN account setup
- Install VPN software onto the device(s) you want to watch ESPN in Europe on
- Once installed, open the VPN software and connect to a US-based server
- Go to ESPN and subscribe to the streaming channels you want to watch
- Enjoy watching ESPN in Europe
How to watch ESPN in Europe
in more detail:
ESPN. The home of sports. I honestly can't get enough of just vegging out on my sofa and watching some ESPN classics. I can guess that you have a similar affection for this channel, and have run into the exact same issue I'm about to describe!
I arrived in Scotland, got to my buddy's apartment and settled into his sofa with my laptop hooked up to his Chromecast for the big screen experience. Ready to watch some great games on ESPN online.
Denied! I was swiftly told by ESPN that I could not stream any media from my WatchESPN subscription, because of my "outside the US" location.
So I frantically went ahead and researched why this was happening, and more important how WatchESPN was managing to figure out that I was trying to access the service from outside the US.
I quickly figured out what was happening, and then realised a solution that works 100% -- only taking me 5 minutes to setup. Thus, I figured it was worth writing up a quick article to describe this solution, to help others having trouble with how to watch ESPN in Europe like myself. Enjoy!
Why is ESPN not Available in Europe?
The reason ESPN does not allow anyone to access their online streaming services in Europe (or anywhere outside the US) is because ESPN have made agreements on "distribution" with the owners of each media stream they offer.
These distribution agreements mean that ESPN have to make sure that only users within the US can access the service, otherwise if anyone could access the service anywhere in the world then ESPN would be breaking the distribution agreements they made with each media provider.
Most importantly, after I found out this, was understanding how ESPN was managing to know where I am located at the time I access the online service. So let's take a look at that before we check out the solution...
How is ESPN Blocking Access in Europe?
Understanding how ESPN is technically able to figure out where you are located when you try to access the service, makes it very easy to understand what you need to do to get past this block. The solution I lay out below makes perfect sense by understanding this.
So the way that ESPN blocks access from European users, is by using a process called "geo-blocking". This process is essentially a 'front door' implemented on the service that checks the IP address of every single user that accesses the service.
This geo-blocking front door gets a user's IP address and can then determine the exact location of that user through it.
The user's IP address is then checked against an internal checker to see if it is a US-based IP address or a non-US based one. So when you are trying to access the service from Europe, ESPN will know you are, based on your IP address.
Therefore, if you are able to somehow change your IP address from your real European-based one to one based inside the US, like a New York based IP address; then ESPN will check it and give you immediate and full access to your ESPN subscription.
I did a lot of research and quickly realised that the best way to change your IP address safely, securely, legally and quickly, is by using what's called a Virtual Private Network (or a VPN, for short).
So here's my step-by-step guide on how to set this up super quick...
How to Use a VPN to Watch ESPN in Europe
Step 1: Sign up for VPN
First thing you want to do is sign up for a VPN service that best suits your circumstance and budget.
I personally checked and tried out a huuuuge amount of VPNs currently available and settled on ExpressVPN, because it suited my budget for the best value. Therefore I'll use this VPN as an example while I walk through this setup guide.
Go to ExpressVPN.com, pick your plan, confirm payment and your account details, then you're ready for the next step. Here's a glimpse at the setup process with ExpressVPN:
Step 2: Download & Install VPN
Next you will be prompted by ExpressVPN to download the software onto whichever device (or multiple devices, if you plan to watch ESPN in Europe via your smartphone, laptop, smartTV, etc) which is super simple as you are automatically redirected to the download links:
The VPN will download to your device and ask you to go through the super quick installation process right away. Do this, then open up the VPN software to get ready to connect.
Step 3: Connect to US-based Server on VPN
With your VPN now open, you will see how clean and clear the software looks. It is literally just a case of selecting the location you want to connect to the VPN through.
This is where you want to choose to connect to a US based location, since this will change your IP address. Here's a glimpse of what the Mac ExpressVPN connect screen looks:
And here's a look at the connection process on my Android smartphone:
Step 4: Setup ESPN Account
For me, I already had my ESPN account and subscription setup. However, if you are getting ESPN for the first time from your European location, then simply go to the site and subscribe to whichever ESPN streaming channels you want.
This will take you just a few minutes, and once you've got that done -- go ahead and refresh your browser, make sure your connected to a US-based server on your VPN, then head on over to the ESPN service and you'll have full access. Awesome!
Thus concludes my quick guide on how to watch ESPN in Europe. If you followed the steps I laid out above, you will have full access to ESPN from your European location within minutes.
As mentioned, I did research and review a whole bunch of VPN service providers to make sure I was choosing the best quality one for my budget. So below I have listed the 5 best VPNs to watch ESPN in Europe via, to give you more of a selection. Check them out:
I hope you found this guide useful and are now enjoying ESPN in Europe securely from your current location. Any question or feedback then please go ahead and let me know in the comment section below. I'll be happy to hear from you.