Only 3 Steps (Quick + Easy) to Watch ARD Mediathek in 2023
- Step 1: Download and install a VPN that works with ARD Mediathek. I recommend ExpressVPN because of its ultra-fast speeds and intuitive app interface.
- Step 2: Connect to a VPN server in Germany. It must be a German server because some of the content on ARD is only available in Germany. ExpressVPN has servers located in 3 German cities.
- Step 3: Log into your account on ARD Mediathek and start watching. You can now access all of ARD’s content.
ARD Mediathek is one of the most popular streaming services in Germany, but unfortunately, most of the content in its digital library is geo-blocked. This means you won’t be able to watch the bulk of your favorite TV shows or sporting events if you’re located outside of Germany.
But you can get around this geo-restriction by using a virtual private network (VPN). Connecting to a VPN server in Germany replaces your IP address with a German one. This will let you access your account and ARD’s entire content library even when you’re not in Germany.
The best VPNs on the market can reliably access ARD — they have fast connection speeds and are easy to set up and use on a large variety of streaming devices. I researched and tested all the major VPNs on the market and found these 5 to be the best for watching ARD from anywhere in 2023.
Access ARD Mediathek With ExpressVPN
Best VPNs for Watching ARD Mediathek Content in 2023
- 🥇1. ExpressVPN — Best VPN for watching ARD Mediathek content from anywhere in 2023.
- 🥈2. CyberGhost VPN — Great streaming support + simple to use for beginners.
- 🥉3. Private Internet Access — Versatile VPN with a ton of configurable settings.
- 4. NordVPN — Reliable with great security & fast speeds on all servers.
- 5. Surfshark — Great extra features & budget-friendly plans.
- Comparison of the Best VPNs for Accessing ARD Mediathek in 2023.
🥇1. ExpressVPN — Best VPN for Watching ARD Mediathek in 2023
ExpressVPN is unbeatable when it comes to streaming ARD Mediathek. It’s our #1 VPN for streaming and it’s able to access ARD’s restricted content 100% of the time. Plus, it has the fastest speeds in the industry, so your favorite ARD content will stream without any interruptions.
I really like how ExpressVPN has 3 server locations in Germany. There are 2 locations in Frankfurt and another one in Nuremberg, which gives you tons of server options in the country if you travel abroad.
I always had super-fast speeds while testing ExpressVPN. This was thanks to the VPN’s proprietary Lightway protocol. I never had to wait for videos to load or buffer even when watching on HD. Plus, ExpressVPN works with other German streaming services as well. You’ll also be able to access ProSieben, ZDF, and Sport1, as well as Netflix Germany, Amazon Prime, Disney+, and more.
ExpressVPN has an intuitive interface on all of its apps and clear setup guides in both written and video format on its website to help you get started. Because of this, getting everything up and running was a breeze and only took me a few minutes.
I really like some of the convenient features included on ExpressVPN’s apps such as the ability to make shortcuts on the home screen that launch apps or websites that you regularly use while on a VPN. The home screen also remembers the last two servers you used, so you can connect to them again quickly.
It’s also great that ExpressVPN supports split-tunneling on Windows, macOS (versions 10.15 and below), and Android. This feature lets you route certain apps through a VPN server while other apps are sent through your local network. I was able to stream a live sporting event on ARD through the VPN while I routed my internet browsing — this allowed me to follow Twitter updates during the action.
ExpressVPN has advanced privacy and security features. These include perfect forward secrecy, which changes your encryption key with every session so even if one key is compromised no other keys are vulnerable, and RAM-only servers, which means data is never written to the hard drive and is wiped with every reset. ExpressVPN’s no-logs policy has also been audited by an independent third party multiple times.
ExpressVPN has both monthly and yearly plans that start at $6.67 / month. It lets you connect up to 5 devices at once and backs all of its plans with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Read our full ExpressVPN review
🥈2. CyberGhost VPN — Optimized Servers for ARD + Beginner-Friendly Apps
CyberGhost VPN has dedicated servers for all major streaming services, including ARD. These servers are optimized to provide the best speeds and reliability. I was able to access ARD’s region-locked content every time I tried using both its optimized and normal German servers. Videos on ARD also loaded quickly for me and were never interrupted by buffering.
CyberGhost also has a very informative and user-friendly interface that makes its apps effortless to navigate. It has tabs on the left side of the server selection menu that will take you to a list of servers optimized for gaming, streaming, or torrenting. All of this makes finding the best server for accessing ARD fast and easy — I clicked on the streaming servers, scrolled down to the ARD server, and was connected and ready to start watching ARD within a minute of booting up the client.
I really like that CyberGhost provides over 9,000 servers (the highest out of all of the VPNs listed here) and has servers in Berlin, Dusseldorf, and Frankfurt. The servers are a bit more spread out across the country compared to ExpressVPN, which only has servers in Frankfurt and Nuremberg (both cities are pretty close to each other). CyberGhost allows you to connect to a server in a city that is closer to your location for the best speeds.
Like ExpressVPN, CyberGhost has all the industry-standard VPN security features, including an audited and verified no-logs policy, and it uses perfect forward secrecy and RAM-only servers. It also supports split-tunneling, but only on its Android app, which I’m not too thrilled about as I wish it was also available on desktop.
CyberGhost VPN offers very cheap plans (they start at just $2.11 / month) that let you connect up to 7 devices. One thing to note is that its yearly plans come with a generous 45-day money-back guarantee, but its monthly plan only comes with a 14-day money-back guarantee.
Read our full CyberGhost VPN review
🥉3. Private Internet Access (PIA) — Highly Customizable VPN for Streaming on ARD
Private Internet Access (PIA) is a fast, secure, and extremely flexible VPN for streaming on ARD. I had no trouble accessing all of the content in ARD’s library connected to a German server outside of Germany (it has servers located in Berlin and Frankfurt). PIA is not quite as fast as ExpressVPN, but I still had fast speeds that made for a smooth viewing experience free from long load times and buffering.
You can on optimize your PIA experience by managing 20+ preferences. It’s one of the few VPNs that lets you choose to use 128-bit AES instead of 256-bit AES encryption. This gave me slightly better speeds while streaming on ARD because 128-bit AES uses less encryption (but it’s still very secure). Its advanced split-tunneling also lets you exclude IP addresses in addition to apps — something most VPNs don’t offer. Split-tunneling is available on Android, Windows, macOS, and Linux.
I like how PIA’s apps are all open source, which allows the public to view the code and test it for security issues. It also uses perfect forward secrecy and RAM-only servers. Its privacy and security policies have been independently audited, and it releases a regular transparency report. Its no-logs policy has also been proven multiple times in court — it couldn’t comply with an authority’s request for customer data due to the simple fact that it didn’t have it.
Private Internet Access has very affordable monthly and yearly plans, with its longest-term plan providing the best value at $2.19 / month. All of its plans let you connect unlimited devices simultaneously, and they are all backed with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Get Private Internet Access Now
Read our full Private Internet Access review
4. NordVPN — Reliable With Great Security Features & Fast Speeds
NordVPN is a fast and secure VPN that’s great for streaming ARD. NordVPN users can expect reliable connections and fast speeds while viewing ARD Mediathek. Plus, NordVPN is easy to use and comes with impressive privacy features.
It also has 240+ servers in Frankfurt and Berlin. Though it doesn’t have as many server locations in Germany as CyberGhost or ExpressVPN, the number of servers allows you to avoid overcrowding and maintain very fast speeds — my videos played almost instantly, and there was no buffering when I connected to servers in both locations. While NordVPN was about as fast as CyberGhost VPN, it was nowhere near as fast as ExpressVPN.
NordVPN uses smart DNS technology on all servers so VPN users can stream ARD without any issues. And I love how smart DNS is automatically enabled as soon as you connect to a server. NordVPN also works with other streaming apps, including Netflix, Amazon Prime, and other German-based streaming services.
When it comes to security, NordVPN is very secure. In addition to having RAM-only servers, perfect forward secrecy, full IP leak protection, and an audited no-logs policy, it uses colocated servers. These servers are owned by NordVPN and are only accessible by NordVPN employees.
With plans starting at $4.99 / month, NordVPN is an affordable way to stream ARD. It also comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
5. Surfshark — Great Extra Features & Very Affordable
Surfshark spreads its German servers out across 2 locations. I had pretty fast speeds connected to a German server (streams started within a few seconds) but Surfshark has disappointing speeds on very distant servers — with ExpressVPN, this was never an issue.
That said, Surfshark comes with great extra features that improve your streaming experience. I really like the IP Rotator tool, which regularly changes your IP address without changing your server. This helps prevent ARD from detecting and blocking Surfshark’s IP addresses.
You also don’t have to worry about security while using Surfshark — it uses RAM-only servers, perfect forward secrecy, and DNS leak protection. While it has a strict no-logs policy, I’d like to see the VPN conduct an independent audit to align with the other VPNs on this list.
Costing just $2.30 / month, Surfshark is very affordable — and like Private Internet Access, it allows unlimited simultaneous connections, meaning it’s easy to share this small fee with other members of your household. All of Surfshark’s plans are protected by a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Read our full Surfshark review
Comparison of the Best VPNs for Accessing ARD Mediathek in 2023
|VPN||Starting Price||German Server Locations||Simultaneous Connections||Works With Netflix||Smart DNS||Money-Back Guarantee|
|🥇1. ExpressVPN||$6.67 / month||3 (2 in Frankfurt, plus Nuremburg||5||✅||✅||30 days|
|🥈2. CyberGhost VPN||$2.11 / month||3 (Berlin, Düsseldorf, and Frankfurt)||7||✅||✅||45 days|
|🥉3. Private Internet Access||$2.19 / month||2 (Frankfurt and Berlin)||Unlimited||✅||✅||30 days|
|4. NordVPN||$4.99 / month||2 (Frankfurt and Berlin)||6||✅||✅||30 days|
|5. Surfshark||$2.30 / month||2 (Frankfurt and Berlin)||Unlimited||✅||✅||30 days|
How to Choose the Best VPN for Accessing ARD Mediathek in 2023
- Find a VPN that works with ARD Mediathek. Getting a German IP address is required to access all of ARD’s content, so make sure the VPN has a server in Germany. All of the VPNs on this list are consistently able to access ARD’s region-locked content — each one has servers in multiple German cities so you can choose which location works best.
- Make sure the provider has fast connection speeds. Using any VPN will slow down your internet speeds to some extent due to the encryption process. So in order to avoid long video load times and buffering while watching ARD content, pick a VPN that is able to maintain fast speeds. In our tests, ExpressVPN had the best speeds.
- Ensure that the VPN is easy to use. All of the VPNs above have clear setup guides for Android, iOS, Windows, macOS, smart TVs, routers, and more, plus intuitive app interfaces that make it easy to access ARD Mediathek content from anywhere.
- Look for a VPN that has strong security and privacy. The VPNs I recommend all include essential security features such as 256-bit AES encryption (military-grade encryption that renders your data indecipherable to anyone without the key), a kill switch (cuts your internet if you’re unexpectedly disconnected from your VPN), and a strict zero-logs policy (they store no data on you). Plus, they all have full IP leak protection, which stops your IP address from leaking through your VPN.
- Determine whether the VPN offers good value. I recommend VPNs that are not only affordable but come with lots of extra features like split-tunneling, allow a minimum of 5 device connections, and back their plans with a money-back guarantee.
How to Watch ARD Mediathek Content on Any Device
How to Watch ARD Mediathek Content on Your PC or Mac Device
- Get a good VPN that can access ARD Mediathek. You want one that has great speeds and easy-to-use apps for Windows and Mac. I recommend ExpressVPN.
- Download and install the VPN. Just follow the instructions on the screen. It should only take a couple minutes tops.
- Open the VPN, connect to a German server, and log into your ARD Mediathek account. You can now access all the content on ARD no matter where you’re located in the world.
How to Watch ARD Mediathek Content on Your Smartphone or Tablet
- Download a VPN that works consistently with ARD Mediathek. I recommend ExpressVPN. It has blazing fast speeds and user-friendly apps for Android and iOS.
- Download and install the VPN on your iPhone, iPad, or Android device. The installation wizard will guide you through this simple process.
- Run the VPN, connect to a server in Germany, and log into your ARD Mediathek account. Watch anything you want on ARD, no matter where you are.
How to Watch ARD Mediathek Content on Your Smart TV
- Choose a VPN that has fast speeds and servers in Germany. ExpressVPN is my personal recommendation.
- For Android TVs. Download and install the VPN app from the app store. ExpressVPN’s app is fast and super easy to set up. Then open the VPN and connect to a server in Germany.
- For non-Android TVs. Download and install the VPN on your router (ExpressVPN has a router app and provides clear and simple instructions on how to get it set up). Configure your VPN to use a German server. Now, every device in your home (including your smart TVs) will be connected to the VPN.
- Log into your ARD Mediathek account and start watching. You won’t see error messages telling you that certain content is unavailable in your region.
How to Watch ARD Mediathek Content on Your Gaming Console
- Find a VPN that can access ARD Mediathek from anywhere and works on routers. ExpressVPN satisfies both conditions and has super-fast connection speeds.
- Install and configure the VPN on your router to connect to a German server. ExpressVPN’s router app is quick to download and has detailed guides on how to set everything up.
- Open ARD Mediathek on your Xbox or Playstation and log into your account. You’re now able to watch ARD on your gaming console.
How to Watch ARD Mediathek Content using Amazon Fire Stick
- Look for a VPN that works with ARD Mediathek. I like to use ExpressVPN because it has great speeds for streaming content and an easy-to-use Amazon Fire Stick app.
- Set up your VPN on your Amazon Fire Stick or Fire TV. This should be fast and pain-free.
- Open the VPN on your device and connect to a German server. You can now watch all of ARD’s content from outside of Germany.
Frequently Asked Questions
How can I watch ARD Mediathek outside of Germany?
It’s quite easy using a VPN. It only takes three quick steps. You need to download a VPN that works with ARD Mediathek, like ExpressVPN, and connect to one of its German servers. This will allow you to access all of the content on ARD, no matter where you are.
What’s the best VPN for accessing ARD Mediathek?
ExpressVPN is my top VPN for accessing ARD Mediathek in 2023. It was able to consistently access region-locked content on ARD during my tests, it has 3 server locations in Germany, and it maintains very fast speeds.
Can I access ARD Mediathek with a free VPN?
Free VPNs aren’t great for streaming on ARD Mediathek. Many free VPNs don’t have German servers at all, which is required to access some of ARD’s content from outside of Germany. Most also impose data and/or speed limits, which will seriously restrict the amount and quality of content that you can enjoy. And unscrupulous providers may even sell your personal information to third parties.
I recommend getting an affordable, paid VPN instead such as ExpressVPN. It’s a great VPN for streaming, it will protect your digital privacy, and it maintains super-fast speeds.
How do I get a German IP address to access ARD Mediathek?
The easiest way to obtain a German IP address is by using a VPN. When you connect to a German server using a VPN, your real IP address will be hidden behind a German IP address owned by your provider. This is a great way to access websites or content that’s restricted to users in Germany (including ARD Mediathek) while you’re traveling or living abroad.
Why can’t I watch ARD from outside of Germany?
Some of ARD’s content is behind a geo-block that prevents people from outside of Germany from accessing it. So if you’re traveling or living abroad, you’ll have to use a VPN to access this content.
There are plenty of affordable VPNs you can use for this. ExpressVPN, CyberGhost VPN, and Private Internet Access are particularly good options because they work with ARD Mediathek 100% of the time, have excellent speeds, are user-friendly, and are compatible with a wide variety of streaming devices.