How to watch BBC iPlayer abroad (March 2018)
If you’re on holiday overseas or working abroad, you’ll experience difficulties watching BBC iPlayer. Here we help you sidestep the BBC’s IP blocks and show you how to watch BBC iPlayer abroad/
*Note: if you’re experiencing problems watching BBC iPlayer with your current VPN provider, see below. Where we explain why you’re having difficulties and how you can fix that.
How to watch BBC iPlayer abroad
- Download and install a VPN
- Select a server based in the UK
- Login to BBC iPlayer
- Watch BBC iPlayer from anywhere in the world
BBC iPlayer not working with VPN?
BBC iPlayer has started blacklisting IP Addresses with irregular activities. This means you may experience difficulties accessing BBC content while using a VPN.
If you’re already using a VPN and you see the error message “This content is not currently available” then its bad news. It means your VPN provider’s IP address has already been blacklisted. In 2017 broadcasters, including the BBC, BT Sport and Sky, started clamping down on customers using VPNs to access content while abroad (due to licensing reasons).
The way broadcasters, including the BBC, identify and police VPN’s IP Addresses is actually pretty basic. VPN’s share their servers with thousands of customers, which results in the same IP addresses accessing BBC iPlayer servers an abnormal amount. Broadcasters now blacklist IP addresses that access and download content more than any single household or office would do normally.
Luckily, there is a solution already in place. You need to buy a dedicated IP address from a VPN provider. This way, only you will be accessing a broadcaster’s servers from a single IP address, meaning you won’t download an abnormal amount of data (as a VPN isn’t sharing the IP with all of its customers).
The best VPNs, such as PureVPN offer it for as little as £1.49/month. On top of a regular VPN subscription.
3 Best VPNs to watch BBC iPlayer
PureVPN gives users two separate ways to watch BBC iPlayer abroad. First, it’s designed to let you select the best sever based on what you’re using a VPN for. These sections are broken down into Streaming, File Sharing, Internet Freedom and Security. When you select Streaming you can filter further by selecting BBC iPlayer as your purpose. PureVPN will then automatically connect you to the best server.
The next solution will cost you an extra $1.99/month. This buys you a dedicated IP address in the country of your choice (…choose an IP in UK for BBC iPlayer). Dedicated IPs are reserved for each customer, meaning the address will never get blacklisted from the BBC as it’s usage will not be abnormal – like the shared IPs VPNs traditionally use.
*Buy with “Dedicated UK IP” for guaranteed access.
Until recently, NordVPN was the best way to watch BBC iPlayer abroad. However, for reasons explained above, NordVPN suffers from its UK servers getting blacklisted.
NordVPN combats this with Cat and Mouse tactics. When one of its IPs is blacklisted it opens a new one. The result is effective, but it does mean you sometimes have to cycle through several different servers before you find one that works with BBC iPlayer.
If you’re willing to do this. NordVPN is a great all-round VPN provider. It offers fast speeds and a massive range of servers in other countries.
IP Vanish is similar to NordVPN. It used to regularly rank in the Top 3 VPNs for a number of different purposes. Its popularity has meant it’s also been one of the first VPNs to be blacklisted by BBC iPlayer.
Fast forward to today, and IPVanish is on the right track. We’ve been in contact with the press team and they assured us a long-term fix is being worked on. In the mean time, IPVanish is playing the same game of Cat and Mouse with the BBC as NordVPN.
The kicker for IPVanish is that it offers a dedicated Amazon Fire Stick app.
Why do I need a VPN to watch BBC iPlayer abroad?
The BBC, like any major television network, is subject to licencing laws that restrict it to broadcasting content only in its local territory. This means, in theory, you should only be able to access BBC content when you’re in Britain.
The way the BBC (and every other network with catch-up TV services) enforces this rule with its internet-based content is by restricting access to foreign IP addresses.
Note that IP addresses are similar to international phone dialling codes. Each country has its own unique range of IP addresses, and this lets services like BBC iPlayer know where users attempt to access its content from.
How does a VPN work? VPNs (virtual private networks) offer a way around this by allowing users to spoof their location. VPNs work by sending encrypted data over a worldwide network of private servers.
A server is essentially a high-powered computer with an internet connection that decrypts a customer data packets and sends them to local ISPs. The returned data packets are re-encrypted and relayed back to the VPN user, wherever they are in the world, and the data decrypted. This process allows VPN customers to access a specific country’s internet from anywhere in the world.
Free vs Paid-for VPNs
There are two types of VPNs. Free and paid for. Free VPNs come with data caps, throttled connection speeds and blocked access to the fastest servers. Paying for a VPN will lift these restrictions, giving customers unlimited data, unthrottled transfer speeds and access to the fastest servers in the selected city/country of choice.
At present no Free VPNs work with BBC iPlayer. If you find one, please let us know in the comments section below.
How much data do I need?
Streaming video with BBC iPlayer requires transfer speeds of roughly 2Mbps (at least) to ensure a smooth stream without buffering interruptions. Watching an hour’s worth of SD content can require anywhere between 600MB to 2GB.
Read next: How to watch BT Sport abroad.