Is BBC iPlayer not working with your VPN? Bad news. It means BBC iPlayer has detected that you are using a VPN and your VPN provider’s IP address is blacklisted. The good news is that there’s a simple workaround though. Continue reading to learn what to do when iPlayer detects a VPN.
iPlayer not working with VPN: Quick guide
BBC only blocks the IP addresses of some VPNs. Good VPN still work with BBC iPlayer. Follow the steps below to and you’ll be able to watch BBC iPlayer (again) from anywhere in the world.
- Sign up with ExpressVPN (£5.13/month) or Ivacy (£1.74/month) or another VPN that still works with BBC iPlayer (see below)
- Download and install the app
- Connect to a server in the UK
- Clear your browser’s cookie and cache (optional)
- Open BBC iPlayer and watch from anywhere in the world
It’s as easy as that.
Why has my VPN stopped working with BBC iPlayer?
The only thing you NEED to know regarding “iPlayer not working with a VPN” is that the BBC only blocks IP addresses. It doesn’t actually block VPNs. However, if the VPN you use doesn’t refresh its IPs once they’ve been blacklisted by the Beeb, you obviously won’t be able to watch iPlayer while using it.
The fix for this is really simple. You need to use a VPN that plays Cat and Mouse with iPlayer. This means, when one of its IPs is blacklisted, the VPN immediately responds by closing that IP down and replaced with a fresh (undetected) IP.
*Ivacy users should use the dedicated BBC server located in the app’s Popular Websites tab. ExpressVPN users can watch iPlayer via any UK server.
Can BBC iPlayer detect a VPN?
No. Providing you use a high-end VPN – like ExpressVPN (£5.13/month) – BBC iPlayer is unable to detect if your connecting is coming via a VPN or not.
However, BBC iPlayer collects IP address information and it actively blacklists any IP address that it suspects belongs to a VPN. More about this below.
Does BBC iPlayer still work with VPNs?
Yes. I watch and listen to content on BBC iPlayer several times a week – ExpressVPN (£5.13/month) is my favourite – and have done since October 2017 when I moved from the UK to New Zealand.
However, not every VPN still works with BBC iPlayer. If you’re trying to connect using TunnelBear, IPVanish, Hotspot Shield, VyprVPN, Windscribe, Buffered, or Hide My Ass (the list is huge!) you will run into problems.
This is because iPlayer started blocking some VPNs from accessing its servers. Continue reading below to find out more.
Note for Amazon Fire TV Stick users: If you’re having trouble watching BBC iPlayer via an Amazon Fire TV Stick, don’t panic. You’re not alone. This is a known issue, and all major VPNs are racing for a solution. In the meantime, we suggest taking a look at our VPN not working on Amazon Fire TV Stick article. Where we take you through what steps you need to take to get iPlayer working (with a VPN) on your FireStick again.
See also: How to listen to TMS abroad.
How is BBC iPlayer Detecting my VPN?
Until recently, pretty much any VPN was good enough to let you watch BBC iPlayer abroad. However, since late 2017, iPlayer users have experienced issues when using a VPN from overseas.
This is because BBC iPlayer is has started detecting and blacklisting VPNs. The way BBC iPlayer detects VPNs is simple. VPNs have lots of customers and only a handful of servers in the UK. And when too many VPN-users connect to iPlayer at the same time, it’s easy for the BBC to identify IP addresses that are actually VPN servers.
The BBC responds by blacklisting these IPs. Which is why you’re now seeing an error message when trying to watch BBC iPlayer through a VPN that once worked. See also: Netflix detecting VPN? Here’s how to fix that!
BBC iPlayer not working with VPN: How to fix
The workaround for when BBC iPlayer is not working with your current VPN is pretty logical. You need to buy a different VPN. One that’s not been blacklisted by iPlayer and one that gives you access to IP addresses that aren’t blacklisted by BBC iPlayer.
There are two methods.
1. The easiest way is to buy a VPN that’s winning the game of Cat and Mouse against the BBC. ExpressVPN (£5.13/month) and Ivacy (£1.74/month) are currently the best at this. But any of the VPN listed below will work.
2. Alternatively, you can buy a VPN with a dedicated IP. Dedicated IPs are a more expensive option, but getting one means you won’t be sharing your IP with other customers, so (in theory) your connection won’t ever get blacklisted.
Other VPNs such as Ivacy (£1.74/month) and NordVPN (£3.02/month) are excellent alternatives if you’re happy to spend a little more on unblocking iPlayer (and US Netflix!). But if you want the very best service, my advice is to go with Ivacy or ExpressVPN.
This is because Ivacy is a service that takes a pragmatic approach to unblocking BBC iPlayer and other streaming sites. While other VPNs tempt customers by advertising hundreds of servers in the UK, Ivacy relies on its software and infrastructure to manage the problem.
Ivacy still has hundreds of servers in the UK – and thousands of servers around the world – but it manages them better than other VPNs.
The Ivacy app doesn’t let individual users choose specific servers. Instead, customers must select from just a list of purposes such as watching BBC iPlayer, US Netflix, BT Sport (etc). From here, the ExpressVPN app does the rest – connecting you to the fastest available server.
This is really important as it keeps individual servers from being overloaded. This hands-on approach from Ivacy prevents its servers from having too many users. Which, as we explain above, is what causes VPN servers and IPs to get blacklisted in the first place.
BBC iPlayer download failed using VPN?
If you’re seeing “Download unavailable – Error Code: 3” or “Dash manifest failed”?when trying to download iPlayer programmes using a VPN, take a look our How to download BBC iPlayer programmes abroad article to learn more and fix the issue.
Why is it happening with all VPNs? Good question. I contacted ExpressVPN, NordVPN and CyberGhost to find out why this is happening and their responses were largely the same. Each VPN provider explained that their servers were set up for streaming content, rather than downloading it to a device. NordVPN confirmed that its engineers are working on a fix for this and hope to roll that out soon.
NordVPN also said that some of its UK servers let you download to Windows and Mac PCs, but will not work with iOS and Android mobile devices. To find out which servers currently work with NordVPN you need to get in touch with Live Chat team via the NordVPN website.
Which VPNs still work with BBC iPlayer?
We recommend using one of the four VPN providers below for consistent access to BBC iPlayer. Other VPNs my work periodically, but the three featured below have all been tested and verified. They also provide excellent support.
1. ExpressVPN (The BEST VPN of 2020)
ExpressVPN (£5.13/month) is the best VPN you can buy. If you can afford the extra few pounds/dollars a month, you won’t regret it.
The first thing you need to know about this VPN is that it’s fast. Really fast! It consistently tops our independent VPN speed tests, with blazingly fast download/upload speeds. And importantly, it ALWAYS has servers that are open with major streaming sites such as Netflix, Amazon, HBO Go and BBC iPlayer.
This is partly because ExpressVPN is one of the best services at playing Cat and Mouse with online streaming sites. Whenever one of its servers is blacklisted it creates a new one. Giving users a constant stream of servers that work with iPlayer.
Its app is easy-to-use and free to download on pretty much any device you can think of. Mac, Windows, iOS, Android, FireStick, Android TV, Roku, PS4, Xbox, Linux, even Apple TV. It’s got it all covered.
The app is another main reason this VPN is so good at unblocking TV streaming sites (that claim they block VPNs) is that its software takes a pragmatic approach to user management. While other VPNs tempt customers by promising them access to hundreds/thousands of servers in multiple countries, ExpressVPN does things differently.
With ExpressVPN you only have a handful of server locations to choose from. Once you select your location the app takes care of the rest. Assigning you to the fastest available server that’s not oversubscribed. This simple technique is so important, as it keeps ExpressVPN’s servers operating at lightning-fast speeds and prevent its IPs from getting blacklisted for “abnormal” usage in the first place.
ExpressVPN is a little more expensive than the other VPNs on this list that still work with online streaming sites. But if you can afford it, it’s totally worth it.
2. Ivacy (The BEST low-cost VPN)
If you’re looking for an excellent VPN, with an even better price tag, Ivacy (£1.74/month) is a great option.
This VPN has all the features you need to stream BBC iPlayer, in HD, from any country in the world. I’ve been testing the app recently on Mac, PC, Android, iOS and FireStick and the results have been impressive – unlocking BBC iPlayer, US/UK Netflix, 4oD etc with ease.
For an extra $1.99/month (£1.74) you can add-on a dedicated IP. This will buy you sole access to an IP address in a country of your choice, meaning you won’t have to share your IP (and speeds) with any other use.
NordVPN employs a full-time technical team that’s responsible for monitoring its servers connections with popular TV streaming services. BBC iPlayer is included in its watchlist (so is US Netflix). This team constantly works on staying one-step ahead of iPlayer, ensuring that it’s servers/IPs don’t get blacklisted in the first place. And if there ever is a problem, they work on creating a fix asap. Nord also offers customers access to 500+ servers in the UK and 24/7 free technical support via its website’s Live Chat feature.
I’ve been using NordVPN to watch BBC iPlayer, from New Zealand, since March and haven’t experienced any downtime with the service.
Another of our favourite services is CyberGhost (£2.30/month). And if you can afford to pay an extra $1.99/month for a dedicated IP, you’ll be buying guaranteed access to iPlayer 24/7 as you’re the only user who will be connecting to iPlayer, which means it won’t get blocked for abnormal behaviour. The 24-month subscription (with a dedicated IP), the monthly price still works out cheaper than some of its closest rivals.
However, the standard package is good enough. The app (Windows, Mac, iOS and Android) works slightly differently from its rivals. It’s unique because it lets you filter server by ‘Purpose’ and then connects you to the best server for the job. Here, for example, you would select your purpose as BBC iPlayer Streaming, and then let CyberGhost do the rest.
On the rare occasion when this method doesn’t work, you’re encouraged to get in touch with a CyberGhost agent via the website’s Live Chat service. Where they’ll fix the problem and get you watching BBC iPlayer again asap.
List of VPNs not working with BBC iPlayer
- Hotspot Shield
- Hide My Ass!
Why does BBC iPlayer block VPNs?
The simple answer is because they’re used by people who are not in the correct location/country to access iPlayer.
As recently as last year, internet users could use any cheap VPN to stream catchup content from any country. This method meant BBC iPlayer, and all of its content was open to anyone in the world with a VPN. Not just the TV License-paying British public.
Great for the end-consumer. Not great for rights holders. This led to the broadcasters (with on-demand content) upgrading their geo-restriction technology.
The way catchup TV providers detect a VPN’s IP address is pretty simple. Broadcasters recognised that VPNs were sharing a small number of IP addresses with their thousands/millions of customers. This meant certain IP addresses were accessing and downloading excessive amounts of data from BBC, Netflix, BT Sport another broadcasters’ servers. And this made the VPN’s IP addresses pretty easy to spot and blacklist.
Picture your IP address as your home’s internet connection. Normal behaviour would look something like 2-6 users accessing the internet at any given time. That’s a maximum of 2-6 users accessing BBC iPlayer’s servers at the same time. VPNs share UK IP address with thousands of customers which makes the level of content downloaded from the same IP address abnormal. And more importantly, easy for the BBC to spot and blacklist.
See also: How to listen to BBC Radio abroad.
TunnelBear/IPVanish not working with BBC iPlayer?
Until recently, TunnelBear and IPVanish were two of the most popular VPNs used to access BBC iPlayer. However, TunnelBear and IPVanish users will now notice that the VPN is not working with iPlayer anymore.
Worse still, they not fighting the ban. Which means customers who bought lengthy subscriptions to these VPNs to watch BBC iPlayer abroad and now left stranded. Unfortunately, there’s nothing these customers can do. Their only option is to switch to one of the VPNs featured above.
The good news from iPlayer’s VPN ban is that it’s helped customers realise which VPNs are the real deal. The likes of NordVPN, ExpressVPN and CyberGhost all have employed dedicated technical teams to fight the BBC (and Netflix) VPN ban. They all have teams that are monitoring their server’s connections around the clock. And if they notice any problems they get to work on a fix immediately.
How to create a BBC iPlayer account?
The BBC now requires users to sign in to watch iPlayer. The service is still free to access for anyone within the UK – meaning all you need is a VPN that’s still working with iPlayer (still).
Registering for a BBC iPlayer account is about the easiest thing you can do online. You only need an email address and UK postcode. Neither needs to be legitimate. You can even use a random postcode if you don’t want the BBC to collect data about you personally.
To sign up go to https://account.bbc.com/register? and enter a valid; Email, DoB, UK Postcode, and select your Gender.
Read next: How to watch ITV Hub abroad.