BBC iPlayer Detecting VPN? Here’s how to fix that! (October 2018)
Is BBC iPlayer not working with your VPN? Bad news. BBC iPlayer is detecting a VPN and your provider’s IP address is blacklisted. There’s a simple workaround though. Continue reading to learn how to fix that!
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 is pretty logical. You need to buy a VPN that gives you access to IP addresses that aren’t blacklisted by BBC iPlayer.
There are two ways to do this. You can either buy a VPN that’s winning the game of Cat and Mouse against the BBC. ExpressVPN (£4.80/month) and NordVPN (£2.04/month) are the best at this. 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 your connection won’t ever get blacklisted.
I’ve been using NordVPN (£2.04/month) since March – all the way from New Zealand – and haven’t had any problems streaming BBC iPlayer.
ExpressVPN takes a pragmatic approach to unblocking BBC iPlayer. While other VPNs tempt customers by advertising hundreds of servers in the UK, ExpressVPN relies on its software and infrastructure to manage the problem. This is because ExpressVPN doesn’t let you choose a specific server. Instead, you select one of two locations in the UK, usually London Docklands and Berkshire. From here, ExpressVPN does the rest. This hands-on approach prevents 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.
NordVPN offers another excellent option. Nord has 480+ servers in the UK and you can connect to whichever one you like. Unless a server is oversubscribed. NordVPN makes these servers unavailable to new connections. The good thing about Nord’s 480+ servers is that they all work with iPlayer. You don’t have to cycle through them in a trial-and-error fashion to find one that works. NordVPN also offers free live chat support on its website. Customers are encouraged to get in contact with a support agent if they’re having any issues connecting to any streaming service.
If you can afford it, another good way to beat iPlayer’s VPN ban (in the long run) is to use a dedicated IP. Using a VPN with a dedicated IP means you won’t be sharing your connection with thousands of other customers – so your connection won’t ever get blacklisted. I’ve also been using PureVPN with a dedicated IP (£3.62/month) since December and haven’t experienced any problems accessing BBC iPlayer. NordVPN has also added dedicated IPs to its list of features, however, it’s more expensive – costing £52/year.
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 FireStick article. Where we take you through what steps you need to take to get iPlayer working (with a VPN) on your FireStick again.
List of VPNs not working with BBC iPlayer
- Hotspot Shield
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 PureVPN 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 for 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.