If you’re overseas during the 6 Nations you won’t be able to watch the rugby via BBC iPlayer and ITV Hub like you can in the UK. This is because the BBC and ITV both geo-blocked their content. Which means internet users from other countries can’t access it. Fortunately, there’s an easy workaround though. Keep reading to find out how to watch the 6 Nations abroad 2021.
How to watch 6 Nations abroad: Quick guide
Below you’ll find an in-depth guide covering the hows and whys of why you can’t watch the 6 Nations abroad. But if you just want a quick fix, here’s the secret.
- Get a VPN
- We recommend ExpressVPN (£5.85/month) or Ivacy (£1.73/month)
- Download and install the VPN app on your device
- Connect to a server in the UK
- Go to BBC iPlayer or ITV Hub
- Watch the 6 Nations
It’s as easy as that.
A VPN lets you spoof your IP address to a UK one (from anywhere in the world). Which is exactly what you need as BBC iPlayer and ITV only work with UK IPs (internet connections).
Why can’t I watch the 6 Nations abroad?
You can. But you need to you a VPN first. This is because BBC iPlayer and ITV Hub both geo-block their video content. Which means you can’t stream a program from a non-UK internet connection.
The way BBC iPlayer and ITV Hub detect foreign internet connections is pretty simple. It’s all to do with your IP address.
Every internet connection in the world has its own IP address. And these IPs, like phone numbers, can be used to track location. So, if you’re connecting to the internet from France, for example, you’ll have an IP address that is within the French range of IP addresses.
BBC iPlayer and ITV Hub block foreign internet connections from accessing its content to protect their content licences.
This is fair enough. The BBC and ITV have to bid for the right to show the 6 Nations (and other shows) on UK television. Networks from other countries have to do the same. If the Beeb and ITV made their stream accessible to anyone with an internet connection, this would render the nation-specific licences meaningless. Geo-blocking is, therefore, a necessary evil, to protect the television industry.
How to watch the 6 Nations abroad 2021?
Fortunately, there is a simple workaround. As BBC iPlayer and ITV Hub only allow UK IP addresses to watch their programs, all you need to do is spoof your IP address to one in the UK. VPNs allow you to do exactly that using a network of global servers and military-grade encryption.
Be careful though. Not all VPNs work with BBC and ITV Player. This is because the low-quality VPNs share their servers with too many customers. Which leads to BBC iPlayer and ITV Hub blocking their IPs for abnormal usage (too many simultaneous connections). See BBC iPlayer detecting VPN? Here’s what you NEED to do to find out more.
We recommend using either ExpressVPN (£5.85/month), Ivacy (£1.73/month) or NordVPN (£2.99/month). All three of these VPNs have IPs and servers that work with BBC and ITV. This is because they do two things. 1. They don’t overfill their IP address with too many customers. 2. They play a game of Cat and Mouse with BBC and ITV. If/when one of their IPs gets detected they react by closing it down and opening a new one.
Best VPNs for the 6 Nations 2021
The fastest and MOST reliable VPN of 2022Number of servers: 3,000+ | Speed: >80% | Bandwidth: Unlimited | IP locations: 160 in 94 countries | Devices supported: 5 | Live chat: Yes | 30-day money-back guarantee: Yes ExpressVPN is still the best VPN. And importantly, it ALWAYS has servers that are open with major streaming sites such as Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, HBO Max, Amazon Prime Video etc. ExpressVPN is usually very good at playing Cat and Mouse with online streaming sites (apart from BBC iPlayer). Meaning, whenever one of its servers is blacklisted it creates a new one – giving its users a constant stream of servers that aren’t blocked. Needless to say, this is a valuable attribute if you’re looking for a VPN to unblock streaming sites. 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 (with a workaround). 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.
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A very quick and trustworthy VPNNumber of servers: 5,000+ | Speeds: >80% | Bandwidth: Unlimited | IP locations: 62 countries | Devices supported: 6 | Live chat: Yes | 30-day money-back guarantee: Yes NordVPN is the most widely-used VPN in the world. And its easy to see why. It’s a polished app that delivers fast connections (more on this later) to a massive network of VPN servers. It’s the most reliable at unblocking popular streaming services too – US Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, BBC iPlayer, HBO Max, Amazon Prime Video, etc. This is because NordVPN hired full-time technical team (that’s responsible for monitoring its servers connections with popular TV streaming services) and has been aggressively investing in its network of IP addresses in key locations. Another interesting thing to note is that NordVPN is an industry leader in its development of Nordlynx technology. Nordlynx is built using the WireGuard, a new VPN tunnelling protocol designed to outperform current standards (OpenVPN and IPSec). The benefits, according to NordVPN, are dramatically faster transfer speeds while connected to a VPN. My tests – New Zealand to London – confirm that Nordlynx is currently the fastest VPN on the market. However, the difference isn’t dramatic, a few Mbps is all.
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The great low-cost VPN optionNumber of servers: 1,000+ | Speed: >65% | Bandwidth: Unlimited | IP locations: 275 in 100 countries | Devices supported: 5 | Live chat: Yes | 30-day money-back guarantee: Yes If you’re looking for an excellent VPN, with an even better price tag, Ivacy ($1.16/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 Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, HBO Max, Amazon Prime Video, etc. with ease. The Ivacy app is a little different in regards to its UX (user experience). Instead of just selecting a UK server, you need to select the specific BBC iPlayer server. Don’t worry, this isn’t a bad thing – by connecting to a dedicated BBC iPlayer server, it simply means that you’re connecting to an IP address that Ivacy knows works with BBC iPlayer. 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. I don’t recommend this though, using the regular Ivacy servers is enough 95 per cent of the time.
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5. CyberGhostNumber of servers: 6,000+ | Speeds: >65% | Bandwidth: Unlimited | IP locations: 200 in 90 countries | Devices supported: 7 | Live chat: Yes | 30-day money-back guarantee: Yes CyberGhost is one of the more established VPNs on the market. It has a well-established, and well-tested global network of servers that perform well. From my tests over the past several months, CyberGhost has no trouble at unblocking major streaming services – US Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Hulu, Disney+, Amazon Prime Video, HBO Max etc. This VPN performed well at maintaining download speeds, well above 65 per cent of my regular (non VPN) ISP speed. That said, there’s nothing really unique about the service. Which forces you to look at its price-point. And there’s nothing special here. Its short-term $12.99/month price tag puts is well above the industry average of $10.10/month. Similarly, its long-term $2.75/month for 3 years deal isn’t much of a “deal” either. Oddly, CyberGhost’s most unique feature is its a 1-day, no obligations, free trial. This is an appealing offer to customers who are new to VPNs. However, it’s important to remember that most reputable VPNs will offer customers a 30-day money-back guarantee, so try not to be too seduced by the offer.
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Until the latter months of 2017, you could buy practically any VPN and stream content from BBC iPlayer and ITV Player. However, broadcasters have now tightened up their geo-restrictions. BBC iPlayer and ITV Player now actively block IP Addresses it suspects are from VPN providers.
The way broadcasters identify and police VPN’s IP Addresses is actually pretty basic. VPNs often share a single IP address with thousands of customers. Broadcasters only need to identify IP addresses that download abnormally large amounts of data from its servers to know which IP addresses are from VPNs.
Luckily, there is a solution already in place. The three VPNs featured above all frequently refresh their IP addresses, usually before they’re blocked by broadcasters.
We recommend buying a dedicated IP from PureVPN. This way, you will be the only customer accessing a single IP address so you won’t download an abnormal amount of data (as a VPN isn’t sharing it with all of its customers). Meaning your VPN will never be blacklisted.
Why do I need a VPN to watch the 6 Nations?
BBC iPlayer and ITV player only have licenses to broadcast (most of their) content in the UK. For this reason, it geo-restricts its online content, only making it available to UK IP addresses. This is a good and a bad thing. It means citizens of other countries can’t access BBC content for free. But it also means licence-paying UK citizens are also covered by the same block.
The easiest way around this block is by spoofing your IP address’s location by using a VPN.
Can I use a free VPN?
Until late-2017, free VPNs used to work. However, as we mentioned above, the BBC and ITV have started blocking IP addresses that have abnormal downloading activities. Free VPNs are very popular (because they’re free), which means they are invariably the first to get blocked.
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