Want to watch BBC iPlayer abroad? You’ve come to the right place. In this article, we’ll explain why BBC iPlayer doesn’t work outside of the UK and what you can do to get around this.
Note (29/9/20): ExpressVPN has not been working with BBC iPlayer for a couple of months. If you were using ExpressVPN to watch BBC iPlayer abroad you will need to switch to NordVPN’s (£2.69/month) or Ivacy (£1.74/month).
How to watch BBC iPlayer abroad
- Sign up with NordVPN (£2.69/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 simple as that.
There are other sites you can use like watchallchannels.com that might get you a dodgy illegal stream of UK channels. However, the reliability of these sites is iffy at best – especially during big live sport events. They also don’t offer access to BBC iPlayer’s on-demand library like VPNs do.
BBC iPlayer only works with UK IP addresses (internet connections). This means you won’t be able to watch iPlayer on any of your devices unless you’re connecting from a UK IP address. FYI: IP addresses are similar to phone numbers in that each country has its own unique codes. This makes watching iPlayer while overseas tricky.
The best way to get around this is to spoof your internet connection to make it appear as if it’s coming from a UK IP address. VPNs (Virtual Private Networks) provide a simple way of doing this.
VPNs have servers based in every major country in the world. The best VPNs (the ones listed below) have hundreds of servers and IPs in the UK. By signing up to a VPN service, for a month of a year, you can securely spoof your internet connection to one if in the UK.
VPNs use a network of high-speed servers and military-grade encryption. This simple combination allows its users to instantly spoof their connection and surf the internet from any IP address in any country.
There’s a problem though. BBC iPlayer has started detecting and blocking IP addresses that come from VPNs. Which means you can’t just use any VPN for the task. You need one that stays one step ahead of the BBC’s ban. Take a look at our ‘BBC iPlayer not working with VPN’ article to find out more about. Alternatively, use any of the VPNs featured below and you’ll be able to watch BBC iPlayer from anywhere in the world within minutes of signing up.
Leave a comment below if you have any questions.
4 Best VPNs to watch BBC iPlayer
Price: NordVPN (£2.69/month)
NordVPN is the BEST way to watch BBC iPlayer when you’re overseas. It has a dedicated technical team that monitors its server’s connections to the Beeb round the clock.
I’ve been using NordVPN to watch BBC iPlayer since March 2018 and there hasn’t been a single day when I’ve not been able to watch my favourite shows on iPlayer. This is because NordVPN plays a successful game of Cat and Mouse with the BBC. If/When one of its server’s IPs get blacklisted, it’s technical team opens a new one as soon as possible.
NordVPN is a great all-round VPN provider. It offers fast speeds and a massive range of servers in other countries… so you can use it to watch US Netflix too!
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 (£1.55) 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.
This provider is a VPN veteran. It’s as established and trustworthy as VPNs come. It’s also one of the best services at playing Cat and Mouse with BBC iPlayer. And Netflix too. Whenever one of its servers is blacklisted it creates a new one. Giving users a constant stream of servers that work with iPlayer.
ExpressVPN also has an excellent Live Chat feature on its website that customers are encouraged to use to locate a server that is currently open with iPlayer.
It’s a little more expensive than the other VPNs on this list that still work with BBC iPlayer. But that’s because it regularly scores five stars for its the reliability and speed of its network.
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.
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.