How to Unblock & Watch iPlayer abroad with a VPN

article by Cheyenne M author
BBC broadcasts some popular TV shows, including “Eastenders,” “Dr. Who,” and much more. Unfortunately, it is geo-restricted, so theoretically only U.K. residents can enjoy the exclusive programs. Before you begin, it is best to subscribe to a iPlayer "friendly" VPN client. A great choice would be ExpressVPN.

VPNs provide a way around these constraints, so that fans living abroad or even U.K. residents on holiday can watch their favorite titles practically on demand. Streaming platforms are acquiring software to help them more easily detect VPNs every day. All of the instructions and service recommendations in this article were best at the time of publication, but further research may be required.

Unblocking BBC iPlayer

To unblock BBC iPlayer is a fairly easy process. You’ll need a paid subscription to a VPN, as this is the most surefire way using a remote server will go undetected. Accessing geo-restricted content is all about tricking your internet service provider and the server you are accessing into believing the request is not coming through your computer. To access iPlayer, the request needs to come from a server located in the U.K. As mentioned above, popular streaming services have developed methods to detect many VPNs now, so although a free or paid proxy may have unblocked BBC content in the past, proxies are effectively useless for streaming right now, especially free ones. A VPN also secures your entire network, not just your browsing activity, so all traffic between applications on your system will benefit from the protection. In short, VPNs are well worth the money, especially if you engage in even higher-risk activity than streaming obstructed content.

Once you have a subscription to a VPN, simply log in and choose a U.K.-based server. Some services have stats to help you choose the fastest option. Once you are connected to the server (this should be made obvious by a green light or something similar), simply navigate to the BBC iPlayer website, log in and enjoy.

Best VPNs for BBC iPlayer

The hardest part of unblocking BBC content on iPlayer is picking a VPN service. The two most important considerations when choosing a service for this specific content are a good range of server choices located in the U.K. and of course, speed. VPNs encrypt your data, adding a layer of protection that makes it unreadable to third parties. This protection means that with some VPN services, the user must sacrifice speed. But when streaming content, slow speeds make a VPN inadequate. No one has time for a service that constantly freezes or stutters. When choosing the best BBC iPlayer VPN services, speed and server options were the two most important factors (aside from the requirement of being undetectable.)

ExpressVPN has the best reputation in the industry when it comes to its ability to bypass recognition software on most major streaming services. This, combined with the fact that it also performs consistently better than other services on speed tests, makes our number one choice for streaming BBC iPlayer programing. There are servers available from five cities in the U.K., plenty of options in case one is giving you trouble. There is also 24/7 live chat customer support if you run into issues. ExpressVPN is one of the most expensive services on the market at $99.95 for an annual plan, but well worth the price for streaming restricted content and more! Some connection logs are kept.

IPVanish is second on our list because of an impressive 50+ servers located in the U.K. That means a lot of ways to access BBC iPlayer!  The service also has a ‘zero logs’ policy and maintains fast speeds. It is based in the U.S. which may be a problem for some where privacy is concerned, but the no logs policy should cover you. It’s $79.99 annually and allows higher risk activity than just steaming, making the choice between IPVanish and ExpressVPN nearly impossible.

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Buffered has several servers in the U.K. and performs consistently well on speed tests, though not the number one choice where speed is concerned. Its software is intuitive and recommended specifically for Windows users. It also allows higher risk activity, explaining the $99 annual charge.

We also want to mention NordVPN, because it is consistently mentioned in regards to BBC iPlayer. It has 60+ servers in the U.K and a great reputation for maintaining user privacy (zero logs) and security. We are weary of speed issues, but there are enough server choices to overcome any issues. The price also warrants its inclusion. At $69 annually, it is competitive with all companies listed above, especially considering higher-risk activity is allowed.

All services mention use 256-bit encrypted protection and access to OpenVPN protocol.