How to Watch BBC iPlayer Outside the UK
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British television is famous for putting quality over quantity (usually, but not always – looking your way, EastEnders). This can be frustrating when your favorite series has a total of twenty episodes spread across ten seasons, but at least they know to quit while they’re ahead. So, whether you’re British or you’re foreign but appreciate good TV, BBC iPlayer has a lot to offer (like Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s ingenious Fleabag or Killing Eve – though these are also available on Amazon Prime).
In any case, whether you’re British and living or traveling abroad, or are foreign and simply enjoy British TV, you are facing a problem: you can’t access BBC iPlayer outside the UK. Due to rights agreements, you have to be in the UK (and have a TV licence) to stream or download BBC iPlayer content. Luckily, there are workarounds. One thing you can do is download content while you’re in the UK, and watch it offline. But this may not be possible if you live abroad, and it can be a hassle to think this long ahead when you’re in the UK. Another thing you can try is using a proxy; however, the BBC is always monitoring proxy servers and making it increasingly difficult to find a proxy that will work.
The best way to watch BBC iPlayer outside the UK is by using a VPN. Once you connect your PC, smartphone, or iPad (i.e. tablet) to the VPN, you’ll be able to connect to a UK server and directly access content. In this article, we’ll mainly focus on how you can use a VPN to watch BBC iPlayer from anywhere in the world, including the USA.
How To Watch BBC iPlayer Outside the UK Using a VPN
There are a couple of steps to the process of using a VPN to access BBC iPlayer. In fact, accessing geo-restricted content is one of the most common reasons why people use VPNs. Of course, VPNs are also used to protect your online privacy and increase your security against hackers, but the best VPN providers also consistently manage to bypass geo-restricted content such as streaming services.
The best streaming VPNs can give you access to not only BBC iPlayer, but also streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, etc., local TVs like HBO or ABC, as well as numerous sports streams. You can also get access to various Netflix libraries (like the US Netflix library, which is among the richest ones available) depending on which VPN you choose.
Without further ado, here’s how to watch BBC iPlayer outside the UK using a VPN.
Disclaimer: using a VPN (or a proxy) to access BBC iPlayer from abroad breaks the terms and conditions set forth by the BBC. Your account may get suspended if they detect that you’ve accessed the content using one of these methods.
1. Select A VPN Provider
We adamantly recommend getting a paid VPN provider. Free VPNs are flaky, ad-y, and can easily compromise your privacy and security. You can look over the best VPNs that have been popular among users for good reason, and find one that’s just right for you.
When choosing a VPN provider, there are a couple of factors you should consider. Firstly, as our subject is streaming BBC iPlayer, make sure that your VPN of choice can help you access BBC iPlayer. Some of our top recommendations for streaming are NordVPN, ExpressVPN, CyberGhost, SurfShark. All these VPNs will help you unblock BBC iPlayer along with other streaming services. Check which streaming services and which Netflix libraries each VPN can give you access to thoroughly, so that you don’t miss out on anything you like.
You can also look over the security features, such as encryption protocols that are offered. NordVPN and ExpressVPN are especially lauded for their VPN protocols and cloaking technologies. Consider privacy settings, too, making sure that a VPN keeps zero logs, or at least zero identifying logs (some VPNs, like ExpressVPN, keep non-identifying data such as login times).
Other factors you should consider are price, ease-of-use, and the number of simultaneous connections a VPN offers. All VPNs offer the best value when you choose a longer-term payment plan, like yearly or biannual billing periods. You can expect prices from about $3/month – $6/month on this sort of plan. Month-by-month payments are the priciest, and can cost you about $10-$15. Price-wise, ExpressVPN is the most expensive, while SurfShark is the most affordable.
Most of these high-quality VPN providers offer native apps for Mac, Windows, Linux, Android, and iOS – so you’ll have no trouble watching BBC iPlayer in the USA on an iPad, for instance. The apps are intuitive and easy to use. If you’re not feeling too tech-savvy, CyberGhost’s iOS app is quite simple and leaves little for you to do.
Lastly, consider the number of simultaneous connections that you can have from a single VPN account. This is basically the number of devices that you can connect, at any given time, to your VPN. With ExpressVPN you can connect up to 5 devices at once; with NordVPN, you can have up to 6 simultaneous connections; CyberGhost allows 6; and SurfShark allows an unlimited number of simultaneous connections, so it’s a great choice for a device-crowded household.
2. Download the VPN App
Once you’ve picked and purchased a VPN provider, download the app to your devices. Most importantly, download the VPN app to the device you want to stream BBC iPlayer from. If you want to watch from your smartphone, iPad, and laptop, you can just download the software to all of these devices.
Having a VPN on your phone or tablet is a great idea for two reasons: one, you can stream on the go. Yay! Two: tablets and smartphones are actually often at risk, as people most commonly use them to connect to public WiFi networks. Public WiFi networks are notoriously dangerous and put you at risk of having your personal data – such as passwords and banking or credit card information – stolen. Public WiFi often lacks security and encryption, which makes it vulnerable to hackers. Sometimes, in fact, hackers are the creators of the WiFi network. Just because it’s named after the airport or the cafe you’re at doesn’t mean it’s their network.
A VPN protects your devices and personal data from such intruders through encryption. So, download the VPN to your smartphone and tablet, for both fun and security!
2. Connect to an Appropriate Server
Once you’ve downloaded the VPN app and logged in, it’s time to connect to a server. The best VPN providers have thousands of servers worldwide, which improves speed and performance but also gives you access to content in the countries where the servers are located.
So, if you’re in the USA and want to watch BBC iPlayer, you need to connect to a UK server provided by your VPN. VPNs offer list-based and/or map-based server options. You can select a VPN server to connect to that will give you access to your streaming service of choice. These server lists are available on all native apps, including those for iOS (iPads and iPhones).
Another catch you should keep in mind is that your physical distance to a certain server will make a difference in your internet speed. This is because it takes time for packets of data to travel from the server to your device. So again, if you’re trying to watch BBC iPlayer from the USA, try to select a UK server that’s located in the west rather than the east of the country, as it would be physically nearer to you and thus provide you with a smoother connection.
3. Enjoy the Show
You’ve picked a good VPN provider, downloaded it to your devices, logged in, and picked a UK server that’s close to you. Now you can easily watch BBC iPlayer outside the UK! So sit back and enjoy the show.
A Few Words Before You Go…
While you can use a proxy to access BBC iPlayer, a VPN is a much more consistently reliable option. Additionally, a VPN can bypass geo-blocks and add a layer of security and privacy to all your devices, as well as hide the overall activity within your network from your ISP.
If you’re new to VPNs and feel a bit intimidated, don’t worry! Most popular VPNs have intuitive apps and are quite easy to use. Hopefully, our guide has made you feel more comfortable about trying them out.
By extending the VPN connection to all your devices – like your iPad or smartphone – you’ll be able to watch BBC iPlayer on the go.
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