The Best VPNs for BBC iPlayer

ByElana KutscherNov.11, 2018

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Best VPNs for BBC iPlayer
If you live in the UK, you’re undoubtedly familiar with BBC iPlayer, a television, video, and radio streaming service that’s offered by none other than the BBC. It originally launched in 2007, and while it’s undergone various changes and development throughout its 10+ years of existence, its core offering of internet streaming is available only to people located in the UK.

The top 5 VPNs for BBC iPlayer

You’ve seen the top 5 VPNs for BBC iPlayer, but now you can read more about them and decide which one is best for you. Let’s be honest—pricing does play a part in most people’s decisions, so detailed pricing charts and VPN highlights are included below.

1. ExpressVPN

1 Year (+3 Free Months)$6.67/month
6 Months$9.99/month
1 Month$12.95/month

ExpressVPN is one of the most trusted VPNs on the market, and moreover, it’s really easy to use. ExpressVPN can be installed on multiple devices and it offers fast speed and a secure connection. Users can also enjoy 24/7 customer support via email and live chat. The only thing missing from this product is a free trial.

Visit ExpressVPN

2. NordVPN

3 Years$2.99/month
2 Years$3.99/month
1 Year$6.99/month
1 Month$11.95/month

NordVPN is packed with extra security features, including an automatic kill switch, double encryption, and no logging. The price is very affordable, especially when considering all the extra features it comes with. NordVPN is very easy to install and use, and comes with unlimited bandwidth and no speed limits. The main issue reported with NordVPN is that its iPhone and Android apps are not terribly reliable, so if you’re planning on streaming primarily on your mobile device, it’s not the best option. 

Visit NordVPN

3. PureVPN

3 Years$1.91/month
1 Year$7.95/month
1 Month$10.95/month

PureVPN offers fast downloads and unlimited bandwidth, 2 important features necessary for streaming. It also comes with extra privacy add-ons like a connection kill switch and firewall protection, and its connection speed is fast and reliable. PureVPN’s mobile apps are excellent and it also has a great 3-year plan. The only downside to PureVPN is that its set up process is a bit lengthy, but you can decide for yourself if that’s a dealbreaker.

Visit PureVPN

4. PrivateVPN

15 Months$2.88/month
3 Months$4.50/month
1 Month$6.57/month

PrivateVPN is great for multiple devices and works especially well with mobile devices. PrivateVPN has very high encryption levels and really shines when it comes to speed and reliability. While the company has fewer servers than its competitors, they are all surprisingly fast and reliable. In fact, PrivateVPN is designed to fight speed throttling that many internet providers implement, so connections sometimes work even faster while it’s running. 

Visit PrivateVPN

5. Hotspot Shield

2 Years$2.99/month
1 Year$5.99/month
1 Month$12.99/month

Hotspot Shield comes with military-grade encryption and security—and as if that’s not enough, it allows you to stream quickly on multiple devices. When it comes to cost, Hotspot Shield is pricier than its competitors, but the 2-year plan offers fairly large savings. Hotspot Shield also comes with a 45-day money-back guarantee, a longer trial period than most of its competitors.

Visit Hotspot Shield

Like any site that blocks content, the BBC uses geolocation technology to determine your IP address, and if you’re located outside the UK, it blocks you. The main reason for this is that BBC productions are funded by UK residents who pay the TV license fee; if you live outside the UK and stream shows from iPlayer, you’re essentially getting them for free. 

How Can You Access BBC iPlayer From Abroad?

If you’re located outside of the UK but want access to your favorite BBC television shows and movies, using a VPN can allow you to gain access and stream as you wish.

What is a VPN?

A VPN, or virtual private network, creates a private network across a public network, which results in additional security and browsing anonymity. The latter is the more popular reason for using a VPN among individual PC and mobile owners—it allows them to block their location and access geo-blocked sites, like BBC iPlayer, that they normally wouldn’t be able to access.

Which Devices Support BBC iPlayer?

BBC iPlayer is available on almost any device, including PC, iPhone, iPad, Android, connected TVs, and more. Depending on the device you use, you can access your account in different ways:

  • By launching the app
  • By using your device’s on-screen menu 
  • By pressing the red button on your BBC remote (if you’re located in the UK)

Setting up a VPN for BBC iPlayer

If you’re concerned about setting up your VPN to use with BBC iPlayer, rest assured, it’s a pretty straightforward process. And remember, you can always contact the company’s customer support team to help you through installation and set up. 

While setup may vary slightly depending on the VPN you choose, here’s the general gist of it: 

Step 1: Choose your VPN provider, purchase plan

Step 2: Install software on your device

Step 3: Connect to server located in the UK (some VPNs allow you to choose your website (BBC iPlayer) and then connect) 

Step 4: Log in to BBC iPlayer

Step 5: Stream and enjoy

Troubleshooting

Let’s be honest—the BBC doesn’t want people outside the UK to access its content; it only wants UK residents who have paid for TV licenses to have access. Which means that sometimes, the BBC cracks down on VPN usage. They do this by searching for atypical iPlayer usage patterns, which signify VPNs, and then block those IP addresses. 

When VPN companies sees that the IP has been blocked, they usually discard it and replace it with a new one that hasn’t been blocked. However, it can take between a few days or even weeks until the VPN provider replaces the blocked IP address (since it’s usually more than one). 

Unfortunately, this situation is unavoidable, and your access to BBC iPlayer can get blocked no matter which VPN you’re using. Therefore, if you’re getting a VPN solely to watch BBC iPlayer, it’s a good idea to talk with the company’s customer support team and ask them how they deal with this problem. Companies that can take care of it in a few days (or hours) will obviously appeal to you more than those that take weeks to fix it. 

And while the VPN company is working on fixing its technical issue, you can take matters into your own hands and switch servers until you find one that works. Because the BBC doesn’t always block one entire VPN; it blocks IP addresses. So if you can get a new UK IP address, you should be able to access iPlayer. 

Tips for Getting the Best Speed to Watch BBC iPlayer

Once your VPN is working and you’re able to access BBC iPlayer, you may notice that it’s not streaming as quickly as you would like. This doesn’t mean the VPN you purchased doesn’t work, it just means it’s not working at its optimal speed—yet.

Here are some tips for getting the best speed for BBC iPlayer

  • Clear your cookies and cache 
  • Open BBC iPlayer in a different web browser (BBC iPlayer can be accessed through Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, Opera, Microsoft Edge, Internet Explorer, and Safari)
  • Change servers
  • Change VPN port/protocol
  • Try a different device
  • Restart your modem or device

It you’re getting a message that there’s a proxy error, that means that there’s an error with your server. To fix this, you can try to uninstall/reinstall the iPlayer app, enter your DNS number if you’re using a router, or speak with customer support. While it can be frustrating when the VPN you’ve purchased doesn’t work, remember that all technology is tempermental at times, but the top VPN companies have knowledgeable customer support teams that can help you with any issues that arise.

Bottom Line

If you love BBC productions but don’t live in the UK, using a VPN to access BBC iPlayer is a great solution. And once you purchase a VPN, you can use it for BBC iPlayer and other streaming sites, like Netflix or Hulu (both of these, though, require that you connect to a US server as opposed to a UK server). You’ll also find that your VPN will not only obscure your location, but will also provide an added layer of security to your device. A win-win situation.