Best VPNs for BBC iPlayer in 2020 That Actually Work!

Last updated: July 28, 2020
Muhammad Hamza Shahid

Muhammad Hamza Shahid

BBC iPlayer works on and off with different VPN services. I last connected on June 11th, 2020 from abroad to watch the Season Premier of the infamous, “Dracula”. I used NordVPN for unblocking the VoD service!

BBC iPlayer continues to go hard on users connecting to a UK server to access the complete content library, due to licensing issues that have led to many production houses losing money.

The streaming platform uses various IP/DNS blocking algorithms and technologies that detect VPN traffic instantly and blacklist them to prevent unauthorized access to the UK library.

This is why using a service to bypasses these restrictions and VPN blocking is necessary for unlocking BBC iPlayer’s complete potential.

Best VPN Services for BBC Player

  1. NordVPN: Best VPN for BBC iPlayer. 700+ servers available in the UK to unblock BBC iPlayer Costs. $3.49/mo .
  2. Surfshark: Unblocks BBC iPlayer Instantly. Working London, Manchester, and Glasgow servers. Available for  $1.99/mo .
  3. ExpressVPN: 4K Streaming on BBC iPlayer. Seamless streaming and fast speeds on the VoD. Available for $6.67/mo .
  4. CyberGhost: 520+ UK-based Servers for Streaming. Dedicated servers are available for BBC iPlayer UK. Costs $2.75/mo .
  5. Ivacy VPN:  Offers Secure Servers in the UK. Offers fast and secure servers in the UK for streaming. Costs as low as $2.25/mo .

Why Do You Need VPN for BBC Player?

The iPlayer was BBC’s attempt to make its programming more accessible to viewers by allowing them to stream it online. However, just like Netflix, it encounters licensing issues that led to geo-restricting licensed content.

It is because of these licensing issues from production houses of different movies/documentaries/TV shows that users are forced to seek other means of accessing the complete BBC iPlayer content.

That is why you need a VPN to circumvent these restrictions and access this streaming service from anywhere in the world, despite the streaming platform imposing a ban on VPNs.

BBC iPlayer Only Works in the UK Error

Why Doesn’t My VPN Work with BBC iPlayer?

Over the years, BBC iPlayer has become more proactive in blocking VPN services, utilizing active scans, IP blacklisting, advanced tracking, and other tools for identifying VPN traffic. This has resulted in iPlayer’s geographical restrictions becoming extremely tough to bypass.

Many VPNs will face trouble for streaming on the VoD, and those that do unblock it usually require some small tweaks. To give you better information on how iPlayer detects VPNs, consider addressing the following concerns:

  • Your VPN is failing at cloaking your IP address successfully. Some services only hide your IPv4 address, but forget to offer any security for the IPv6 address.
  • Your VPN may be using virtual servers with poor security protocols that result in the leaking of your real location. Avoid VPNs that use virtual servers to reduce costs.
  • Your device is still displaying your real GPS location. This often happens when connecting from mobile data. There is a chance your GPS conflicts with the virtual server.
  • BBC iPlayer has blacklisted access to the VPN server you are using. This is common for VPN services that have a small server network. Go for a VPN with a huge server list.
  • The cookies stored on your laptop or mobile device is giving away the true location to BBC iPlayer or your VPN simply lacks the resources to keep up with the geo-blocks.
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How to Fix VPN Problems with BBC iPlayer

When the iPlayer has got enough data to suggest a VPN is in action, it moves to ban it from accessing the site and app altogether. Here are some great ways to fix BBC iPlayer from detecting your service:

Fix Your DNS Cache

Ever heard of cookies? No, I am not talking about the ones that you dip in warm milk. I am referring to the log files stored by your browser, which include important data like your location.

If you have not cleared your cookies, BBC iPlayer will instantly be able to discern that you are using a VPN or proxy. Simply clear the cache and cookies each time you want to unblock the streaming platform.

You can also flush your DNS cache on Windows. Launch “CMD” and run the following command “ipconfig /flushdns” by typing it in and pressing enter.

Get a Dedicated IP Address

As we have mentioned here before, iPlayer detects VPNs when there are too many connections being routed through a single server or a group of similar IP addresses.

Acquiring a dedicated IP VPN will surely help you to never face this problem as the iPlayer won’t be singling you out for a suspicious connection ever.

Switch Servers

The best way to get around the iPlayer VPN detection problem is to try switching to a new server down the list. Many top VPNs offer multiple UK servers allowing you to do this quite easily.

iVacy has secure UK servers, so if one is not working, select another from the list. You can also ask your VPN’s live chat support team for their best UK servers to unblock BBC iPlayer, as I did for CyberGhost

Watch BBC iPlayer Abroad With a VPN

Check out these 5 VPNs that work smoothly with BBC iPlayer, described in detail after comparing their costs, Trustpilot ratings, and streaming features:

1. NordVPN: Top Pick for BBC iPlayer

NordVPN Ranks 1st

With over 5,200+ servers placed worldwide, NordVPN has been providing exemplary unblocking facilities to users across the globe. For UK alone, they have a whopping 500+ exclusive servers for its users to unblock the BBC iPlayer, even it is one of the best VPN for Hulu and other streaming services as well like Netflix and more.

The UK server list at NordVPN is comprehensive and it even informs you about the current server usage and overload notifications. If one of them is not working, just switch and connect to the next one in the list.

For me, it took two to three server switches for connecting to BBC iPlayer, despite selecting those with a high server load already. Plans available by NordVPN include:

NordVPN BBC iPlayer UK

Pros

  • Based in Panama
  • Double VPN available
  • Onion over VPN available
  • UK Servers unblock BBC iPlayer
  • Over 5,200+ Servers worldwide
  • It offers NordVPN 7 day trial for iOS and Android users.

Cons

  • No-Port Forwarding.

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2. Surfshark: Unblocks BBC iPlayer Instantly

Surfshark Ranks 2nd

The reason why I list Surfshark at second is because of its affordability which makes it best budget VPN.  The price is unmatched in the marketplace of VPNs. Despite this, it goes head-to-head against top names like NordVPN and ExpressVPN.

I tested the provider for unblocking BBC iPlayer. 3 out of the 7 UK servers I connected to successfully managed to unblock the streaming platform while delivering good speeds.

Just make sure to switch the protocol from the outdated IKEv2 and to the OpenVPN (TCP) protocol after installing Surfshark. Otherwise, you will encounter the “proxy” error. Best VPN deals available by Surfshark:

  1. Monthly: $11.95
  2. 1-Year: $5.99/mo. (billed $71.88)
  3. 2-Years: $1.99/mo. (billed $47.76)

Surfshark BBC iPlayer UK

Pros

  • Headquartered in BVI
  • Unlimited multi-logins
  • Zero WebRTC/DNS/IP leaks
  • AES-256-CBC and AES-256-GCM
  • UK servers unblock BBC iPlayer

Cons

  • No Free Trial Available

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3. ExpressVPN: 4K Streaming on BBC iPlayer

ExpressVPN Ranks 3rd

ExpressVPN is incredibly apt at unblocking all kinds of geo-restricted sites across the world. For my testing, I connected to 5 different servers: UK – Berkshire, London, Berkshire 2, East London, and Kent.

All servers successfully unblocked the BBC iPlayer streaming platform, including other VoDs like Disney Plus, Netflix UK, Amazon Prime, Hulu, and more – thanks to the strong AES-256-GCM encryption and leak-free connection.

Apart from this, ExpressVPN offers multiple protocol support, over 3000 global servers that deliver speedy performance, 24/7 live chat support and much more. The pricing plans currently offered include:

  1. Monthly: $12.95
  2. 6-Months: $9.99/mo. (billed $59.95)
  3. 12-Months: $6.67/mo. (billed $99.95)

ExpressVPN BBC iPlayer UK

Pros

  • Verified “no-logs” policy
  • 3000+ servers in 94 countries
  • UK servers unblock BBC iPlayer
  • Multi-logins on 5 devices
  • 30-day refund policy
  • ExpressVPN free trial 7 days

Cons

  • Prices are a bit too steep

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4. CyberGhost – 520+ UK Servers for BBC iPlayer

CyberGhost Ranks 4th

CyberGhost is another popular VPN service that has added the capability to not just unblock BBC iPlayer outside UK, but also delivers fast and high-quality streaming. The method of bypassing the restrictions is quite simple too.

To access BBC iPlayer outside UK, all apps of CyberGhost offer you the “Unblock Streaming” option Even when I asked their chat support on how can we can stream on BBC iPlayer, they told us the same method to do it.

Apart from this, CyberGhost offers up to 7 simultaneous connections, dedicated client apps, OpenVPN protocol support, live chat support, military-grade encryption and over 3,700 servers worldwide with 412 of them situated in the United Kingdom.

CyberGhost BBC iPlayer UK

Pros

  • Dedicated Servers for BBC iPlayer UK
  • Multi-logins on 7 devices
  • Zero WebRTC/DNS/IP leaks
  • 6,500+ servers in 90 countries
  • Up to 7 simultaneous connections

Cons

  • Basic security features

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5. Ivacy VPN: Offers Secure Servers in the UK

Ivacy Ranks 5th

With over 1000+ servers placed worldwide, Ivacy has been providing exemplary unblocking facilities to users across the globe (even in China). For UK alone, they have a whopping 58 exclusive servers for its users to unblock the BBC iPlayer.

If you click on the “Streaming” tab, on the left corner of the app, you will find a list of channels available to unblock. Simply click on “BBC iPlayer” and wait a few seconds for the UK version of the website to open up on your browser.

You can even unblock BBC iPlayer through manual server switches. For me, it took two to three server switches for connecting to BBC iPlayer, despite going for those with a high server load already. Plans available by Ivacy include:

  1. Monthly: $9.95
  2. 1-Year: $3.33/mo. (billed $48)
  3. 2-Years: $1.99/mo. (billed $48)

Ivacy BBC iPlayer UK

Pros

  • Unblock BBC iPlayer option available
  • 1,000+ servers in 100 locations
  • Zero WebRTC/DNS/IP leaks
  • AES-256-CBC encryption
  • 58 servers located in UK

Cons

  • Slow support response times

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Do You Need a UK TV License for Accessing BBC iPlayer?

Yes, you do, but that license will only be available to you if you live inside the UK. The iPlayer sources its finances from TV licensing fees generated in the UK and by selling distribution rights of its programs to third-party buyers/channels.

The reason why iPlayer has placed a VPN ban on its site to prevent users who do not have the license to access to service. UK citizens know that in order to access any BBC related service, they would need a TV license to make their actions legal.

BBC iPlayer Got a TV License

The VPNs That Can’t Stream BBC iPlayer

Many paid  and free VPNs may help in unblocking websites overall, but fail to unblock sites like Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime, Hulu, and more. This means, you need to test each service, before making a decision of signing up with them.

TunnelBear

Released in 2011 and based in Canada, TunnelBear is one of the most famous names in the FREE VPNs marketplace.

We connected to a server in the UK, but suffered instant disconnection upon playing a video. A few seconds after, we received the “BBC iPlayer only works in the UK” error.

Windscribe

Founded in 2018, Windscribe is another Canadian-based VPN service.

We connected to a UK server from their limited number of locations and though we were successful in accessing the website from the US, we faced tremendous trouble in getting a video to run on BBC iPlayer.

ZenMate

Established in 2014, ZenMate is a Berlin-based provider, have three plans available with a provider with the inclusion of a free subscription. Regardless, the service was unable to connect to BBC iPlayer successfully, displaying the error.

Other VPN Services that Fail at Unblocking BBC iPlayer

  • AvastVPN
  • PIA❌
  • IPVanish❌
  • ProtonVPN❌
  • HideMyAss❌
  • Hide.Me❌
  • LeVPN❌
  • VPNBook❌
  • VPNTunnel❌
  • TorVPN❌
  • VPN Master❌
  • OverPlay❌
  • iPredator❌
  • GooseVPN❌
  • EarthVPN❌
  • VPN4All❌
  • Proxy.sh❌
  • Perfect Privacy❌

How to Watch BBC iPlayer on Firestick Using VPN

Firestick users around the world may be looking for solutions to unblock BBC iPlayer from outside UK. There are typically two methods available for using BBC iPlayer through the free VPN for amazon fire tv.

The first involves the purchasing of a pre-configured DD-WRT Flash Router. You can check this link out for a complete listing of VPN routers available from prominent names in the industry.

The second option would be to get a VPN app for your Firestick apps store. For both methods, you will have to simply connect to a UK IP address to spoof your online location and trick the VoD service.

You can then easily access the complete database of BBC iPlayer’s content, and other UK channels like Channel 5, Channel 4, Now TV, Sky, ITV, and more. For more detailed steps, follow the instructions below:

  1. Download and install the BBC iPlayer app on your Firestick Device
  2. Get a VPN app for Firestick from the VPN providers mentioned above.
  3. Launch the VPN app and sign in using your login credentials
  4. Connect to a server in the UK and head to the iPlayer website
  5. Sign up for a UK account and enjoy streaming on iPlayer!

BBC iPlayer on Firestick

How to Watch BBC iPlayer on Android using VPN

The BBC iPlayer is available as an Android app, which we already described in detail above. Using the service on Android is not much different from the website.

And if you want to unblock BBC iPlayer on your Android, the 5 VPNs for BBC iPlayer I listed above do offer Android apps. For clearer instructions, follow the steps below.

  • Subscribe to a Top VPN service and pay for its pricing plans
  • Obtain user credentials for your VPN account via the confirmation email
  • Download the Android app of your VPN from Google Play Store
  • Let it install on your device and then login into it
  • Once the VPN is installed, connect to a UK server on it
  • Visit BBC.co.uk/iPlayer and sign up with the service
  • Enjoy live TV and your favorite shows on BBC iPlayer!

BBC iPlayer on Android

How to Watch BBC iPlayer VPN via Chromecast:

Chromecast is Google’s answer to popular streaming devices like Roku and Firestick. It is a device through which you can stream video content on large screen devices like your TV via your computer or mobile device.

If you want to watch BBC abroad through your Chromecast, the best way to do it is through your computer. You can also do it with your mobile and the steps to both are pretty similar and straightforward.

Through Your Laptop:

  • Your laptop needs to be connected to the same Wi-Fi network as your Chromecast
  • Open the Chrome browser on your laptop and install the Chromecast extension.
  • Now open bbc.co.uk/iplayer and select the program you want to stream.
  • Click on an icon from the control bar known as “Cast”.
  • Your Chromecast will now stream to your device.

Through Your Smartphone:

  • Your smartphone needs to be connected to the same Wi-Fi network as your Chromecast
  • Ensure that the iPlayer app you are using is updated to the latest version.
  • Open the app and click on the “Cast” icon on the top left corner.
  • If the icon is blue in color, you are successfully connected.
  • Simply play any video to stream to your TV/tablet.

BBC iPlayer on Chromecast

Do note that if you are trying to watch BBC outside UK, you will need to use a VPN in order to unblock the service and continue watching it via your Chromecast.

BBC iPlayer Blocking/Detecting VPN

VPN bans have become a standard industry practice across the streaming domain. Similar bans can be found on sites like Netflix and Hulu. However, you can still bypass these VPN bans through a powerful service.

Generally, weak VPNs are the most vulnerable to cannot make it through the ban, as they leak your WebRTC/DNS/IP and do not come equipped with features like StealthVPN a.k.a. obfuscation.

BBC iPlayer Detecting VPN

UX and UI Design of the Website and Mobile App

BBC iPlayer has quite a simplistic website and mobile app that makes it relatively easier to navigate the site and watch anything that you want. All options are placed are designed and placed to power as much user accessibility as possible.

As is visible from this screengrab, the font, in white, is easy to read against the dark bluish background. This is not too heavy on the eye making it perfect for viewing in the comforts of your bedroom or lounge with dim lights.

BBC iPlayer Website UI-UX

The service gives you a very British feel as it is not as boisterous or “Cool” as competing services like Netflix. The interface is smooth and appears benign, making the user feel welcome.

Options are placed quite readable in the menu placed on the top of the page, with further sub-options appearing when you click on these Primary options.

BBC iPlayer Website UI-UX 2

The mobile app is not very different from the website. BBC does not seem to have put much effort in changing it, which is a good thing, as it guarantees uniformity irrespective of which device you are using it on.

Do consider installing the BBC Media Player when you install the BBC iPlayer. This media player is specially built to support playback on the iPlayer and will allow you to exercise more control over the playing media.

List of Channels Available on BBC iPlayer

BBC iPlayer is not just your average media library, but a comprehensive service that also offers a live TV. The only catch of signing up with the provider is that you only have BBC-specific content available, nothing else.

Channels offered by BBC iPlayer at the moment include S4C, CCBC, Cheebies, BBC One, BBC Two, BBC Three, BBC Four, BBC Alba, BBC News, BBC Radio, and BBC Parliament.

People Also Ask

How Does BBC iPlayer Know I’m Using a VPN?

Similar to other streaming platforms like Netflix, Prime Video, HBO Now, and Hotstar, BBC iPlayer utilizes VPN-detection technologies for blocking proxies/VPNs, as to prevent production houses from losing money!

Is It Illegal to Watch BBC iPlayer Abroad?

Not really, you can watch BBC iPlayer anywhere outside the UK, without facing any legal hassles. All you have to do for that is to connect to a UK server on the best VPN to unblock the geo-restricted BBC iPlayer site.

Does It Cost to Download BBC iPlayer?

No, it does not cost you to download the BBC iPlayer apps from either the iOS or Android app stores. However, it is necessary for you to have a subscription for BBC iPlayer to watch all the content available in their app.

How to Watch BBC iPlayer on iPhone/iOS using VPN

Your BBC iPlayer also comes with an iOS app but one big problem here it is that most VPNs, even the Top ones listed above can’t guarantee that the VPN will unblock the service on the iPhone/iPad.

The best way to access BBC iPlayer on iOS devices is to download Chrome and then use VPN Chrome extensions to unblock the service. I know that this process is a bit long but the easier way doesn’t work that well.

Wrapping Things Up

This Best VPN for BBC iPlayer guide was an exercise towards explaining the ways through which users who live outside the United Kingdom can also watch and enjoy all that streaming platform has to offer.

With every factor taken into consideration, NordVPN is the undisputed champion for unblocking BBC iPlayer. However, if you want a cheaper alternative, consider signing up with Surfshark.

If you face any issues or need to give better recommendations, feel free to comment below. Also, do share the guide with friends and family members, who are looking for a “working” Best VPN for BBC iPlayer.

8 Responses to Best VPNs for BBC iPlayer in 2020 That Actually Work!

  1. BeN

    Hi!
    When casting content from the BBC iPlayer via Chromecast to my TV, the subtitles do not appear. I see “subtitles on” and “subtitles off” on the TV, but no subtitles.
    The tech guys of Express VPN are unable to help.
    A solution would be hugely appreciated, thank you!

    • Bestvpn.co

      Hey there Ben, this is actually a common problem among BBC iPlayer and other streaming platforms, especially when Chromecasting. There’s no absolute fix for it. Subtitles either appear or don’t, depending on the TV show/movie you watch. It’s a hit and miss thing. However, you can try updating the BBC iPlayer app and checking whether you have the latest “firmware” installed on Chromecast. If not, get it installed and i think it should start working again.

  2. Soroush

    Try Wachee chrome extension.

  3. Derek Hexley

    PIA does not work with BBCiPlayer

    • Bestvpn.co

      Hey Hexley,
      Thank you for pointing this one out. We also found out the same in our recent round of testing and we will update this guide soon and remove PIA from the list!
      Regards,

  4. Wondermary

    I’ve just bought a nord subscription for 2 years with code get2yrs(if it works more than once maybe someone else can make a use of it too), the deal seemed so good that I just went for it and completely forgot to check if the service works with iPlayer, thank God it does, thanks for assurance. I wouldn’t need it normally, but I’m going away to study in September and just though it’d be good to keep up with things.

    • Bestvpn.co

      Hey Wondermary, thanks for commenting and sharing your experience with the VPN service. Indeed, the service would be a good choice to keep up with your unblocking and streaming activities, if you visit a country with tough internet laws. Best of luck with your studies! 🙂

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