If you’ve ever done any sort of international travel then you’ve probably experienced the joys of the geo-blocking. It’s the practice of restricting someones access to a website or resource based simply upon their physical location. So a typical scenario would be a British tourist, enjoying their summer holidays in Spain. They’ve got no plans that evening so log onto to the BBC iPlayer site to watch Match of the Day. That’s the point when they’ll get disappointed and see something similar to this message –
It’s friendly enough but it’s ruined thousands of evenings all over the world I can assure you. What happens is that when you go to the BBC iPlayer site, your web site is checked and recorded. It is then checked against a database to determine what location it’s registered in. If that location is not the UK then you’ll get this message or something very similar, if it is in the UK then everything will work fine. What’s worse is that you actually have no direct control over the nationality of your IP address, well unless you own and operate an ISP!
There Must Be a Solution !
So that’s it, no more BBC live streams, no BBC iPlayer archives, no BBC Local radio broadcasts!! Basically you’re stuck with the very basic ‘International version’ of the BBC which is ok but has none of the media streaming capability. The whole vast store of BBC online resources, a complete entertainment centre is denied to you simply because of the nationality of your IP address.
Of course, there is a solution and a simple method to gain access to the BBC iPlayer from anywhere. It’s something that I personally have been doing for over ten years now, mainly from Florida but equally from anywhere else I travel to. Here’s the one I use:
It’s using a VPN service to hide your IP address and watch the BBC (plus all other UK TV) from anywhere. All you do is connect to the VPN server either manually or using some software, and then access the BBC website. The BBC will only see the IP address of the VPN server, so as long as it’s in the UK then everything will work fine.
The VPN server sits between your computer and the BBC site, so you never actually connect directly. The BBC will assume you’re in the UK because it only registers the VPNs IP address, the same will occur for any other UK TV site like the ITV for example.
Which VPN is Best for BBC iPlayer
So the solution is fairly simple, but be warned typing in VPNs and BBC into Google will result in a confusing choice. You will also see lots of stories and reports about the BBC blocking proxies and VPNs. Both of these are linked in a way, the sheer number of VPN services is because it’s not actually that difficult to set up a simple VPN or proxy server. However configuring it properly and ensuring it’s fast and secure is much more difficult, which is where most of these services fail. The result is that many of these services, have fancy websites and little skill or expertise in setting up and running a VPN server properly. They therefore get blocked, banned or simply fall over frequently often overloaded by a massive number of users.
The pot luck method of choosing a VPN is fraught with risks, alas you also have to be careful when choosing more prominent or established services too. Here’s a quick checklist of the sort of things you should choose particularly if you want a decent service. There is no doubt that the BBC iPlayer detecting VPN services much more successfully over the last few years. Here’s some things you should look for in picking the best VPN service for BBC iPlayer –
- UK Servers – seems an obvious point but it’s a crucial one. You need to connect through a UK based server in order for the BBC to work so it’s vital that the company has enough UK servers to support it’s users.
- Connection Speeds – although you can download programmes to watch online, the majority of people stream videos directly from the BBC site. It is crucial that the VPN server has enough speed, otherwise programs will stutter, stall and buffer every few minutes – a uniquely frustrating experience especially on Match of the Day!
- Customer Support – it’s important to have a knowledgeable and responsive support department. It can be particularly useful if you want to access other resources where you need help accessing them. Also remember that the media companies including the BBC are constantly looking at ways to block VPNs and it’s likely only the most secure and technical will survive.
- Security and Privacy – although it’s not always the priority, a VPN is primarily a security service. It is in the best interests of it’s continuation to work with the BBC iPlayer that the connection is secure and the users identity protected.
- Discrete – sounds a silly option, but the most successful VPN services for watching the BBC are the low key ones. Anything openly advertising their TV watching credentials is likely to come onto the radar of the BBC legal department. That normally leads to a service closure so be warned. Pick a VPN service which is focused on security, but has fast UK servers too.
Of course, it’s difficult to assess these aspects without trying out a VPN service directly which is why you should always test out a trial package with your selected service first. Not only will this give you a chance to check out the options, client software and support but you can also ensure it works with the BBC and any other channels you wish to access. Basically a well configured and set up VPN should allow access to any website as long as it has a server in that country. So if you want British sites then UK servers should be your priority, if you want US channels then ensure they have servers in the USA and so on.
Over the last few years it’s definitely got much harder to access the BBC iPlayer as the corporation seeks to restrict access to license holders who are physically in the UK. Yet it’s still perfectly possible to watch the BBC and all the other geo-blocked UK TV stations irrespective of your location. The reality is that the few which have kept a low profile and been around for a decade or more are still working perfectly. The market is unfortunately flooded with many operators who keep disappearing and getting blocked.
Our recommendation comes from over ten years of uninterrupted use from all over the world. It has a huge number of UK based servers and the company has extensive experience in supporting users who are trying to bypass geo-blocks particularly from the BBC and US sites.
IT’s worth trying out the ten day trial first to see how well it works for you.