If you’ve ever tried to access BBC abroad such as from the USA or indeed anywhere outside the United Kingdom, you’ll have found that you will get blocked. You’ll probably get some sort of message like this –
The reason, is that whenever you connect to the BBC iPlayer site, it checks your location by using your IP address. This is the unique network address that every device which connects to the internet must have. Unfortunately it’s also increasingly being used as a way to control, filter and monitor what you do online. The IP address will be registered to a specific country and can basically be used to identify your location and the country you are connecting from. It doesn’t matter where where you live or where you’re from – just the exact location you are connecting from which determines whether you are allowed access or not. This effectively means that as you travel what you can access changes significantly, which can be extremely inconvenient for those who travel a lot.
The BBC is a case in point, if your IP address is not registered in the UK then you’ll be blocked and receive the above notice. You can access BBC iPlayer radio stations mostly but nothing else, all the TV shows and live TV will not be accessible. It’s a very common practice nowadays, in fact virtually every large media site on the internet operates it. Visit Hulu, ABC, Pandora, NBC or any of the big US media sites from outside the US and you’ll get a the same sort of message. Try and access the Canadian broadcaster – CTV from anywhere but Canada and it will happen as well. The same goes for all the UK and European broadcasters, you can access content only when you’re in that specific country.
It’s called geo-targeting or geo-blocking and it’s becoming an increasingly common tactic for companies to control your online activity. Companies want to restrict content to their domestic market or charge different prices depending on your location all use this geo-targeting method based on your physical location.
How to Use a Proxy to Watch BBC iPlayer Abroad
Of course, the internet was once completely open to everyone, irrespective of your location. The idea that a European surfer would be treated in a different way than a South American one would be completely absurd. In truth, in those earlier years of the web this sort of filtering, censorship and geo restrictions would have been completely scandalous yet now it’s accepted as common practice! We’ll discover how we can ignore all this nonsense using technology that can keep your location private – effectively it’s done by using something called a VPN or proxy server. These terms are often used interchangeably online, as they’re very similar, however VPN (virtual private network) servers offer a layer of encryption and security that a proxy server doesn’t. They are however in the context of bypassing these sort of blocks employed by BBC iPlayer and other streaming service and media sites effectively the same.
However although times have changed greatly in the last few years there is a solution for people who want to take back control of their internet connection. Here we will demonstrate how we can bypass these blocks by using a VPN or proxy server. It’s not difficult and you can see how you can access your favorite TV shows by using something called a BBC iPlayer proxy. So if you’re in USA for example or indeed anywhere outside the UK, and want to watch the BBC – simply watch this video about trying a VPN service to watch BBC abroad for the solution.
It’s that easy. Although it’s impossible to change your real IP address online, you can hide your real location with sophisticated software which makes it easy to use a UK proxy . You can use it to watch the BBC iPlayer from France or any other country. In fact you can use it to watch all the UK TV stations such as ITV, Channels 4 and 5 online on your computer quickly and easily. You don’t need anything very technical or special knowledge and you can even use the same method to turn all your devices into a BBC media iPlayer that works anywhere in the world.
Also with a click of a button you can switch your location to USA, France, Germany, UK or lots of other countries and instantly allow access to sites which are normally restricted. People use it for all sorts of reasons from watching TV anywhere in the world, to accessing blocked YouTube videos or using applications that are normally accessible. Many popular applications like Facebook and Skype are actually blocked in many countries across the world too.
Just think, from anywhere in the world you can quickly fire up your laptop, computer or tablet and enjoy the Rugby World Cup from the ITV or the Match of the Day stream online. In fact for an English speaker, the various UK TV channels supply thousands of top quality programmes enough to rival any expensive cable package and all for nothing.
Proxy Servers and VPN Services are Essential Online Tools
There are some caveats though, obviously all these channels don’t actually approve of people bypassing these blocks. Although it’s estimated that three million of the people who watched the BBC’s coverage of England’s first game in the last World Cup game weren’t actually in the UK! I’ve even seen some estimates that more than 50 million people regularly use something like proxy servers or VPN services to access the BBC from abroad.
They have begun to take measures to stop people doing this, and have targeted the so called BBC iPlayer VPN workaround. Basically all the high profile, TV watching services were shut down by the BBC technical team who simply blocked access from their servers. The other tactic was to to threaten the companies with legal action, which closed many down too. The main casualties were the free VPNs like Hotspot Shield and the really cheap ones which lowered their costs by overloading their servers. This is how they are caught as BBC iPlayer technical staff monitor simultaneous connections coming from individual addresses and block those that look suspicious. You’ll know if the service you’re using is being blocked as you’ll get the proxy error message.
They didn’t manage to close them all down, but certainly many VPN/proxy services disappeared. So don’t believe the rumours about the BBC iPlayer not working through a VPN anymore, it’s simply not true. The remaining ones are also those companies who don’t promote themselves as TV watching VPNs, instead just as legitimate security software. This means that there are no legitimate legal ground to threaten the services with. So make sure any VPN service you use doesn’t cover it’s website with BBC pictures or logos from other media companies.
It’s looking like using a VPN is the way forward though, as potentially using a BBC iPlayer proxy is easier to spot. This is probably a good thing though considering the extra protection you get from VPN providers. Make sure anything you select has a decent level of encryption, server locations across the world, DNS leak protection plus a kill switch in the interface. Of course they all have the ability to route your internet traffic safely and to switch IP addresses at will.
To see what you’re missing, click here and give Nord VPN a quick try, it’s only a few Euros and there’s a money back guarantee if you’re not satisfied for any reason. You don’t need to mess around with fiddly settings or use a chrome plugin, just install whichever version you need. They have versions for computers, tablets, laptops and any mobile device you use. There’s even a browser extension you can use on other people’s computers while travelling.
The only thing you need to remember is to select the right country before you connect. So select a UK server before using BBC iPlayer sign in and everything will work perfectly. We should point out that NordVPN actually optimise some of their servers specifically for BBC access, which is one the reasons we consider it the best VPN for British TV.
These are currently the best servers for watching the BBC – UK: #764, #977, #1025, #1388, #1512, #1515 K #836, #1043, #1057, #1320, #1483, #1513 #1448 #1325 #1347.
Remember you are free to install it on six of your devices just install the relevant application.