To gain access to BBC iPlayer using your VPN, the first priority is to make sure you are using one based in the United Kingdom. The principal of hiding your location by using a VPN is a tried and tested one, which really works. The website sees the IP address of the VPN server not your real one. Which means that as long as the server is in the correct location it doesn’t matter where you actually are. As long as the VPN is configured correctly, then your true location cannot be detected.
However there can be issues, and a common one especially with popular VPN services, is when too many people connect using the same IP addresses. These can be detected and blocked by BBC iPlayer and suddenly your VPN won’t work at least temporarily. This is part of the game and it’s going to effect any VPN service to some extent whatever they tell you. The important point is how they handle these temporary blocks.
Here’s a quick example of how everything should work, here we’re using NordVPN for our BBC iPlayer access.
It is the network address (IP address) which is actually being blocked not the specific server. So as long as these are rotated/replaced regularly there’s not going to be any long term issue. However if it takes your VPN service a fortnight to switch out these addresses then it becomes pretty worthless for accessing the BBC abroad. Fortunately NordVPN have one of the largest network infrastructures of any VPN service which means they have plenty of UK IP addresses to use !
Which NordVPN Server for iPlayer?
Not every server is configured specifically for use with BBC iPlayer although most should work fine. However the IT support do optimize servers for accessing the UK’s largest media site simply because it’s so popular.
Don’t use the Auto Connect feature to allocate you a UK based server if you want to watch the BBC instead try one of these servers –
UK: #764, #977, #1025, #1388, #1512, #1515 K #836, #1043, #1057, #1320, #1483, #1513 #1448 #1325 #1347.
To find a specific server, click on the magnifier glass icon and search for server name or number.
Additional Configuration Settings for NordVPN and the BBC
If you are getting blocked by the BBC it might be the specific device that’s giving your true location away. There’s no point enabling a UK VPN if your smartphone is proudly announcing that you’re in Chicago.
- Disable all GPS/location services in the device settings.
- If you have issues clear the cache of your iPlayer app or the browser you are using to stream it. You could also try a different browser.
- If you are using an Androidbox or similar media player, try installing and streaming through a browser instead of the app.
Nord VPN Configuration
For watching the BBC and bypassing any of these Geolocation blocks then it’s best to –
- disable Cybersec in the NordVPN application settings.
Choosing a VPN That Works with the BBC
The important fact to remember when picking a VPN service that works with BBC iPlayer is that the situation changes constantly. Initially the BBC were not at all bothered about people using these methods to access their service from outside the UK. Indeed for many years, you could even use one of the hopeless free proxy services that are available online. This approach changed markedly a couple of years ago in 2017 when probably under certain budgetary pressures, the BBC presumably saw this access as an attack on their overseas earnings. The BBC aggressively went after many VPN services and forced them to close down, usually the ones who openly advertised the ability to watch the BBC abroad.
Now most of the blocks are centered on the detection and banning of IP address ranges which are being used. They look for too many concurrent connections on the same addresses and then block access from those IP ranges. Virtually every VPN service I’ve ever used will have some IP addresses blocked at some point, however as long as you can switch to an unrestricted one then this is a minor inconvenience.
So remember just because you connect to a VPN service and find out the BBC doesn’t work initially doesn’t mean it won’t work at all. The BBC primarily blocks IP address ranges and usually only temporarily so if your service has a big enough network then this won’t be a problem. Always try a few other servers and see if they work. As I mentioned above NordVPN optimizes certain of it’s servers for accessing the BBC and I’ve found they always work. Don’t expect wide scale promotion of this though as all the proper VPNs will never draw attention to this on their sales pages.