These days, there are so many different streaming options for movies and shows that it can get confusing to choose just one. And since most streaming services have a subscription fee, so they can also put a dent in your pocket. But even amidst all the paid streaming networks, there is one option that is free – or ‘somewhat free’ to be precise.
We’re talking about the BBC iPlayer service, which does not require any subscription fees. However, only users in the UK and with a TV license can access their service. If you visit the iPlayer website while not in the UK, you will be welcomed with a message – BBC iPlayer only works in the UK. Sorry, it’s due to rights issues OR this content is not available in your location.
But worry not, as you can easily access BBC iPlayer outside the UK as well, and this can be done using a VPN. It doesn’t matter if you are living in the US, Canada, Australia, India, Russia, France or China. This small trick will get you access to the huge library of BBC. Read on below to find out which VPNs can let you watch BBC iPlayer from anywhere in the world.
What is a VPN? How does it unblock BBC iPlayer outside the UK?
A VPN is a tool that changes your IP address. An IP address is a unique number given to every internet connection that lets the internet service provider (ISP) and other servers know which location you are accessing the internet from. That is why when you try to sign up for BBC iPlayer from countries other than the UK, their servers can detect your location from the IP address. And they will block their service if you live abroad.
But a VPN diverts your normal internet connection through servers in different countries. By doing so, it changes your IP address. So you could be in the US, and change your IP to a German address. Then, your ISP and other servers will think that your connection is coming from a German server.
This means that when you use a VPN and set it to a UK IP address, BBC iPlayer will work for you no matter where you are located. The BBC servers will see your IP and believe it to be coming from a location in the UK, allowing you to access all your favorite shows.
For those who are not aware, BBC iPlayer will allow you to watch several channels including –
- BBC One
- BBC Two
- BBC Three
- BBC Four
- BBC News Channel
- BBC Parliament
- BBC ALBA
The best BBC iPlayer VPNs in 2020
There are 100s of VPN providers and nearly all of them claim to work with BBC. But the truth is entirely different. There are only a few VPN services that actually unblock streaming services like BBC iPlayer and Netflix.
After spending several hours on testing, I found the following best VPNs for BBC iPlayer that still works in 2020:
Rated #1 BBC VPN out of 34 VPNs reviewed
ExpressVPN is one of the best VPNs in general, which also makes it the best choice for streaming shows on BBC iPlayer.
Let’s take a look at its features.
The best part about ExpressVPN is that it has six different UK servers, so you can easily get a UK IP address using this VPN. More servers also mean better speed, which will allow you to watch your favorite shows without any interruption, and without having to sacrifice the video quality. No matter where you are located in the world, with a single click you can change your IP address to a location in UK and access BBC iPlayer with ease.
This VPN service has different subscription plans based on their duration. Their basic subscription plan for a month costs $12.95 and you will be billed every month. The 6-month plan costs $9.99/month so you’ll have to pay a total of $59.95 every 6 months. The annual plan costs $8.32/month, and you’ll be paying $99.95 every year. Every plan offers a 30-day money-back guarantee.
However, ExpressVPN is also offering a special discount at the time of this writing. You can get 3-months of service free and save 49% on its annual plan.
But what if you are not satisfied? Does that mean your first-month subscription fee gets wasted? Short answer – No. If you are not happy with Express VPN, then you can claim for a refund in the first month, as they offer a 30-day money-back guarantee, no questions asked.
Speed and Security
When it comes to speed, ExpressVPN outruns all its competitors. According to the speed test conducted by our experts, running speed tests for various servers at different locations with ExpressVPN led to an average speed of 106 Mbps (Allotted speed of 120 Mbps). Those are impressive figures with speed retention of 88.33%, and you can easily stream videos at 4k Ultra-HD quality with such a fast connection. The average speed test for various regions are:
- Speed in North America: 117 Mbps
- Speed in Europe: 107 Mbps
- Speed in Asia: 96 Mbps
In terms of security, they have military-grade encryption, and they don’t record any identification logs. This means that while they keep track of your browsing history, they don’t store your real IP address in their servers which keeps you completely anonymous.
A single subscription plan with ExpressVPN allows you to simultaneously connect 5 devices. They are regularly updating their servers and security measures to avoid getting blocked by BBC. Their customer support team is quite interactive and are available 24/7 through live chat.
ExpressVPN works on Android, iOS, Windows, Mac, Linux, and Routers. They even have extensions for Chrome and Firefox browsers. Apart from that, this VPN is also compatible with Firestick. They have a simple and easy-to-use interface across all platforms.
The Company comes under the BVI (British Virgin Islands) jurisdiction, which is not subject to any data retention laws or legal government surveillance.
Despite being the most expensive services in this list, ExpressVPN is our first recommendation for BBC iPlayer VPN. They have earned the trust of their huge user base and are the most reliable network in the market. With all these amazing features, you’re bound to be satisfied with this VPN. So without any doubt, ExpressVPN is clearly the best VPN for BBC iPlayer.
How to Access BBC iPlayer
This is the easiest part once you get your hands on a good VPN.
- Install VPN on your Device
- Open VPN app and connect to the UK server
- Visit https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer and sign in with your login details.
- That’s all. You can start watching your favorite shows.
Note: If you don’t have a BBC iPlayer account, you can create a new account following the link above. You won’t be asked a Credit card or other payment-related details.
CyberGhost is also an amazing VPN service that you can use to unblock BBC iPlayer outside the UK. Their key features are listed below.
The network connection system of CyberGhost is different than other VPNs. For most VPNs, you have to choose a country to connect to their server. But in CyberGhost, you get a list of streaming services that you can choose, and BBC iPlayer is also included in that list.
When you select the BBC iPlayer service, they automatically connect you to the best and fastest server in the UK allowing you to stream abroad.
The different subscription plans for CyberGhost are:
- 3-year plan: $2.75/month; billed at $99 every 3 years
- 2-year plan: $3.69/month; billed at $88.56 every 2 years
- Annual plan: $5.99/month; billed at $71.88 annually
- Monthly plan: $12.99 billed every month
They also offer a 45-day money-back guarantee. What’s more, is that they offer a free one-day trial where they don’t ask for your credit card information either.
Speed and Security
As per the speed test done by our experts, speed tests across different locations and times have given an average speed of 58 Mbps (allotted speed 100 Mbps). This means speed retention of 58% and You can stream videos in 4K ultra-HD quality with the speed offered by CyberGhost. They don’t have a zero-logs policy like NordVPN, but they do have a no-identification log system that keeps your real IP address private and inaccessible to third parties. They use a 256-bit AES encryption to keep all data safe and secure.
With a single CyberGhost subscription account, you can connect up to 7 devices at once. Live chat support is available 24/7 to assist you with any queries or issues.
CyberGhost is compatible with Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, and Linux devices, and also provides extensions for Chrome and Firefox browsers. They even have Firestick support, and the parent company is continuously upgrading and improving their services to avoid being blocked by BBC iPlayer.
The company comes under the jurisdiction of the laws of Romania, which is considered safe for VPN companies.
With a super-cheap plan and a multitude of useful features, CyberGhost is another superb VPN for BBC iPlayer and comes second in our list.
The third best option for BBC iPlayer VPN is the NordVPN, which is also quite a reputed virtual private network. Let’s dive into its features first.
The most outstanding feature of this service is that it has 30 servers all over the UK. They even have an ultra-fast TV network for the UK which is just perfect for streaming services. The availability of such a high amount of servers is the main reason we place NordVPN in the second number on this list.
The different subscription plans for NordVPN are:
- 3-year plan: $3.49/month; billed at $125.64 every 3 years
- 2-year plan: $4.99/month; billed at $119.76 every 2 years
- Annual plan: $6.99/month; billed at $83.88 annually
- Monthly plan: $11.95 billed every month
They also offer a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Speed and Security
Our experts tested for NordVPN speed tests, which gives an average speed of 58 Mbps (allotted speed 100 Mbps). This means speed retention of 58%, however, this average figure is calculated from the values at different locations. Since NordVPN has 30 servers in the UK, you will get better speed when connected to a UK IP address which is suitable for BBC iPlayer. Still, we advise you to opt for 1080p HD quality and not 4K UHD when using NordVPN.
In terms of security, they have a 256-bit AES encryption and a zero-logs policy meaning they don’t store the logs for your internet usage or your IP address.
You can connect up to 6 devices simultaneously with a single subscription plan of NordVPN. They also have a live chat that is available 24/7 and are highly responsive. It is one of the few VPNs that are also functional in China.
NordVPN works on all major platforms such as Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, and iOS, and also has a Chrome and Firefox browser extension.
The company comes under the jurisdiction of the laws of Panama, which is not linked to any data-retention or surveillance programs.
We put NordVPN on No. 3 in this list due to two main reasons – Their cheap price and a large number of UK servers they provide which makes it very easy to access BBC iPlayer. If you want an excellent BBC iPlayer VPN for a pocket-friendly price, NordVPN will be the best choice for you. This VPN service even works in China, a country where most VPNs are not functional.
PrivateVPN may not be as reputed as the other VPN services in this list, but they are a great alternative for unblocking BBC iPlayer from locations other than the UK.
Run by a relatively small company based in Sweden, PrivateVPN only has 100 servers in total with 2 servers in the UK based in Manchester and London. Despite having such few servers, PrivateVPN still offers great features and provides decent competition to other services.
The different subscription plans for PrivateVPN are:
- Annual Plan: $3.82/month; billed at $49.68 with 1 month free (13 months total)
- Quarterly plan: $4.88/month; billed at $14.63 every 3 months
- Monthly plan: $7.67 billed every month
All subscription plans have a 30-day money-back guarantee. PrivateVPN also offers a free 24-hour trial without any charges or payment details.
Speed and Security
PrivateVPN has an average download speed of 59 Mbps as per the speed test conducted by our experts (allotted speed 100 Mbps). This means speed retention of 59%. The actual speed may differ according to different conditions, but in general, you should be able to watch videos in 4K ultra-HD quality if your main internet connection is fast.
PrivateVPN also uses both 128-bit CBC encryption and 256-bit AES encryption to offer a high level of data security. With their zero-logs policy, they don’t record your browsing history and IP address.
PrivateVPN allows connecting a maximum of 6 devices with a single subscription plan. They have a live chat customer support as well as remote control support for troubleshooting certain issues.
PrivateVPN offers its services on Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux, and routers as well.
The company comes under the jurisdiction of the laws of 14-Eyes Alliance jurisdiction (Sweden). Though the country appears to support the privacy of users, being a member of 14-Eyes, you can’t be certain.
They may be a small company compared to other popular VPN services but with their cheap prices and variety of features, PrivateVPN is certainly a great option for accessing BBC iPlayer. That is why they deservedly take the No. 4 spot on our list.
Surfshark is also a popular VPN service that makes it a great option for unblocking BBC iPlayer abroad. Here are its features.
Surfshark offers 3 main servers in the UK located in Glasgow, London, and Manchester. They have more than 1000 servers spread across 60+ countries around the globe.
- 2-year plan: $1.99/month billed at $47.76 for 24 months (must use the coupon “sharkspecial” for this plan)
- Annual Plan: $5.99/month billed at $71.88 annually
- Monthly Plan: $11.95/month billed every month
All plans have a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Speed and Security
Their average network speed is 60 Mbps (allotted speed 100 Mbps) which makes it suitable for online streaming of videos in HD quality. We also noticed that it doesn’t slow down the speed of your basic internet connection. It means that the faster the internet connection you have, the faster the VPN connection will work.
With 256-bit encryption, your data is also protected and Surfshark’s zero-logs policy keeps no record of your internet activity and IP address. For added protection, Surfshark offers a Multi-hop feature that will divert your online traffic through two separate VPN servers providing you an extra layer of privacy. But this will compromise your internet speed, so it’s a choice of security vs. speed.
There’s one area where Surfshark beats all the other VPNs in this list – there’s no limit to the number of devices you can connect from a single subscription! They have an active live chat and are quite responsive over the email as well. Even the Help section on their website has detailed information about a lot of issues that you may face. One unique aspect of Surfshark is its CleanWeb feature that blocks ads, malware, and even tracking software.
Surfshark is compatible with Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, and Linux platforms, along with browser extensions for Chrome and Firefox.
Similar to ExpressVPN, the company comes under the BVI (British Virgin Islands) jurisdiction.
With a budget-friendly plan, some unique features, and strong privacy and security, Surfshark rightfully takes the No. 5 spot in our list of best BBC iPlayer VPNs.
Why are these 5 options the best choice for BBC iPlayer VPNs?
You may wonder why you should go for these 5 VPN services that require a subscription cost when there are so many free VPNs available. But BBC iPlayer is such a reputed streaming service in the UK that not just streams TV shows but also streams sports that are popular in the UK such as premier league and FA cup football.
So it’s only obvious that such a famous streaming service will have high-security features. They constantly upgrade their servers to detect and block VPN services. Most of the average VPNs are already blocked by BBC which renders them useless. If you download one of the free VPNs, you may be disappointed to find that it doesn’t give you access to BBC iPlayer. Even if some VPNs do allow you to stream shows on iPlayer, there is no guarantee when they will be blocked by BBC.
The only way to enjoy iPlayer shows from outside the UK without the fear of being blocked is to select VPNs that are provided by the best companies. The 5 services we have listed in this article are all operated by highly advanced companies. They offer high reliability and guarantee continuous access to BBC iPlayer. And with all the amazing features that they provide, they are all worth the price you have to pay for the subscription. In addition, you can always cancel their services and get your money back thanks to their policies.
How did we choose the best BBC iPlayer VPN?
We have chosen ExpressVPN as the best BBC iPlayer VPN based on its fast speed and reliable connection. It can also bypass the Great Firewall of China and its user interface is very easy to understand. It provides 24/7 live chat customer support and provides advanced security for apps.
Therefore, it performs exceptionally well on all fronts like speed, security, unblocking censorship, compatible devices, and customer support.
Other VPNs that Partially Worked with iPlayer
While I tested the VPNs, the following VPN services also worked with BBC iPlayer, but it wasn’t satisfactory. Most of the time BBC was detecting the VPN and blocking access. If you are already using any of these VPNs, you may want to try them first, and if it doesn’t work, you may get any of the top 5 VPNs I reviewed above.
Free VPN for BBC iPlayer
BBC iPlayer is one of the most popular streaming services and just like Netflix, it spends substantially on detecting and blocking VPN servers.
Forget the free VPNs, many paid VPN providers cannot get ahead of their detection system. While there are some free VPN providers, they simply do not have enough money or resources to keep adding new and undetected servers.
You will have to be very lucky to find a free VPN with a server still undetected by BBC iPlayer. I haven’t found any. And, even if you do find one, there is no guarantee of how long it will remain undetected.
Therefore, I personally recommend one of the premium VPNs for BBC iPlayer. You will find many servers that stream this service.
Among all the options we have listed, we recommended ExpressVPN for the highest reliability and security, as well as the impressive streaming speed at all times. Even in terms of reputation, ExpressVPN beats all its other competitors and has already amassed a massive consumer base. However, if their subscription prices are a bit too much for you, then feel free to try out any of the other four options.
On a final note, we want to state that you will need to sign up for the BBC iPlayer service once you are connected to a UK IP address. For that, you will also need to enter a UK postal code. Once you are done with that, you are all set to stream different shows and movies on BBC iPlayer conveniently at all times.