If you try watching BBC iPlayer from the US or anywhere else outside the UK, you will find that it is not as easy as logging in and pressing play. This is a frustrating problem, but there is a solution and it is quite simple. In this article, we show you how to watch BBC iPlayer from anywhere in the world.
iPlayer is one of the largest streaming services in the UK, providing a range of live and on-demand television across popular channels, including BBC One and CBeebies, radio shows and feature films, live from the BBC, completely free from advertising.
Unfortunately, this is limited to UK visitors, and (in principle) you can only see it from the UK. Owners of UK TV fund the BBC with a license fee, so it makes sense to limit the BBC iPlayer to UK viewers.
But what about the holidays and those who have homes in the two countries? If you pay for it, you may be able to watch BBC iPlayer in countries including the United States, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Spain, Italy, and more.
The hit show is available to watch live and on demand on BBC iPlayer, including Standers, Strictly Come Dancing, The Apprentice and more, and many will be sorry to miss an episode or two while away from the UK.
You need a TV license to watch on-demand content on iPlayer. Previously, you only needed a license to watch live TV, but now changing the rules means you have to pay for all iPlayer content. Our Sister Title Tech Advisor explains it all here: Do I need a TV license?
How to get BBC iPlayer abroad
If you’re outside the UK, here’s a quick rundown of the steps you need to follow to access BBC iPlayer on your iPhone, iPad or Mac. It will also work on a PC and Android device.
Be aware, though, that this violates the terms of BBC iPlayer; You proceed at your own risk. You will not be fined or arrested, but you can suspend your account. Even in practice it is impossible.
- You need a VPN subscription. We recommend NordVPN or Surfshark, but you can find ten great alternatives to our best VPN round-ups.
- Download the VPN app of your choice on your Mac, iPhone or iPad.
- Choose a UK based server.
- Browse and log in to BBC iPlayer.
- You will now find that you are able to access BBC iPlayer content.
How to watch iPlayer with a VPN
Just as Netflix dominates US traffic, so does BBC iPlayer dominate the UK, with up to six per cent of all our internet traffic going to the BBC. So many of you apparently love it. But you can’t watch BBC while you are abroad.
When you open the BBC iPlayer app on your iOS device or log in to iPlayer on your Mac or PC, it checks your public IP (Internet Protocol) address. This address is a four part number, such as 126.96.36.199 (A quick way to find out is to type “IP address” into Google.)
This image is related to your ISP (Internet Service Provider) or cellular connection, to the server that is sending you the data. Enter the numbers in the IP location and you will find the host as well as where the server is located. If this location is not in the UK, BBC iPlayer will refuse to show you content
To use BBC iPlayer overseas, you must tell the BBC that you are using a UK-based IP address.
Don’t worry. Thanks to VPN (or Virtual Private Network), it’s much easier than you think. Instead of connecting directly to iPlayer’s servers, you login to VPN and connect using a British IP address, which usually allows you to access all your iPlayer content.
As mentioned, this violates the terms of BBC iPlayer so that you proceed at your own risk.
Here are some of the best VPN services for BBC iPlayer (in our experience). They all have apps for both Mac and iOS, so you can use them to watch from any Apple device.
This is a bit complicated if you want to watch from Apple’s set-top box, but we have a dedicated guide to using a VPN with Apple TV that will help.
Surfshark: It’s the best-priced VPN on our list, and is currently number one on our VPN charts. This will work well for BBC iPlayer, but it will not miss the special servers offered by NordVPN. Register here.
NordVPN: This service offers a complete VPN service at a fair price Your data has been encrypted so that you can surf without any worries Not only will you be able to access iPlayer abroad with it, but you can also benefit from services like secure online banking while on a public Wi-Fi hotspot. It offers special servers designed for streaming, so ideal for watching BBC iPlayer. Register here.
ExpressVPN: Another of our favorite VPN services with top security and privacy features and easy-to-use apps. It’s a bit more expensive than NordVPN and Surfshark but definitely a premium service. Register here.
You may also like to find out how to get American Netflix in the UK.