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BBC iPlayer is an incredibly popular streaming service in the UK which allows users in the country to catch up with programme for up to 12 months after they are first broadcast. Unfortunately, due to BBC restrictions, the service is only available to people in the UK, British residents travelling abroad and others who would like to watch UK TV programmes are not able to access the service directly.
Even if you’re using a VPN, accessing the BBC iPlayer can be tricky as the BBC has taken steps to block users who are using some of the most popular VPN services es from accessing the BBC iPlayer. This is a problem that larger providers with multiple servers based in the UK have been able to overcome but, as the BBC is constantly working to add new VPN servers to its banned list, the list of best VPN providers for the BBC iPlayer is constantly changing.
This is why we have put together this list of the best VPN services for the BBC iPlayer in 2019. We’ve taken the time to review each of these services, test it with the BBC iPlayer and confirm not only that it works but that the speed and quality of service is sufficient for you to enjoy your favourite BBC programmes without buffering or interruption.
Apart from access to the BBC iPlayer, there are all sorts of other reasons why you might want to start using a VPN as part of your day to day internet browsing activity.
The first of these is security. Governments around the world are collecting more and more information on the way that those who are resident in the country use the internet, the websites they visit and what they do when they are visiting them. In the UK, this will soon include age verification on certain websites, which means that anyone who visits these websites will have their details stored in a national database. Quite apart from the privacy concerns inherent in any government running this type of database, there is also the worry that the database could leak, exposing the names of everyone in the country who watches restricted materials to public consumption.
Secondly, there is the benefit of media streaming from around the world. BBC iPlayer is not the only streaming service that operates this type of restrictive policy. Almost every country in Europe has a streaming service from a major broadcaster that is restricted to web users in that particular country. If you want to use any of these services when you are travelling or in the comfort of your own home, then you will need to invest in a VPN subscription.
All of the services that we have listed below allow access to the BBC inlayer through at least one of their UK based servers at the time that we tested it. The main differences between the services we have tested are as follows:
We’ll let you know about each of these features in the individual review. Most of these services are priced in US dollars even for users who are based in the UK or continental Europe. Due to constant currency fluctuations we have not provided a sterling equivalent of the price but there are many places online where you will be able to do the conversion in a couple of seconds.
This is one of the biggest players in the VPN market and if you have looked for a VPN service in the past, the odds are that you will have come across its name. ExpressVPN offers a number of UK servers that support the BBC iPlayer. Starting to stream is a simple question of opening the app, selecting a UK based server, connecting to the server and browsing as normal. If you’re the type of user who can forget to do this, it’s possible to ask ExpressVPN to start automatically and connect to a UK server every time you turn on your computer. There are over 10 UK based servers located in various places around the country so even if the server that you normally connect to has problems, you should have no problem finding a backup. New servers are regularly added to the network and ExpressVPN is easily able to balance demand across its many VPN servers, this means that if the BBC blocks the IP address of one server, there will always be another one available that will allow you to continue with your viewing without interruption.
Beyond the BBC iPlayer, there are servers located in almost 100 countries across the globe. This means that if you want to use an American streaming service for example, all you need to do is to connect to one of the servers connected in that country logon and start watching. This also works if you have a UK Netflix subscription and want to watch a show that is not available in the UK. With ExpressVPN, you’ll have access to over 70 different Netflix catalogues from countries across the world, so you’ll never be short of something to binge watch.
One of the areas where ExpressVPN falls down compared to some of its rivals is the data that it collects on its users. While its headquarters in the British Virgin Islands puts it beyond the reach of most US government tracking, the service does retain information about which servers its users connect to and how much data they send to and from the server while they are connected. This is fairly low risk information that cannot directly divulge your browsing activity, but it is more information that most other VPN services store. There are a number of features that allow you to hide your identity online though including IP address masking.
The service is one of the easiest to use and offers a responsive app that is available for most major computer and cell phone operating systems including iOS, Android, Windows, macOS and Linux.
Pricing for ExpressVPN is reasonable for heavy users but quite a bit more than some competing VPN services that offer fewer features. Monthly subscriptions are $12.95 with discounts available for those who buy 12 or 15 months of service in advance that can knock as much as 40% off the total price.
Finally, ExpressVPN is also well known for having a wealth of support options, this is one of the things that the company uses to justify its slightly higher than average subscription fees. This could be key if your main reason for choosing a VPN service is to accedes the BBC iPlayer as the BBC sometimes tries to block easy access from VPN services, and you may require the assistance of the ExpressVPN support service in order to get back online.
VyprVPN is a BBC iPlayer supporting VPN service that is an excellent choice for any user that is particularly security conscious. Some of the security features that are only optional for users of competing services are enabled by default when you use VyprVPN. This includes IP address masking so that websites operators and others are unable to track your web activity as you browse. On top of this, the operators do not log user activity so there is no chance of your activity being leaked or requested by authorities as the information is simply not stored in the first place.
While the security focus is one of the main selling points of the service, that’s not to say that VyprVPN doesn’t have a lot to offer fans of streaming services. As well as a number of UK based servers that make access to the BBC iPlayer quick, straightforward and reliable, there is also a network of servers around the world. This makes it easy to use your Netflix login to Check out catalogues in other countries and use streaming services such as Hulu and the upcoming Disney Plus which are not currently available to UK internet users.
VyprVPN offers support for all major operating systems in line with its biggest competitors. For more technical users, there is also the option of installing its software directly onto your router. This means that all traffic that passes through your router is automatically sent through one of the company’s VPN servers. This makes it easy for anyone who connects to your network to take advantage of the VPN without having to install the software on their own device. This is also very useful if you want to use iPlayer or another streaming service on a smart TV or another type of device that does not support software that allows you to manage VPN connections. While some of these devices will allow you to set up your connection to a VPN service such as VyprVPN manually, it can be far easier to configure your router once and let it take care of managing the VPN connection for every device in your household.
Pricing for VyprVPN is lower than some competitors but you don’t have the option of paying month by month. Instead, you are required to pay for a year in advance, but prices can be as low as about £30 for the year. There is also the option of a 30-day money back guarantee which gives users the chance to trial the service and ensure that it meets your needs before you are committed for the entire year.
The support options offered by VyprVPN are good but not quite as strong as some of the other services that we have looked at. Part of this can be explained by the lower price point offered by the service, by offering its service for less, the company is less able to offer a fully featured support service. This may not be a drawback if you are a confident internet user and are comfortable setting up a VPN service and troubleshooting any issues yourself, but it is worth keeping in mind if a strong support option is important to you.
Alongside ExpressVPN, this is one of the biggest and most popular VPN services out there. It has around 1,000 servers located in over 80 countries. This isn’t quite as big a reach as offered by ExpressVPN but should still be sufficient for the vast majority of people.
One off the biggest selling points of NordVPN compared to some other services is that it makes streaming very easy. This is thanks to a feature which allows you to identify the streaming service you want to use (such as BBC iPlayer) and be connected directly to a server that supports that service. This means you don’t even have to know which countries a service is operated in in order to use it. It’s also a good way of making sure that you connect to a server that supports the streaming service that you want to use and avoid the time that can be wasted when you discover that the IP of the server you have chosen has been blocked by the BBC.
Security features on NordVPN are also very strong. The company has a ‘no log’ policy which means that it does not keep any paper trail of the activities that its users carry out when they are connected to one of its VPN servers. This means that you can be confident that details of your browsing activities will remain private as there is simply no record for authorities or anyone else to request. There are also a number of additional security features such as IP address masking and a kill switch that users can use to shield their online presence.
Pricing for NordVPN is fairly similar to its competitors but manages to slightly undercut its biggest rival ExpressVPN. A monthly subscription will set you back $11.95 and cheaper options are available to users who prepay for a certain amount of time in advance.
CyberGhost is notable, compared to some of the other VPNs that we have mentioned, for running dedicated servers for BBC iPlayer access. This makes them an excellent choice if your main reason for getting a VPN account is to access content from the BBC as it’s clear that BBC iPlayer access is a major priority for them and they will work to ensure that users continue to have quick and easy access to the server.
The only major drawback of CyberGhost is that its connection speeds can be a little bit slower than some of the other major providers. With the exception of some 4k content that the BBC is offering on an experimental basis only, this should not impact your ability to use the BBC iPlayer and stream programmes with ease. Like some other services, it is also possible to configure your router to always use CyberGhost’s VPN servers to connect to the internet. This is ideal if you want to use the service to watch BBC iPlayer on a smart TV or another device that does not allow you to install a software application to manage your VPN access.
As we mentioned earlier in this article, the BBC and some of its rights holders have taken action to block certain VPN services from accessing the BBC iPlayer. All of the services that are mentioned on this page work with the BBC iPlayer at the time of writing but there are a number of VPN services that are very popular for other uses that do not work with the BBC iPlayer at present. These include:
The BBC is constantly updating the list of IP addresses which are not able to access the iPlayer and major VPN companies are constantly adding new UK based servers in order to get around these restrictions so the list of VPNs that are blocked from accessing the iPlayer will vary from time to time. Nevertheless, the VPN services that we have mentioned on this page have been able to access the BBC iPlayer without issue for a significant amount of time and have large server networks that should prevent them from experiencing any issues in the near future.
Under UK law, a TV licence is required to watch any live TV broadcast provided by any TV company, not just the BBC. A licence is also required to use the BBC iPlayer streaming service. As this is only a piece of UK law, it is not clear how enforceable the law would be when it comes to users who are accessing the BBC iPlayer from outside the country using a VPN service, particularly as it would not be possible for these users to acquire a TV licence even if they wanted to.
There are a number of reasons why this could have happened. Firstly, check that you are connected to a VPN server that is based in the UK. Especially if you have restarted your computer recently, it’s easy for the VPN to disconnect or to connect through a server based in another country.
If you are certain. that you are connected through a server based in the UK then it is possible that the BBC has added the IP address of your chosen server to its blacklist. If this is the case, don’t panic! The first step is to check if there are any other UK based servers offered by your chosen VPN service that will allow you to connect to the BBC iPlayer. Most providers run 5, 10 or even more servers in the UK as it is a major market for them. If none of the alternate servers work, then get in touch with the support team for your chosen VPN. BBC iPlayer is a major reason why people choose to sign up to VPN services and they’ll be keen to restore access as quickly as possible in order to keep their customer base happy.
The first thing to check is how quickly you are able to stream video on other services. The BBC iPlayer is designed with UK internet speeds in mind and while these are not as fast as some countries, they are significantly faster than what is offered in some parts of the world, particularly on mobile devices. If you are not having problems streaming videos from other services when you are not using your VPN then the chances are that your chosen server is not able to support a high enough connection speed for you to enjoy the BBC iPlayer. This may only be a temporary issue and it can be worth checking back a few hours later to see if things have improved. If things don’t get any better, then try another server offered by your VPN provider to see if things are any better. If the software offers by your VPN gives you an idea of how busy an individual server is, take a look at this before you choose a server. If you’re har coding your router to use a particular server, take a look at demand at different t times of day to get an idea of which is the right choice.
Finally, if none of this advice is able to solve your problem, get in touch with the support team for your VPN. Video streaming is a very common reason that people choose to use VPNs and they will be keen to ensure that you are able to keep using the service. If this is not possible, ask for a refund and consider using one of the VPN services that we have covered on this page to watch BBC iPlayer.