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ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN is rated as one of the best options that works with the BBC iPlayer. It has incredibly fast speed rates, unlimited bandwidth, and numerous servers in the United Kingdom, which makes it a good choice.

While ExpressVPN doesn’t offer dedicated IP addresses, it provides excellent AES 256-bit encryption to protect the data and traffic of its users. ExpressVPN implements all the major protocols: OpenVPN (TCP and UDP,) SSTP, L2TP/IPSec, PPTP, and IKEV2.

ExpressVPN has numerous servers around the world, in over 140 locations in a total of 90+ nations. In the United Kingdom, the country that hosts the BBC iPlayer service, it has networks in Berkshire, Chessington, East London, Kent, London, and Maidenhead.

This VPN  provider has interactive apps for various platforms and devices, including Android, Windows, Linux, iOS, macOS, and others. Subscribers can enjoy the best customer support in the industry, with a live chat feature and highly responsive email communication. It also has endless guides, tutorials, and manuals about how to configure and use the VPN service.

On the downside, ExpressVPN is somewhat expensive at $12.95 per month. However, the equivalent of the six-month package is $9.99 per 30 days, whereas the number drops to $6.67 in the annual deal. Plus, you get six free months in the annual mode.

ExpressVPN allows up to three simultaneous connections, and it has an excellent 30-day money-back guarantee if you try the services for a month and don’t like them enough to stick around for the long-term. With ExpressVPN, users can have it all, and because of that, it is by far the top VPN option for people looking to enjoy the BBC iPlayer’s full library of content.

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NordVPN

With its operational base in Panama, where no law enforcement agencies can demand that NordVPN hands over logs of its users’ data, customers can relax and be confident their online assets are well protected with this VPN veteran. Even if there were laws to comply with, NordVPN does not keep any record of activity.

NordVPN has servers in the United Kingdom. They all have excellent security and encryption, and you can be sure that they won’t leak your IP address or traffic at any moment. If you connect to one of those, you will be able to enjoy all the shows and series that the BBC iPlayer has to offer, such as EastEnders, Ordinary Lies, MOTD, and The Missing. In addition to all of the channels of the BBC family (BBC One, BBC Two, CBeebies, and more) NordVPN can work with other legal streaming UK services.

NordVPN implements a “double encryption” system for added security, and while the monthly price is not considered cheap at $11.95, it goes down to $5.75/month for the one year plan and down to an impressive $3.29 per month for the two-year subscription, a 72% discount.

All in all, NordVPN has more than 3,500 servers in 61 countries, a perfect setup for international online streaming. It also allows P2P activity and as a result, torrenting, and it provides users the opportunity to choose their favorite protocol (L2TP, PPTP, OpenVPN TCP, OpenVPN UDP, and Socks5). However, the best part is that NordVPN allows the connection and use of six different devices at the same time under their VPN service and encryption.

NordVPN, just like the top alternatives in the VPN world, offers a 30-day money-back guarantee, which means that users can try the services for a month and, after that point, decide on whether they want to pay for a monthly plan. If that wasn’t enough, this option also let users try NordVPN for free, for three days, with no hassle and no credit card information.

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PureVPN

PureVPN has its operational base in the independent state of Hong Kong, next to China geographically but away from the law enforcement agencies of its notoriously censorship-friendly neighbor. This means that this VPN provider does not have to comply with any rules regarding the sharing of its users’ data and logging activity.

PureVPN is perfect for the BBC iPlayer, as it has 56 dedicated UK servers to connect to without limitations for the most stable streaming signal. It eliminates ISP throttling and buffering during the broadcasting of the British’s most relevant and widely sought after shows and series, and it can be used on Kodi, Smart TV, Chromecast, Amazon Fire, Roku, and all the major operating systems, such as Windows, iOS, macOS, and Android.

Thanks to its blazing fast speeds, you will see no buffering with PureVPN. Its monthly cost is manageable at $10.95. However, the number falls all the way to $2.87 monthly for the two-year subscription, although you have to pay the 24 months upfront.

PureVPN has servers in Maidenhead, London, Gosport, and Manchester. Although PureVPN does not have a free option, it does have a seven-day money back guarantee – not as good as the top VPN standards but enough to let customers try it before deciding to purchase it for the long haul.

PureVPN uses tunneling protocols such as OpenVPN, PPTP, L2TP/IPSec, IKEv2, SSTP, and others, with the military-grade AES 256-bit encryption and a live chat feature as customer support. On the downside, there is no free trial.

Additionally, PureVPN is convenient for you, if your goal is to watch the BBC iPlayer, because it offers an internet kill switch and a NAT Firewall, along with the ability to use the VPN connection on five multiple logins simultaneously.

PureVPN also boasts a transparent zero log policy, and it accepts anonymous payments like Bitcoin and alternatives to debit and credit cards, such as PayPal. All in all, PureVPN offers stupendous connectivity and accessibility, with the ability to connect users to 750 servers in 140 nations around the globe.

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PrivateVPN

Private VPN has a strict zero-logs policy and a decent choice of UK servers, paving the way for excellent service to watch the BBC iPlayer content library. It is cheaper than some of the very best alternatives, and it has numerous features to make it a worthwhile experience.

For starters, you can access the BBC iPlayer’s entire library as well as other legal streaming media services. PrivateVPN has very responsive customer support, although the live chat isn’t always available, which takes away a few points.

However, the refund policy is robust: it lets you try PrivateVPN for a month, and after that point, you may decide to ask for your money back or keep paying for the VPN encryption and protection.

With less than  100 servers in total, PrivateVPN falls well short in this respect in comparison to other VPN choices listed here. However, the five servers that the company has in the UK are more than enough to enjoy the best shows of the British TV cable giants.

The brand has full control over their infrastructure’s data center and can guarantee that your sessions will be entirely private, so the company lives up to its name. Being located in Sweden doesn’t stop PrivateVPN from protecting the logs and activity of its customers.

A free trial is also available if you contact the support team. PrivateVPN’s monthly subscription costs around $8.21, which is a relatively manageable number considering what you will pay for other comparable services. For the six-month plan, the price goes down to $5.63/month, and for the yearly program, you will end up paying the monthly equivalent of $3.60.

Read PrivateVPN review »

Great VPNs for BBC iPlayer

The iPlayer is an online streaming service from the BBC, it enables people to watch programs on a catch-up basis after they have been shown on terrestrial television. The BBC is known for producing and broadcasting world-class TV, from soap operas such as East Enders to the latest David Attenborough documentaries.

Current shows you can watch via the iPlayer include EastEnders, Collateral, Keeping Faith, Strike, Career of Evil, This Country, Mum, Ordinary Lies, MOTD, The Missing and The Young Offenders. Via the BBC iPlayer app, you can also access documentaries like Life and Death Row: The Mass Execution or Rent For Sex: Ellie Undercover. Sports and food programs are also popular options, and shows for children and fashion lovers are also very popular.

What makes a VPN good for streaming?

There are a number of actors to take into consideration when choosing a VPN provider:

  • High speed: VPNs take something from your internet speed acting as they do as a tunnel between your PC and the ISP provider you use. However, some VPN brands have built the infrastructure to offer fast rates and no buffering when streaming online – including the BBC iPlayer. The companies listed above all provide fast speeds for VPNs.
  • Server location (UK): For online streaming, it is crucial to choose a VPN with servers in as many countries as possible. In the specific case of the BBC iPlayer service, connecting to servers in the United Kingdom to access streaming content from within the UK is an obligatory requirement.
  • Unlimited bandwidth: Online streaming involves a lot of data sent and received, so you need a VPN with unlimited bandwidth. Otherwise, you may get interrupted when watching your favorite BBC iPlayer show in the middle of it! That is why free VPNs are not good enough for online streaming: they often have traffic limits.
  • Privacy/security: You want a VPN provider with a strict no logging policy and that secures your traffic and IP address, so nobody knows if you’re watching The Missing, EastEnders, or the Premier League Match of the Week – and no one can hack into your connection while you are!
  • Encryption/protocols: The better the encryption, the more secure your data will be, avoiding theft of your encrypted communication between your machine and the VPN server. In order to enjoy the BBC iPlayer, you need your VPN to perform secure encryption methods and protocols. Brands with OpenVPN, IKEv2, L2TP/IPSec, and SSTP will be well.positioned.
  • No logs/kill switch: A kill switch will maintain the protection of your online and digital assets because it will disable your internet connection in the event of a VPN connection loss. On the other hand, you don’t want your VPN to collect logs of your activity, because you don’t know if the service provider will use this data against you if a law enforcement agency comes calling.

How & why does the BBC Block Content?

The BBC iPlayer service is blocked in the US and any country outside of the United Kingdom. Even UK residents living abroad will not be able to enjoy the app because the restrictions have more to do with geographical location and licensing rights than with the international location of the user.

Services such as the BBC iPlayer are designed to be available only to people in the UK, and the streaming service is able to recognize connections or requests via the users’ IP address. If the system recognizes an IP address that comes from outside the UK territory, then it will show the following blocking messages:  “BBC iPlayer only works in the UK. Sorry, it’s due to rights issues,” or “BBC iPlayer programmes are available to play in the UK only.”

Like Netflix, the BBC iPlayer has become adept at blocking VPNs from spoofing people’s location and broadcasting its signal. How do they do it? BBC is regularly making updates to their technology to help prevent access to the iPlayer from outside the UK, which is a violation of the terms of use.

Can you use a free VPN with iPlayer?

Free VPNs companies are online encryption tools and resources that, at least in theory, will help users hide their IP address and traffic to gain access to numerous sites and services internationally and to earn extra privacy or anonymity.

However, most of them don’t work with the BBC iPlayer, as they don’t have secure enough encryption not to be recognized by the system as VPN connections. They get blocked quickly, they don’t offer robust security or privacy, their protocols are weak, and they make money by selling users’ data logs to every agency or entity that may desire them.

Also, free VPNs are considerably slower than paid, custom versions,  and online streaming requires certain levels of connection speeds that they are unable to provide under any circumstances. Free VPNs also come with annoying bandwidth limits that will make the BBC iPlayer experience an unfriendly one.

Best VPN Protocols That Work With iPlayer

  • OpenVPN: OpenVPN is the most commonly adopted VPN protocol in the market today. It is safe to use, as it doesn’t allow any leaks of users IP addresses. With it, users can bypass firewalls and access content around the world. OpenVPN’s unique encryption means that the users’ IP address will remain off-limits to anyone online. Because of that, OpenVPN is perfect for Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, BBC iPlayer, and Kodi users regardless of their location.
  • L2TP/IPSec: This protocol enables secure, encrypted communications because of L2TP/IPSec 256-bit key. All mobile operating systems, including Android and iOS, fully support the L2TP/IPSec protocol, and Windows (since the XP version) and macOS (since Version 10.3) are also compatible environments for its use. Some experts and recent tests have shown that the L2TP/IPSec protocol may be faster than the OpenVPN, which is perfect for streaming with the BBC iPlayer.
  • SSTP: This is also secure and doesn’t have any critical issues or flaws. It works with Windows devices but is very similar to OpenVPN in numerous aspects. It evades censorship measures for some web pages and is a good option for services like the BBC iPlayer because it implements the SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) 3.0 type of encryption, including the ability to use to TCP port 443.
  • IKEv2: This is another robust encryption measure that most VPN service providers offer these days. It is also one of the most versatile, as people can use it for various reasons s with satisfactory results. It is usable and efficient while implemented on mobile devices because it is good at reconnecting in cases of connection losses and network switches. Fast and stable, it works great with the BBC iPlayer.
  • PPTP: The Point-to-Point or Peer-to-Peer  Tunneling Protocol is not recommendable for streaming content on the BBC iPlayer. It is not safe and is significantly slower than the four protocols previously outlined here. It has a fantastic past but is now obsolete. Practically all internet browsers can identify and block the PPTP protocol nowadays.

How to set up a VPN with iPlayer

For this explanation, we have used the PureVPN option to outline how to install and set up a VPN that works with the BBC iPlayer feature. The steps are:

  • Sign up for the PureVPN service, providing a payment method and personal information.
  • Download the app or client to your device.
  • Launch the PureVPN application or any other VPN software on your chosen device, be it a computer, smartphone, or tablet.
  • Establish a connection to a server located in the UK.
  • After a successful connection, you should get an UK-based IP address.
  • When you have your British IP, launch the BBC iPlayer and access your favorite show.
  • Done! Enjoy unlimited streaming on BBC iPlayer from the UK.

FAQs: VPN for BBC iPlayer

Is unblocking iPlayer outside of the UK legal?

Unblocking the BBC iPlayer from another country is frowned upon and not considered a permitted activity, although legality depends on the land of the person trying to access and a myriad of other factors. Based on the BBC ’s terms and conditions, it is clear that the service is available to people in the UK only. However, for educational purposes, we highlight instructions and VPNs that work with the iPlayer.

What content is available on the iPlayer?

With the BBC iPlayer, you will be able to watch popular TV shows, movies, cartoons, sports, and much more – all from the BBC’s UK content library. When it comes to channels, the service provides options such as BBC One, BBC Two, Cbeebies, my5, Channel 4, ITV, Sky GO, BT Sport, and others.

You can stream all kinds of shows such as Sherlock, Top Gear, Mum (Season 1 & 2,) Strike, Girls on the Edge, Eastenders, The Great British Bake Off, Poldark, Line of Duty (Series 4,) The Last Kingdom (Series 2,) Happy Valley Series 3, Ordinary Lies, MOTD, The Missing, and many more.

Also, the BBC iPlayer Radio or Radio 4 is available as an app that will allow you to access  BBC Radio offerings from around the world.

Which VPNs don’t work with iPlayer?

IPVanish, an excellent VPN service, doesn’t work with either the BBC iPlayer or Netflix. GhostVPN has had recent problems connecting to its servers in London and Manchester according to users.

What can I do boost up my iPlayer streaming quality and speed?

For starters, get the best plan/speed that your Internet Service Provider (ISP) has in its catalog. Then, you need to purchase one of the VPN services listed in this article, preferably one with several servers in the UK. From that point on, you need to search the best performance and rates for your BBC iPlayer streaming experience. All of the VPN options in this piece are known for offering excellent speeds and little to no buffering.

Can I watch iPlayer in Ireland?

No, despite the geographical proximity between Ireland and the UK, most of the iPlayer services remain blocked in Ireland.

Can I watch iPlayer in the US?

No, the BBC iPlayer service is restricted only for UK residents, which means that people located in the United States or any other nation will not be able to watch the BBC content.

Conclusion

The BBC iPlayer is a fantastic service that lets anyone in the United Kingdom watch BBC programmes via online streaming, as well as access the BBC’s wide range of radio stations. By using a VPN that works with the BBC iPlayer you can get access to this premium content. Sign up with one of our recommended VPNs and expand your TV content choice.

Written by: Graeme Messina

Graeme is an IT professional with a special interest in computer forensics, security, and software. When not building networks and researching the latest software trends, he enjoys writing technical articles and blog posts.

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