BBC iPlayer is used by millions of people in the UK and beyond. They broadcast live sports, news, commentary, and the latest pop and alternative music on the Billboard charts. But depending on where you are, you might not have access to the website at all. It’s not blocked in all countries but restrictions based on location are quite common. In fact, if you were to try and access the site from abroad, you may not be able to log into your account. This is where VPNs could come in handy.
With them, you’ll have access to all your favorite content on iPlayer, and much more. VPNs can unblock all sorts of streaming websites, and will even allow you to share files via torrents whenever you please. Below are ten of the best VPNs for BBC iPlayer, chosen for their ability to unblock streaming content, trustworthiness, and prices. And when you’re done with the reviews, don’t forget to check out the FAQ for tips that’ll help narrow down your final choice.
Why VPNs are Recommended for BBC iPlayer
BBC iPlayer is a great service but has unfortunately followed along with many other streaming platforms. That means you’ll likely be unable to access the website, depending on your location and/or internet service provider. For example, if you were to locate or travel to the rest of the EU, and beyond, you’ll find iPlayer content inaccessible. You might even be able to get on the site itself, but the video and audio streams would not play. iPlayer’s servers can read the IP addresses of incoming servers, whereby the location is determined and content place behind a “firewall” for only servers that exist inside of the UK. You could try using a proxy server on the web, copying and pasting the URL into the search bar of the host site.
But that won’t likely work and could risk your account being the victim of a phishing attempt. Alternatively, a better method would be to subscribe to a paid VPN service. But how do they work?
What You Can Do with a VPN
A VPN will help you visit content on the internet that would otherwise be blocked through your normal IP address. When you use one, you’ll still keep the address of the ISP. The change is made possible by the method to which the signal redirects. On a normal connection, your ISP will simply link your address up to the server website you intend to visit, which would either be blocked or not. But on a VPN, your traffic is first routed to the servers that exist with the company you’re subscribed to, then redirected to the site you want to open.
Instead of iPlayer blocking you when you’re not in the UK, they’ll only see the IP address of the server you visited. Of course, placing this kind of trust in a VPN is the reason why you should do your homework before purchasing a plan.
But on a good note, most paid services can be trusted with the little information that they’ll obtain from you. This could include analytics from their web servers, or the number of devices you have logged into one account. If you would like to know more about the logging policies of the VPNs shown below, just visit their respective websites and read up on the user agreement or read this list of VPNs who do not log usage.
Switching over from Free VPNs
Have you ever used a free VPN? There are many based on both laptops and smartphones. There are a few that perform okay, but you’re not going to get the latest protections that a paid VPN service can offer you. On top of that, free VPNs constitute freeware, whose services can only be funded through logging, or other information obtained from their customers. Sometimes, this could be at your discretion, or completely hidden.
Many free VPNs can act as a botnet, collecting personal information such as sites visited, logging attempts, and even the names and locations of their users. This info is often traded or shared with third parties that make money off of the content that you provide the free VPN.
At times, such data can be used for ill intents. For these reasons alone it is strongly advised that you stick with paid services only, and move away from the trust of VPN freeware. You don’t want to risk your personal info ending up in the wrong hands. If you’re on a smartphone, you should be even warier of free VPNs. Never trust what the company may tell you and always read their terms of service to understand what data will be collected.
Best VPNs for iPlayer Comparison
Here are a few stats to compare between the VPNs reviewed further down.
|Multi-Regional Access||Server Count||Upload Speed||Logging|
|Private Internet Access||Yes||3500||65 Mbps||No|
|PureVPN||Yes||2000||64 Mbps||No (Disputed)|
|CyberGhost VPN||Yes||4500||69 Mbps||No|
|Hotspot Shield||Yes||3200||65 Mbps||No|
|TunnelBear VPN||Yes||2000||67 Mbps||No|
Top 10 Best VPNs for BBC iPlayer
ExpressVPN is one of the best in the category that you’ll find around, and that goes for all platforms. No matter if you’re on a Mac, PC, or Android phone, ExpressVPN will get you up and started with use iPlayer from a foreign destination in a jiffy. There’s little to complain about the company at all, and they hit most of the marks that people look for in VPN services. There are about 160 servers in enough countries to span almost every continent, and you’ll have a hard time finding one that wouldn’t be able to work with the UK-based web platform. And while the server count might be a bit smaller that what you’ll see included with some of the other VPNs shown, this in no way relegate the application at all. And when you’re tired of watching all of your favorite UK shows, you can switch over to Netflix and get the same level of service. In short, all of your most visited sites will no longer be blocked when you have ExpressVPN.
- Some servers can be used exclusively for streaming sites, which includes iPlayer
- Smaller server count means that the VPN doesn’t spread itself out too thin; great server quality
- Has good customer support that can settle disputes and troubleshooting in record time
- Works outside of the UK
- There are only a small number of plans that can be chosen during the initial subscription
- Some customers might find the smaller amount of servers to be a fault, not an advantage
IPVanish is the second-best VPN brand for BBC iPlayer. They contain servers that work specifically for streaming content, whether it be radio, video, or just plain old music. When you are looking at video feeds, you won’t even encounter buffering or anything of the sort; just smooth video playback for the entire session that you’re logged on. The servers rare ever stall, so you could even download large torrent files without stopping to check on them in between downloads. There’s also a plethora of countries to try, including a majority of the EU (the UK included). Be careful if you absolutely cannot have your DNS leaked though, as some have reported on incidents that left them vulnerable to their IP address seeing blocked content, torrents mainly. If you’re not concerned about your ISP seeing you accessing file-sharing clients, then IPVanish is the right VPN tool for you.
- Buffering and stalls are nonexistent on a good internet connection
- Servers don’t have a reputation for going down at random times
- Has many countries within its lineup of server locations
- DNS leaks may not always work as advertised
NordVPN is based in Panama, which has become the seat of businesses that wish to get away from draconian surveillance laws that exist in five and fourteen eyes countries. When you’re done downloading and installing the software on your device, you’ll quickly see how fast the setup process is. Signing on to the VPN is a breeze too, which will have you logged into a server in mere seconds. For troubleshooting, you can contact a customer representative several ways, including through live chat in need be. For more serious concerns, an email support ticket would be the way to go.
- Great location in Panama, a country that doesn’t have any notable mass surveillance practices
- Doesn’t take long to find a working server; very short wait times
- Customer serves can be reached multiple ways, either through email or direct contact via live chat
- At times, some servers might fluctuate in speed, especially when many people are on the network
4. Private Internet Access
Private Internet Access (also uses the acronym PIA) is located in the United States. But don’t let the location alone keep you from trying out their subscription plans, especially if you want a service that’ll help you save some money. You will find the platform on all operating systems, which included Chrome OS and Linux distros. The good thing about PIA is that even if your information where to be surveilled by the US government, the company wouldn’t have much data to provide in the first place. Their customers are anonymous, whereby anonymity can be increased through the purchase of their subscription through a cryptocurrency, most notably Bitcoin. As for iPlayer, it works very fast over PIA and will never falter or lag. If you’re traveling to a North American location, you should make PIA your top choice since speeds tests reveal their home-based servers as some of the fastest on the list.
- Attempts to make their users anonymous regardless of its location (within the United States)
- Fast download and installation time; doesn’t reduce the speeds of older laptops and PCs
- iPlayer appears to work extremely fast overall servers, including live broadcasts
- Is within the jurisdiction of a Five eyes nation (the US, UK, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada)
TorGuard has a lot of attributes that make them a top contender that can match up to any of the VPNs previously shown. The best part of their features is something that you probably won’t think twice about during the entirety of its use, which is the Kill Switch. This little widget prevents applications from giving away or obtaining your IP address. It works similar to DNS leak protection. If your internet were to even abruptly go out and back on again, the VPN would stop all of your programs from gaining access to the servers you visited, which means that your IP and DNS will never be known. This also goes for your ISP. If you’re planning on torrenting files when you’re done with iPlayer, choose TorGuard; you’ll be happy that you did.
- Their Kill Switch features have been tested to work every time, no leaks or misleading claims
- A good choice of different payment options for customers
- Routers can be purchased directly from TorGuard’s website
- Servers won’t perform very well on internet connections that are less than 4 Mbps
Since their beginning, Ivacy has grown from a small company that hardly anyone knew about, to a worldwide recommended VPN with all the latest protocols and protections for your computer. If you’re worried about hackers, don’t be with Ivacy. Your private info shared in between other computers can never be read by anyone since the tunnel is shielded with end-to-end encryption.
This hides your traffic through the use of keys, making the data only readable in the form of ones and zeros. It’s nearly impossible to crack, so try it out if your priority is security before streaming. But when you are ready to entertain yourself with iPlayer, the VPN performs just as dutifully. No matter if you’re installing Ivacy on a computer or phone, installation is as easy as flipping in between their servers. Some of them might not work for iPlayer, but you’ll eventually find one that does.
- Has several low cost options for customers to subscribe to
- Honest zero logging; hasn’t has any major criticisms of deceptive (or generic) logging
- Installation times and difficulty don’t vary between operating systems, including smartphones
- Not all servers may work with streaming content, including iPlayer and Netflix
PureVPN is another good VPN choice for iPlayer, and is also recommended for people that prioritize price. Their cheapest option is only $3.33 per month, but can only be used when you go with the two-year plan. If you’re a month-to-month person that only plans on having the service for a short period, then you could settle with the $10.95 plan. Torrent clients are also unblocked, meaning that you can download music when you’re not on iPlayer, which should get you through to the site with any country that doesn’t attempt restrictions with VPNs (that doesn’t include China). Not sure if this is the service you want? Just start your subscription with a free trial, which lasts for three days.
- Few operating systems are incompatible with the VPN
- On top of iPlayer support, allows peer-to-peer file sharing with music programs and torrent sites
- Users can begin their subscription with a very cheap option when beginning with a trial
- Short trial period (only three days)
- Some logging does occur, although not enough to give away the identity of users
8. CyberGhost VPN
CyberGhost VPN is a fast one, having the ability to connect you to streaming sites quicker than any free VPN you may have tried before. The speeds don’t let up when your watching videos either, no matter if it’s live or on-demand. If things don’t go as planned or you run into a hiccup while using the application, simply visit the site and speak to a rep that works for the company. They’re friendly, informative, and can easily get your problem settled within record time. CyberGhost should also work in some locations that might block other VPNs from access, so try it out if all the others fail. Try to ensure that you’re on a good ISP though, since the download and upload speeds might not work if your connection is too slow.
- Inquiries can be responded to in a matter of hours of most days
- All servers are fast enough to handle live or on-demand streaming
- Can be picked up in some regions that have a reputation for blocking other VPN sites
- Upload speeds are drastically different from download speeds
9. Hotspot Shield
Hotspot Shield has been a great selling application for Mac computers for quite some time now. But that’s not the only device that the VPN will work on. It’s compatible with Windows and Android too; try it out if you like to access iPlayer through your smartphone. Downloading is quick and the sign-in process only takes a few seconds to get through. Even if your phone’s data plan is a little slow, you shouldn’t experience any significant lag with videos on iPlayer. Instead, things will play smooth and remain unblocked for the duration that you’re logged on the VPN. Switching to different servers is also quick to do, and your favorites and remembered by the app to keep you from having to waste time by sifting through the available choices.
- Navigation and controls appear to be streamlined for Apple computers and smartphones
- Doesn’t block iPlayer or increase the risks of getting blacklisted from the site
- Fast servers switching when signed on
- Customer service will respond through email/support tickets only
- No OpenVPN or alternative protocols besides the one that exists exclusively for Hotspot Shield (Catapult Hydra)
10. TunnelBear VPN
TunnelBear doesn’t hold back against their unapologetic approach to supporting torrents and streaming content that’s blocked, which is great for anyone that has an iPlayer account. While you’re being entertained by the streaming platform (that’s will be unblocked by TunnelBear, by the way), you’ll be guarded with a powerful firewall that can control access to all your programs that want to connect to the internet. And because of this control, your computer’s speed could significantly increase at startup, lowering the amount of RAM that you’re using. It could take a while to get you connected to some servers though, particularly if you’re using the VPN on a slow ISP. But there’s not much else to complain about TunnelBear. Begin with a free trial before starting your subscription and you’ll see firsthand the amount of unblocked content you may have been missing out on with iPlayer.
- Stop control how other programs and applications connect to the internet, or whether they’re allowed access
- Leak protections are proven to be consistent on all supported platforms
- Has both free and paid versions of its software
- It may take up to a minute for the VPN to connect to a server on a slow ISP
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Do any VPNs cater specifically to BBC iPlayer?
While the VPNs shown in the reviews don’t specifically cater to BBC iPlayer, they do cater to streaming content. And since iPlayer can be placed in the category of streaming content, you will be able to access everything from the site as if you never left the UK in the first place.
Will the overall Speed of my Internet be Affected?
When you log into a VPN and access a server, all servers that you interact with online must be redirected through the VPNs servers, unless changed in the programs advanced settings. And since your traffic must hit a different server first, your overall internet connection speed could be reduced slightly. The best way to tell which VPN will reduce the speed the least is by using a speed tester. These are websites that you can go to when you’re on the VPN, whereby they can gauge the speed of your connection by monitoring uploads and downloads. Compare this speed to the rate of your internet when you’re not on the VPN, and go with the choice that decreases the speed the least.
Would it be Safe to try out Free VPNs before going with a Subscription?
You can if you want, but remember that free VPN could monitor your internet activity as you browse, which includes what you do on BBC iPlayer. If you can help it, try to avoid using a free VPN to visit such sites, as there are often a large number of people on free VPNs that tend to use them for fraudulent purposes. If your streaming site detects that your server ISP (the VPN) has been used by someone else before, then your account could be at risk of getting blacklisted. Remember, VPN servers, both free and paid, are shared. The paid versions tend to hold up much better with accessing accounts with streaming sites but would probably still be blocked with those you don’t have to pay for. On another note, try to remember that there are very few things online that are free. You won’t have to pay for the service in some fashion, which could include your data being pulled from the servers that link to your computer. As shown in the previous section, stick with paid VPNs and these problems will go away.
What Devices are Supported?
You can access a VPN on just about any device you can think of. All of the ten listed will work on Macbooks, PCs, laptops, and most smartphones that take either Windows, Chrome, Android, and iOS. If you were away from the UK and wanted to download BBC iPlayer from a smartphone OS’ applications store, you could do so and open the VPN to get to the streaming content. If you’re planning on using only the browser to play video and music there, be sure that you reset your cache and browser plugins.
This information will help prevent your account from becoming blacklisted, no matter what VPN you use. If you notice any slowdowns while going on iPlayer with your chosen VPN, look into changing your protocol to another one that’s recommended by the company themselves. For this, you might have to content someone to find out or visit the website to see if there’s a manual for using the application.
Are Logging Policies Generally Trustworthy?
This depends on if the platform is free or paid. Free VPNs could use deceptive language that makes their logging policy confusing to understand, while paid serves will generally lay everything out in front of you upon demand. However, you should always check out the user agreement of any VPN that you wish to use before you actually use it. That way, you’ll get an understanding of what info is taken, and the purposes of them taking it. And if you dislike their logging policy, you can always move on to another VPN that fits in line with your expectations (as far as what they won’t take).
But honestly, most VPNs will take some logging info from you. It might not be on the application itself but from their website. But this is often used only for surveying the people that visit the site. If you would like to keep your location private from the VPN websites as well, just use another VPN during the signup and payment process. And for those on smartphones, avoid paying through the Google Play Store or App Store, going directly to the source’s subscription page.
Do any VPNs have Servers for Streaming Only?
Yes, some of them do. But this isn’t something that you’ll need for most VPNs. As long as the servers work, you won’t have to make this an important part of your buying decision. Those that do offer exclusive streaming servers might or might not be slightly faster than servers used for all purposes. If you’re not sure, just look at the average speed, and choose from there. Another reason some VPNs might contain their own streaming servers could be due to the content being blacklisted from other public servers in the past, or even as a simple marketing gimmick.
What are the Risks Associated with using Free OR Paid VPNs?
This can be answered by knowing the carelessness or awareness of the user on the VPN. How you use the internet can determine if you’re at greater risk than others. Yes, some regions are at greater risk of hacking and receive malware, but much of it can be avoided by keeping an eye on the sites you’re on. Always look at the URL, ensuring that the name of the website is accurate. If it’s not, then there’s a chance the content you’re on could be a fake site that intends to steal your info.
Don’t click on any links that you’re unaware of, and remember to download a good antivirus. Once you have that, ensure that you have automatic updates turned on. As for the VPN, you can have it replace your existing firewall on your computer, which will shut down potential loopholes in your security from being accessed remotely by attackers.
What to expect from VPNs in the Future?
Future VPNs will probably person the same as they do today, but with additional protocols that enhance security or allow the governments of countries from attempting to block the content. Another feature that could soon be implemented on VPNs is their very own antivirus. The same thing has occurred with anti-spyware applications, which have merged into “anti-malware” programs that can detect and delete spyware and viruses. So don’t be surprised on your favorite VPN soon allows your computer to be scanned while your surfing the net on the VPN server.
Which were your favorite VPNs in the list? If you don’t have one, then you should try to weigh your decision down to which one has a plan that’s within your price range. But even that can be hard to do since so many of them are priced at about the same rate. BBC iPlayer will work on them all, in a majority of the countries that are outside of the UK. If one of the VPNs listed is located in a place that’s near to where you are, try out their service first since those tend to perform faster as you get closer to the location of their servers. But above all else, subscribe to what you believe will make you the most satisfied.