BBC iPlayer lets you stream popular TV shows like Killing Eve, Peaky Blinders, and Poldark online, but only if you’re in the UK. This service, like many others, is region-locked. Additionally, it has particularly strict VPN-detection features, meaning most VPNs can’t unblock BBC iPlayer abroad. If you try, you’ll see one of two errors:
“BBC iPlayer only works in the UK. Sorry, it’s due to rights issues” or “This content is not available in your location” or “This content doesn’t seem to be working”.
Luckily, there are still a few VPNs that can unblock BBC iPlayer. Below, we’ll let you know which services work best, and how to fix any other issues you might encounter when trying to use BBC iPlayer abroad.
Why doesn’t my VPN work with BBC iPlayer?
As one of the UK’s largest broadcasters, the BBC has invested significant amounts of time and money into preventing users in other countries from using their service. As a result, it can be difficult to unblock BBC iPlayer with a VPN.
Here are the potential reasons your VPN doesn’t work with BBC iPlayer:
- The VPN’s servers have been blacklisted by the BBC.
- Your device’s GPS location and IP address location don’t match.
- Your VPN doesn’t have the resources to keep finding workarounds when BBC iPlayer’s geo-blocking is upgraded.
- BBC iPlayer has stored a cookie on your device telling its services that you’re not in the UK.
- Your VPN is using virtual servers and BBC iPlayer can see the server’s actual location.
- Your real IP address is leaking.
- The server you’re using isn’t able to unblock BBC iPlayer.
How to fix VPN problems with BBC iPlayer
Below are the steps you can take to solve the problems above and stream BBC iPlayer live from anywhere. Try using BBC iPlayer after each step to see if it has worked. If not, move on to the next step.
Here’s how to fix your VPN not working with BBC iPlayer:
- Clear your cookies or try a different browser.
- Ask your VPN’s customer support team which server to use, since sometimes only a few can unblock the most popular streaming services.
- Enable leak protection in your VPN’s settings menu to prevent BBC iPlayer from finding out your real location.
- Try watching on a desktop PC instead of a mobile device. This way, GPS location data can’t be cross-referenced with your IP address.
- If none of the above steps helped, it’s likely your VPN doesn’t work with BBC iPlayer. Instead, try using one of the VPNs below.
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How to sign in to BBC iPlayer with a VPN
With the right VPN, it’s easy to watch geo-blocked content abroad. Just follow the steps below to get a UK IP address and stream BBC iPlayer from outside the UK.
Here’s how to use BBC iPlayer with a VPN:
- First, sign up for a suitable VPN. We recommend NordVPN but Surfshark and CyberGhost are both great options too.
- Download and install the VPN app, taking care to get the appropriate version for your device.
- Connect to one of your VPN’s British servers (ideally in London or another major city).
- Now, create a BBC iPlayer account. You’ll be asked for your postal code, but the BBC doesn’t actually check whether you live there or not, so any valid postal code will work.
- Finally, try playing a video. If it doesn’t start right away, clear your browser’s cookies and cache, then reload the page. Still having trouble? Read on to find out how to fix some of the most common issues VPN users have with BBC iPlayer.
Which VPNs still work with BBC iPlayer?
We’ve found these VPNs to be the most consistent at working with BBC iPlayer:
- NordVPN: Our top choice for streaming BBC iPlayer. Particularly fast, with a no-logs policy and excellent unblocking ability. Comes with a risk-free 30-day money-back guarantee.
- Surfshark: The best way to unblock BBC iPlayer on a budget. Quick and reliable, with a major privacy focus. Connect as many devices as you like.
- CyberGhost: CyberGhost is highly versatile and very easy to use. It boasts 700+ British servers, powerful security features, and strong unblocking ability, as well as a 45-day money-back guarantee.
- PrivateVPN: PrivateVPN is a very fast service capable of unblocking BBC iPlayer, Netflix, and ITV Hub without any issues. With a zero-logs policy, advanced security features, and a 30-day money-back guarantee, PrivateVPN is ideal for streaming.
- Hotspot Shield: A quick, reliable, and versatile VPN that’s more than a match for BBC iPlayer. Has a strong focus on security too. Offers a generous 45-day money-back guarantee.
- ExpressVPN: Despite being one of our favorite services, it’s been slightly less reliable for BBC iPlayer lately. However, it’s still very fast and security-conscious, with servers in 94 countries. Unblocks various popular platforms including Netflix US, ITV Hub, and All 4.
- Private Internet Access: PIA offers high speeds, decent unblocking ability, and a great set of security features. It has servers in 78 countries (including the UK), unblocks BBC iPlayer, and comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
- VyprVPN: VyprVPN provides powerful security and privacy protections, fast speeds, and the ability to unblock BBC iPlayer from anywhere. It comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Note that every VPN is this last has at some point been blocked, for example our second choice service, NordVPN, has had some temporary downtime with BBC iPlayer at the time of writing, despite stellar past performance. We’ve listed them in order of preference so suggest starting with the VPN at the top of the list.
Why do streaming services region-lock their content?
Usually, streaming services don’t own exclusive worldwide broadcast rights for their shows, although there are some exceptions, such as with Netflix Originals. This means that, for instance, the BBC might have the rights to broadcast a particular title in the UK, while another network will show it in the US. As such, major streaming services often use region-locking to stick to their end of the bargain and prevent users in other countries from watching anything.
Of course, region-locking doesn’t help much if your broadcast schedule punishes the viewer for living outside of a certain country. Killing Eve season 2, for instance, had different release dates for the UK and the US, meaning British fans not only had to wait longer, but they also had to avoid spoilers for several months. To prevent having one of the UK’s biggest shows in recent years spoiled for them, many fans resorted to using VPNs to watch new episodes as they were released on American TV.
What can I watch on BBC iPlayer?
BBC iPlayer lets you stream 10 TV channels and one radio station live, for free, online. It also offers a wide range of on-demand content covering everything from news to documentaries to reality TV. Here’s a brief list of some of the content you can watch on BBC iPlayer with a VPN:
- BBC One
- BBC Two
- BBC Three
- BBC Four
- BBC News
- BBC Scotland
- BBC Parliament
- Radio 1
- BBC Alba
- Peaky Blinders
- Our Girl
- Nigella: At My Table
- Dragon’s Den
- Would I Lie to You?
- Keeping Faith
How does iPlayer know if I am using a VPN?
Like most geo-blocked services, BBC iPlayer determines the user's location by examining their IP address. If it points to anywhere outside of the UK, you simply won't be able to use the service. Luckily, getting around this type of blocking is easy: just connect to a British VPN server to get an IP address from the UK and trick iPlayer into letting you watch from abroad.
Are there any free VPNs that work with iPlayer?
It's possible you'll be able to find a free VPN that unblocks BBC iPlayer, but not likely. This service has poured a huge amount of resources into its VPN-detection systems, to the point that many major providers still can't access it.
Even if you find one that works, however, you're likely to run into other issues. There'll almost certainly be a monthly bandwidth cap preventing you from streaming regularly, for instance, and as most free VPNs tend to have small networks, your connection may not even be fast enough to watch at all.