At the beginning of April 2020, the Coronaviruspandemic had left at least 300,000 travelers from the UK stranded across the world. While some were “lucky” enough to catch government-chartered flights back home, it still cost them up to £1,000 to do so. It’s an unfortunate situation, so the least we can do is offer an easy way to watch BBC iPlayer outside the UK.
Take a load off your mind. Catch up on your favorite shows while you’re stuck abroad (unless foreign soap operas are your thing.)
Watch BBC iPlayer Anywhere in the World
You are not limited by what country you decided to holiday in before disaster struck. Whether you’re close by in Europe, across the ocean in the Americas, or in other exotic lands, you can simply unblock BBC iPlayer by using a Virtual Private Network (VPN).
All you need to do is connect to a VPN provider’s UK servers, and the BBC iPlayer service will believe you’re actually in the country. This works by switching your IP address (which gives away your approximate geographical location) to one that belongs to the VPN server. To the BBC, it’s like you’re already back home.
On a related note, using a VPN also hides your real IP in the process, as well as encrypts (i.e. obfuscates) what you do online. It gives you a degree of privacy, which is especially useful since some ISPs were found selling users’ browsing and location data to advertisers. If you’re in the US right now, that’s most likely happening. It all depends on what Internet regulations govern the country you’re in.
Does Any VPN Work?
Not exactly. The shows you watch on BBC iPlayer, Netflix and other streaming services are geographically limited because of licensing issues. It’s a ridiculous and outdated concept in the age of high-speed Internet, but that’s the state of things at the moment.
Streaming services are all too aware that VPNs are used to access their services, and proceed to play a game of whack-a-mole by blacklisting known VPN IP addresses. In return, reliable, premium VPN providers constantly acquire new IP addresses for their customers to continue unblocking these geo-restricted platforms.
The problem is, getting new IP addresses requires renting or purchasing new servers in different locations – which can get expensive. As such, you won’t have much luck trying to watch BBC iPlayer using a free VPN. Simply put, they don’t benefit from the same funding that a paid subscription VPN has.
Luckily, there are plenty of top providers with relatively cheap plans that costs as little as £1.59 a month if you buy in bulk. If you don’t know where to start, here are some recommendations.
Watch BBC iPlayer – VPN Recommendations
Among the top providers, you’ll consistently see on reviewers’ lists are ExpressVPN, NordVPN, and SurfShark – all of which grant access to BBC iPlayer wherever you are. Of course, you’re not limited to those three. You can see more here, as there are quite a few options!
The best part is that all of these services either have free trials or robust money-back guarantees if you’re not satisfied with the service. Most providers (including our top three contenders) have a no questions asked 30-day money-back guarantee, with others imposing limits on their free tiers (such as using below 100 GB traffic to qualify for a refund).
All of this information can be found in their Terms of Service, so take a look at their refund policy before making any purchases. For example, you may not be able to receive a refund from your provider if you get a subscription through Apple/ iTunes, as you’re then subject to Apple’s refund policies –which is something to consider.
Are VPNs Legal?
This is a complicated subject for some countries, but for 99% of cases, VPNs are indeed legal. Even restrictive countries like China see much VPN use nowadays.
A 2016 law passed in the UAEdoes poses the risk of aAED500,000 (around £108,800) fine for: [using] a fraudulent computer network protocol address (IP address) by using a false address or a third-party address by any other means for the purpose of committing a crime or preventing its discovery […]
Since a lot of content you can find on BBC iPlayer is banned in some form in the UAE, they might consider it a crime for you to use a VPN to access those shows. Skype and other unlicensed video calls (VoIP) apps are also banned, as per UAE net provider Etisalat,but this is a more complicated issue.
So far, there have been no reports of people being fined or prosecuted for using a VPN for such meager pursuits, and it seems as though these laws often go unenforced to maintain Dubai’s status as one of the world’s largest trading hubs. As long as you exercise caution and don’t attempt any shady stuff, you should be just fine, but know that this is at your own risk.