If you love quirky British humor or just need your regular dose of Storyville, the British Broadcasting Corporation, better known as the BBC, is probably exactly your cup of tea. Thanks to diverse programming ranging from creative drama to world news, the BBC ranks as one of the most popular television networks today.
BBC launched its iPlayer service in 2007 as more and more people moved to streaming content over the Internet. There are now apps for smartphones, tablets, computers and smart TVs that let users to watch BBC programming no matter the device. The big problem with BBC iPlayer is that it’s region-locked.
Different countries have different laws on everything from licensing, libel, blasphemy and more that change what type of content BBC can offer in the region. Furthermore, movie and TV production companies reach different distribution deals in each area, which may mean the use the BBC to deliver a program in one region and another network to deliver it elsewhere. In such cases, you may find that you’re unable to stream certain programs from the iPlayer app.
Thankfully, it doesn’t take much computer savvy to get around geoblocking, as this practice is called. All you need is a VPN service to spoof your location, making it appear you’re somewhere you’re not — even in jolly old England, itself.
Below, we recommend five different services that we think rank among the best VPN for BBC iPlayer choices currently available. For more diverse needs, don’t forget to check out our best VPN buyer’s guide, too.
Top 5 Best VPNs For BBC iPlayer
What to Look for in a VPN for BBC iPlayer
With so many VPN options available, how do we decide which are the best for BBC iPlayer? In this case, the key goal is to get around the BBC’s VPN detection system while still streaming with enough speed to be able to watch content without lag.
The BBC has a pretty sophisticated VPN detection system and has blocked IP addresses from most VPN services. It also monitors incoming connection requests for patterns of encryption that are commonly used by VPNs. This means, even if you’re sitting at a coffee shop in Edinburgh, you can’t always use your VPN to protect yourself while streaming BBC iPlayer.
There are VPN services, however, like VPNArea, that ensure users are specifically able to access iPlayer. The tradeoff is that sometimes the technologies involved to ensure access might mean having to pay a little more than with other VPN services.
While the ability to actually stream iPlayer programming ranked as our number one criteria in the selection process, we also looked at speed, reliability and other features that can impact your ability to kick back, relax and watch.
BBC iPlayer programs stream at 1.5 Mbps for standard quality and up to 2.8 Mbps for higher quality video. Generally speaking, you’ll need a bit more than that to watch video without lag, however.
Each of the VPN recommendations has been vetted for sufficient speed, which in part depends on number of servers and shared IP addresses available. In the case of BBC iPlayer, that means having multiple servers located in the UK
Of course, you’re own Internet connect speed will also play a big part in uninterrupted viewing, which is out of the hands of any VPN you decide to go with.
Best VPN for BBC iPlayer: VPNArea
VPNArea is dedicated to combating geoblocking, including the Great Firewall of China, so for travelers headed to areas with many VPN restrictions, this is a great first choice. Because the Chinese authorities can crack 1028-bit RSA encryption, VPNArea uses 4096-bit encryption.
Avoiding encryption the Chinese government can crack seems like a good idea even if you’re not worried about watching movies. It should also make you feel more secure when doing online banking, working or sending emails to friends and family. Watching your favorite shows from back home is just an added benefit.
VPNArea has servers in over 70 different countries, including the UK. Each location has multiple servers. With VPNArea’s built-in load monitor, you can make sure you’re connecting to a server that isn’t overwhelmed with other users.
Other Reasons Why We Like VPNArea
VPNArea keeps up-to-date with the latest web technologies, proving its dedication to staying ahead of the curve. The developers also pay attention to trends in user experience to maintain a platform that’s intuitive and simple.
In addition to being great for privacy and streaming content, VPNArea allows up to six simultaneous connections. Ease of use combined with technical capability makes this our top choice for streaming BBC’s iPlayer. It also works great for Netflix, Hulu and other streaming services, too.
- Heavy encryption
- Private DNS server
- 6 simultaneous connections
- Limited customer support
- Hard to set up alternate VPN protocols
- No automatic protection for WiFi
Technical sophistication and constant updates are reasons we also like VyprVPN for BBC iPlayer use. It uses a technology dubbed “Chameleon” to scramble packets, making them look less like a stream of information coming from a VPN.
To use Chameleon, you’ll need to purchase a VyprVPN premium subscription. However, this allows access to BBC’s iPlayer, something you can test for yourself with free three-day trial.
VyprVPN has over 200,000 shared IP addresses hosted on over 700 servers. Those servers are distributed throughout 64 countries, including the UK. It’s widespread network provides plenty of access points to ease server congestion for uninterrupted BBC streaming.
Other Reasons Why We Like VyprVPN
VyprVPN supports most operating systems and has a nice interface, too. It also supports up to five simultaneous connections, so everyone in your family can use it at the same time.
For most users, though, it’s the commitment to privacy that that makes VyprVPN so attractive. This VPN is developed by Golden Frog, an organization a company with a demonstrated passion for Internet privacy.
- Up to 5 connections
- Obfuscation technology
- Commitment to privacy
- Premium plan for encryption
- Trial is only 3 days
- Metadata logging
Another favorite, NordVPN can handle streaming BBC iPlayer as well as Netflix content. The NordVPN app is user friendly, making it easy to select a server from one of 57 countries around the world. Accessing iPlayer is as simple as choosing a UK server location.
Ease of use makes NordVPN a great choice for those who don’t want to worry about the details; you just click a button and go. It also offers up to six-simultaneous connections, always a plus for watching the BBC on one device while doing your banking on another.
On the downside, our own tests have found that NordVPN doesn’t quite match up with competition when it comes to speed. That said, it should still be plenty good for streaming iPlayer video so long as you’ve got a decent Internet connection.
Other Reasons Why We Like NordVPN
NordVPN is based in Panama, which is an additional benefit for privacy-conscious users who like to download entertainment and stream it. NordVPN supports up to six simultaneous connections, which makes a subscription even cheaper if shared with friends or family.
The two-year subscription is reasonably priced and you have a long 30-day money-back window to test out the service to ensure it works for you. Panama has no laws requiring data-retention, a fact NordVPN takes full advantage of with it’s no-logging policy.
We have a lot more detail in our full NordVPN review to help you determine if this is the best VPN to get your BBC fix.
- Servers in 57 countries
- Easy to use
- Slower connection speeds
- No Linux support
- Manual setup required
In addition to a great user interface and an efficient back-end, CyberGhost takes full advantage of its location in privacy-oriented Romania to ensure that it can protect your privacy. It also offers a limited free service with access to 13 countries (including the UK) to check out the platform.
However, to stream BBC iPlayer content, you’ll want to get the premium subscription, which has the ability to get around geoblocking by fooling VPN detection technologies. CyberGhost also has reasonably fast speeds, with over 1,000 servers nearly 50 countries.
While CyberGhost does works for iPlayer, you should note that it does not work for Netflix according to our most recent testing. .
Other Reasons Why We Like CyberGhost
Not only can a single CyberGhost subscription be used on five different devices, it’s better priced than most VPN services. CyberGhost also collects payment through a different company to protect your privacy, in addition to having a no-logging policy.
- Strong privacy protection
- Smooth user interface
- Free version
- No access to Netflix
- Servers in only 26 countries
- Clunky desktop client
Headquartered out of Belize (not Asia, ironically), VPN.asia has a fast network, making streaming your favorite British baking show a dream. That speed is complimented by a sophisticated, privacy-oriented back-end that lets you access streaming sites from all over the world without concern for regional restrictions.
A smooth, user-friendly interface makes installation and use easy. While server locations in 32 countries isn’t as impressive as some of the other options on this list, VPN.Asia does tunnel through the UK and offers speeds sufficient enough to stream BBC iPlayer. Reporting tools to check server speeds will help you find the optimal connection.
The bigger reason we ranked VPN.asia last is due to some customer support concerns. For example, the company offers live chat but we’ve never actually been able to use it to get in touch with anybody.
We’ve also heard reports that VPN.asia won’t honor its money-back guarantee. In light of those reports, it would be wise to try the one-month plan to ensure you’re happy before committing to a longer subscription.
Other Reasons Why We Like VPN.asia
VPN.asia comes at a reasonable price, even if you’re going with a month-to-month subscription rather than signing up annually. You can also connect up to four devices simultaneously. It also supports a nice range of devices and operating systems, including computers running on Linux.
However, take note that VPN.asia has a weird restriction in which each of those connections has to come from a different type of device (i.e., one desktop, one smartphone, etc.). For more information on the service’s hits and misses, read our full VPN.asia review.
- Excellent speed
- Smooth user interface
- Access to streaming services
- Customer support difficulties
- May not honor refund policy
- No killswitch
Final Thoughts on Accessing BBC iPlayer
Each of the five VPN services listed above should let you to use BBC iPlayer without restriction. However, when choosing a VPN, remember you’ll probably be using for many different other things, besides. You want to choose the one that works best for your location, travel plans and general needs.
Some, like VPN.Asia and CyberGhost, prioritize speed. Others, like VPNArea and VyprVPN, provide the ability to connect in heavily censored places like China and the Middle East. Be sure and check out our best VPN guide for a broader take on what you’re getting, in addition to each service’s individual VPN reviews.
We also have several other guides available for specific needs, including:
- The Best VPN for Netflix
- The Best VPN for Torrenting
- The Best VPN for Popcorn Time
- The Best VPN for Porn
On a final note, VPN technologies and those that block them improve often. You’ll want to make sure to try out your VPN within allotted trial or money-back period to make sure it meets your needs, including streaming BBC iPlayer.
If you’ve had issues using BBC iPlayer with any of the services above, or if you’ve found another VPN that you feel works better for that purpose, be sure and let us know in the comments below. Thanks for reading.