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Best VPN for BBC iPlayer

Callum Tennent
By Callum TennentUpdated

One of the most popular streaming services around, BBC iPlayer is also one of the hardest to consistently access.

While free to UK TV license payers, the BBC goes to great lengths to block it for those outside of Great Britain.

With the right VPN, though, you can watch iPlayer anywhere. Whether living abroad or a Brit on holiday, these VPNs do the trick.

The 5 Best VPN Services for BBC iPlayer
  1. CyberGhost
  2. HideMyAss!
  3. Hotspot Shield
  4. PrivateVPN
  5. SaferVPN
Read on for our detailed analysis of each VPN.
Our pick for BBC iPlayer
CyberGhost

Terrific speeds, zero-logs and fully geared towards streaming. Your top choice for BBC iPlayer.

Best price
$2.75 per month
Special deal
79% off 18-month plan
Money-back guarantee
45 Days
Customer Support
24/7 Live chat support
No. of Server Locations
60 Countries
Simultaneous Connections
7
Pros
  1. 92Mbps global average connection to London
  2. Quick, easy access to BBC iPlayer
  3. Servers designed with streaming at the forefront
  4. Easy to set up on all manner of platforms
  5. Native app for Amazon Fire TV
  6. Strict zero-logs policy
Cons
  1. Server network could be bigger
Bottom Line

CyberGhost is the best option available for BBC iPlayer right now: it’s fast, offers dedicated servers for accessing iPlayer, and is super private.

It has the most reliable and consistently speedy UK servers, averaging 92Mbps around the world connecting to London.

Even those connecting from as far away as Sydney consistently achieving at least 17Mbps, which is easily enough for HD streaming.


Read our full CyberGhost review

2
HideMyAss!

Slick, quick, and with an enormous choice of BBC iPlayer-friendly servers.

Best price
$2.99 per month
Special deal
75% off 3-year plan
Money-back guarantee
30 Days
Customer Support
24/7 Live chat support
No. of Server Locations
190 Countries
Simultaneous Connections
5
Pros
  1. 53Mbps global average connection to London
  2. BBC iPlayer-optimized servers
  3. Clean, modern, user-friendly interface
  4. An abundance of locations worldwide
  5. 24/7 live chat support
Cons
  1. Based in privacy-unfriendly UK
  2. Too much logging for our liking
  3. No custom apps for streaming devices
Bottom Line

HideMyAss! stands out for its huge server network, with over 190 countries on offer worldwide, and almost 20 servers in the UK alone.

It provides snappy speeds, regardless of where you’re based, with a global-to-London average of 53Mbps, and optimized servers for streaming.

It’s not all perfect, though. HMA! really falls down when it comes to privacy, with an intrusive logging policy and UK jurisdiction.

 


Read our full HideMyAss! review

3
Hotspot Shield

Super secure and committed to streaming - just make sure you opt for the premium version.

Best price
$2.99 per month
Special deal
76% off 2-year plan
Money-back guarantee
45 Days
Customer Support
24/7 Live chat support
No. of Server Locations
29 Countries
Simultaneous Connections
5
Pros
  1. Has recently massively improved its streaming capabilities
  2. Could hardly be any simpler to use
  3. Generally high speeds
  4. Generous 45-day money-back guarantee
Cons
  1. Fairly limited server network
  2. Based in privacy-unfriendly US
  3. Past controversies around the free VPN app
  4. Not compatible with streaming devices
Bottom Line

Hotspot Shield has long been a fast and reliable VPN, but in the past months it’s made serious strides as a VPN for streaming, too.

It offers easy access to BBC iPlayer, as well as all your other favorite services, although there are currently no dedicated servers for them.

The free version of the VPN doesn’t have a spotless past but so long as you spring for the premium version we see little reason to doubt it now.


Read our full Hotspot Shield review

4
PrivateVPN

A top all-rounder that makes streaming as easy as possible, all for a great price.

Best price
$2.88 per month
Special deal
73% off 15-month plan
Money-back guarantee
30 Days
Customer Support
Live chat Support
No. of Server Locations
58 Countries
Simultaneous Connections
6
Pros
  1. 60Mbps global average connection to London
  2. Servers recommended especially for BBC iPlayer
  3. Simple setup for your favorite devices
  4. Custom app for Amazon Fire TV
  5. Strict zero-logs policy
Cons
  1. Inconsistent live chat availability
  2. Limited number of individual servers
Bottom Line

A tremendous choice for BBC iPlayer fans, PrivateVPN may have a fairly small server network, but it still represents great value for money.

The global average download speed to London servers speaks for itself at 60Mbps, and international speeds are impressive too.

There is usually a dedicated BBC iPlayer server option but currently you have to connect via its ‘Argentina – VT1’ server to gain access.


Read our full PrivateVPN review

5
SaferVPN

Speedy, reliable VPN. Easy access to HD streaming. 24/7 live chat support.

Best price
$2.29 per month
Special deal
80% off with 3-year plan
Money-back guarantee
30 Days
Customer Support
24/7 Live chat support
No. of Server Locations
34 Countries
Simultaneous Connections
5
Pros
  1. Easy access to BBC iPlayer and other streaming favorites
  2. 50Mbps global average connection to London
  3. User-friendly apps and simple setup
  4. Minimal logging policy
Cons
  1. Lack of dedicated apps for streaming devices
  2. Falls under US jurisdiction
Bottom Line

SaferVPN treats users to rapid connection speeds the world over and UK servers dedicated to streaming.

There isn’t a huge number of international servers, but the ones that are on offer put forward impressive download speeds.

SaferVPN is based in the privacy-unfriendly US but a minimal-logs policy goes a long way to mitigate that.


Read our full SaferVPN review

How We Picked the Best BBC iPlayer VPN of 2019

These top VPN picks for BBC iPlayer are the complete package. Not only do you get reliable connections to the popular streaming service from servers around the world, but you’re also guaranteed blistering speeds and high-end security to ensure that your data remains private and encrypted.

They’re intuitive and easy to use, but should a problem arise these VPNs also provide top-tier customer support to help you resolve the issue as soon as possible.

You can rest assured that these recommendations are 100% up-to-date, too. We re-test our best VPNs on a weekly basis to ensure that they still work with your platforms and services of choice. We spend hours using them exactly as you would so that we can say with confidence that you’ll be happy with your purchase.

How to Use a VPN with BBC iPlayer

Finding the right VPN for BBC iPlayer can be a little trickier than with other services, as the BBC ruthlessly pursues providers – in fact, for a time it even looked like VPN access to BBC iPlayer would be over for good. Fortunately that wasn’t the case, and there’s still plenty of options.

That said, UK residents will (somewhat ironically) run into issues a lot more frequently than those connecting from outside the country. We’ve tried our hardest to ensure the recommendations above are as reliable as possible, but access for those connecting from within the UK dips in and out more often than we’d like to see.

Before you start streaming for the first time, you’ll need to decide whether to install the VPN on your router and protect your internet activity at all times or install the VPN software on each device you plan to use for streaming.

There are pros and cons to each approach. Installing at router level is a little more technically complex than using your VPN’s desktop program or app, but it does cover all devices connected to it by default. If you want to browse without channeling your connection through the VPN, though, your options are limited.

Installing on multiple devices is easy, but there will be two key restraints: the number of installs or simultaneous connections allowed by your VPN, and whether or not a dedicated app exists for your device. Apple TV, for example, doesn’t currently have any dedicated VPN apps available for it. Click or tap on the link to see our Best VPNs for Apple TV.

While some VPN apps have an automatic settings, it’s sensible to manually set the most appropriate VPN protocol for streaming. We recommend using OpenVPN as it has the best balance of speed and security.

Once you’re up and running, ensure that you connect to a server based in the UK – no other location will work. You may well be presented with an intimidating error message, but don’t be dissuaded – just pick another server location and try again. Locations that work one day may not work the next, and vice versa, so there can be a little trial and error involved.

How to Choose a VPN for BBC iPlayer: 7 Tips

  • Does it have UK servers?

    Undoubtedly the single most important factor when picking a VPN with BBC iPlayer in mind. You’ll need to have a UK IP address to watch, so the VPN will need to have UK-based servers – the more the better.

  • How fast are its UK servers?

    Having servers based in the UK is only the first step – they aren’t much good to you if they’re too slow to stream in HD. If you want consistent, smooth and uninterrupted HD streaming then be sure you can find a connection of at least 20Mbps.

  • Does it offer dedicated streaming servers?

    A lot of the time any old server will do when it comes to accessing the content you’re after. However, that can often involve a great deal of trial-and-error and wasted time – servers dedicated to streaming can help ensure you’re up and running as quickly as possible with one click.

  • Does it work with all your devices?

    Think about where you mainly watch BBC iPlayer: on your laptop? Your tablet? The TV? Whatever you usually tune in, you’re going to want to make sure your VPN of choice is supported.

    If your desired device isn’t supported then that isn’t the end of the world – you can usually set the VPN up at router level, although that’s a bit more technical and less convenient, too.

  • Does it work with all your other favorite apps and services?

    If you have no plans for using your VPN for anything other than BBC iPlayer then this list has you all set, but realistically you’ll likely have broader plans.

    Make sure that, in addition to supporting BBC iPlayer, your VPN of choice gives you access to all your other favourite websites and services. If you’re ever unsure just check our full-length review for all the information you need.

  • Are its client apps and software easy to use?

    Nobody likes a badly-designed, confusing app. Look for a VPN with intuitive, powerful software and you’ll be much more likely to use it on a regular basis.

    We share the results of our hands-on testing of all the VPN apps in the Ease of Use section of its review – we spend all day testing them, so we should know a thing or two.

  • Finally, check the price and money-back guarantee

    Even the most expensive VPN plans are very affordable but you will likely have a budget in mind.

    12-month plans typically offer the best value and you can reduce the risk of buyer’s remorse by choosing a VPN with a long refund period, preferably 30 days and with no questions asked.

    These guarantees are much more common than traditional free trials but are essentially the same thing.