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.
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.