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Best VPN for BBC iPlayer

Callum Tennent
Callum TennentUpdated

BBC iPlayer is one of the most popular streaming services on the planet, and it’s totally free to boot. The BBC has redoubling efforts on combatting VPN traffic, though – even if you have a TV license. Making sure you pick the right one is more important than ever.

In fact, access to BBC iPlayer from outside of the UK is impossible without a VPN, as it’s only watchable via a UK-based IP address. Fortunately for you, though, we’ve done all the hard work and tested our favorite VPNs to find out whether or not they can provide you with access.

The VPNs recommended on this page will give you consistent, reliable access to BBC iPlayer from a huge array of locations around the world – even from within the UK. They’ll also keep your data safe while doing it, too.

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
77% off with 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. 83Mbps 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. Connect securely to 60 countries
  6. Strict zero-logs policy
Cons
  1. Some restrictions on torrenting
  2. Server network could be bigger
Bottom Line

CyberGhost is the best option available for BBC iPlayer right now. Not only does it offer the most reliable and consistently fast UK servers, averaging 83Mbps around the world connecting to London, but it’s also super cheap to boot.

It’s not just great with BBC iPlayer – you also get top-tier access to all your other favorite streaming services, too. Speeds when connecting to the UK are routinely high, with even those connecting from as far away as Sydney consistently achieving at least 14Mbps, which is easily enough for HD streaming. Those on the US East Coast are practically spoiled with typical speeds of around 53Mbps.

A strict zero logs policy and first-party DNS servers make CyberGhost a top pick for privacy, too, along with the automatic kill switch and other useful extras. The apps are user-friendly and a native app for Amazon Fire TV is a bonus. $2.75 per month over 18 months is incredible value, though, even if you have no use for it other than accessing BBC iPlayer.


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 with 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. 55Mbps 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. Desktop app limited to OpenVPN
Bottom Line

HideMyAss! stands out for its huge server network, with over 190 countries on offer worldwide, even if it doesn’t quite live up to the all-round performance offered by some of our top choices.

With almost 20 UK servers, with some dedicated to BBC iPlayer, there should be next to no time wasted trying to find a connection that works. It also provides snappy speeds, regardless of where you’re based – New York to London connections average 40Mbps, with a global-to-London average of 55Mbps.

It’s not all perfect, though. HMA! really falls down when it comes to privacy. It’s based in the UK and has an intrusive logging policy that involves your true IP address being stored on their servers for three months or more. If you care about privacy as much as you do streaming then you should probably pick an option further up this list.

Given the excellent customer service and affordable pricing plans, though, this is absolutely a VPN to consider.


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 with 2-year plan
Money-back guarantee
45 Days
Customer Support
24/7 live chat support
No. of Server Locations
27 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
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. The only concern is that there are no dedicated servers for them, but hopefully Hotspot Shield keeps pushing in the right direction.

It’s so simple to use that more advanced VPN fans may actually find it a touch light on detail, with little ability to deep-dive into settings or options. If you just want something you can boot up and get online with, though, Hotspot Shield will have you streaming in seconds.

You should be aware of its less-than-spotless past, though. In 2017 the free version of the VPN was discovered to be surreptitiously injecting code into customers’ traffic. A sizeable breach of trust, but so long as you spring for the (extremely cheap) 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
$3.60 per month
Special deal
67% off with 17-month plan
Money-back guarantee
30 Days
Customer Support
Live chat Support
No. of Server Locations
57 Countries
Simultaneous Connections
6
Pros
  1. 50Mbps global average connection to London
  2. Servers recommended especially for BBC iPlayer
  3. Simple setup for your favorite devices
  4. Torrenting allowed on any server you like
  5. Connect securely to 57 countries
  6. 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, even those based in the UK. PrivateVPN may have a fairly small server network, but it still represents great value for money.

Those located in Western Europe will enjoy speeds that are not only quick enough to provide smooth Full HD streaming, but also have enough left over to allow for multitasking, too. Those connecting to UK servers via Amsterdam, for example, can expect a lightning fast 88Mbps. The numbers take a bit of a tumble when you’re based further afield, but typical speeds of 33Mbps from Toronto to London will still keep your viewing experience uninterrupted. The global average download speed when connecting to London servers speaks for itself at 50Mbps.

It’s slipped in our rankings recently though, following the loss of its dedicated BBC iPlayer server option. We spoke to customer support and it stated that it was working on the issue – for the time being you simply need to connect via its ‘Argentina – VT1’ server to gain access (no, we have no idea why either).

A strict zero-logs policy and a ton of advanced security features make PrivateVPN a great choice for those seeking the highest levels of privacy, too. Our only real gripe is with the customer support live chat should you encounter an issue – it’s inconsistent and often proved a frustrating experience. You may find that forgivable given how cheap a 17-month plan is, though.


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. 49Mbps global average connection to London
  3. User-friendly apps and simple setup
  4. Connect securely to 34 countries
  5. Access to Tor, should you need it
Cons
  1. City-level server selection isn't always an option
  2. Falls under US jurisdiction
  3. Limited customer service
  4. Torrenting only permitted on one server
Bottom Line

SaferVPN is a staggeringly cheap option for BBC iPlayer fans, even by the high standards set by its rivals on this roundup. Should you opt for the ultra-affordable three-year plan you’ll be treated by a VPN with rapid connection speeds the world over and UK servers dedicated to streaming.

Where it underwhelms is on the privacy side of things. SaferVPN’s minimal logging policy goes a long way to mitigate the fact it’s based in the privacy-unfriendly US, but it’s still an important factor to consider. Advanced features such as a VPN kill switch and DNS/IPv6 leak protection are a big help.

The software is slick and very user-friendly but lacking in configurable options, which might not be ideal for more experienced users. The isn’t a huge number of international servers, but the ones that are on offer put forward impressive download speeds: Singapore to London clocks in at 21Mbps, while those in Western Europe can expect 91Mbps courtesy of its Amsterdam server. The global average sits at a very respectable 49Mbps.


Read our full SaferVPN review

How we picked the best BBC iPlayer VPN of 2018

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 top five 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. Youll 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 arent much good to you if theyre 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 youre after. However, that can often involve a great deal of trial-and-error and wasted time servers dedicated to streaming can help ensure youre 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, youre going to want to make sure your VPN of choice is supported. If your desired device isnt supported then that isnt the end of the world you can always set the VPN up at router level, although thats 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 youll 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 youre 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 youll 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.