Streaming TV shows and movies have become the most common way people ingest media nowadays, especially since more and more platforms seem to crop up every year. Netflix was definitely the first and most popular platform of its kind, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to keep that top spot for long.
One of the reasons such services have gained popularity in recent years is due to the fact that most people around the world have upgraded their Internet connection, which allows them to stream high-resolution content. Back in the day, such a thing was next-to-impossible for most users, especially since ISPs imposed traffic limits that kept people from being able to download too much stuff.
Another important factor that contributes to Netflix’s success is the fact that people do not really like paying for movies, especially since it can be quite expensive if you want to watch more than a handful of them per month. Being able to pay a fairly low monthly subscription in exchange for all the movies you can watch is definitely a better deal, not to mention the fact that you can watch them multiple times.
Other media companies started to envy Netflix and their huge profits, even if Netflix still had to pay them in order to license movies and TV shows. A one-time payment was not enough however, which is why companies like HBO, Disney, and BBC have decided to stop licensing their content to Netflix and create their own platforms instead.
Once that happened, people were assaulted with all kinds of streaming platforms, each one of which bragged about their unique content that could not be found anywhere else. On the other hand, you now had to pay a separate monthly subscription just to be able to watch your favorite series on HBO, even if you weren’t interested in the rest of their line-up.
Geo-restriction also became a thing after a while, which is why certain content is only available in specific countries, mainly due to licensing issues. This is also the case with BBC’s iPlayer platform, which can only be accessed from the UK. Thus, it’s impossible to create an account or watch something using their service if you do not live in the United Kingdom.
Thankfully, there are workarounds for these situations. The most obvious of them is to use a VPN and pick up a UK IP address, which should allow you to make full use of the platform. Unfortunately, it is not that simple. BBC is quite keen on detecting VPN protocols, which means that not all VPNs are stealthy enough to allow you to do this.
There’s only so much they can do, however, and you can definitely get around their detection methods if you pick the right VPN. If you do not feel like doing the research yourself, we can lend a helping hand and provide you with a list of VPNs that are guaranteed to unblock BBC iPlayer.
What makes a VPN good for BBC iPlayer?
In essence, the goal of a good VPN is to disguise your connection as a regular one, usually by using various types of obfuscation algorithms. Hence, websites like BBC can detect whether your connection is being rerouted, and the goal is to mask that fact.
To achieve this, VPNs must make it look like your connection is plain and boring, which is usually enough to fool most detection scripts. However, bigger platforms like Netflix and Hulu have spent a lot of money on clever detection methods, which is why it is usually harder to fool those than it is with other, less prestigious services.
The issue regarding BBC iPlayer is that you just can’t create an account if you are not living in the United Kingdom, which is yet another hurdle you must overcome before you are able to watch their content. Hence, you have to use a VPN in order to create an account as well, which is a bit tricky.
Given the fact that your payment method must also be processed while using a VPN, you might stumble into problems later on, although that is not necessarily the case. Usually, the automatic subscription renewal process still works after the first month is billed, but there are cases where it may be rejected for one reason or the other. Keep in mind that a VPN may not be able to help you with that.
How to choose a VPN for BBC iPlayer
As of right now, it would be surprising if anyone is willing to pay for a VPN just to be able to use BBC iPlayer, because they have very little content on their platform – at least compared to the other players in the industry. Hence, it’s wise to consider a VPN that can also help you with a few other things.
This can include torrenting, unblocking other streaming platforms, gaming, or accessing blocked websites if you live in a country with heavy censorship. As such, even if the VPN you are interested in works with BBC iPlayer, you should still consider some other factors. Take a look at the following examples:
- Can it also unblock other streaming services, such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, or Hulu?
- Is torrenting permitted/encouraged?
- Is the company running the VPN trustworthy?
- Does the VPN collect data about you during use?
- Does it have a kill switch and a split-tunneling feature?
- Is it fast enough to work well for video games as well?
- Does the VPN offer enough servers to cover the locations you are interested in?
- How many simultaneous connections does it support?
Thankfully, most of the VPNs on our list are designed to solve a lot of problems for you, and that’s besides the fact that they can all unblock BBC iPlayer for you. Hence, it all depends on your personal preferences, especially if you have slightly more special uses in mind.
Best 5 VPNs for BBC iPlayer in 2020
Without further ado, here are our picks for the best VPNs for BBC iPlayer in 2020. If you want to quickly navigate this article, you can use the links below and jump straight to the entry you are interested in.
In addition, the table below should also come in handy if you want to do a head-to-head comparison between all five VPNs.
|ExpressVPN||NordVPN||CyberGhost||Surfshark||Private Internet Access|
|Company part of the 14 Eyes alliance||No||No||No||No||Yes|
|Money-back guarantee||30 days||30 days||45 days||30 days||30 days|
|Maximum simultaneous connections||5||6||7||Unlimited||10|
|Live chat support||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||No|
Given the fact that we have already crowned ExpressVPN as the best all-rounder on the market, it’s really no surprise that the service excels when it comes to unblocking various streaming platforms as well. Hence, you can also use ExpressVPN to bypass BBC iPlayer’s restrictions, given the fact that all you have to do in order to connect is to select a UK server from the list of available locations.
As we all know, streaming movies can be very demanding in terms of bandwidth, which means that the VPN must be able to handle large bitrates with no packet loss. ExpressVPN is definitely able to do that, given the fact that it sports over 3000 servers in 160 locations and over 90 countries. The number of countries is irrelevant if all you want is BBC access, but the huge number of servers means that you will never have to queue in order to connect to the UK locations.
In addition, this is also good news if you plan on using ExpressVPN for other purposes as well, such as unblocking other streaming platforms. On top of BBC iPlayer, ExpressVPN can also grant you access to geo-restricted content on Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, as well as a few others. This makes it a great choice for streaming enthusiasts, at least if you can afford the rather steep monthly subscription price.
In terms of features, ExpressVPN is bursting at the seams with settings and customization options, which means that you can easily change almost everything about the app. This includes multiple protocols, a handy kill switch to protect you from unexpected connection failures, as well as a fully-fledged split-tunneling feature, which is not something you can get from your run-of-the-mill VPN nowadays.
Our speed tests also show that ExpressVPN is the right way to go if you want to download torrents or play online games, given the fact that the pings are extremely low across most locations. This means that you are not likely to experience latency while playing competitive video games, even while the VPN is running in the background.
ExpressVPN is also one of the few VPNs that works in China, which means that you can use its impressive obfuscation capabilities to access the free Internet from heavily censored countries. Naturally, you still have to find a way to get your hands on a subscription in the first place, since their official website may not be easily accessible from China without running a VPN in the first place.
Lastly, ExpressVPN also offers you a 30-day money-back guarantee. This allows you to test the service for a month and see whether it meets your expectations. In case it doesn’t, you can simply request a refund and get your money back, without going through annoying hoops to achieve this. Read our review.
+ Large network of servers that covers most of the globe
+ Fast download speeds and great pings
+ Successfully unblocks other streaming platforms as well, not just BBC iPlayer
+ Works in China as well
+ Great for gaming
+ 30-day money-back guarantee
– Fairly high subscription prices
As always, you can’t go wrong with NordVPN in this case either. It would actually be surprising if NordVPN was not able to unblock BBC iPlayer, given the fact that it works like a charm with Netflix, Hulu, as well as a variety of other streaming services. Not only that, but this is one of the oldest and most trusted VPN providers on the market, which means that you get all the benefits that come along with such a mature service.
To begin with, NordVPN boasts over 5600 servers in almost 60 countries, which is enough to cover all the important parts of the world. Not only that, but the servers are very high-quality as well, which means that you can always count on fast speeds and low pings, regardless of what location you choose to connect to. Granted, there are cases where your download speeds won’t be as great, especially if the geographical distance between you and the server is very large.
One of the interesting features that’s part of the NordVPN package is CyberSec. This is designed to function as an integrated ad-blocker and anti-malware component, thus removing the need for a dedicated browser extension. On the other hand, it’s definitely not a good idea to disable your antivirus, given the fact that CyberSec is only designed to warn you about potentially malicious websites.
In terms of advanced settings, NordVPN allows you to set up a custom DNS server, which is not something you see in most VPNs. This is useful if you are having connection issues or if you want to use a specific DNS server for connecting to your work VPN. In addition, you can also use OpenVPN to improve your obfuscation, which comes in handy if you are dealing with censorship.
Speaking of which, NordVPN is also a service that can get past China’s Great Firewall, which is a testament to the service’s great obfuscation methods. There are also two kinds of kill switches packed into the desktop app, not just one. Hence, while one functions normally by disabling your Internet connection whenever the server you are connected to goes down, the other can be customized to only kill specific apps and processes, which is definitely helpful.
Unfortunately, NordVPN does not come with a split-tunneling feature as of right now, which is kind of disappointing. This is not usually too big of a drawback in the case of smaller VPNs, but when you consider the size of NordVPN’s server network and the premium subscription prices, it’s a bit disappointing to find out that split-tunneling is not part of the package.
Thankfully, at least you can get your money back in the first 30 days if you are not satisfied with the service. The refund policy is quite liberal as well, which means that there are no major restrictions when it comes to who is eligible for a refund. Read our review.
+ Impressive server network
+ Decent download and upload speeds
+ Includes a built-in ad-blocker and anti-malware function
+ Works with Netflix, Hulu, and many others besides BBC iPlayer
+ Can be used in China to access the free Internet
+ 30-day money-back guarantee
– Pricey subscriptions
– No split-tunneling
Very few VPN services come close to CyberGhost when it comes to sheer server numbers, given the fact that you can now make use of over 6400 of them, covering 112 locations in over 90 countries. Granted, it really doesn’t matter how many servers there are if they are all slow and unreliable, which is why it’s a relief that CyberGhost does not cut any corners when it comes to server quality either.
As you can expect, CyberGhost can effortlessly unblock BBC iPlayer for you, regardless of where you are in the world. All you have to do in order to do this is choose the appropriate entry from the specialty servers list, which includes all sorts of streaming platforms. In fact, CyberGhost is one of the most versatile VPNs in this regard, given the fact that it even allows you to use location spoofing to unblock the same service in multiple countries, not just the US.
Thanks to this, you can watch Netflix in France, Canada, and the US. However, there are also other streaming platforms that can be unblocked, some of which are more obscure and harder to unblock with other VPNs. The list includes a plethora of sports-related channels from all over the world, which is definitely something that you can’t get from other VPNs out there.
To make things even better, the split-tunneling function is present as well, although it is mostly aimed at websites, rather than apps. Thanks to this, you can allow certain websites to be accessed without rerouting the connection through the VPN server, which reduces latency and removes various geo-restrictions.
This also makes CyberGhost a great choice for gaming, given the fact that the pings and the download speeds are some of the best we have seen. Thus, you can definitely allow the app to run in the background while playing, since the impact on your connection is minimal. As a bonus, you can even use CyberGhost to play on geo-restricted servers, just in case the game doesn’t allow you to play with people from different continents.
Thanks to the fact that the service is based in Romania, P2P traffic is encouraged and not limited in any way, which means that you can download as many files as you wish without running into any bandwidth caps. There are even special servers that are specifically designed with this function in mind, while also maximizing your download and upload speeds.
Lastly, it’s worth noting that CyberGhost is one of the few VPN providers that offer a 45-day money-back guarantee instead of the standard 30 days. This means that you can try the service for a very long time and see whether it’s the right choice for you, without worrying about being stuck with a monthly subscription in spite of the fact that you do not get the desired results.
You can connect up to 7 devices at the same time, which is definitely better than some of the other entries on this list. Read our review.
+ The biggest network of servers on the market
+ High download speeds
+ Can unblock a plethora of streaming services
+ Location spoofing is possible as well
+ Specialty servers for P2P and streaming
+ Includes split-tunneling support
+ Affordable subscription prices
+ 45-day money-back guarantee
– Does not work in China
Surfshark is another highly-regarded VPN that is also quite capable when it comes to unblocking streaming services, including BBC iPlayer. While there are not quite as many servers and locations to choose from, the server quality is definitely top-notch, and that’s definitely something to keep in mind. In addition, there are all sorts of bonuses that come with a subscription.
First off, Surfshark does not provide you with specialty servers, which means that you can’t simply connect to a BBC-specific server and be done with it. On the other hand, there are no special steps you need to take in order to unblock BBC iPlayer either, given the fact that all you have to do is pick a UK server and connect. After that, the website stops recognizing your real location and allows you to start watching content.
If you want to use Surfshark in order to watch 4K content, you’ll be happy to know that the servers are fast enough to allow smooth playback regardless of the chosen location. In addition, you can also unblock a variety of other streaming platforms, not just BBC. As such, Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu – these can all be accessed as well, although you may need to switch servers in order to unblock some of them.
Surfshark also comes with a feature called “Whitelist”, which is basically split-tunneling with a different name. Hence, you can use this to allow certain apps to bypass the VPN rerouting and eliminate any additional latency. This is great for gaming, given the fact that you can whitelist your games and run Surfshark in the background at all times with practically 0 effect on your games.
Speaking of extra features, Surfshark also includes a built-in ad-blocker called CleanWeb. This allows you to stop relying on your browser extensions in order to block intrusive ads. Not only that, but this can also stop websites from tracking you around the web, which is definitely something most browser extensions are not able to do. According to the developers, CleanWeb can also protect you against malware, but that’s somewhat of an empty statement that does not mean very much without knowing the specifics.
The good news continues if you are a Chinese citizen as well, given the fact that Surfshark is also strong enough to break through the Great Firewall. The great obfuscation methods are enough to help you access the free Internet, and there are some extra security measures as well, such as the fact that you can use MultiHop connections to bounce your traffic between two different exit nodes.
Lastly, perhaps the greatest thing about Surfshark is that it allows an unlimited number of simultaneous connections with every subscription. Thus, you do not need to purchase additional subscriptions in order to allow your family members to make use of the VPN, not to mention the fact that you can also connect all of your devices at the same time with no restrictions whatsoever.
In regards to the money-back guarantee, Surfshark allows you to try the service for up to 30 days before requesting a refund, which is on par with the rest of the services on this list, except for CyberGhost. Read our review.
+ Successfully unblocks all kinds of streaming services
+ Includes a split-tunneling function
+ Comes with a built-in ad-blocker
+ Allow an unlimited number of simultaneous connections
+ 30-day money-back guarantee
+ Also works in China
+ Includes MultiHop and Static IP
– Not as many servers as the competition
Private Internet Access
Given the fact that Private Internet Access is one of the oldest and most trusted VPNs on the market, it’s really no surprise that the service also enables you to unblock BBC iPlayer, especially since it can also do the same for a wide variety of other streaming services. On top of that, you also get a plethora of other functions as well, including multiple protocols, split-tunneling, a kill switch, and various other customization options.
To begin with, PIA is one of the most versatile VPNs when it comes to unblocking streaming platforms, thanks in part to the generous number of servers and locations that are available. At the moment, you can connect to over 3300 servers in 50 locations and 30 countries, which is not bad at all. Granted, the number of countries is rather low, at least when you consider the other entries on this list, but this is not a major drawback when it comes to unblocking BBC.
As mentioned before, Private Internet Access is very customizable, especially in terms of how you connect to the servers. You can use OpenVPN and WireGuard as your protocols, but Shadowsocks and SOCKS5 are also available if you want to use a proxy as well. Not only that, but you can even manually pick the encryption algorithm and the handshake method, which is definitely not something you can do with other VPNs.
A kill switch is included as well, as is split-tunneling. The split-tunneling feature is very robust and simple to use, given the fact that all you have to do in order to activate it is to add the desired apps to the list. After that, PIA will ignore these apps and allow them to access the Internet freely, without rerouting their traffic through the VPN.
As we have discovered in our tests, Private Internet Access is one of the fastest VPNs out there at the moment, which means that you can achieve impressive download and upload speeds regardless of the chosen location. This also makes it a great choice for gamers, given the fact that the pings are very low and manageable as well, which is all that matters for online games.
Just like NordVPN and Surfshark, Private Internet Access includes a special feature designed to block ads and protect you from malicious websites. In this case, this feature is called MACE, and it can save you from quite a few headaches if you happen to visit shady websites. As always, it’s best to avoid such websites entirely, since there’s only so much a VPN can do to protect you against attacks.
Finally, Private Internet Access allows you to make use of a 30-day money-back guarantee, which means that you have a whole month to test the service before agreeing to continue your subscription. On top of that, one subscription also gets you 10 simultaneous connections, which is a lot more generous than most of the VPNs on this list, with Surfshark being the exception. Read our review.
+ Large server network
+ Some of the highest download and upload speeds we have measured
+ Works in China
+ Unblocks all sorts of streaming platforms, including BBC iPlayer
+ Great for gaming, thanks to the low-latency servers
+ Impressive customization options
+ Includes a built-in ad-blocker and anti-malware component
+ 30-day money-back guarantee
– Not a lot of countries to choose from
– Based in a 14 Eyes Alliance country
When it’s all said and done, it’s really not difficult to unblock BBC iPlayer nowadays, given the fact that there are many VPNs out there that can do it with a simple click. However, the important part is that you may also need to use the VPN for other things as well, which is why it’s important to do your research before buying a subscription.
In addition, BBC offers a fairly limited amount of content right now, which means that most users will also want to be able to unblock other services as well, such as Netflix or Hulu. As you can see, our VPN picks take this into consideration as well, which is why all of them work with many other streaming platforms too.
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