Best VPN for BBC iPlayer – the ones that still work in 2021
Heidi Finigan | Updated: 5 Jul 2021
VPN Streaming Expert
BBC iPlayer is the most popular streaming service in the UK. Using this service, people living in the UK can watch some of the best sports, tv shows, and movies online for free. Some of the hottest new content being released on BBC iPlayer in 2021 includes: The Serpent, Yesterday, The Watch, This Country, Line Of Duty, and Pretty Little Liars. However, if you are located outside of the UK your access to BBC iPlayer will be blocked.
The simple method to get around these geographic restrictions is to use a VPN. People from outside the UK have successfully used a VPN for years to watch BBC iPlayer in the USA, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. However, in recent years, the BBC Technical team has cracked down on this, and has implemented measures that attempt to block VPNs from accessing the BBC iPlayer. The result of this is that nowadays, not all vpns can be relied on to work with BBC iPlayer. We’ve tested all the main players in the VPN market to see which ones can get around these geo-blocking restrictions:
QUICK SUMMARY: best VPNs for BBC iPlayer in 2021
- ExpessVPN – speed-optimised vpn streaming servers. Multiple servers located in England. Our clear #1 choice.
- NordVPN – a well known and reliable vpn service provider. Huger number of vpn servers worldwide. Excellent customer service.
- SurfShark – a great choice for those on a budget. Smaller number of UK servers, but consistantly reliable.
How to use a VPN to access BBC iPlayer
A VPN works by hiding your true IP address and thus your true location. You may be browsing from any location outside of the UK, but if you connect through a VPN, websites on the internet cannot figure out your actual location.
Most vpn service providers own and operate vpn servers in various locations around the world. In order to access content available only to resident of the UK, all you have to do is to log into your vpn account and choose a vpn server located in that country. For example, if you want to access BBC iPlayer, you can select a vpn server in the UK. When you connect to a UK server, your vpn service provider will automatically assign you a UK IP address and the iPlayer will assume that you are physically present in the UK. And thus you will not be blocked, and you will be able to successfully view all of the free tv shows, movies and documentaries on BBC iPlayer.
When you have access to the iPlayer, you can watch all of BBC programs live. So, if you want to watch Wimbledon tennis, English Premier League, Rugby Six Nation Championship, or any drama, movie or tv show … then the BBC iPlayer is the solution. A VPN gives you free unlimited access so that you can be watching BBC iPlayer in the US, Australia, Canada, or indeed any other location outside of the UK as you please.
What to consider while choosing a VPN service
If you want to watch BBC iPlayer from outside of the United Kingdom, the key features to look out for include:
- how well can the vpn get around the geo-blocking restrictions
- how many vpn servers does it have in the UK.
- how fast are it’s vpn servers.
- which devices do they have vpn apps for.
- what is their customer service like
We examine these features in our our review below:
#1. ExpressVPN – speed-optimized vpn streaming servers
ExpressVPN is one of the most well-known and respected vpn service providers in the market. One of the biggest advantages that they have over other vpn service providers is that they operate a huge network of speed-optimized vpn streaming servers. In fact, they own and operate over 3,000 VPN servers in 160 different locations across 94 countries. Most importantly though for those wanting to access BBC iPlayer quickly and easily from outside the UK, they have a total of x4 VPN servers located in England:
- East London
ExpressVPN also offers an extensive selection of vpn apps for supported device types including: Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Apple TV, Fire TV, Playstation, XBox, and Smart TV. For owners of Smart TV (such as Samsung) which do not permit installaton of a VPN app, ExpressVPN also offers an alternative solution via their MediaStreamer functionality.
Another important area in which ExpressVPN performs highly is their Customer Support. The unfortunate reality is that the BBC Tech Team is constantly trying to implement measures to prevent users from accessing their system via a VPN. That’s why it’s vital that your VPN service provider has excellent Customer Support, and is on hand to resolve any connections issues that you may face. In the vast majority of instances when we ran our test from our Sydney based location, we were able to successfully access BBC iPlayer without any issues. On the odd occassion where we did run into a problem, we used the ExpressVPN Live Chat feature to quickly connect with their support team, wherein they were able to quickly analyse and resolve our issue – we were up and running again within minutes.
Split Tunneling is another key feature included as standard in all ExpressVPN subscriptions. It allows users to nominate which applications that they do / do not want to route through the secure vpn connection. In this way, you can one web browser to connect to BBC iPlayer via your vpn connection, whilst another web browser connects to the internet outside of your vpn connection.
ExpressVPN offers a full 30 Day Money-back Gaurantee for you to use and try their service. We’ve put this to the test in the past, and found that it really was “no questions asked” with our refund request immediately accepted and processed.
ExpressVPN is a fast and reliable vpn service – simple as that. It’s one that we personally recommend, so click on the link below to head over o their website now to check them out for yourself:
#2. NordVPN – servers in 54 countries
Internal testing here at our Sydney based office confirmed for us that NordVPN was able to consistantly unblock BBC iPlayer from outside of the UK. NordVPN is one of the largest vpn service providers out there on the market, meaning that they have the financial and technical resources to be continually monitoring and tweaking their vpn servers to ensure that you get a consistant and steady streaming experience. In the rare instances where we did experience our access to BBC iPlayer blocked, the technical support team were readily available online and able to getting us up and running again with BBC iPlayer quickly and easily.
NordVPN is a standout performer when it comes to their overall vpn server count. As of last count in 2021, they have over 5500 vpn servers in 59 countries around the world. As far as we know, this is far more than any other vpn service provider. They have a single presence in the UK with over 440 vpn servers in London. What this means for users wanting to connect to BBC iPlayer from the US, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, etc is that you won’t have any problems finding a server to connect to, nor will that server be overloaded with other users.
It’s also good to know that NordVPN can also unblock other streaming services as well. We’ve tested their service with ITV Hub, Netflix USA, Hulu, and Disney+ and found that they were able to also regularly unblock those services.
The other key area in which NordVPN excels is with internet privacy and data security. They operate via a strict No Logs Policy which means that your internet traffic stays private and out of the hands of your ISP and Government officials. NordVPN utilises Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) with 256-bit keys to ensure your data remains safe and secure and can not be intercepted and read by hackers. AES is the most secure form of data encryption available, and and an area where NordVPN really shines.
#2. SurfShark – unlimited concurrent vpn connections
SurfShark is a standout peformer for those wanting a budget solution to access BBC iPlayer from locations outside of England.
While they may not offer the same number of servers in their network, we did not experience any issues in being able to connect to BBC iPlayer.
Each vpn subscription includes a range of easy to use apps that are specifically tailored to different supported devices including: pc computer, apple mac, iPad, iPhone, and Android.
But overwhelmingly, their biggest selling point is the fact that they offer an unlimited number of concurrent vpn connections. This feature is particularly attractive for those using their service in a large household with many different devices wanting to use the same internet connection.