March 23, 2023 Update: Despite the BBC’s best efforts at detecting and blocking VPN use, several providers continue to work well with the iPlayer. I last connected yesterday evening with NordVPN (using UK server 1807) to watch last week’s episode of The Apprentice.
As always, I will continue to update this page at least a few times per week with my latest BBC iPlayer VPN use.
As recently as a year ago, watching the BBC iPlayer with a VPN was the most reliable way of accessing the service outside the UK. Today, things no longer seem to be that easy. In fact, the word on the street is that using a VPN for the iPlayer does not work period.
So is the game up? Are those of us outside the UK out of luck?
The answer is not at all. Yes, there have been changes, and things have perhaps become a little more inconvenient. But, using a VPN to watch the BBC iPlayer is as doable as ever. I do it on a nearly daily basis.
Why Is the BBC iPlayer Blocking VPN Access
It’s easy to see why the BBC decided to take action and clamp down on VPN use. The iPlayer has become an amazing success for the corporation not only in the UK but also around the world.
The problem is the iPlayer is a service meant to be used only by residents, individuals who pay for the UK’s mandatory TV license. All those “around the world” viewers were never supposed to happen.
Some data suggest an estimated 60 million people living outside the UK watch the BBC iPlayer with VPNs or other tools that bypass geo-blocking. That’s a whole lot of people, almost as many as live in the UK.
Considering those numbers, it’s understandable why the BBC has actively started taking measures to stop unauthorized access. Besides potential licensing issues, it also costs them a lot of extra money to maintain the iPlayer infrastructure.
If you’re seeing any of the following three messages (with the first being by far most common), the BBC iPlayer is detecting and blocking your VPN:
- BBC iPlayer only works in the UK. Sorry, it’s due to rights issues.
- This content doesn’t seem to be working. Please try again later.
- BBC iPlayer programmes are available to play in the UK only.
How Is the BBC iPlayer Detecting VPN Use
So how does the BBC know you are streaming the iPlayer through a VPN? It all comes down to your IP address and probability.
The BBC iPlayer is meant to be used mostly from home and sometimes from a place of business. Anywhere a valid TV License exists. Most of those locations will have a single external IP, regardless of how many devices are connected to the internet.
Let’s assume a home situation with a family of four where everyone streams content off the BBC iPlayer at the same time. That’s four connections from the same IP address talking to the iPlayer server for several hours each day.
From the BBC’s point of view, that sounds entirely reasonable and is probably a fairly common usage pattern.
Now, what happens if you, I and a several hundred other people access the BBC iPlayer with a VPN server’s IP (servers may have multiple IP addresses, but for simplicity’s sake, let’s assume a single one)?
It’s like we’re all roommates in a single house. It translates to hundreds of connections from the same source hitting the iPlayer server around the clock (since we all likely live in different time zones around the world).
Does that sound like a typical iPlayer usage pattern? Not at all. And it’s something the BBC can easily detect.
Once enough time has passed to gather sufficient data (the BBC needs to be careful not to ban valid users), our VPN IP address is getting blacklisted and blocked from using the iPlayer.
The good news is, VPN providers are well aware of how their IPs are detected and banned by the BBC. Most (but not all) services, after finding out a VPN server IP no longer works, will simply toss it and replace it with a new one that works.
Considering how many VPN customers use them to bypass geo-blocked content like the BBC iPlayer, this makes a lot of sense from a business perspective. The whole process becomes a giant game of whack a mole between the streaming services and the VPN vendors.
The BBC iPlayer VPN Block Workaround
What does this back and forth fight between the BBC and the VPN providers mean for you and me? Three things:
- Connecting to a VPN to watch BBC iPlayer content still works.
- We need to use a VPN that replaces IPs once they’re blocked by the iPlayer – that’s not always the case. Most providers on my recommended VPN list do it. The notable exceptions are PIA, HideMyAss!, and (lately) ExpressVPN.
- Some time can pass between when the BBC detects and blocks a VPN IP address and when the provider changes it. This could be anywhere from a day or two to several weeks. So, a few “bad” ones will always kick around.
The last point is key. When you connect to a VPN, you may get unlucky and be assigned one of the dud IPs detected by the BBC iPlayer and not yet replaced.
To get around this problem, simply disconnect and connect again. It may take a few tries, but you will find an IP that works. If your VPN provider has multiple UK servers, trying a different server can help too.
For example, midway through writing this post, I decided to take a break. I chose to watch something on, appropriately enough, the iPlayer. Using Surfshark, I connected to one of their London servers.
No luck. Dreaded message number one: “BBC iPlayer only works in the UK.” So, I switched to a Manchester server instead and lo and behold, I’m streaming the BBC like its 2015.
The workaround to the “BBC iPlayer not working with a VPN” problem should be as easy as that. As long as you’re using a VPN that detects and swaps out blocked IP addresses, disconnecting and reconnecting will let you watch the iPlayer.
In addition to getting a BBC VPN that will replace its IPs, it’s also a good idea to find one with multiple UK servers. The more, the better. You can take a look at my list of the best UK VPNs to see which providers are leading the way.
Using a Dedicated IP Address
One other thing you can consider is getting a dedicated VPN IP address. For the BBC iPlayer, that address should obviously be in the UK. Several VPNs offer this solution.
A dedicated IP does costs a bit more. For example, PureVPN charges $1.99 per month for this service. NordVPN also has a static IP option, though at just over $5/month, it’s a bit more than PureVPN’s.
What a dedicated address means is you’re no longer sharing a VPN IP with hundreds of other people while you watch BBC iPlayer programming – only a select few (a VPN provider will likely give out the same IP to multiple dedicated IP customers).
While not foolproof, this does make you look much more like a regular household or business (think hotel). It makes the BBC’s job of detecting you’re using a VPN and blocking it that much harder.
My BBC iPlayer VPN Is Still Not Working
There may be times when you can’t get your BBC iPlayer VPN to work no matter how many different IPs and servers you try. Here are the most common reasons why, as well as and how to fix them.
Browser Cache and Cookies
It’s possible that, at some point, you accessed the BBC iPlayer website from outside the UK while not connected to a VPN. Your browser may have stored that information in its cache or as a cookie and is feeding it to the iPlayer.
The solution is simple. Clear your browser’s cookies and cache and try again.
In the world of VPNs, there is something called a DNS leak. If your VPN suffers from one, the BBC iPlayer will know you’re outside the UK, despite having a UK IP address that is not currently blocked. Here is how to diagnose it.
- Connect to your iPlayer VPN.
- Visit https://www.dnsleaktest.com/. Because you now have a UK IP address, that’s what your location should be shown as.
- Run the “Standard” or “Extended” test. Either will do.
- If any of the IPs on the results page are outside the UK, you have a DNS leak.
If your VPN is leaking DNS information, the first step is to contact their support. Any provider should help you fix the issue.
If, for whatever reason, the DNS leak cannot be fixed, unfortunately, it’s time to find a new BBC VPN. There is no other workaround. As long as the leak exists, you’ll be denied access by the iPlayer every single time.
The BBC iPlayer Won the Fight
Sometimes, VPN providers simply give up on their fight with the BBC. Maybe they don’t have the resources. Maybe it’s just not financially viable for them to keep swapping out IPs (doing so does come at a cost).
This has already happened to several VPNs which use to work with the BBC iPlayer, most notably Private Internet Access, TunnelBear, and IPVanish.
If you contact your provider, they will tell you if they currently support the iPlayer (or at least should). If they don’t, your only solution is unfortunately once again to get a different BBC iPlayer VPN.
BBC iPlayer VPNs Work
If you don’t know what’s going on behind the scenes, it’s easy to get discouraged when you first find your VPN is blocked and no longer works with the iPlayer. That’s what the BBC is hoping for, that enough of us throw in the towel and move on.
Yes, things are a little different than they were a few years ago. You need to be slightly more selective with your VPN provider choice. But, if you pick the right one and understand how to use it, watching the BBC iPlayer with a VPN works as well as ever.
You May Also Like:
- The Best VPNs for the UK (These are your best bets for working with the BBC iPlayer)
- Are VPNs Legal in the UK
- Get a UK IP Address in 5 Easy Steps
259 thoughts on “What to Do If Your BBC iPlayer VPN Is Not Working”
Hi there, I was wondering if you know anything about NordVPN not working with ITV Hub at the moment. I was using ExpressVPN before, but as that stopped working I’ve just switched to NordVPN and payed for a whole year, but itv hub won’t work at all! Do you have any idea about this? Thank you!
My apologies for the tardy response. I haven’t heard anything like that. I checked a couple of minutes ago and NordVPN seems to working fine with ITV Hub. I got in with the first server I tried (UK server 2007).
That’s been several weeks that ExpressVPN has been unable to connect to Iplayer. Have they really given up?
So many sites recommend them for the Beeb… and it’s not the cheapest.
Disappointing. Go for Nord instead?
Yes, NordVPN is a good choice. They’ve been my go-to since March and have been working with the BBC iPlayer very well (they’re less expensive than ExpressVPN too).
Have just cancelled ExpressVPN and moved to NordVPN after 3 weeks of BBC Iplayer being un-available. It does very much seem that they have given up which is a shame as otherwise they are an excellent VPN.
Good move on the NordVPN move. Yeah, things are not looking great for ExpressVPN… They haven’t officially said anything about giving up on the BBC and whenever I contact support asking about it, they claim to be working on the issue. As you said in an earlier comment, ExpressVPN’s website also continues to list the iPlayer as a service they unlock. So, though it’s been a while, I’m still hopeful they’ll come back one day soon.
Thought I’d leave my twopenny worth on ExpressVPN, like Tim I’ve not had iPlayer access via any of their UK servers, but for nearly 3 weeks now. This is a great shame as otherwise they are an excellent provider – I just find it surprising they don’t seem to care about fixing it and are still actively advertising this feature.
Hello Tim, my Express VPN annual subscription was due to expire in a few weeks. A couple of days ago access to iPlayer stopped and they couldn’t get it going again. Today they refunded my whole years subscription and closed my account. Looks like they have admitted defeat by the BBC. Do you know whether other VPN providers have similar issues? Thanks
Sorry for the late reply. I’m sure some providers do have similar issues, but plenty of VPNs that work with the BBC iPlayer still exist. For example, both NordVPN and Surfshark do for sure (I confirmed that earlier today).
I must say I’m surprised about ExpressVPN giving up, thought anything’s possible. It would be a shame if they did – they’re an excellent VPN. I’ll have to keep a close eye on them over the coming weeks to see how things go.
I’ve Nord vpn, and this seems to cope with the BBC very well. However TVNZ see’s through it every time!
They seem to indicate that they use the computers clock as a part of the security, have you ever tried to get into them?
I’ve cleared cookies etc, to no avail.
Thanks for a great site;
Glad to hear NordVPN is working out for you. I’ve been using them for months with the iPlayer and it has indeed been very dependable.
I don’t stream anything from TVNZ but was curious after your experience. So, I signed up and tried it on multiple servers with each of Nord, Surfshark, ExpressVPN, PIA, and PureVPN using Incognito mode on Chrome.
Of the bunch only PureVPN worked (and every time too). All other VPNs were blocked. It seems like supporting TVNZ may not be high on the priority list for most providers. I imagine the demand for it is much smaller than for the BBC iPlayer, so that would make sense.
Oh, and the computer clock/timezone setting warning is rubbish. I didn’t change a thing with mine and it worked just fine.
Thanks for the reply. I might give pure VPN a go.
Keep up the good work!
My pleasure Rob. Happy to help.
Thank for this useful update, as today the BBC cut me off while listening to the cricket. I live outside the UK and use ExpressVPN. Attempts to reconnect to this (or other programmes I tried on iPlayer) resulted in the dreaded (and patronising) “This content doesn’t seem to be working…”
I discussed this via online chat with ExpressVPN. Their operative couldn’t have been more helpful. She went to a lot of trouble to try various tweaks and adjustments. As we were doing this she told me that the E-VPN engineers had just a known issue and were working on it. It may take a few days but I’m quite confident that it will soon be working again as this VPN has been excellent in the past.
It’s inevitable that this will happen from time to time, for reasons discussed in the article. And we all know that the BBC makes blocking VPNs a priority! To be honest, I’d be happy to pay an expat subscription to the BBC so I didn’t have to bother with VPN at all, even though the cricket is pretty much the only part of the BBC output I’m interested in.
Thank you for sharing. ExpressVPN customer service is indeed top notch (as is ExpressVPN). And I couldn’t agree more with the BBC expat subscription idea. Without a doubt I would be a day one customer 🙂
I’m trying to listen to TMS on BBC via ExpressVPN, and not having any luck right now (July 2020). Express have always been really helpful and solid in the past and usually a problem is solved in a few minutes… this one seems to be more serious however.
Same here, Daniel. I couldn’t get TMS using ExpressVPN either for the West Indies series in July, as described in my post above. As it happened it didn’t matter too much because, unusually, the audio link was available and working without any need for a VPN.
The Pakistan series this August is a different matter. The geo-restrictions are back in place and so you do need a VPN. Using ExpressVPN I am offered no audio link at all on the BBC Sport live cricket page. That’s always a bad sign as I’m sure you know. I tried sneaking up on the cricket via the Radio Five Live and got the hated “This content doesn’t seem to be working. Please try again later.”
Anyway I took it up with Express VPN and they had this to say:
“I would just want to let you know that we have not extensively tested the service with BBC Sounds or Radio unlike we have for BBC content which I assume is now working for you without issues.
Please allow us to forward this as a feature request for our team to look into this. We do not have any ETA at this time on when this could be fully tested but we’ll do our best to get this working the soonest.
I’d recommend you to try it from time to time and see how it goes.”
They’re right that TV programmes work with iPlayer; they’ve fixed the issue I mentioned in my previous post. I’m sure that TMS was OK in the past too, but it isn’t now.
I have taken out a one-off month subscription to NordVPN and there’s no problem at all getting TMS from the sport page or the Radio Five page. I can’t fault ExpressVPN’s prompt responses and willingness to help, but since the cricket is the only BBC output I’m interested I’m leaning towards NordVPN when it comes to renewing subscriptions.
Same here, Express VPN is having trouble fixing this current blocking. I think BBC would make a lot more money from real people willing to pay for their content than insisting on corporatism with foreign networks which pay for broadcasting rights but actually don’t broadcast anything!
Following on from my post of 6th August, I have to say that today (13th August) I had no success with Express and little with Nord. I got no audio link at all on the BBC Sport cricket page but was able to get TMS via Radio Five Live for a while (using Nord). Then it cut off.
I must have tried twenty Nord IPs and none of them worked. In the end I gave up. There’s only so much time I can see the hated “This content doesn’t seem to be working…” without my blood pressure going off the scale.
There’s no doubt this has got worse in the last few months. In fairness the BBC offer audio commentary on YouTube (so why the flip can’t they have it on their site?) but it’s unreliable and there are sometimes frequent buffering breaks (it was OK today, thank goodness).
I’m hoping Tim might have some advice here because I’m beginning to question whether the time and money spent on VPNs is worth it, if they are struggling so much to keep up.
My apologies for the late response. Unfortunately, what you describe doesn’t sound like something out of the ordinary. Issues like that can come up from time to time with any provider – it’s the reality of using a VPN to get around BBC iPlayer geo-blocking and sadly there’s little we can do about it. Despite that, I do think it’s still worth it (at least for me 🙂 ).
I still believe NordVPN is currently the best choice among all the available options and continue to use them as my primary BBC VPN (though I do keep Surfshark on the back burner to fall back on if needed). There was indeed a day or two last week when Nord was having issues. But, at least on my end, things have been pretty solid since. I used the iPlayer a few days ago with zero issues and also quickly confirmed it works earlier today.
I am unable to get any UK servers to stream iPlayer. I didn’t try all of them but I flamed out on those
I did. Are you aware of any new issues? There is a message if you search “iPlayer” on their help, but I can’t tell if it’s current and customer support didn’t know.
Also, do you know if a dedicated VPN would guarantee and issue-free connection going forward? I would pay the additional expense if this was the case.
Hi Gareth. Which VPN provider are you using? I’m not aware of any new issues and have not had problems out of the ordinary accessing the BBC iPlayer myself.
As far as a dedicated VPN IP (I’m assuming that’s what you’re asking about), while they do tend to work better there are, unfortunately, no guarantees. That said, if the BBC blocks a dedicated IP, your VPN provider’s customer support should be able to hook you up with another one that works.
Thank for a great informative and reassuring article. I came across it when searching if BBC iplayer was down the other day. I’m with SurfShark and they have great for the two months I have been with them. When I could not get iplayer to work your article was very reassuring and Surfshark had sorted the blocking out the next day.
Hi Dave. Happy to help 🙂 Surfshark does have a very good track record with unblocking the iPlayer, so you’re in good hands.
I live in France and use a French mobile phone SIM for internet (Orange/Sosh). If I switch to a UK SIM , will I have a UK IP address? and if so can I watch IPayer without needing a VPN ?
Hi Ralph. Sadly, no. You won’t get a UK IP address and you’ll still need a VPN for the BBC iPlayer. It doesn’t matter what country your SIM card is from. When your mobile is roaming, it is assigned an IP by the provider it’s roaming with. If that provider is in France, you’ll be assigned a French IP address.
TV license needed even when using vpn. Anyway to get around this?
Hi SW. While you should have a licence to watch the BBC (and I encourage you do), you currently don’t need one. The iPlayer popup that comes up (which I assume is what you’re referring to) works on the honor system.
Based in Spain and have tried many VPNs but took your advice re CyberGhost and have found it markedly the best VPN especially with BBC IPlayer.
One query. Cannot find any auto connect facility.
Hi Glyn. I’m happy to hear CyberGhost is working out well for you! It is indeed quite reliable these days.
I’m not sure what platform you’re running on so I’ll assume Windows. When you open up the settings of your CyberGhost client (the little gear in the top right of the main screen), on the left you’ll see a section titled “Smart rules”. Under there, you’ll find a tab called “Startup Rules” where you can set up features like starting CyberGhost automatically with your system, or auto-connecting to a specific location or special purpose server (including the BBC iPlayer VPN server) when the app starts. I hope that’s what you were looking for 🙂
I get the message “sorry, you’re not in the uk” using Hidden24, does anyone know what might be the workaround?
Hi Zanna. It’s a classic case of the BBC iPlayer detecting then blocking your VPN. The workaround is to keep reconnecting to your service until you’re assigned an IP address that works. If Hidden24 has multiple UK servers (I’m unfortunately not too familiar with their setup), you can also try picking a different one.
If you’re not having any luck no matter how many times you connect and how many servers you try, you’ll either have to wait for Hidden24 to swap out their blacklisted IPs (assuming that’s something they do), or get a different VPN (PureVPN and CyberGhost, for example, works quite well with the iPlayer these days).
Or just clean out the BBC cache/cookies in the browser. 🙂
I’m using the Keezel and was very disappointed to find myself still being blocked by the BBC, until I read your piece above about removing cookies, then it worked fine! 😀
I live overseas but I have a holiday house in England which I only stay in a few weeks a year. I bought a UK TV licence so that I can watch TV legally while I am there. Why I can’t then also access BBC while I am abroad is beyond me. Also, if BBC charged me to suscribe to iplayer, I would happily pay. Why just ban us from watching it and force us to find workarounds? It’s ridiculous!
It’s due to licensing agreements.
Hello all, anyone having trouble accessing iplayer with NordVPN uk servers? I keep getting the same dreadful message “sorry, you’re not in the uk” etc etc.
Hi. Please see my reply to David directly below 🙂
Having the same thing with Nord, worked well at first with the BBC iPlayer but now won’t go at all, they suggested I choose a few server suggested by them but still no good, had a three year deal but thinking of changing
Hi Tim, I am trying to access iPlayer from Trinidad while visiting family there using paid for NordVPn. I followed your advice and tried swapping around to different servers but to no avail unfortunately. Is it simple a case of go fish and hope I get lucky or is there something specific about my location that is preventing my wife from getting her EastEnders fix?
Hi David. It is indeed the case of go fish and hope you get lucky. Unfortunately, it’s the best we can do. I randomly checked eight NordVPN servers this morning and only half were working (for anyone keeping score, servers 159, 539, 686 and 1055 are fine as I write this). It does seems Nord is getting hit a lot harder by the BBC these days.
Lately, I have been gravitating more towards CyberGhost and PureVPN. Both VPNs have a special BBC iPlayer streaming mode which seems to be working very well. My guess is they’re doing the work for us and swapping out IPs as they get blacklisted.
Great suggestion for the workaround – worked first time. I use NordVPN which seems to have 100’s of uk based servers so disconnected, then reconnected and worked. Thanks
No problem Stu. Happy to help! NordVPN does indeed have hundreds of UK servers (close to 700 as I write this), and is definitely one of the best BBC iPlayer VPN providers.
I purchased Nord VPN for watching BBC iPlayer while i am travelling. It worked the first few times now nothing I do can get it to work. Does this mean I need to purchase a dedicated IP address as well?
Hi Kate. No, there’s no need to purchase a dedicated IP address (it may help, but it’s definitely not necessary). It sounds like you’re just being unlucky and keep connecting to blacklisted server IPs. I tried NordVPN a few minutes ago and can confirm that a few servers are indeed not currently working, but plenty also are (try one numbered in the 1000s 😉 ).
Hi Tim! I’m using TorGuard and there is only 1 UK server. Any suggestions?
Hi Nic. I’m assuming the one server is not currently working with the iPlayer? If so, it may take anywhere from a few days to weeks for it to be fixed (depending on how on the ball TorGuard is). If you can wait, I would give it at least a few days. If not, you’ll have to go with another provider. CyberGhost has been a good BBC VPN choice as of late.
I have cyberghost and cannot access bbc iplayer in spain. Really annoying because i also have a tv licence in uk !!!!!
Hi Les. I tried CyberGhost just the other day (good timing :)) and they do have servers that work. They key is to pick a streaming server (or streaming optimized as they call it). I randomly tried four of those (London S01-i03, London S03-i04, London S03-i10 and London S05-i02) and was four out of four with the iPlayer working. When I tried non-streaming servers, only one out of six worked.
I can’t get the BBC iPlayer to work. I don’t get a “Not available in your region” error, never anything like that.
I just get “This content doesn’t seem to be working”
If I fight it, it will work in the end. Just reload for an hour! XD
I don’t know what does it, and how to work around it…
Using Nord VPN, on a mac.
Hi Zuno. Does the video also buffer for a long time before you get the “This content doesn’t seem to be working” message? I see that from time to time as well. The simplest solution is to just try another server. Recently, I’ve seen that message fairly consistently on NordVPN servers 700 and higher. All lower server numbers I spot checked were fine.
Many thanks Tim, this helped me get iPlayer through NordVPN by choosing a server way down the list.
Something that I have to remember (Chromebook user) – and maybe helpful to others – is that there are two ways of using this VPN – one using a Chrome extension and the other as an Android app running on ChromeOS.
For use with iPlayer you need to run the VPN app because the Chrome extension only tunnels browser traffic.
Hi Bernie. No problem. Glad I could help 🙂 And that’s a good reminder for Chromebook users. Thank you. Definitely use the app.
Hi Tim, thanks for your article. I recently downloaded NordVPN and I cannot seem to access BBC Iplayer with it. Any advice on which servers are currently working? I have tried a lot of them with no joy
Hi Lisa. Hmm, I’m not having any issues. As far as I can tell, NordVPN is working perfectly fine. I just spot tested servers 191, 347, 487 and 570 and was able to access the iPlayer with all four. Give one of those a try. If you’re still not having any luck, try clearing your browser’s cache and cookies and connect to the iPlayer in an incognito/private window. That may fix it.
Hi Tim thanks for your reply! It is still not working, no matter which server I try nor how many times I clear the browser history. It must be just on my end if it is working for you. I am wondering if there is something obvious that I am missing or should I just ask for a refund as I am still within the 30 days
Hi Lisa. My pleasure. The other obvious thing I can think of is that you have a DNS leak. While connected to a NordVPN UK server, go to DNSLeakTest.com. The homepage should show your current location as being in the UK. Click on the “Extended Test” button and wait for the process to complete. The returned IP address(es) should also be shown as being in the UK. If they’re not, you have a DNS leak and are easily detectable by the BBC as being abroad.
If it turns out you do have a DNS leak, my recommendation is to just get in touch with NordVPN support. They’re quite good and should be able help you figure out how to fix it (it’s a lot easier and quicker for them to do so over chat then for us doing it via comments on this site 🙂
And even if you don’t have a DNS leak, I would still suggest getting in touch with NordVPN to see if they can help you diagnose. It’s an excellent iPlayer VPN service that works quite consistently (I just checked again earlier today and had no issues), so it’s worth getting to the root of your problem.
Thank you so much for posting this comment. I was able to use the DNS leak test and find a leak that led me to my Antivirus being the issue.
I had seen a lot about DNS leaks online, but this comment was a pretty straightforward explanation with a good link for help. Thank you!
My pleasure Ade! Happy to help 🙂
I have worked my way around several vpn providers over the last few years, switching each time the BBC border-guards close them down. I am currently with unblock-us.com, who have been good for a couple of years, but now, every night, just before news time I get the dreaded “not in the UK” error. Unblock-us say that their servers automatically switch to a new node, but have stopped responding to emails. What annoys me is that I am a UK license fee payer and so perfectly entitled to watch BBC. It would not be within the wit of man to create a password secured system to let me log into the BBC with my license number, and so continue to receive the services I pay for.
I’m a very happy NordVPN subscriber watching iPlayer. But this week I frequently get download failed error. . Is this is a location issue or some fault with the iPlayer? I find I can stream though I sometimes have to change servers to do this and sometimes the download works. This occurs only on my Windows 10 machine, my Android phone seems to work OK. The BBC said in July that they had had reports of this problem. Any comments?
Hi Graham. I haven’t seen any issues with downloading myself (I mostly use a MacBook). Based on your description, it sounds to me more like an iPlayer fault (specifically running on Windows 10) and not a location issue. If it was the latter, I would expect this problem to occur on all your devices.
I am a Nord VPN user, and I’m very impressed with them. A quick live chat with them and they usually find a solution pretty quickly. Thought I’d share a thing I’ve learned. I run Nord on an Asus WRT router that runs open vpn protocol ( no flashing needed) my sky box, PS3, Apple TV and smart Panasonic TV all access through the router. If you want to swap countries you simply swap profiles ( I can save up to 5) This seems to work for everything other than downloads on the Iplayer and Iplayer radio on my phone or tablet for this I use the Nord VPN app on the device – in my case iPhone 5. This for some unknown reason then works fine do remember to switch off location though, and clear your cache too. Hope this helps
Hi Steve. That’s useful info. Thanks for sharing! And yeah, I completely agree. NordVPN is top notch. Lately, it’s been hands down one of the best choices for the iPlayer.
High Tim, a very useful article. I am now suffering the same iPlayer issue with StrongVPN. Any suggestion should before the WC semi finals?
Thank sin anticipation
Hi Prit. Sorry I didn’t get to you in time for the first semi. As far as I know, StrongVPN stopped trying to support the BBC iPlayer several months ago. Unless they since changed their mind, you may want to consider a provider switch.
Both CyberGhost and NordVPN are currently working well (the former is what I used to watch today’s match). When running a spot check earlier, I found a working server with both providers on the first try.
I have just given up with Strong. I email the help desk and sometimes they get it going;. Not recently.
I will not be renewing my subscription in December.
I am also in same boat with strong vpn now. Was working fine then I got it working again now two weeks later tried all the open vpn and nope. Bbc Itv c4 all
Not working so can’t watch I’m a celeb not happy. But weirdly now tv works when that has not for over a year. But bbc and Itv both stopped working today out of the blue very weird. I was also getting only 4mbit speed with strong vpn too. Anyone else with StrongVPN in USA using uk vpn? How is it for you and speed wise? I am going to try express vpn heard they are best I just order a linksys 6200 so I can run the software they have for it. I currently have ddwrt on lots of routers. Have a good night all. I miss him hate living in the states but my son is here but I am alone. I like to watch casualty holby city and lots of other documentaries. I pay for tv license in the uk shame I can’t just enter the number which I think the bbc are beta testing that so on top of then screening for vpn we will have to enter license info. Also I have no dns leaks at all. At least I can watch now tv which not really interested. Another thing if you sign up for free now tv trial and cancel it before 14 days cancel it and select the reason it is too expensive and they give mega cheap deal for 4 months. Then in 4 months cancel again pick too expensive and keep doing it. Lol cheers
Thanks Tim for taking the time to write this excellent and very helpful article. I use Nord VPN (which is great) and managed to solve the issue with your help.
Thank you for the kind words Mike. Glad to be of service 🙂
After not being able to watch England v Colombia yesterday I was recommended Expressvpn and installed it easily, and spent 5 minutes on iplayer before a message popped up about network locking…. or something…. well that was 8.30pm. I then spent an hour troubleshooting before getting help from the customer support. My PC Internet had completely locked, as it had on my iPad. Thankfully my phone still worked as I then spent another 3 hours (really!!) getting connection back. Needless to say I felt very unhappy about it and asked for my money back.
Now that little nightmare is over I looked for reviews expecting other people to have had similar problems but don’t see anything.
I’d still love to have UK tv but am feeling burnt. Have you any idea why Express Vpn would block my internet and can you see any way round it?
Hi Jane. I have never heard of anything like this with ExpressVPN or any other VPN. Sounds like a bit of a nightmare indeed and I’m glad you got it all sorted out.
Because the internet on both your PC and iPad stopped working, it sounds like the problem was either at your router/modem or further down the stream at the ISP level. Whether it was a weird incompatibility or something else, it’s hard for me to say without being able to debug it further.
If you’re willing to chance it, you could try a different provider. Maybe this was specific to the interaction between your setup and ExpressVPN, and another VPN will work just fine. Though I can’t guarantee this, of course, and you potentially risk having the issue happen again. If you would like to have another stab at it, NordVPN and CyberGhost are currently both excellent options for UK television. Sorry I couldn’t be any more help 🙁
I’m using Nord and have no problem streaming iPlayer, I just can’t get it to download shows. Anyone else got around this?
Hi Craig. No issues here. Using NordVPN I’m able to download shows on both my MacBook and Android phone. Which platform or operating system are you seeing these issues on?
If the BBC charged $5 a month I’d happily pay it and they’d make billions of dollars a year. Content being locked to regions is ridiculous in the modern world. Everyone bangs on about globalisation but the reality is it hasn’t arrived for most digital content and it’s a painful thing.
Totally agree. Rather than locking things down, they should simply charge for it. Most of us would gladly pay, myself included.
A lot of people would, but the BBC has to block access from other countries because of intellectual property rights issues. The BBC shares rights with other companies such as the US Discovery Channel. Discovery Channel is commercial and wants to see a return on its investments, which is won’t if people watch the programmes from the non-Commercial BBC. I think BBC America is part of the Discovery Channel group.
BTW, if you ever notice some programmes can last an hour, but others are around 45 minutes in duration: that’s because the programme was meant for US markets. The shorter duration is so they can add the commercials
I am in Belgium and I have been using NordVPN to access BBC iPlayer. Over the last couple of days it hasn’t been working. I have tried several servers but still nothing.
Is it still working for you
Hi Keith. Yes, NordVPN is still working with the iPlayer. It does look like certain IPs have been blocked over the last few days, but I managed to find a working one pretty quickly. Try server #588 😉
Hi Keith. Just a quick update. Looks like many (maybe all?) NordVPN servers are working once again. I tried several of the ones which I found were out of commission a few days ago, and all were fine today.
Hi Tim, great article, it clears matters up for me, thanks. However I’m still running into a problem – I’m using hidemyass (on a Linux laptop), mainly to watch Snooker in the UK (championship starts today), and even after repeatedly reconnecting, the BBC iPlayer is still blocking me. (In previous years the same setup worked fine.) Hidemyass seems to have only two servers in the UK – in London and in Glasgow, and I’ve tried both. Any suggestions? Maybe I will switch providers – some of the other people commenting seem to like NordVPN, and you mentioned they’re one of the best for BBC iPlayer. Any provider you especially recommend for this?
Tim, just wanted to let you know that while waiting for your reply I read around on your website a bit more and decided to go ahead and order NordVPN. So no need for a reply re: hidemyass, it looks like I won’t be using it anymore. Thanks again for the really helpful website.
With HMA, connect using “Donkey Town, UK” and BBC/ITV will work fine.
Thank you for the update Stewart!
To follow up on my previous post(s), I just wanted to let you know that something interesting happened when I installed NordVPN and tried to use it. The BBC iPlayer continued to reject my connection saying I was outside the UK, no matter which NordVPN server I chose. Then I decided to try clearing the history & cookies from my browser, and it worked. So I guess they are now using the cookies to flag a device as being outside the UK, even if it’s IP address later changes to one that is not blacklisted. Am I guessing right? Anyway thought I should mention it.
Hi Jonathan. I’m glad to hear the article and website were helpful and am sorry I couldn’t get back to you earlier. Though it sounds like you got everything sorted out. Exactly as you’ve done, NordVPN is the provider I would recommend.
They suffer from the odd BBC iPlayer outage here and there (no VPN is perfect these days), but Nord has a great track record of coming back within a day or two (they’re currently working perfectly). For most other VPNs this process can take at least a week and often much longer.
As far as clearing history and cookies, yes, it’s definitely they way to go. I tend to use a private/incognito window, which in theory eliminates the need to do so, but I still clear my browsing data every time before accessing the iPlayer. Call me paranoid 🙂
Tim, thanks for the reply. Just a quick question – NordVPN was working great with iPlayer in the UK up until a couple of days ago, but for the last two days I have not been able to get it to work at all. No matter which server I choose it says I am outside the UK. The change from working to not working was sudden — and right at the beginning of the Snooker championship semi-finals! (This is the biggest weekend, starting now.) Any suggestions? Thanks!
Tim, the problem I just wrote you about is already resolved, after a chat session with a NordVPN tech guy. The problem turned out to be that although I had a UK IP address, I still had a local country DNS Server address, and he sent me very easy instructions how to fix this. Works fine now. So you can ignore my previous question – anyway thanks!
Thanks for the info. I’ve been a happy user of ExpressVPN for a few years now, but I keep forgetting that every time I go abroad on holiday, I’m no longer able to listen to football matches via internet radio or watch Match of the Day! Today I decided to have a look around, found your site, and downloaded PureVPN. The radio is now playing perfectly.
Thanks again for the explanation, too…I hadn’t realised quite how the BBC were working it out.
All the best,
Hi Mark. Glad I could help!
I live in India and Tunnel Bear stopped working for me a month or so back, for both download or streaming. I tried Windscribe which worked for a while but only with streaming but even that has stopped now.
Oddly, I’ve just tried TB on my phone and lo-and-behold, it streams and downloads!
I should mention I’m referring to iPlayer!
Hi John. Thank you for the heads up. Like you said, TunnelBear hasn’t worked with the BBC iPlayer in a while, but it sounds like maybe they’re finally starting to fix their bad IPs. That’s great news!
I’ve been using TB with some success for a year or so, but in recent months it has been increasingly difficult to use iPlayer, so I have thrown in the towel. Sounds like Nord VPN is a good choice.
Anyone else excited about the FIFA world cup? I’m planning on watching the world cup online so hope the bbc carries many of the games.
Hi Martin. Definitely, I can’t wait 🙂 I have a feeling the 2018 World Cup is going to be one for the ages. My money’s on Germany repeating (they just look too strong).
As far as which games are shown, here is the full BBC world cup schedule. They’re splitting duties with ITV, so that’s where you can catch all the other games.
NOTE TO BBC HEADS:
I’d willingly pay my VPN monthly charge (or at least a part of it) to the UK TV licensing scheme, even though I don’t live in the UK at the moment. Come on! Charge us for using the Iplayer and let us do it across the globe – the BBC is a great resource to the world, not just the UK!
A UK passport holder abroad…
I so agree with this.
Why doesnt the BBC simply offer a world wide licence fee.
Easy peasy, then they could be raking in all that money for themselves!
The BBC charter doesn’t allow it, but I gather there are versions of your suggestion being discussed. Read this somewhere online…
This is a good idea but will not happen. This is because the BBC sells the rights to their programs to companies in other countries like BBC America (owned by amc networks) and BBC Canada (owned by Global). BBC also sell their rights to Netflix and Itunes and anyone else that sells BBC shows. BBC makes millions of $ from selling the rights to their shows.
A worldwide licence fee? don’t talk silly, the BBC are raking in billions just through the selling of their content abroad but despite this it still doesn’t reduce the cost of licence fee which in effect it should do but the beeb are greedy I’m afraid, we should be seeking to get the unfair TV tax abolished for all.
I agree wholeheartedly! Why doesn’t the BBC just offer this as an option and a way to generate legitimate income for themselves. I would happily pay to legally access player; it’s my sole reason for using a VPN.
I would definitely pay for a licence, if I could.
Tim, thanks for your advice on connecting to the bbc from abroad
On my iPhone I followed your suggestion and tried PureVPN, but no luck on any of the four cities in the Uk that they offer – they were all blocked by the BBC. I tried each several times as you suggested
Any advice appreciated!
Hi David. Focus on PureVPN’s Maidenhead servers. Overall, all cities still work, but Maidenhead has been the most reliable. I used it as recently as yesterday and got a working IP on the first try.
I have had StrongVPN for over 5 years. They are not replacing Blacklisted IP’s and I will probably have to change providers. If you are an ex Pat and over 75 do you get an exemption from the BBC to get their problem? I am laughing while writing this.
Hi James. Yes, sadly it sounds like StrongVPN threw in the towel a few months ago. Even though they’re one of the older VPN providers, they’re also on the small side. So as disappointed as I was to hear they’ve given up, I’m not completely surprised given their more limited resources.
Hi Tim, I have been trying to connect to iPlayer for a couple of days using NordVPN and every UK server I try is bringing up the same “iPlayer only works in the UK. Sorry, it’s due to rights issues” message. Do you have any suggestions or information on why this is happening?
Hi Alex. NordVPN had a iPlayer outage for a few days. As far as I can tell, everything back up and working again.
I’ve been unable to get the BBC for a week now with TunnelBear, are you still having success with Nord this week please? Same as you, I’m in Vancouver BC… Also, I’m watching (or trying to!) on a Mac using Safari. Does the browser make a difference at all? I’m not very tech savvy – apologies. Thanks in advance, Deb.
Hi Deb. As of yesterday evening (when I last tried it), NordVPN is still working. There are servers which are currently blocked, but many are just fine. If you’re having issues, try one of the higher numbered ones (#588, for example, worked great).
As far as your browser, no it shouldn’t make a difference. To maximize your chances of success, clear all cookies and cache and access the iPlayer using a private/incognito window. Hope this helps!
Hi Tim, I’ve been using Tunnelbear successfully for a couple of years and in the last few weeks, connection fails. It’s as if the BBC hacve caught up with the server. Did I understand you right, that if I try reconnecting a few times TBear will change the server and eventually I’ll get lucky (not so far anyway)? As far as I can see TBear doesn’t allow you to manually choose a server (like you when you say you switched to Berkshire) but maybe other VPN providers do enable this possibility?
Hi Marco. You understand correctly. By reconnecting you will get a different server. You are also correct that TunnelBear does not allow you to choose a server manually, and other VPN providers do. Most do in fact. The Berkshire server switch you’re referencing was with ExpressVPN.
That all said, it seems like TunnelBear is now blocked. It stopped working entirely with the iPlayer over the last few weeks, which is why you’re unable to find a working server. They have fixed similar issues in the past, and hopefully, they will again soon (hard to say for sure though when and if at all that will happen this time).
Hi Tim, for a good few years Tunnelbear has been my VPN of choice, I have the full bear and it has connected to BBC I Player without too many problems, I always take the precaution of running C Cleaner before I start tunneling and as I say all had been good. That is no longer the case, I can still connect to Channel 4, ITV and the other UK sites but the BBC I Player is refusing to play along if I check my IP location I am normally in London or Liverpool or somewhere obscure! so obviously, the VP is working. Do you know if the BBC has taken a step up with its network security, it is refusing to accept that my IP is in fact in the UK? I pay $4.99 pm for Tunnelbear, do you think there is better value for money out there My family in the UK has a full TV license so I do not feel we are freeloaders in any way 😉 Thank you for your excellent information and guides and thank you for your time.
Hi Chris. From everything I’ve heard (and my own test), TunnelBear has sadly stopped working completely with the BBC iPlayer sometime in the past few weeks. It may come back just like it has before, but it’s impossible to know for sure.
When it comes to value for money, all providers tend to charge similar amounts, plus or minus a few dollars. Personally, I like to commit to longer terms and really get the price down (my primary providers are NordVPN at $2.75 per month and PureVPN at $1.91, both on multi-year terms). I realize that probably didn’t answer your question, but saying what’s good value is very subjective 🙂
Hi Tim, thanks for a great post.
Chris, I have also been struggling for weeks, I have MPN the Bulldog, and Express, I have a UK Address with a Paid for Licence, thats the problem, you need to register now with your Postcode if you read the T and Cs it says that you have to be plugged in to that Address, if you use iplayer elsewhere you pay for another Licence at that Address, not sure how they do it, i remember Sky used use something like that whenyou used there box, it seems the end is Nigh……………………Come on BBC let us pay you for the Service.
Lots of people here either
1). Pay for a UK license but have to use a BBC VPN abroad ( like myself in Germany with a TV license)
2). Would be willing to pay for a license even though they are permantly abroad.
It would be easy, as some have said here, for the BBC to use your license as a password. I wrote to my MP about this, who passed it on to the culture secretary. I got the brush off,. Even though we pay for it, the BBC claims it is an independent corporation and can do what it likes. But everyone should write to their MP about this, especially those who have bought licenses!
Thanks for the useful article.
I have just been in France and was trying to access BBC iplayer using CyberGhost and every single server (they had about 80) didn’t work.
This doesn’t quite chime with what you wrote so I’m just wondering whether you have any thoughts or suggestions.
Hi Ben. I haven’t tested CyberGhost in a long time, but from what you describe I would guess all their IPs are blacklisted by the iPlayer BBC. It happens. The question is will CyberGhost do something about it. I know they have on previous occasions, but it’s not out of the question they’ve just thrown in the hat in the battle with the BBC. Some providers have (PIA, for example, has given up on trying to update their IPs).
There’s not much to do other than waiting to see what happens unfortunately. Try a few servers every once in a while to see if anything changed. You can also consider NordVPN or PureVPN as a month or two stop-gap. As I write this, both have IPs which are down, but I know for sure they work (it’s who I use).
It sounds like you were using the “Choose My Server” option. You should use the “Unblock Streaming” option instead (or the “Secured Streaming” option on a mobile device).
Hi Tim. If you’re still reading this, I wonder if you’ve seen the issue I’m getting…
I’m an expat living in Norway and trying out NordVPN. Iplayer seems to think it’s in UK just fine – no ‘only in UK’ message, but often the video simply doesn’t play. Looks like it’s buffering then just says ‘this content doesn’t seem to be working’. Happens often then all of a sudden it will work fine.
This was happening when I was previously using ‘pretend VPN’ unblockus, hence trying a ‘real’ VPN instead. So I’m not sure if it’s a VPN issue or something else. Any Ideas? I try clearing browser cache, etc etc, but doesn’t seem to correlate with success – just sometimes the videos will play, sometimes not. Cant imagine it’s a connection speed issue as I’m on 100 Mbps (get around 60 on NordVPN).
Hi Liam. I’m still here 🙂 I do have this message pop up every once in a blue moon with several VPNs, not just NordVPN (which has been rock solid by the way). I usually see it happen before the main video starts, right after the 3 second BBC intro clip.
I haven’t been able to entirely pinpoint what causes it (yet), and I’m not convinced it’s a VPN issue. It’s also definitely not a connection speed problem. Whatever it is though, it’s completely benign. I mostly watch the iPlayer through a browser and simply reloading the page makes the message go away and the video play fine from that point onward. Almost feels like something timing related.
Turning off adblock works for me
Hi. Thank you for letting us know. Hopefully this fixes Liam’s issue. In my case it’s something different, as I don’t run an ad blocker.
Liam, it is a problem at the BBC’s end. Even in UK I get this problem. I just keep hitting ‘Try Again’ and eventually it works. Sometime it’s only 2 – 3 tries, sometimes 15-20! But eventually, you’re in.
Hello Tim, just came across your site looking for a resolution for the spasmodic instant rewind issue and wanted to add what I have found out with regards to using the iplayer with ExpressVPN (which has been rock solid aside from being “discovered” occasionally)
The trick is that you need to clear all cookies and data (I use an iPad and a browser called Dolphin) but the thing that has worked for me is that you need to clear all data and then shut down, not reboot, the iPad. Turn it completely off.
Simply wait a whiles, or pick another server (I rotate through three different favourites) and it should work.
Hope that helps =)
Hi Andrew. Thank you for sharing. I don’t own an iPad and this may be useful information for anyone who does. Also glad to hear ExpressVPN is behaving.
I’ve been using IPVanish since mid January till yesterday. Suddenly I can’t access iPlayer.
I wrote to them and here’s their response;
Despite our best technical efforts, IPVanish can no longer support access to BBC. Our hope is to make IPVanish work with as many websites as possible, but it is more important for us to remain transparent with you about this restriction. The BBC has taken measures to block all VPN connections from IPVanish. Though we have implored the network not to target those protecting their online privacy with our service, these pleas have fallen upon deaf ears.
While our team works hard accommodating service access for streaming video, we wish to gently remind you that IPVanish is primarily a privacy product and should be used as such.
We apologize for any inconvenience.
So it seems they have entirely given up on BBC
Sad as I just renewed my subscription a few days ago
Hello I see your last post was in mid February. Are you still chatting? I hope so because it’s the most useful information I’ve found. I’ve been using Viper VPN but they are blocked now – they say they are working hard to find a way but it’s been about 4 weeks. Tragic! I could try Nord PN as you suggest but do you know if they are still working?
They have been working for the last few weeks – but sometimes you have to pick the right server. I am using 398 at the minute.
Hi Susan. I’m still here 🙂 My day job has been crazy busy lately, but it looks like things are finally starting to settle down (fingers crossed).
NordVPN is still working. They had a bit of a hiccup a several weeks ago, but did get things sorted out almost immediately (as they always do). I did a spot check on a few servers just now (#20, #31, #135 and #351) and was able access the iPlayer with all four.
I’m currently using Opera VPN but it doesn’t work although the current IP add is in the UK. No chance of it to work?
Hi Amr. I can’t know for sure, but my guess is it’s not coming back. As far as I know, accessing geo-blocked content has never been a goal for Opera VPN, so they have little incentive to keep the BBC iPlayer working. Your best bet is to go with a pay service which stays on top of things, like NordVPN. If you’re looking for free, try giving TunnelBear a go. Unfortunately though, they’re not as reliable as they once were.
Tunnelbear hasn’t been working for me at all thru Mac High Sierra (for months) or IOs (for about a week) thru my Ipad. I’ve been considering NordVPN.
Hey Tim! Great website. I am watching BBC with NordVPN, and have contacted their support about it in the past. It seems that they have some new troubleshooting way, because it seems that if the BBC does ever go down it comes back immediately. I wonder if your experience is the same?
Hi Dean. Yes, my experience with NordVPN has been similar. If the iPlayer does happen to go down (it feels like the BBC has been much more aggressive lately), it comes back very, very quickly. From what I’ve been hearing, several VPN providers are trying to automate the process of detecting and rotating out blacklisted IPs. Not surprisingly (at least to me) NordVPN appears to already be there and their solution seems to be working very well.
Seems like a great article. StrongVPN have just stopped supporting BBC. And their technical guy was rather unprofessional in his customer service telling me he’s happy they stopped supporting it & it was too much hassle for him. I pointed out they will lose a lot of money. Keep up the good work Tim.
I’m in the UK, I pay for a TV license which funds the BBC, I use a VPN because I value my privacy. The BBC are telling me I can’t have privacy & use their iPlayer, so I tell the BBC they can’t have their £145.50 per year license fee. Simple.
Hello…I have enjoyed reading your feed and comments. I live in Victoria, BC…I used to use Avast VPN with Windows 7 until I gave my laptop to my daughter when she moved to the mainland. I did try Avast VPN several months ago to access the iplayer but wasn’t successful and Avast wasn’t helpful at all. I now have a new laptop with Windows 10 and hoping to be able to watch BBC iplayer as well as ITV…any news on ITV? I used to watch both all the time but I am not sure what VPN to purchase. I also would gladly pay a fee to watch these channels.
Hi Teresa. I’m just across the Strait of Georgia from you 🙂 I have minimal experience with Avast VPN (they’re on my list to look into further), so I can’t comment on their service. I just did a quick check of my go-to providers (NordVPN and PureVPN), and both are working fine with the BBC iPlayer and ITV Hub. That said, some of PureVPN’s IPs do appear to be currently blocked by the BBC so, at least right now, NordVPN seems to be a better choice.
Hi Teresa, i also live near Victoria and enjoy the BBC. I have used Unotelly, and Tunnel Bear, I’m now using Nord VPN, in my opinion they all suffer from down times now and then. I also would be willing to pay BBC a yearly fee in order to watch on iPlayer, alas I don’t see it coming. Dave