How to Watch the BBC iPlayer Abroad

This post and all information has been revised fully on 05/09/2019.


How to watch the BBC abroad can be a tricky subject for some. But with a little guidance, it can be ever so easy. I'm an Expat located in Colombia between the Andes, in a fairly remote location. I do however have broadband. This is the single thing helping to keep me sane. Back in London, I never really had much time for TV and would only use the TV for catch-up programs from time to time or for viewing films and shows obtained by torrent downloads. I never in my life paid a TV license in any country and would never dream of paying it either. Mostly thanks to the BBC and their biased reportage. Enough of that for now anyway...


There was a program that I wanted to see on iPlayer (Panorama - Labour: Is the Party Over?). Clicking through to the page I get a rude message claiming that "BBC iPlayer only works in the UK. Sorry, it’s due to rights issues."! Well BBC, we live in the internet age and it couldn't be easier to bypass that restriction. The theory of the internet's founding was that the communication network would survive a nuclear attack. The BBC, no matter how many resources it consumes, is not a nuclear attack on our self-given right to access information.

First a little background info.

In 2015, the BBC went all out trying to block VPNs from accessing its content (BBC iPlayer Blocks UK VPN Servers Over Piracy Concerns - October 2015) and has been doing this regularly since, particularly around major events such as sports, popular shows and such. At this page is the BBC's official reasoning and explanation on why you can't access content whilst abroad. Over at this page is the BBC's plan to keep viewers updated on how they can legitimately access BBC iPlayer abroad. But it looks like any steps will involve a UK TV license. The nearest BBC permissible avenue is available to US viewers only through an endorsed service call BritBox but is expensive and has only limited content.

ibVPN is my recommended service to access everything just like back in the UK.

Here's the demo of how I did it.

Below is a video I made on my smartphone accessing content through the BBC iPlayer app. I merely enabled VPN on my phone using the simple app by the provider I am recommending here, to switch my apparent location to the UK. There's an easy app available for Windows and Mac computers too. However, the service also makes clear the actual settings so that you can configure the VPN connection from with your phone or windows/MAC network settings yourself without the need for any applications.

The simple steps in brief:

  1. Go to these guys.
  2. Scroll down to the ‘Free Trial’ button, click it and enter an email address and make up a password.
  3. You’ll receive an email.
  4. Install the Android, iOS or Windows app (I use the windows and android app).
  5. Enter the email and password you provided in step 2.
  6. Connect to any UK server. (The dedicated 'streaming' servers have worked faultlessly for years).
  7. I use the Microsoft Edge browser exclusively for streaming and then chrome for everything else. (it just keeps browser cookies separate)

Now Start Streaming Unrestricted

That's it. Now just head over to watch the BBC abroad and all your other favourite channels.
  • BBC iPlayer for your Eastenders, Apprentice, BBC News, Doctor Who, Wimbledon, Match of the Day, Top Gear and all those BBC Documentaries, not to forget CBeebies too from New York to Sydney.
  • All 4 for your Gogglebox, Great British Bake Off, Formula 1, The Last Leg, Made in Chelsea and more from Cape Town to Hong Kong.
  • ITV Hub, for The X-Factor to Britain's Got Talent, I'm a Celebrity Get me out of Here, Coronation Street (not forgetting Emmerdale), Loose Woman to The Only Way is Essex, with a Tour de France (in English) from Toronto to Berlin.
  • My5, for Neighbours (and Home and Away), and your Big Brother from Benidorm to Tenerife.
  • UKTV, no live programming but has a great selection of box sets, documentaries and dramas.
Oh, and perhaps even more important access those restricted radio programs (yep, BBC restricts certain radio too).
  • iPlayer Radio for 5 Live Sports Extra, for all those 'rights restricted' sports coverage from Cricket to Formula 1 to Rugby to Football to Wimbledon live coverage. Unrestricted listening from Buenos Aires to Jerusalem.
Let's not forget about a BBC reverse restriction. Thanks to my suggestion to ibVPN and thanks to them for accepting, we now have a Colombia server to access the content that the BBC restricts from those accessing from the UK out.
  • BBC Mundo, yep, the BBC has a Spanish language arm of their World Service. Access their news, videos unrestricted this way too, from London to Glasgow.
ibVPN are the guys I've been using for Years. Never let me down and still working perfectly to this day.

I am totally independent and am really recommending this from my own experience. The links here are affiliate links and I will make some money (hopefully). So please, if you are going to do this, please sign up through my affiliate link. I used to be with Boxpn but had to get a refund as the BBC were blocking their VPN connections at peak times. They had too few numbers of servers and their support was useless.

I am very happy to hear how you get on with this service in the comments below or by sending me a message here. Once you've used up their 6-hour free trial you can ask nicely at the pop-up support chat if you could have your trial extended. They gave me a further three days for free. If you've outstretched this too you can get more trials by adapting your Gmail email address (if you have one). This is done by extending your address with the "+" sign. Adapting name@gmail.com to name+anything@gmail.com. Free trial emails will still go to your regular Gmail inbox this way.

Otherwise, there are some other ways to access BBC content for free through apps, browser add-ons and a plethora of streaming websites that come and go regularly. The best free alternative to this all at the moment is an online service called Transponder which allows streaming of live UK channels only anywhere in the world (Unfortunately TVCatchup went out of service a while ago).

Some important points:

  1. You can’t buy a TV license for outside the UK. For all of this, you do just need to have a BBC account. Sign up using a fictitious Postcode. All other UK channels use a similar process. It’s nothing serious.
  2. I use this service in a fairly remote area of Colombia but do have a broadband classed internet connection (3Mbps down and 1Mbps up). Streaming works fine at all times. But I rarely achieve HD, however 480p is pretty seamless. The stream does buffer a few seconds on the odd occasion (much the same as when I watch YouTube).
  3. You can download iPlayer programs in HD and watch them before they expire (generally within 28 days) without having to be connected to this service to watch the downloaded programs. I can help anyone specifically with this. There are some other tips for this download method, Just send me a DM for more.
  4. ‘All 4’ block any computer that has a non UK (GMT) configured time. So just change your Windows' PC time to that of the UK. 'All 4' doesn't like it when you use incognito or private browsing modes. Ignore this if you're using a smartphone or tablet.
  5. This all works great with the BBC's Radio services through the website or apps, so makes great sense with 5 Live Sports Extra for live cricket and wimbledon...
  6. Some podcasts are also geo-restricted. Just connect as in point 6 above and use your normal podcast app to download any episode.
  7. The advice here works perfectly for US, AUS, NZ and pretty much any geoblocked services anywhere in the world (I use it for German TV occasionally).
  8. A free alternative to this would be a website called Transponder.tv. It has always given an 8 day trial. Just register with any email address and a password. The email is not verified so you can literally make one up. Another service called TVCatchup is sadly no longer working.
  9. For sports and not just UK sports use this website for live coverage Rojadirecta.
  10. In any case, you can freely watch the London based Sky News Live or Al Jazeera Live without any account. For the kids CBBC Newsround is unrestricted.
  11. Another free and fairly reliable way to watch catch up is by using two websites and peer-to-peer file sharing. This method can be applied to ebooks, films and music. For UK TV I recorded a simple how-to video on this.
  12. Jon Kaye and others in this group are using an inexpensive service that enables the streaming of Sky channels and other media channels to Colombia. The group post, at which you can obtain more information, can be found here.

Comments

  1. For my fellow Brits (and anyone really) here's a program worth you trying this very guide out for: http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b08n5flh/colombia-with-simon-reeve. Everything in this guide still stands.

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