Choosing the right VPN to watch the BBC abroad can be somewhat of a challenge. Every year this changes to some extent so it can be difficult to keep track. So here’s my assessment of which is the best VPN for streaming BBC iPlayer abroad in 2021. If you can’t be bothered to read to the end, then in my opinion these are the best options –
Identity Cloaker – for use on a PC/Laptop, super reliable for accessing all UK TV channels. Great security pedigree and support however a bit limited in support for other devices like Smart Phones, tablets etc.
NordVPN – the giant in the VPN world, they have even advertised on major UK TV channels ! Lowest prices if you go for the longer term subscriptions, support for most major devices and a fast reliable network. Sometime servers get blocked due to huge number using these for streaming the BBC. however use the ‘BBC optimized’ servers and you’ll rarely have a problem.
I’ve lost count of the number of VPN programs that I’ve used over the last 15 years to make sure I maintained access to BBC iPlayer and the other UK TV channels when travelling. To me it’s hugely important as the amazing site contains the majority of my online entertainment needs. Whether it’s the BBC news every day, politics from News Night, or dramas like Line of Duty – I don’t really need anything else. For movies there’s a few on BBC but loads more on the other domestic UK TV channels – Channel 4 even has it’s own film channels. These are not the latest blockbusters but are usually highly rated, quality films actually worth watching.
So choosing the right VPN is vital for me, because increasingly many simply don’t work with BBC iPlayer or the other UK TV sites any more. So what are the components that you should look for in a VPN for watching the BBC? If you’re like me and just want something reliable so they can watch their favorite BBC shows whenever they like and wherever they happen to be,
Best VPN for BBC iPlayer ?
There’s actually a few aspects to consider if you’re choosing a VPN primarily for BBC iPlayer access although the primary one is of course that it works! A super, secure, low priced VPN is no use if the VPN doesn’t let you watch the BBC.
IP Address – the vast majority of VPNs use shared IP addresses on their servers, This means that when you connect you’ll be sharing your assigned VPN address with potentially thousands of people. Normally this is no problem, however BBC iPlayer WLL BLOCK access if the number connecting with the same address gets too high. It’s an easy way to block access to VPNS and proxies and one that is used consistently. It’s actually the primary reason that many VPNs now are blocked automatically by the BBC and other UK sites – too many people sharing the same IP address when they connect.
Speed – this is probably the next most important factor. There’s little joy to be had if your VPN reduces your connection speed to a crawl. What’s more streaming video especially HD quality takes lots of bandwidth, a slow VPN makes watching online TV extremely tedious. You’ll get stuttering, freezes and buffering while your VPN connection tries to catch up. It’s an awful experience, your VPN must be fast and ideally maintains your native connection speed if possible.
These two are where most cheaper VPNs and all the free ones fail. They reduces costs and therefore their prices by loading as many customers onto each server as possible – crippling speed and getting the IP addresses blacklisted for too many concurrent connections.
Security – ok not always essential if you’re just wanting to watch Match of the Day, but a decent VPN should be secure. A poorly configured VPN will be detected by media sites like the BBC iPlayer and ITV Hub. So although not a core requirement, a decent VPN should encrypt and secure your internet connection.
Multiple Devices – nowadays people surf the internet and world wide web on all manner of different devices. The same is said for streaming multimedia content, while some only watch the BBC on a computer or laptop, many others use tablets, smart phones and TVs to stream directly. You should check that your VPN supports multiple devices and ideally has customized applications for each one.
These are the most important criteria to check if you’re searching for your ideal VPN for BBC iPlayer. In our two recommended examples Identity Cloaker scores well on the first three – low number of users, high speed and very secure. However their support for multiple devices is not the best, you can use it on most devices but they only have applications for PC and MAC, you can connect manually using tablets and phones etc.
NordVPN scores well on security, speed and multiple device support but you have to be careful with the IP addresses you use. NordVPN has millions of users and you have to ensure you use specific servers for watching the BBC. If you use the auto connect feature which assigns your server connection automatically you’ll often find access to BBC iPlayer is blocked. Fortunately Nord maintain a series of UK based servers which are optimized for BBC access – currently these are as follows –
# 1840-1847, 1850-1863, 1865, 1869, 1873, 1875-1878, 1880-1881, 1900-1901, 1903-1904, 1911, 1913, 1917, 1919-1920
These servers are monitored to enable BBC access, IP addresses are swapped if they’re blocked. These UK servers should always work with BBC iPLayer but keep checking with the company that they don’t change them!