Officially, the BBC iPlayer is only available to those people who have a TV license and are resident in the UK. When you visit the BBC site a check is performed on your location to determine whether you can stream live programmes and use the BBC iPlayer application. This check is based on your IP address, the unique number which identifies your computer on the internet – if it’s not located in the UK then you won’t get access.
However in reality this is not actually the case, in fact all across the world literally millions of people are able to access all the BBC despite not being located in the UK. The not so secret workaround is that you can actually hide your location from the BBC website by using an intermediary server to route your connection through. These servers are called VPN (Virtual Private Network) and proxy servers, which can be used to hide your real location. The BBC iPlayer site see’s the location of the VPN server and if it’s based in the UK you’ll get full unfettered access.
Here’s how it’s done –
VPNs allow millions of UK Television fans and Expats to watch the BBC and all the other UK TV channels irrespective of their location. They have developed into inexpensive yet sophisticated services which unblock content all over the world – it has been estimated that over 50 million people watch the BBC from outside the UK using these services.
BBC Blocks the VPNs
Media giants like Hulu, Netflix and HBO have been actively blocking these services for many years. A couple of years simple proxies became unusable for circumventing these geo-blocks, and many VPNs are routinely blocked. The BBC has not actively targeted these services in any meaningful way for several years, preferring to turn a blind eye.
However with rumours of a new paid subscription service to launch in the US next year the BBC obviously sees these VPN and proxy services as threats to the profitability of this service and indeed their uses a source of potential customers. After all they can either buy a proxy service like this or invest in the BBC new subscription service instead.
This isn’t the end of using VPN services to watch UK Television from abroad, however some companies and services will likely cease to work. The BBC will target high useage IP addresses with multiple streams and also the VPN companies who openly market BBC watching services. As always it’s best to look for the discrete companies who run traditional secure VPNs rather than the Telly watching services. Companies like Identity Cloaker have never advertised the ability to access the BBC or other media sites and thus has never been blocked – whereas other companies are likely to be inaccessible while they move their servers onto different IP addresses.
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