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vpnMentor was established in 2014 as an independent site reviewing VPN services and covering privacy-related stories. Today, our team of hundreds of cybersecurity researchers, writers, and editors continues to help readers fight for their online freedom in partnership with Kape Technologies PLC, which also owns the following products: ExpressVPN, CyberGhost, and Private Internet Access which may be ranked and reviewed on this website. The reviews published on vpnMentor are believed to be accurate as of the date of each article, and written according to our strict reviewing standards that prioritize the independent, professional and honest examination of the reviewer, taking into account the technical capabilities and qualities of the product together with its commercial value for users. The rankings and reviews we publish may also take into consideration the common ownership mentioned above, and affiliate commissions we earn for purchases through links on our website. We do not review all VPN providers and information is believed to be accurate as of the date of each article.
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vpnMentor was established in 2014 as an independent site reviewing VPN services and covering privacy-related stories. Today, our team of hundreds of cybersecurity researchers, writers, and editors continues to help readers fight for their online freedom in partnership with Kape Technologies PLC, which also owns the following products: ExpressVPN, CyberGhost, and Private Internet Access which may be ranked and reviewed on this website. The reviews published on vpnMentor are believed to be accurate as of the date of each article, and written according to our strict reviewing standards that prioritize the independent, professional and honest examination of the reviewer, taking into account the technical capabilities and qualities of the product together with its commercial value for users. The rankings and reviews we publish may also take into consideration the common ownership mentioned above, and affiliate commissions we earn for purchases through links on our website. We do not review all VPN providers and information is believed to be accurate as of the date of each article.

How to Watch BBC iPlayer for Free: Live and Online 2024

Kelvin Kiogora Updated on 8th December 2023 Fact-checked by Kate Veale Cybersecurity Researcher

Because of broadcasting restrictions, BBC iPlayer is only available in the UK. It checks your IP address to find out your location when you try to watch a video. So, you can only stream it if you have a UK IP.

You could, in theory, use a VPN to get a UK IP and access BBC iPlayer from anywhere. However, this goes against BBC iPlayer's Terms of Service. Doing so could also infringe on copyright laws. Still, if you're in the UK, a VPN is an excellent way to secure your data without causing slowdowns.

If you’re looking to securely stream BBC iPlayer in HD, my tests found that ExpressVPN is the best. It was the fastest service I tested from the UK, and it consistently let me watch live sports without buffering. It also has a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you can confidently try it.

Watch BBC iPlayer in HD >>

Quick Guide: How to Watch BBC iPlayer With a VPN in 3 Easy Steps

  1. Download a VPN. ExpressVPN was the fastest and most reliable during my tests. Plus, you can try ExpressVPN risk-free because it has a 30-day money-back guarantee.
  2. If you're in the UK, connect to a nearby server. The Docklands server worked best for me.
  3. Start streaming. Log into your BBC iPlayer account and enjoy the best of British TV.
Important. The vpnMentor team opposes copyright infringement. The VPN services listed here have strict no-logging policies, so they can’t see what you’re doing online and won't share your activities with anyone. You must take responsibility and follow BBC iPlayer’s rules and Terms of Service while using a VPN.

Best VPNs for Watching BBC iPlayer Online in 2024

1. ExpressVPN — Fastest Speeds for Watching BBC iPlayer Without Interruptions

Best Feature Lightway is quicker than traditional VPN protocols, so you can watch in HD
Speeds It is only 4% slower than my non-VPN connection
Server Network 5 server locations in the UK for watching iPlayer
Compatible With Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, routers, Linux, smart TVs, Fire TV Sticks, and more

ExpressVPN’s Lightway protocol gave me the best streaming speeds — faster than any other VPN I tried. When testing a nearby server from London, I got speeds of 97.9Mbps, slightly slower than the 102.19Mbps I got without a VPN. This means no buffering and a better streaming experience on BBC iPlayer. I had quick loading times during my tests, even when skipping to different parts of the shows I watched.

Screenshot of Peaky Blinders playing on BBC iPlayer with ExpressVPN connected to the UK-Docklands serverExpressVPN provides excellent stream quality

Its MediaStreamer feature is a great option for streaming BBC iPlayer on larger screens, such as smart TVs. It’s essentially a smart DNS tool that lets you set up the VPN and watch BBC iPlayer on devices that are not usually VPN-compatible, like PlayStation. You get a broader range of compatibility, so you don’t miss out on your favorite BBC shows.

ExpressVPN apps are easy to use but still customizable. For example, you can pick your preferred language, and with its split tunneling feature, you choose which apps and websites use the VPN and which don't. For instance, you can securely run BBC iPlayer through ExpressVPN while keeping apps that need a static IP (like a work network) on your non-VPN connection.

While ExpressVPN provides top-notch service, it does come at a slightly higher price than some competitors, with plans starting at $6.67/month. However, regular deals and offers save you up to 49%. Plus, you can try ExpressVPN with BBC iPlayer risk-free since it offers a 30-day money-back guarantee on all plans. If you decide to try a different VPN, just claim a refund via live chat. I did this and got my money in my PayPal account after just 3 days.

Useful Features

  • Browser extensions. These make it easier to toggle the VPN on and off directly from your browser — Chrome, Firefox, Edge, Brave, and Vivaldi. If you regularly watch BBC iPlayer on your computer, you can quickly connect to a UK server near you and start streaming without leaving the browser.
  • Watch on up to 8 devices. You can use ExpressVPN to stream BBC iPlayer on various devices simultaneously without affecting your performance.
  • Shortcuts. This feature allows you to set quick links in the ExpressVPN app to your frequently visited sites, like BBC iPlayer. It's a timesaver because you connect to the VPN and jump right into streaming with fewer clicks.
  • 24/7 live chat support: If you face an issue or have a query, support is at hand to guide you to a resolution within minutes. Email is also very responsive.
ExpressVPN Offer February 2024: For a limited time only, you can get an ExpressVPN subscription for up to 49% off! Don't miss out!

2. CyberGhost — Optimized Servers for Easy Streaming of BBC iPlayer

Best Feature Routinely tests and updates its BBC iPlayer server to ensure it's working
Speeds Only 5% slower than my non-VPN connection
Server Network 3 server locations in the UK, so it’s easy to find a server near you
Compatible With Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, routers, Linux, smart TVs, Fire TV Sticks, and more

CyberGhost has servers that are optimized specifically for BBC iPlayer. The VPN team regularly tests and updates these servers to make sure they provide uninterrupted HD streaming. I tested the BBC iPlayer-optimized server from London multiple times, and it worked flawlessly. With other VPNs, I sometimes had to try 2-3 UK servers to get them to work.

Screenshot of Match of the Day playing on BBC iPlayer with CyberGhost connected to the BBC iPlayer-optimized serverCyberGhost’s BBC iPlayer server delivered better stream quality than the regular UK servers

You'll find CyberGhost very intuitive, even if it's your first time using a VPN. For example, just click for Streaming on the Windows app and type "UK" into the search bar. You'll see BBC Iplayer and other UK streaming platforms listed on the right-hand side. Just click to instantly connect. Plus, its apps have a consistent look and feel on all operating systems, so you don't need to learn a new process when you switch devices.

Fast connection speeds are critical for a good streaming experience, and CyberGhost doesn't disappoint. In my tests from London, it only slowed my speeds by 5%, which is almost as fast as what I got with ExpressVPN. These speeds allow HD playback on BBC iPlayer with quick loading times.

My only complaint is that its monthly plan has a shorter refund period than most VPNs. It’s much more generous on longer plans, though. If you're unsure whether it's the right VPN, you can test CyberGhost’s performance for free for 45 days using its money-back guarantee.

Useful Features

  • Smart DNS. CyberGhost's Smart DNS allows you to stream BBC iPlayer on devices that may not traditionally work with VPNs. It worked great on my Nintendo Switch.
  • Smart Rules. This feature lets you customize how CyberGhost works under specific conditions. For example, you can set it to automatically connect to a UK server near you whenever you open BBC iPlayer.
  • Automatic protocol selection. This feature chooses the most efficient security protocol for your current connection for a smooth BBC iPlayer experience.
February 2024 Deal: CyberGhost is currently offering 84% off its most popular plan! Take advantage of this offer now and save more on your CyberGhost subscription.

3. Private Internet Access (PIA) — Unlimited Connections to Watch BBC iPlayer on All Your Devices

Best Feature Secure all your household devices and only pay for one subscription
Speeds Like Cyberghost it was only 5% slower than my non-VPN connection
Server Network Lots of servers across 3 UK locations
Compatible With Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, routers, Linux, smart TVs, Fire TV Sticks, and more

With PIA, you can watch BBC iPlayer on as many devices as you want since there are no device limits. This is great when you have a large household of BBC fans but with diverse streaming preferences. It’s also handy if you stream content on multiple devices. If you're in the middle of a BBC drama on your laptop and need to head out, you can seamlessly transition to your mobile without missing a moment.

There are also special servers in the UK that are optimized for streaming, making it a great option for watching BBC iPlayer. When I tested the London streaming server, I could watch EastEnders with no buffering. The regular UK server also worked with BBC iPlayer from my location in London, but I found the optimized one more reliable.

Screenshot of EastEnders streaming on BBC iPlayer with PIA connected to the UK-London streaming serverPIA’s UK streaming server had the lowest latency, making it ideal for streaming

PIA offers multiple options for customizing your connection, but all these configurations can appear advanced and slightly daunting if you’re a new user. Fortunately, all key settings come preconfigured for streaming, so you can start watching your favorite shows without tweaking anything.

Plans are competitively priced, starting as low as $2.03/month. Plus, there's a 30-day money-back guarantee, which is great if you want to try PIA with BBC iPlayer without risk.

Useful Features

  • Server latency. PIA provides real-time latency metrics for its servers, so you can choose a UK server with the lowest latency to ensure smooth streaming on BBC iPlayer from the UK.
  • Automation. This feature allows you to set up certain actions the app should perform under specific circumstances. For instance, you can configure it to automatically connect to a UK server optimized for BBC iPlayer every time you launch it.
February 2024 Update: PIA doesn't usually have deals or discounts (it's already so affordable), but right now you can get a new subscription for a crazy 82% off!

Where Can I Watch BBC iPlayer Online?

BBC iPlayer is licensed to distribute most of its content exclusively within the United Kingdom, and it's completely free to UK TV license holders. Whenever you open the site, it checks your IP address, and if it shows any country other than the UK, you'll get the below error message:

BBC iPlayer only works in the UK. Sorry, it’s due to rights issues. In the UK? Here's some advice.

Unlike lots of streaming sites, this platform doesn’t have any distribution deals with other websites or channels. The only place you can watch is from the official BBC iPlayer website.

Quick Comparison Table: Best VPNs for BBC iPlayer

To help you choose a VPN, here's a quick side-by-side comparison of the best ones that work with BBC iPlayer and what they offer.

Lowest monthly price Speeds Device connections Streaming Servers? Money-back guarantee
🥇 ExpressVPN $6.67/month The fastest VPN I tested 8 No (all UK servers work) 30 days
🥈 CyberGhost $2.03/month Very fast 7 Yes (for iPlayer) 45 days
🥉 Private Internet Access $2.03/month Very fast Unlimited Yes (for the UK) 30 days

Tips on Choosing the Best VPN for Watching BBC iPlayer

Not every VPN works with BBC iPlayer. Some don’t have servers in the UK, while others are just too slow. If you would like to do your own research, use the following criteria to determine the best VPNs for BBC iPlayer.

  • Servers in the UK. For BBC iPlayer to work with your VPN, you need one with servers in the UK, preferably close to your UK location, to get the best speeds.
  • Fast speeds. Nobody enjoys buffering, especially during a gripping show. Choose a VPN that offers fast protocols, like Lightway and WireGuard, so you can stream in HD without interruptions.
  • Device compatibility. If you use different devices for streaming, check whether the VPN has apps for those operating systems.
  • Excellent customer support. If you encounter issues, you’ll need a responsive and knowledgeable support team to quickly provide solutions or recommend optimal servers. All the VPNs on this list are available 24/7 via live chat and email.
  • Trustworthy money-back guarantee. Go for a VPN that allows you to test its service risk-free. All the VPNs on this list have reliable refund periods of at least 30 days.

How to Sign Up for BBC iPlayer Online

Signing up for BBC iPlayer is easy and free. Follow the steps below to register an account and start streaming.

  1. Open BBC iPlayer. From the UK, go to the BBC iPlayer website and click on the Sign in button, then on the sign-in page, click on Register Now.
  2. Provide your details. Select your age group, enter your date of birth, provide your email address, and set up a password. Enter your UK postcode, select your gender, and click the Register button.
  3. Verify your email. You will receive a verification email in your inbox. Click on the link provided in the email to verify your account.
  4. Start streaming. Log into your BBC iPlayer account and watch your favorite British shows.

FAQs on Watching BBC iPlayer With a VPN

Can I watch BBC iPlayer from abroad for free with a VPN?

BBC iPlayer is free to use, but it’s only available in the UK. Technically, you could use a VPN to get a UK IP to watch it from anywhere, but this is in breach of the platform's Terms of Service and might be seen as copyright infringement. If you want to watch BBC iPlayer securely from within the UK, then a VPN with robust security features and fast UK servers are a good idea.

Because they have no-logging policies, these VPNs don’t know what you’re doing online when you use them. So, it’s up to you to ensure that you are not breaking any rules or regulations.

Do I need a TV license to watch BBC iPlayer?

According to British law, you need a TV license to watch BBC iPlayer. The streaming service will sometimes ask if you have a license, but it doesn’t check whether you actually have one. You just need to check a box confirming TV license ownership. This means you are responsible for making sure you follow TV license laws.

Which devices can I use to watch BBC iPlayer with a VPN?

Most premium VPNs support a wide range of devices that work with BBC iPlayer from the UK. All you need to do is. Launch the VPN and connect to a nearby UK server, log into your BBC iPlayer account, and start streaming. If your device isn’t compatible with a VPN, you can install it on your router to use it on all the devices on your network. You can watch iPlayer on:

PCs Windows, macOS, and Linux
Mobile devices iOS and Android
Smart TVs Samsung, LG, Panasonic, Sony, Hisense, Apple TV, and more
Streaming Devices Amazon Fire TV Stick, Roku, Chromecast, Sky Q, Virgin Media TiVO, YouView, BT TV, some Blu-Ray players, Now TV Box, and more
Browsers Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge
Game consoles PlayStation and Xbox

Is using a VPN to watch BBC iPlayer illegal?

No, watching BBC iPlayer with a VPN is not illegal. However, using VPNs to access BBC content outside the UK can be a violation of the BBC iPlayer Terms of Service and could result in your account getting banned. A VPN is first and foremost a tool to keep you safe online. If you're in the UK, it's a good idea to use a VPN to secure your streaming activity.

What else can I do with a VPN?

You can use a VPN to enhance your online security and privacy. VPNs do this by masking your IP and encrypting your data, making it difficult for third parties to intercept. However, to enjoy these benefits, it's crucial to select a reputable VPN service.

Watch BBC iPlayer in Minutes

With a reliable VPN, you can securely watch your favorite British shows and documentaries on iPlayer from the UK. However, not every VPN works reliably with iPlayer. Some don’t have UK-based servers, while others are too slow, making them unsuitable for streaming.

ExpressVPN is my top choice for watching BBC iPlayer in HD. Its consistent speeds make it an excellent choice for streaming without interruptions, and it’s very easy to use. You can also try it risk-free as it comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee on all plans.

To summarize, these are the best VPNs for watching BBC iPlayer…

Rank
Provider
Our Score
Discount
Visit Website
1
medal
9.9 /10
9.9 Our Score
Save 49%!
2
9.7 /10
9.7 Our Score
Save 84%!
3
9.5 /10
9.5 Our Score
Save 82%!
Privacy Alert!

Your data is exposed to the websites you visit!

Your IP Address:

Your Location:

Your Internet Provider:

The information above can be used to track you, target you for ads, and monitor what you do online.

VPNs can help you hide this information from websites so that you are protected at all times. We recommend ExpressVPN — the #1 VPN out of over 350 providers we've tested. It has military-grade encryption and privacy features that will ensure your digital security, plus — it's currently offering 49% off.

Visit ExpressVPN

We review vendors based on rigorous testing and research but also take into account your feedback and our affiliate commission with providers. Some providers are owned by our parent company.
Learn more
vpnMentor was established in 2014 as an independent site reviewing VPN services and covering privacy-related stories. Today, our team of hundreds of cybersecurity researchers, writers, and editors continues to help readers fight for their online freedom in partnership with Kape Technologies PLC, which also owns the following products: ExpressVPN, CyberGhost, and Private Internet Access which may be ranked and reviewed on this website. The reviews published on vpnMentor are believed to be accurate as of the date of each article, and written according to our strict reviewing standards that prioritize the independent, professional and honest examination of the reviewer, taking into account the technical capabilities and qualities of the product together with its commercial value for users. The rankings and reviews we publish may also take into consideration the common ownership mentioned above, and affiliate commissions we earn for purchases through links on our website. We do not review all VPN providers and information is believed to be accurate as of the date of each article.

About the Author

Kelvin is a writer and cyber-safety researcher at vpnMentor, whose expertise in the latest online security tools aids readers in keeping them safe from hackers and online snoops.

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