BBC iPlayer is an awesome platform with tons of amazing entertainment. It’s just a shame that it only works in the UK, though. If you’re in the US, you’re out of luck. Yes, even if you are a Brit traveling there or temporarily moving there for work.
Now, you might have heard that a VPN can help you unblock iPlayer in the US, but is that true? We’ll tell you everything you need to know in this quick article. But if you’re in a rush, feel free to skip to this guide on how to watch BBC iPlayer abroad in the US.
How Does BBC iPlayer Block Your Access?
Before we can answer your question, we need to take a look at what BBC iPlayer actually does to restrict your access to certain web pages.
Simply put, they use geo-blocks – a form of content control technology that allows the site to restrict user access based on IP addresses. Because your IP address reveals your geo-location and BBC iPlayer can see it, the site will know what country you’re connecting from. Since it’s not the UK, they’ll block you from seeing certain content.
So Can a VPN Unblock BBC iPlayer for You?
In short, yes, it can definitely do that.
A VPN is an online service that conceals your IP address. By doing that, it stops BBC iPlayer from knowing your geo-location. Here’s a quick overview of how the whole process works:
- You run the VPN client on your device and connect to a VPN server in the UK.
- Once the client and server negotiate a connection, they establish a secure tunnel between them.
- When that happens, the VPN server “replaces” your original IP address with its own. Basically, you connect to the Internet through the VPN server, so all the websites you browse will only see the VPN server’s IP address.
- Since you’ll connect to BBC iPlayer with a British IP address, the site will think you’re physically in the country. So, it’ll let you watch anything you want.
Plus, there’s more good news. A VPN also encrypts your Internet traffic. That pretty much means it makes the traffic unreadable. Because of that, your ISP won’t be able to throttle your bandwidth when you binge your favorite series (something US ISPs love to do).
And don’t worry – using a VPN to watch BBC iPlayer in the US isn’t hard at all. In fact, here’s an article on how to watch BBC iPlayer abroad with a VPN that’ll show you how easy it is.
Dealing with the BBC iPlayer Proxy Error? Here’s How to Fix It
When you use a VPN to unblock an iPlayer, you might continue to see an error message telling you that the site only works in the UK. The BBC has a full FAQ page dedicated to this issue, but the solutions don’t really help you since they involve turning off the VPN.
Here are some actual things you can try to solve that problem:
1. Clear Your Browser’s Cookies (Or Just Use a Different One)
If BBC iPlayer stores cookies on your device, they can interfere with your VPN. Since they are files that end up on your mobile or computer, there’s not much a VPN can do against them since it only secures connections, not hardware.
So before accessing BBC iPlayer with a VPN, make sure you clear your browser’s cookies. Here’s a helpful guide that should make things simple.
If that doesn’t work, or just seems like too much hassle, try this instead:
- Use a different browser (preferably a clean install).
- Use incognito mode since it doesn’t store cookies and deletes them when you close the browser.
2. Try Watching Shows on a Desktop PC
If you watch BBC iPlayer on your mobile device, there’s a chance your device’s geolocation data won’t match your IP address’ geo-data. Unfortunately, a VPN can’t really help you hide that kind of information on your mobile device.
Because apps on your phone can leak geo-data and share it with third parties independent of your IP address. Also, modern marketing has gotten to the point where a phone’s built-in GPS can be used to track the location of a device and its user. If BBC iPlayer uses that kind of technology for their ads, they might see your actual geo-location even if you’re using a VPN.
So try browsing BBC iPlayer on your desktop PC. That way, the site can’t cross-reference geo-data with your IP address.
3. Make Sure the VPN Isn’t Leaking
Sometimes, VPNs can actually expose your original IP address through IPv6, DNS, and WebRTC leaks. The best way to test a connection for leaks is to use ProPrivacy’s leak testing tool. Simply follow the instructions and it will tell you if your VPN has a leak.
Normally, your VPN should have built-in leak protection. Most services have enabled by default. If it isn’t in your case, though, make sure to turn it on.
4. Contact the VPN Provider’s Support Team
If none of those tips worked, it’s time to talk with support. They should be able to tell you what’s going on, how soon the problem will be fixed, and what you can do to speed up the process.
If the support reps tell you the service doesn’t unblock BBC iPlayer, it’s best moving onto a different VPN service that does.
5. Use a VPN That Actually Unblocks BBC iPlayer
Not all VPNs unblock this site. They just don’t have the resources to keep up with its blocklists that constantly get updated. After all, BBC iPlayer keeps blacklisting VPN server IP addresses, so the providers need to update them on a regular basis.
BBC iPlayer doesn’t work in the US, but you can luckily unblock it with a VPN. If you encounter any issues, try clearing the cookies, watching shows on your PC, and testing the VPN for leaks.
Know any other ways people can solve the proxy error? Let us know in the comments or on social media.