ExpressVPN is the best VPN for BBC iPlayer! ExpressVPN’s automatic obfuscation, lightning-fast speeds, and P2P servers make it ideal for streaming BBC iPlayer outside the UK.
But I don’t just make this claim on a whim. After using ExpressVPN to unblock the streaming service from South Africa on several occasions, I confidently promote it as my number one choice.
Thankfully, it’s not the only solid VPN for streaming BBC iPlayer abroad. I’ve had good experiences with Surfshark and CyberGhost too. Scrutinize the best BBC iPlayer VPNs below to see which one you favor.
Top 3 VPNs for BBC iPlayer (November, 2023)
Surfshark allows users to unblock BBC iPlayer at an affordable price over unlimited simultaneous connections! Plus, it has four reliable UK server locations to get British IPs for the UK-streaming service.
ExpressVPN is a veteran VPN for streaming with five reliable P2P-friendly UK servers to bypass BBC iPlayer geo-restrictions. It also offers lightning-fast speeds for buffer-less HD streaming anywhere.
CyberGhost offers an optimized UK streaming server for BBC iPlayer across seven simultaneous device connections. It also provides advanced Wi-Fi protection to watch your favorite shows on public networks safely!
These VPNs boast DNS leak protection and military-grade encryption without drastically reducing download speeds, ensuring the ideal BBC iPlayer-unblocking cocktail!
Read on to see how I bypassed BBC iPlayer blocks using each VPN’s unique features.
Use These VPNs to Watch BBC iPlayer Anywhere
Calling all British expats living abroad, UK travelers who want to watch their favorite shows on-the-go, and foreigners who enjoy good old English humor, soapies, and period dramas!
Use these VPNs to get your fix of BBC iPlayer:
- ExpressVPN – Best Overall + Seamless Unblocking & Fast Speeds
- Surfshark – 4 UK Server Locations + Unlimited Simultaneous Connections
- CyberGhost – Optimized Server for Streaming BBC iPlayer
- NordVPN – HD Streaming Speeds + Automatic SmartPlay
- VyprVPN – Chameleon Technology for BBC iPlayer Geo-Spoofing
The above list is the gist of it. Get the full scoop below!
Best VPNs for BBC iPlayer to Watch Abroad: Tests & Comparisons
Putting my money where my mouth is, the following tests prove that BBC iPlayer can be watched seamlessly abroad with a UK IP address.
ExpressVPN - Best Overall + Seamless Unblocking & Fast Speeds
ExpressVPN unblocked BBC iPlayer seamlessly on my first try, using a UK – London VPN server to stream the UK-exclusive “Call the Midwife.”
Providing P2P-friendly servers in 94 countries (almost as many as Surfshark), ExpressVPN sets aside five servers in as many UK locations, more than CyberGhost and VyprVPN.
I tested the Docklands and Midlands servers to ensure I wasn’t experiencing beginner’s luck with the London server. They worked like charms, too!
An impressive ExpressVPN feature is its automatic obfuscation to mask your VPN traffic. Thus, BBC iPlayer’s VPN firewalls don’t detect that you’re trying to unblock the system and react to keep you locked out.
Another reason ExpressVPN tops this list for streaming BBC iPlayer is speed.
Using speedtest.com, my base download speed was 38.97 Mbps.
I then tested ExpressVPN’s UK servers over its exclusively fast Lightway – UDP protocol, and got these results:
- London – 37.12 Mbps
- Docklands – 38.09 Mbps
- East London – 37.17 Mbps
- Midlands – 36.93 Mbps
Finally, ExpressVPN allows you to watch BBC iPlayer on five devices simultaneously via its apps for Windows, macOS, iOS, Linux, Android devices, Chromecast, and some routers.
Plus! There’s MediaStreamer, an ExpressVPN Smart DNS service that helps unblock BBC iPlayer on devices (like Smart TVs) that don’t natively support VPNs.
But ExpressVPN is the most expensive provider I feature.
So, cut costs with this exclusive discount offer!
Surfshark - 4 UK Server Locations + Unlimited Simultaneous Connections
I unblocked BBC iPlayer with Surfshark using all UK servers except for Edinburgh, which I couldn’t get to work at the time. This might be because the BBC has blacklisted the server’s IP address.
Surfshark also has obfuscation available as Camouflage Mode.
This feature automatically activates when you connect to the OpenVPN protocol, which I used for my unblocking and speed tests.
While the speeds are the slowest I recorded, the speed loss remained insignificant enough to stream Bad Education lag-free.
Here are my results:
- London – 36.98 Mbps
- Manchester – 37.34 Mbps
- Edinburgh – 38.05 Mbps
- Glasgow – 36.01 Mbps
However, Surfshark’s P2P support on UK servers is only offered on the London servers. So, others may not be as fast or reliable for streaming BBC iPlayer in the long run.
But this isn’t bad for a cheap VPN with unlimited simultaneous device connections! You should know that no other VPNs mentioned offer more than ten multi-connections using one account.
Moving on, Surfshark’s app selection is as vast as the rest, catering to Windows, iOS, Linux, Android, media boxes like Fire TV Stick and Fire TV Cube, some Smart TVs, and routers. So, you can unblock and watch Call The Midwife and other favorite iPlayer exclusives from any device.
On top of that, you also get Smart DNS support on Surfshark for devices without a native VPN app. Thus, you can unblock and stream BBC iPlayer on smart TVs and gaming consoles!
And for all those goodies, it’s not an expensive VPN:
I’ll throw in an extra discount to make the deal more enticing!
CyberGhost - Optimized Server for Streaming BBC iPlayer
CyberGhost works reliably with BBC iPlayer, and it even has a UK server optimized for the streaming service.
Fortunately, it’s not only reliable on the streaming-optimized server.
I tested its two other UK locations and unblocked the streaming service smoothly to watch some Arsenal game highlights before the actual game.
Despite seamless unblocking, CyberGhost offers no form of obfuscation.
So, unlike ExpressVPN, it won’t always work from locations with strict firewalls like China.
Fortunately, it makes up for that with excellent speeds, especially when I connected to the WireGuard protocol to test the P2P-friendly servers:
- London – 37.14 Mbps
- Berkshire – 36.43 Mbps
- Manchester – 37.94 Mbps
They’re almost on par with ExpressVPN’s Lightway download speeds!
Where CyberGhost passes ExpressVPN (and NordVPN) is with its seven simultaneous connections spanning Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, Linux, Amazon Fire OS devices, and some routers.
Like the rest (except VyprVPN), you can also activate CyberGhost’s Smart DNS service to stream BBC iPlayer on your smart TVs and gaming consoles that can’t download a VPN.
The best part is that CyberGhost doesn’t break the bank.
Grab this CyberGhost deal and access BBC iPlayer cheaper.
NordVPN - HD Streaming Speeds + Automatic SmartPlay
I used all four of NordVPN’s P2P-friendly UK servers to bypass BBC iPlayer geo-restriction successfully, securing this provider a fourth place on my list. This unblocking success is primarily due to the VPN’s built-in SmartPlay feature that helps bypass restrictions and enhances media streaming.
NordVPN also offers a standalone SmartDNS manual configuration to access BBC iPlayer on all devices, even if they’re not VPN app-compatible.
Like the others, NordVPN’s customer support confirmed only one IP address could be used to configure SmartDNS at a time.
Luckily, you get six simultaneous device connections via the regular VPN service. So, you can share some slots with family and friends to unblock their favorite BBC iPlayer content without paying for another VPN plan.
If you’re in a restricted region like Russia or China, you can use NordVPN’s obfuscated UK server to access BBC iPlayer. However, they were very slow in my tests compared to the regular servers. So, I’ll recommend ExpressVPN for such scenarios.
That said, NordVPN uses NordLynx, a WireGuard-based proprietary protocol, to remain as fast as CyberGhost and VyprVPN, but still not fast enough to beat ExpressVPN.
My speed test results across its UK servers yielded:
- London – 38.02 Mbps
- Edinburgh – 37.98 Mbps
- Manchester – 37.34 Mbps
- Glasgow – 36.09 Mbps
NordVPN would have been a stronger first-place contender if it offered a router app/firmware like ExpressVPN. So, its slightly tedious manual router setup will have to do. You’ll mostly only need that if Smart DNS isn’t working for you, but you need to stream iPlayer content on your smart TV/gaming console/streaming unit.
While NordVPN may be costlier than the rest, it’s cheaper than ExpressVPN and VyprVPN.
You can still pinch pennies by quickly grabbing these discount offers.
VyprVPN - Chameleon Technology for BBC iPlayer Geo-Spoofing
Watching BBC iPlayer with VyprVPN is a breeze.
The only drawback is that there’s only one peer-to-peer UK server.
But! I tested this server on separate occasions across multiple days, and it seamlessly unblocked iPlayer each time. So, there weren’t any VPN server jams or overcrowding issues.
FYI, I was connected to the VPN’s proprietary Chameleon protocol, which applies “Smart IP” to change your IP addresses periodically while connected. It’s a form of obfuscation that geo-spoofs your location while masking the VPN connection.
Thus, making VyprVPN an excellent choice to unblock BBC iPlayer from Russia, China, Vietnam, or your school/workplace’s rigid network.
Like ExpressVPN’s Lightway and NordVPN’s NordLynx, Chameleon uses lightweight encryption to get faster speeds. On testing the single London – UK server, I got 37.02 Mbps, which is more than enough to stream 4K content!
This result falls in the range of ExpressVPN, CyberGhost, and NordVPN.
VyprVPN also provides native apps to enjoy unbuffered BBC iPlayer viewing on your macOS, iOS, Android, Android Smart TV, and Linux devices.
And while it doesn’t offer unlimited simultaneous connections like Surfshark, VyprVPN beats the rest with its ten simultaneous connections.
That said, it’s the second most expensive provider that impressed me for BBC iPlayer, only behind ExpressVPN.
You can beat the prices with this exclusive discount!
Why Is BBC iPlayer Restricted to the UK?
BBC iPlayer is funded and administered by the UK’s TV license department, which is why it’s restricted to UK TV license holders in the region.
If you try to access BBC iPlayer without using UK VPN servers, you’ll receive the following notification “BBC iPlayer only works in the UK. Sorry, it’s due to right issues.”
However, once you connect to a VPN server in the UK, you’re issued a UK IP address. Thus, your BBC account assumes you’re “in” the UK and allows you to stream anything.
How to Watch BBC iPlayer With a VPN?
All you need is a reliable UK server connection, and you should be sorted.
Here are the steps in more detail:
- Purchase a VPN subscription. I stuck with my top choice, ExpressVPN, for my demo.
- Install and download the VPN app. I’ll use the ExpressVPN Windows app.
- Login with your account credentials.
- Connect to the Lightway UDP protocol for faster speeds.
- Connect to a UK VPN server. ExpressVPN has five UK locations to choose. I recommend the UK – London server.
- Open the BBC iPlayer website on your web browser. I recommend going via Incognito/private browsing mode.
- Create a BBC iPlayer account by filling in your date of birth and login credentials.
- A pop-up will appear. Click “I have a TV Licence. Watch Now.”
- Verify your email address and account by clicking on the link emailed to you.
Using a VPN to bypass geo-restrictions is legal, but it goes against BBC iPlayer’s copyright agreement to watch the streaming service abroad.
BBC iPlayer also requires all viewers to hold a UK TV license. Thus, you could face penalties if you violate this condition.
You can use a free VPN with BBC iPlayer. However, you won’t benefit from content unblocking and fast speeds like a paid VPN service offers. Alternatively, look for a provider that offers a no questions asked money back guarantee, allowing you to use the VPN risk-free over a stipulated period.
ExpressVPN remains my best BBC iPlayer VPN. Perhaps I’m biased, but its unblocking potential has helped me access several other streaming services over the years, including Netflix, Hulu, and HBO Max.
Use this chance to grab ExpressVPN at a discounted deal, and you can activate the money-back guarantee if you’re unhappy!
Not a fan of ExpressVPN? The alternative VPNs for BBC iPlayer above also work wonders.