One of the biggest things that many of us have to get used to in the USA is the number of adverts on television. If you’ve come from the UK for instance and are used to British TV, they can come as something of a shock although many European countries actually have more adverts. Later in this article we’ll show you how to watch British TV in USA without problems.
However, first of all, you should remember that the advertising is what actually pays for US TV shows, so if the level drops it’s likely the quality of programming would to.
However for anyone who has seen the quantity of adverts rise over the last few decades it can be quite surprising. Even BBC America, which is one of the US based cable channels which carries some of the BBC’s content has adverts which seems strange to anyone used to watching BBC One. Of course, there is advertising on the UK’s commercial TV stations like the ITV Hub and Channel 4, it’s still arguably less intrusive.
Of course, most US citizens have grown up with adverts on all their TV network so it’s likely they don’t find them as intrusive. Also bear in mind if you offered the UK model of TV – paying $200+ for a license which removed the need for them – most would probably be completely horrified. This is based on an extensive straw poll of five people I asked about British TV streaming in my office today! I found that extremely surprising as it’s a cost I’d be happy to pay. I don’t know about you, but that cut to adverts just at a crucial time in the plotline in a TV series drives me crazy ! I do get frustrated watching shows which suddenly stop for breaks several times an hour – although obviously today’s technology which allows you to record and playback helps a lot.
The number of adverts is also increasing, the approximate proportion of advertising in US TV in 1952 was about 13%, that’s about 8 minutes an hour. However research has shown that in 2020 that has now risen to something like 32% which is nearly a third of the airtime (20 minutes an hour). These figures are an average though and some popular or expensive shows will be much higher than this figure as well.
This figure also doesn’t include the increasing use of product placement advertising where you’ll see some character waving around a soft drink or other product. This can also be very distracting when you start looking for it, although I’m assured by a Spanish friend and one in New Zealand that this practice is increasing in TV channels across the world.
If you can’t get use to the adverts of course you do have some options. The obvious one and a tactic used by many Americans is simply to not watch any of the shows live or streamed through another platform like Pluto TV. There’s also plenty of media players which have hard disks – Tivo Style and even games consoles which can record shows and streaming content. Then you can replay and skip through each advertising break without having to actually watch them. However it’s still a break and it’s still rather annoying to have to skim through the adverts even at super fast speed. You can also select your favorite shows on UK TV and buy the box sets directly although this can get expensive.
Expand Your Choice of Television Shows by Looking Online
However there’s another option to watch British TV which is particularly attractive and that’s to start looking online. Virtually every major media channel in existence broadcast lots of their shows online. You don’t have to just use a cable company, satellite or the outdated TV aerial in order to receive TV channels. If you’ve got an internet enabled TV, a laptop, or tablet or even games consoles and a decent internet connection then you’ve got the potential to watch unlimited TV programmes online and streamed to your TV screen.
You don’t even need to pay for many of them, look passed the standard subscription channels like Amazon Prime and Netflix and you’ll find many other options. There’s all you need from current affairs, documentaries, soap operas, crime drama, radio shows and even free movies available if you know where to look. Indeed many of the best dramas are co productions between different broadcasters, that Prime Original may be available somewhere else for free at the same time.
One of the best sites by far is of course the BBC iPlayer which along with the other British TV stations ITV Hub and All 4 bring you the ability to watch UK TV free of charge.
Here’s one of the BBC’s latest nature shows, critically acclaimed through the world and available on BBC iPlayer for free !
In fact it’s an option that millions already use including lots of expats and anglophiles. A great place to start for free online TV of world class quality is to check out the UK television you can find streaming online. The first channel to look at is the BBC who have probably the best streaming platform on the internet – BBC iPlayer. It’s packed full of great British television which doesn’t have any advertisements or breaks at all. That’s not quite true, it does do a very small number of promotional clips for other BBC programmes you might like but they’re never in the middle of anything and they’re easily skipped if you like.
What’s more the BBC is only the start and you can actually find lots of other television shows online too. Even from the United Kingdom every single one of the major broadcasters streams all their content online. The BBC is the only channel which doesn’t include advertisements but even then it’s a small price to pay for world class entertainment streamed in high definition to your TV set across the internet.
Don’t worry about any potential problems you might have heard about like needing a TV license, geo restrictions or other things to stop people outside the UK accessing these live stream goldmines – they’re no real problem for anyone. Just read on and you’ll find out not only how to watch all the British TV you want free of charge but unlimited shows from all over the world – even for the English speaking world there’s stations from Australia, Canada, US and the UK. If you’re lucky enough to speak another language there’s even more options available too.
How to Get British TV Channels like BBC One Online in the USA
Now as mentioned virtually every large media site in the world broadcasts their streaming services over the internet. Indeed, most of the UK ones broadcast all their programmes live then archive them so you can watch them later too. Sites like the BBC iPlayer archive have literally thousands of top quality shows which you can watch online or even download to watch later. You can watch any of the shows live while they’re broadcast on any of the channels plus from the archive where most are available for twelve months too.
Here’s a quick list of the channels available from the BBC –
BBC One – the original and primary BBC channel
BBC Two – more for current affairs and sport coverage
BBC Three – Digital channel with light entertainment such as comedies, videos and documentaries
BBC Four – Serious shows and documentaries
CBBC – children over the age of 6
CBeebies – children under age of 6
BBC Scotland – Scottish focused channel
BBC Alba – Gaelic Language channel
BBC News – 24/7 international news channel
BBC Parliament – coverage of UK politics
S4C – Welsh language channel
However there is a catch, all these shows, all this free TV is only available to the domestic market and it’s not actually directly accessible in the USA or anywhere outside the UK. Although it should be pointed out that the same happens in reverse as US online TV stations like Hulu and HBO are not available outside the US also.
Using a VPN or Proxy Services to Access Streaming Platforms like the BBC
Yet there is a work around, and it’s one that millions of people all over the world use every day on their laptops and smart TV units. To watch British TV online or indeed any domestic streaming service from the USA you simply need to hide your IP address and present a UK one instead. It’s not difficult and anyone can do it from whatever device they prefer, indeed millions enjoy the excellent streaming technology of the BBC worldwide using this exact same method.
Here’s how anyone can watch TV abroad including UK TV in USA –
What happens is by using a VPN or proxy server then you can effectively hide your true location and bypass this geo blocking. So when you visit the BBC website for example, it will see the IP address of the server not your real address. So as long as you ensure you click on a UK server then everything in the UK will work perfectly irrespective of where you actually are. Your location is completely hidden by your VPN providers and so you can watch whatever you like from all the British TV channels. This includes all the major channels like BBC, ITV and Channels 4 and 5 all of whom have TV streaming services which includes most of their shows online.
Basically you get virtually all UK TV shows completely free of charge by just pretending to be in the UK. The amount of content like film and music is incredible, even if you just watch BBC iPlayer itself. You’ll certainly have access to many, many more shows than a BBC America channel for example. All of the popular UK TV channels are available to stream live so you can pick what you want to watch. However it’s all archived too, so that latest Dr Who series for example is available for twelve months after it’s initial broadcast too, just access BBC iPlayer when you want to watch it.
A VPN service (virtual private network) is without doubt a must have tool for anyone (not just TV fans) who spends a lot of time online especially if they travel a lot. Not only does it secure your internet connection allowing you to safely access things like email, banking and payment sites when you’re using insecure Wifi at hotels, cafes and airports. It also allows you to change your location and watch iPlayer or perhaps even sites you can usually use but you’re locked out of because you’re travelling. It’s way better value than subscribing to expensive satellite channels like Sky Go for example.
I used to get locked out of several payment portals when I worked abroad. I’d try and pay my taxes or water rates over the internet and get blocked because I was in a different country – very annoying! Of course, now I know I just need to use a VPN to change my country using their UK servers, unfortunately I didn’t know that then.
So remember, you’re not restricted to a specific country. Choose a server in a different country then you can unlock the channels there too using that VPN ip address. So for example if you pick an Irish one you can enjoy the Irish National broadcaster RTE or perhaps choose some Canadian or French channels too. Remember though while you are connected to another country then US sites will start blocking you, so remember to disconnect or choose a US server for those. A couple of years ago I watched the entire Premiership (UK football) season by using a VPN based in India to watch on a channel called Star TV absolutely free. I think you now have to pay for their subscription service but it’s still a fraction of what it costs in other countries. Just connect to an Indian VPN before you sign up so that you get charged Indian prices !
The possibilities are as endless as your IP addresses, but even if you only use your VPN services to watch the BBC worldwide then it will bring you some of the best TV programs available. Just fire up your connection, connect to a UK VPN server and click ‘yes’ when they ask you if you have a TV license and you’ll be enjoying the BBC with over 60 million other people. Our recommendation for a low cost, reliable VPN provider is NordVPN.
Why do people look for USA Proxy and VPN servers? Well there’s a variety of reasons and now many people use technology like this just to hide their identity and their IP online. Sometimes specifically for privacy reasons or quite often they simply need US IP addresses to bypass internet blocks which are based on geographic location.
For example if you are having a holiday in South Africa, don’t presume you can access all the same web sites that you do from the United States. This simply isn’t the case, in fact the internet is increasingly becoming divided up and filtered usually based on your physical location.
Many sites particularly some of the major media sites restrict access to US visitors only, blocking any IP server addresses from outside the country. In addition you’ll also find that countries like Turkey heavily filter the internet too, often restricting sites like Twitter and Facebook to anyone inside the country. Where you are physically located when using the internet is way more important that which passport you hold. Even if you’re a United States citizen, if you’re outside the borders then you’re likely to be blocked from many of it’s best websites.
So on the whole privacy and freedom issue – this is why many of us use either a US proxy or VPN everyday. However in reality the reason millions of us looks for an anonymous proxy is not to protect our anonymity but more to unlock websites which are restricted to us. As this filtering continues the demand is rising for methods to bypass these blocks.
Don’t Use a Free American Proxy Server
It used to be possible to use free servers from a proxy list to hide your real address but it’s not advisable to use these anymore. The problem with these free web proxy setups is that the vast majority are merely badly configured servers accidentally left open. They are very rarely even datacenter proxies just privately owned ones that have been effectively hijacked. Unfortunately cyber criminals and hackers also use them, primarily to distribute malware and to steal valuable personal information – e.g. passwords, emails etc. Indeed there are thousands located in the United States designed to lure in visitors from all over the world to harvest their details.
So what’s the difference between these two technologies and which one should I use. Both perform basically the same function and can give you a US IP address but in very different ways, which ultimately will define which is best for you.
A proxy is a computer that acts as an intermediary between you an the websites you visit. When you use a proxy, the traffic will appear to come from it’s IP address not yours. This is why people will use a US proxy to access US only resources, a UK proxy to access the BBC and so on.
The two main types of proxies are as follows:
HTTP proxies – designed to work for web pages i.e. HTTP
Socks Proxies – no specific protocol, handles all traffic.
A few years ago, proxies were pretty much all you needed to access most sites and you could find free ones all over the internet. Nowadays though most media sites can detect and block the use of proxies and there are many security issues with them too. They can still work for a few sites, a proxy based in the UK will still allow you to access the majority of the BBC iPlayer application for example (need a VPN to download from the site though).
VPN stands for Virtual Private Network and in some ways they perform a similar function to proxies. A VPN creates a secure, encrypted tunnel between your client and a host VPN server. This allows a new level of privacy as even your ISP cannot see what you do online other than your connected to a secure VPN server. The main advantages are that the VPN provides a much higher level of privacy masking pretty much everything you do online from everyone. They are more resource intensive though and quite costly to run and support, which is why you won’t find any free ones online.
The encryption layer does involve a slight overhead which can slow your connection down slightly. However the better ones like Identity Cloaker compress the data as it’s being transported so can actually slightly speed up your browsing through some VPN servers.
VPNs are much safer to use and if you have access to a VPN in the right country you should be able to access any restricted site. So to be clear you’ll need to use a US VPN or proxy for sites like ABC, HBO and Hulu, but a UK one for BBC, ITV and UK TV sites. Most of the major providers will provide a network of servers across the globe but you should check if you have a specific requirement.
For most people it makes sense to go for a supplier who has a large proxy server network not just located in the United States. Indeed most of the leading VPN companies have a proxy list which will allow you access to servers all over the world. It gives you the flexibility to access sites in all these countries. For example I watched an interesting News report on one of my interested from a TV station in Wellington, it was only accessible using a New Zealand based proxy server.
Here’s my two recommendations – both offer full VPNs, fast servers and access to many different countries in the basic subscription. Although both supply software to connect, you can set up the VPNs manually on most other devices like tablets, smart phones and even routers.
Identity Cloaker is definitely, primarily a security product but offers both proxy and VPN modes for accessing BBC Iplayer, Hulu and all media sites. They have loads of US proxy servers and even more UK based ones so if you want to watch the BBC iPplayer service then it’s probably your best option. They do have lots of servers in the France, Germany, Australia, Canada and throughout Europe as well though. They also don’t automatically renew your subscription either which I like.
NordVPN is probably the market leader in VPN services, they’re certainly one of the biggest in the world and have literally hundreds of servers in the United States. I do like their connection software which is easy to use and they have applications for most devices including Android and iOS phones/tablets. Lots of United States based servers included in the standard subscription. They also have the widest selection of servers across the world although perhaps many won’t use most of them. If you need a server in somewhere unusual they are most likely to have them. The support staff know their stuff and are very helpful. If there is any criticism it’s normally related to their scale, sometimes too many are loaded onto UK servers so access gets blocked from some servers to the BBC. I’ve not experienced it with any United States sites but it’s definitely possible that this will happen. They do have plenty to move to but it can be inconvenient if you’re watching something live for example. They’re very cheap but only if you subscribe to their longer subscription deals.
UPDATE July 2020
Netflix have implemented a new system for blocking VPNs and unfortunately it’s worked very well. Just using any United States based proxy or VPN is no longer enough to access Netflix with. If you want to connect back to watch the United States version of Netflix then you need to check current status with your chosen provider. The vast majority of VPNs no longer work because they detect certain IP classifications. Both Identity Cloaker and NordVPN do have some servers which currently work.
What Netflix started doing was to block all IP addresses from commercially registered ranges which included 99% of all VPN addresses which are generally installed in commercial datacenters. This was extremely effective initially and stopped just about all access to the United States version of Netflix (which is awesome by the way!). They seemed to have pulled back from this slightly, as commercial address ranges have started to work again. However if switching your version of Netflix to the United States one is important to you then you should double check with any provider you select.
Updated in October 2020 to remove a company who’s VPN service was just getting far too slow and worse was always blocked by many sites! Added the wonderful Smart DNS system which you can even test out risk free on this special offer –
It can work without software on all operating systems, just change your DNS settings to function instead of having to install IP address changer software. If you want a traditional VPN to protect your internet activity too then try one of the biggest and best with servers around the world- then you should also try out Nord VPN both are great choices to get an American IP.
Here’s a question that many people want the answer to – How can I get a US IP address? Well hopefully this post will help. If you don’t want an explanation about USA proxy sites and simply want to buy an American IP address at a very low cost for streaming services and such like. Then scoot down to the bottom of the page for some recommendations, they all have a money back guarantee by the way and great customer support. For a few bucks a month you can have a host of secure, fast US IP addresses plus Canadian, UK, Australian and lots of other countries at your fingertips.
Many web sites determine what you see based on your location, so for example if you want to watch Hulu – you need to be in the USA. Access is controlled by location so it doesn’t matter if you’re a US citizen, if you’re trying to access Hulu from a hotel in Rome then you’re Italian and you’ll get blocked. This is why changing your real IP address is becoming a much more common requirement, simply because that loads of the best websites and TV shows restrict access depending on the location of your computer.
So for example anyone outside America may get blocked from a US banking site, and you’d certainly be blocked from accessing US-only sites like Hulu or Pandora unless you get a US IP somehow.
More and more sites are restricting access based on location, it’s often due to licensing issues. Another reason is economic, many websites operate price discrimination (basically charging different prices to different people to maximise their profits), they obviously don’t like consumers finding the cheaper options!
So Where Can I Buy USA IP Address ?
So if you wanted to access a US only site and you’re outside the US, then you need to acquire a US IP Address. Then you could buy from a US only site or watch something like Hulu or Pandora irrespective of your location. Better still you could get much better value, for example the Americans Netflix is way better value than any other version. Many Americans are shocked if they travel abroad and logon to find that the US Netflix has disappeared and half their favourite shows are gone too.
Now your IP address is assigned to you by your ISP when you initially connect, there’s no way to change this without losing internet access. So although you can change/modify and alter most aspects of your computer – including the language, locale and even switch to a US time server. Unfortunately there’s no one with a magical American IP address generator that you can use to change your address automatically, more’s the pity! It’s generally supplied by your Internet Service Provider automatically, so there’s really no way to change it all.
However although you can’t change your IP address – you can hide your true address and present another one. You do this by connecting via either a VPN or a proxy site, both of these will obscure your real address. They both operate in similar ways, the proxy server routes all your web traffic via itself and simply forwards all data in both directions. The VPN is actually a secure, encrypted tunnel which routes all traffic from your computer through the VPN server. Both have strengths and weaknesses. In reality a VPN is more difficult to detect by remote web sites, although this can involve a slight overhead on speed in some situations.
Which one you choose is really dependent on what your requirements are – a VPN gives you security and more access to remote sites. If you want any sort of security to access something like banking services then it has to be a VPN. But if you just wanted to access something like the BBC or maybe to watch Canadian TV in the US then a proxy server is enough. To be honest nowadays, there’s no reason to look beyond a decent VPN providers. VPN servers provide the same functionality, plus give you features like AES encryption, DNS leak protection and a kill switch (block all access instantly). Plus they’re no more expensive and the one drawback that used to exist – slower connection speeds doesn’t really apply anymore. In fact Nord VPN which you can see demonstrated below is actually much quicker as it uses a compression algorithm when transferring data from the VPN servers.
So perhaps we want to watch some shows on Hulu but we are based in Europe, for this particular channel a proxy won’t work as Hulu is able to detect them – so we need a VPN service. Unfortunately there are no free VPN services available unless you can access one through your employer or college. Please don’t even consider using a free proxy as not only will it not work with most streaming services. You’ll also find a free proxy is likely to install something nasty on your computer as well!
Many multinational companies have VPN/Remote access services to allow employees to access their home location. It’s worth checking this out although you should ask your IT department for clearance before using on a work operating system and flooding their network with internet traffic form video streaming. Or you could make your own by installing a VPN service on a rented server or a friends US based computer. Obviously server location is important here, but as long as you’re in the right country that will be ok. Any US sites will be accessible from a server in New York for example.
But an easier option is to just select a VPN provider with a suitable service which allows access to a wide variety of servers especially if you want to use it with an iPad or mobile device, check this post – Watching BBC Iplayer on Ipad in US.
These services are all pretty low cost now and the best VPNs usually include proxy servers all across the world.
Here’s some things to check out when looking for a decent service :-
Firstly check that the company have some method to allow easy connection. The decent companies have custom connection software to allow you to connect/disconnect easily to their server network.
If you have a specific requirement – NBC, Hulu, HBO GO, ABC etc then check that internet content works with them.
Make sure your subscription allows access to multiple servers in different countries included – there’s some great free stuff outside the United States too.
Speed is essential if you’re going to use the service for watching video or any streaming media – try to choose a trial account first to test this. A good VPN can actually speed up your connection by bypassing any bandwidth throttling by your internet provider.
Be careful you don’t get locked into renewing accounts – use payment methods like PayPal if you can which you can cancel easily.
If security is paramount – ask customer support and check for a no logs policy, leak protection and a secure proxy network.
Also vital for security is at least 256 bit encryption, all the best VPN services will support this.
Unfortunately although there is now lots of choice, many of these services don’t have the knowledge and infrastructure to support high speed access. Avoid anything that seems too cheap or sponsored by advertisements, never use free VPNs for anything important they’re slow and invariably have huge security implications. Many install adware or even malware on your computer, and others share your internet connection with their premium users – yes really ! Whichever you choose always test first with a short subscription or trial and get them to answer any questions use their support email address.
In this example you’ll see my favourite VPN software allowing me to bypass the geo restrictions and gain access to USA only resources by simply clicking on a United States based server.
I basically use two different services which offer both proxy and VPN functionality at a decent price. Basically these will give you access to a network of US IP Addresses plus loads of different nationalities at a click of a button. What’s more they they have proxy servers in all the major locations and a great success rate at accessing the most popular streaming sites.
Nord VPN is primarily a security product but offers both proxy and VPN modes for accessing BBC iPlayer, Hulu and all media sites. They have loads of US and even more UK based servers so if you want to watch the BBC iPlayer service then it’s probably your best option. A host of security and privacy features including the ability to use military grade encryption to protect your connection. They do have lots of servers in the France, Germany, Australia, Canada and throughout Europe as well though. With over 8 million subscribers and support for virtually every device including android iOS, it’s a great proxy service.
Smart DNS Proxy is another great little company if you want a USA IP address. I like their connection options as there’s one which is particularly easy to use. It’s called Smart DNS and is designed specifically for watching Geo-restricted content without directly using a proxy or VPN. This allows you to access US only sites simply by changing your DNS servers. It also gives you full access to all US only services including giving you a American IP address for Netflix whereas the vast majority of VPNs are blocked. Lots of servers included giving you access to lots in the US IP address range. It’s generally quicker than any proxy because you don’t route all your traffic through the server. It’s perfect for watching any sort of video and the support staff know their stuff and are very helpful.
Remember Smart DNS provides no security or encryption at all, however it’s easier to install on different devices like Smart TVs and Amazon Fire Stick as there’s no software component. It works beautifully on all different platforms iOS Android even Linux.
Both these companies allow Paypal and are easy to cancel when you need. They also had the fastest servers out of the ones I looked at and neither affected my internet connection speed. Don’t worry that they don’t openly advertise the bypassing functionality for sites like Hulu, BBC, ABC, Amazon Prime Video etc – it’s deliberate, the services which openly promote this get closed down eventually. Remember as well if you want to learn how to get a USA address for Netflix – Smart DNS is one of the very few that works in 2020.
It’s finally happened, after years of apparent indifference to the millions of ‘unofficial’ viewers, BBC iPlayer is now blocking VPN services that are being used to watch the BBC iPlayer from outside the UK. To recap, since the demise of the BBC International service the only way to watch the BBC from non-UK locations is to use a proxy or VPN to hide your real location. Therefore using a VPN became a common way for people to keep up with UK based TV when travelling or indeed for ex-pats living outside the United Kingdom.
Great Deal 2 Year Deal on a VPN that You Can Still Stream BBC iPlayer Abroad in 2020
What happens is that when you access the BBC website it looks up the location of your IP address, if it’s in the UK then everything works – if not then you get another version of the site with no live programmes and no BBC iPlayer. Fortunately it’s not that difficult to bypass these blocks, all you need (or needed) to do was to connect using an intermediate server which was based in the UK. This would make it appear that you were in the UK and hence everything would work fine. The BBC would assume that the IP address of the VPN server was yours and then allow you access, as long as the VPN server was in the UK.
So a simple VPN program was all you needed to watch BBC programmes online irrespective of your actual location. There were lots of them around and most were pretty simple to use, indeed thousands of pensioners on the Costa Del Sol were some of the first to embrace this new technology. As long as the VPN had a UK server you would be able to access BBC programs through it.
Here’s how it’s done – with my trusty VPN which I’ve been using for well over a decade.
As you can see it’s relatively simple, using NordVPN for example means you can change your location with a click of a button. Most of the decent VPN systems are like this, you install the software on your computer which is basically a VPN client. This then should allow you access to the VPN providers network. Most of the best VPN services will have plenty of servers all over the world. However if you’re main priority is watching iPlayer with a VPN then it’s only the servers in the UK that you should be interested in. Remember you’re using the IP address of the Virtual Private Network server to watch BBC iPlayer not your real one.
When picking a VPN to access the BBC iPlayer it’s important you focus on these UK servers to access streaming services. There’s little point paying for a huge global network of servers across the world if you mainly just want your VPN app to watch the BBC News. The other side to this is that any VPN service which intends to allows it’s VPN users to access BBC iPlayer needs lots of UK servers to work properly. If too many people are using the same servers then performance will be terrible and you’ll find they’ll become useless to unblock BBC iPlayer. When you find people complaining – BBC iPlayer not working then this is normally the reason.
This technique is not restricted to accessing BBC iPlayer either – certainly all the other UK sites like ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 streaming services are unblocked in exactly the same way. Again the common denominator is that you have to use UK VPN servers when using your connection. Although these services aren’t free, it’s easy and they’re not expensive either. A few Euros will effectively get you access to more UK television programmes than any expensive cable system will. A few minutes and you can watch BBC News from any sunny clime from around the world.
Over the years many different media services have waged war on these services. Proxies were the first to fall, almost all the big online media companies now block access through a proxy server automatically – although they still worked with the BBC iPlayer until this last update. Companies like Netflix and Hulu were particularly aggressive in blocking VPNs – also their legal departments were targeting the companies who openly marketed these services. The BBC however didn’t really seem that concerned occasionally closing down the odd provider but doing little technically to block these services.
How is BBC iPlayer Able to Block VPN Services ?
At the moment it’s fairly simplistic, but you might have discovered very effective -simply blocking the IP addresses of these services. All they need to do is to identify which IP addresses are being used by multiple users and block them from accessing the content. It’s not difficult to do, although it also will block legitimate UK users who use a VPN for security too.
It’s quite straight forward really and not very sophisticated but it makes perfect sense and explains why iPlayer not working for so many people. If the BBC support team detect thousands and thousands of connections on the same IP address then they can be pretty sure it’s a proxy or VPN. So all they need to do is to block access to that single address and suddenly the thousands lose access. There is a caveat to this method, sometimes people legitimately share the same address when connecting through businesses, shared internet connections, colleges etc so they don’t want to block these. Which is why as long as a VPN service is careful about distributing people across it’s UK addresses then it should be ok.
Basically it’s why the more UK addresses that a VPN has – the more likely that it will work fine with the BBC iPlayer. It generally means that the really low costs services which put too many people on each server don’t work anymore.
Once the IP address of a VPN provider is blocked it becomes useless for accessing any of the BBC iPlayer or live streaming programmes. Most of the biggest and widely marketed VPN services have been affected – my IpVanish account suffered the block although apparently they are working on a fix. Ultimately it can turn into a game of ‘Whack a Mole’ with the the UK server addresses being continually changed and then blocked by the BBC – usually someone gives up in the end. Fortunately there are some like Identity Cloaker which still work perfectly for streaming BBC which is probably largely due to the fact that the number of users per IP address is very limited and the company is very low key in advertising the TV watching functionality.
Ultimately the best advice is to avoid any VPN company who openly markets themselves as a BBC iPlayer VPN service, these will definitely be prioritized and worse may be closed down completely. It has happened in the past and is relatively easy to achieve – usually a legal threat against the hosting companies does the trick. It is unlikely that the BBC would be able to block complete access, simply because they would have to be constantly updating it’s firewall tables with new IP addresses to keep up. Other companies have pretty much given up to – for example Amazon Prime.
Is it Safe to Access the BBC iPlayer from Abroad Like This
When you connect to the BBC iPlayer site then before you are able to watch any TV programme either live or from the archive you are asked if you have a UK TV License. This question will determine whether you get any further irrespective of your VPN access. Of course to watch you simply have to say yes, there’s no further checks or questions to validate your answer.
Understandably this worries some people and I get lots of questions on this site about the legality of using a VPN to use the iPlayer app like this. Well, here’s a quick rundown of the answers to these question that I receive regularly.
Are VPNs Legal ? Absolutely completely legal in all developed countries. Even in China where the Government actively try to block them they’re not currently illegal. Remember a VPN is a secure way to access the internet and most businesses who have people working remotely will always use VPNs all the time.
Am I Breaking the Law watching the BBC without a license? There’s no criminal law involved at all. At most you are breaking the terms and conditions of the BBC iPlayer site. It’s simply nothing to do with criminal law. Remember literally millions of people do this everyday.
Can I get Detected ? Although you do have to register a BBC iPlayer account now to watch BBC iPlayer – your actual location cannot be determined when using a VPN. It’s completely hidden and no trace can be made back to your real address.
How Can use on my Smart TV ? Well you can use a VPN on a Smart TV to access iPlayer but it’s not straightforward. If you want to install a workaround on any device with internet access like this then you’re better offer using an alternative technology called Smart DNS. Here you just modify your DNS servers to hide your location – it’s simple and as quick as the fastest VPN and works with Amazon Prime too.
Here’s the best value VPN that actually works with the BBC in 2020
There’s quite a few articles on this site about how you can hide your real IP address and use one from a different country. However most of these are based from the perspective of a computer or laptop, on these devices it’s much easier to buy IP spoofing software specifically designed to accomplish this task. However many of us now, browse the web, watch movies on other devices too – ranging from tablets, smartphones and smart TVs on wi fi or from home. So here’s a quick introduction on how you can spoof a UK IP address or any other location. This shows you how to hide your IP address on an iPad the same software can be used on virtually any device though to hide your IP address.
Why Do People Want to Spoof Their IP Address Anyway
First of all it’s important to realise a few things about IP addresses and the function they perform.
Everything online must have one – that’s every computer, phone, laptop, smart TV even an internet enabled toaster. Without one you won’t be able to connect to anything, send emails, watch videos or do anything at all online.
Every Address is Unique and Traceable – each IP address is completely unique, you’re not sharing it with millions of people across the world. That address can be tracked back to your exact location, either your home if it’s through an ISP or to whichever device is enabling your connection. So the only bit of privacy you can hope for is using a shared Wifi connection when it can only be traced back directly to the source IP.
Addresses are used to monitor, control, block and filter – yes, unfortunately there are extensive attempts to control access to the internet and the vast majority of them are based on this network address. So for example only British registered addresses can watch the BBC online, American addresses can watch ABC and NBC and so on. The vast majority of online media and entertainment sites for instance restrict access to their domestic markets based on the location of these IP addresses.
So the majority of reasons why people want to spoof their IP address is firstly either privacy – so that everything they do online can’t be linked and traced back directly to them. The second is that they don’t want to be blocked and filtered from their favourite websites. Of course, there’s many of us who want both the privacy and to be able to watch our preferred online TV stations without being blocked!!
So What Exactly Does Spoof Mean – Change ?
Unfortunately you can’t easily change your IP address directly as it’s assigned by your Internet Service Provider normally. However you can hide your real IP address and use an undercover one. You do this by connecting first to something called a proxy or VPN server and then letting it access the internet for you. It’s like your own undercover agent, who protects your secret identity while allowing you to use the internet normally.
You effectively use the ‘spoofed IP address’ of this intermediary server while yours is hidden. This means that you have complete privacy and the other benefit is that you can bypass all these blocks based on your location. If you use a proxy or VPN service which has multiple servers across the world then you can choose where your IP address is located – so pick a US based server for all US only resources, a UK server for anything British like the BBC and so on.
Here’s the VPN service I’ve been using for about twelve years now, mainly for security as I travel a bit but also to watch BBC iPlayer from outside the UK.
It’s like having a hundred different passports at your fingertip allowing you to choose your nationality by clicking a button. The only difference this works only in the digital world and it’s completely legal to hide your source IP !!!
They’re are lots more though – here’s another VPN service I use quite often as it’s easier to use on certain devices –
The tools for IP spoofing and securing your anonymity online are available from lots of different companies. They’re especially important if you find yourself using lots of different wi fi access points to conduct confidential transactions or you travel a lot. Most of the decent ones will only charge a flat subscription to get access to a large network supporting most large countries, meaning you can pick whcihever IP address nationality you need. If you want to bypass restrictions in a smaller country then it’s worth checking beforehand that they have a VPN server based in that country. to hide your source IP.
So the basic concept is quite simple – you spoof or hide your IP address by bouncing it off an intermediate server. Your location and identity is hidden and the website only sees the IP address of the server. This can be switched whenever you need it by connecting to a different server based in another country.
Below we’ll show how you set up the VPN connection on an iPad/iPhone using Identity Cloaker. If you use my other suggestion above, NordVPN then it’s even easier as you just need to install the application directly from the App store. Nord definitely has better support for other devices but they do get criticised for the number of people on the servers which can result in occasionally blocks from popular services like BBC iPlayer. Identity Cloaker doesn’t tend to have those issues although it’s slightly more expensive – my preference for BBC access certainly.
Setting up VPN Manually on an iPad/iPhone
So in this scenario, I’m travelling away from home and I just have my iPad with me – am I locked out of all my favourite shows because I can’t connect through a proxy server. Well no you’re not, in fact it’s just as easy to hide your IP address on a tablet as it is on a PC in fact you can usually use the same software or service. But for start let’s just put up a video showing you the process in case you don’t want to read the rest of this post.
This uses my favorite security software Identity Cloaker but instead of using the software you just create the VPN connections manually – you can see how simple the IP spoofing tutorial is in the video.
However here’s the steps if you don’t like videos
Spoof My IP Address – Step by Step
On your iPad –
You can see in the image, I’ve already created on VPN which I use for accessing US based sites with a US IP address. However you can have any number set up so just select add VPN configuration and you can add another one. You should get to a screen like this (might change slightly if you’re on a different version of iOS).
Now I know it looks kind of complicated and technical but unlike most IP spoofing tools it isn’t really – here’s a break down of what you put in the fields. Just leave the configuration on L2TP and fill in the boxes. If you’ve subscribed to Identity Cloaker there’s a list of them in the members area or support will email them to you. If you’re setting up a VPN with another company you’ll need to check with them to make sure that the servers are VPN enabled and what the configuration settings are.
Description – Give it a name based on which location UK Connection, US Connection etc, then you can select quickly which country you need
Server – Put in the server name you got from the members area.
Account Name – Your Identity Cloaker Username (or other VPN)
RSA SecurID – Ignore this
Password – Your Identity Cloaker password.
Secret – The VPN Secret Name is in the members area.
That’s it, if you have the information at hand it literally takes a couple of minutes – press SAVE (top right corner currently) to complete. Then you should have an extra VPN connection listed on the screen like this –
To use the VPN you simply have to select the one you need and then turn VPN to on from the top of the screen. Whichever VPN you have enabled will then connect and your IP address will be linked to that country. I have the British VPN selected in this demonstration screen. It’s worth putting in all the different connections you need all at once, then you can just enable them whenever you need. You’ll see the VPN connection being made and then this logo at the top of your screen. Remember it doesn’t change directly how you access the internet so you’ll be using your Data plan id you enable the VPN without a wi fi connection.
So when this is enabled all your traffic will be encrypted and routed through the selected VPN server. You can set up a selection of VPNs all to different countries, I use about six to spoof my IP address to a variety of locations.
Therefore you will also appear to have the IP address located with each server so if you want to watch the BBC iPlayer enable your UK VPN and so on – your real IP address will not be visible.
If you haven’t got Identity Cloaker yet – I can definitely recommend it, it’s probably best to try their ten day trial to see how you get on with it. They have a very professional set up and the servers can cope with streaming video without any issues. It’s interface is not as slick looking as something like Nord VPN and others but their servers are fast and not overloaded. You’ll rarely get your IP address blocked accessing sites like BBC iPlayer. However both of these are decent companies and the process to change your IP address will be very similar to use them.