For many years now, there’s been a worrying trend developing on the internet. What was once all free and open is now hidden behind paywalls or being blocked and censored. Sometimes it’s whole governments but more often it’s down to commercial companies. Take for example the BBC, their wonderful iPlayer application is hugely popular but if you step outside the United Kingdom then you’ll be instantly blocked. It doesn’t matter if you’ve a large standing order paying for your TV license, if you’re not in the UK you can’t watch it.
There was some hope, that the European Union would solve this problem as they were trying to implement a ‘single digital market” which would make it illegal to block access like this. ye with the onset of Brexit, it’s unlikely the BBC will bother doing anything about this now.
The businesses involved have decided they prefer a sort of restrictive model that also makes them lots of cash. So now people get filtered based on their location – for example forget watching BBC Iplayer proxy in the US or Japan for free, it’s not going to happen (well not without some sneakiness of course). Yep and the lovable BBC have decided against the public spirited World Service model of sending out their content for free, instead they restrict it just to people in the UK.
This is especially annoying for the people like me who already pay the license fee but can’t watch the BBC when they’re out of the country. But don’t worry here’s a way which will allow you to access anything you like including the Beebs iplayer, Hulu irrespective of your location. It doesn’t matter where you’re based, you can choose. The solution works in most scenarios so for an example – here’s how to use a proxy to access BBC Iplayer outside the UK.
BBC Iplayer Proxy Workaround.
Firing up BBC Iplayer outside the UK you’ll pretty soon try and watch something and be greeted with the following message.
It looks like some technical wizardry of the highest order, but fortunately for us it’s not. When we connect to BBC Iplayer, the site records your IP address and looks up which country it’s registered in – if it’s a UK IP address the show will start playing otherwise you get the above platitude. Now for these illustrations I’m going to use my subscription to Identity Cloaker, you used to be able to use free proxies but they no longer work unfortunately.
There are a couple of free uk proxy server services but they finance themselves by inserting adware on your computer and some even share your out your internet connection, stay clear !! In the good old days you could also use things like foxy proxy and the extremely dodgy hola firefox too.
I just open Identity Cloaker and scroll down to select one of the UK proxies and that’s it. From this point even though I’m connecting through the Wifi at an overpriced Spanish hotel in Barcelona – it doesn’t matter. The BBC will think I’m in the UK as it looks at the IP address of the proxy server and not mine. So using a BBC proxy works incredibly well, here’s what I see now.
Here’s a video of the process …that I hope explains it.
Instead of the warning when watching the BBC through a UK iPlayer proxy I get the play button and can watch whatever I want. You’ll also be able to access the live TV streams when connected too. In fact the IP check is at start of the show so if I need to I can just disconnect from the proxy using Identity Cloaker software and stream it directly through my Spanish connection. Is it enough to cheer me up after just having my wallet stolen in a Barcelona bar?
Well probably not but being a fanatical Dr Who fan it might just save me from an evening spent drowning my sorrows drinking overpriced San Miguel from the minibar.
(Note to all visiting Barcelona – if some nice couple seem overly concerned about marks you have on the back of your jacket and offer to help you. Then run away/call police – you are having your wallet stolen – yes I did fall for it!)
Just for the record – you can unfortunately no longer use the free proxy services for this, the BBC have blocked them all and many of the commercial VPN services too. Any of the companies who openly advertise the BBC on their website will often find themselves targeted by the BBC legal and technical teams – it’s best to be low key which is why the best services don’t mention the iPlayer specifically.
Here’s the link for Identity Cloaker – I can recommend the 10 day . if you’re just away on a trip or holiday, or just to see if it works. There are loads of other services who offer something similar though, but this is simply the one I found to be fastest and best value. I’ve been using it for over 8 years now as a BBC proxy without a problem and it also works for ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5 and Sky GO.
If you want to watch using an Ipad, Smartphone or tablet you can use Identity Cloaker too just by setting up a VPN manually on pretty much any other device. Yes for BBC iPlayer proxy ipad too. – try this post about watching BBC Iplayer on the Ipad Abroad.