ITV Hub Blocking your VPN Service in 2021 ?
In a continuing trend of media companies setting up ways to block access to viewers who attempt to view content via VPNs, ITV has started blocking VPN players. The ITV Hub is used by ITV’s channels: ITV1, ITV2, ITV3, ITV4 and CITV. These channels are normally available only to viewers in the United Kingdom. However for many years they have been accessible outside the UK if you use a simple VPN service to hide your location. However recently many of the VPNs have stopped working!
It’s come as quite a shock as millions of people have been accessing all the ITV stations for years using pretty much any VPN service. More so it seems to happen at the most annoying times, several people I know found out just as they were about to sit down and enjoy the Euro 2021 Semi final between England and Denmark. It was streamed exclusively in the UK on ITV !
Now we’ve become used to VPNs being blocked by the BBC over the past couple of years, but most of the commercial channels in the UK have been ok. However that seems to have all changed recently with ITV Hub adopting many of the same procedures to limit access to the ITV Hub from outside the UK. We’ve certainly heard reports that Express VPN doesn’t work with ITV and receives the dreaded ‘sorry this video isn’t available right now’ message.
How to watch ITV Hub abroad with a VPN
The process was quite simple – simply using a VPN to keep your location secret. As long as you connected to a VPN server based in the UK then ITV HUB would never know you were outside the UK. The site would only see the IP address of the VPN server not your real one. This technique also worked with pretty much every geo-targeting web site on the internet.
Here’s one of my favourites in action –
As you can see it’s very simple and requires virtually no technical knowledge at all. In fact when you’ve installed the VPN client it’s just a matter of clicking a button to connect to a UK server and disconnecting when you’ve finished. While you were connected you’ve effectively got a UK IP address (or whatever country you picked) and all the British only sites would work. These included all the major TV sites ranging from BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub to All 4 and Channel 5.
Can I watch live TV on the ITV Hub too?
You can watch live TV streams on the ITV hub too although there were a few exceptions. if you went to the ITV Hub website on your computer or phone there is a live TV button where you could watch all the ITV channels live. This was useful for everyday programmes such as soaps and the news for example. Also important for some special events and films which weren’t always archived.
However for some reason, some of the ITV Hub apps didn’t support the live TV option and the ‘live’ button wasn’t there. One example is on the XBOX games console, you could watch any archive show but not the live broadcast stream. Apparently this was the case on some of the other versions of the ITV application too.
The functionality was generally available and presumably would have been added to those other applications soon.
Best VPNs for streaming ITV Hub abroad
To be honest for a long time this didn’t really matter. All the main VPN services worked perfectly with ITV and it was just a matter of assessing speed and price. I used to check loads and don’t remember ITV Hub not working with VPN services at all. Speed has always been an important issue though, if you connection is tool slow using the VPN then you’ll get constant buffering when trying to watch anything. The costs of these VPN services has fallen over the years too and most of them include hundreds of different countries too.
However as mentioned this is changing slightly and now a considerable number of VPN programmes don’t work anymore with ITV Hub. They have started to actively identify and block VPN and proxy connections and block them. You won’t always know this has happened as many time you’ll just get an error message like this
This error message is usually linked to someone using a VPN or proxy to hide their location. You’ll get a different error message if you try and access ITV from outside the UK without hiding your address.
The method they are using is crucial in deciding on the best VPN to use, simply because it takes quite a bit of work by the VPN service to bypass. Just like the BBC and many other media streaming sites, the primary VPN detection method is something quite simple. All they are doing is looking for concurrent connections on the same IP address. This is a huge identifier to the presence of a VPN service where generally you’ll share the same address with thousands of people when connected.
It’s the IP address that’s Blocked Not the VPN
The ITV firewall will detect that many people are using the same address when accessing the ITV Hub site. This heavily suggests the use of a proxy or VPN service. Normally home user connections will only have one or two inbound connections to the site at the same time.
When ITV Hub sees hundreds or even thousands of people streaming Coronation Street to a single identical IP address it’s easy to flag that address as being on a VPN server. So ITV will see these connections, temporarily block that IP address and all the users will see a message like the one above. It’s extremely simple and can even be programmed to automatically block access when a certain threshold is reached. This means that ITV don’t have to spend lots of time and resources blocking the VPN access either.
It’s important to remember though that the VPN isn’t being directly detected and it’s not focused on any particular VPN service, It’s merely analysing the IP addresses which are being used to access the site.
The fix is actually quite simple, rotate the IP addresses used to connect to the ITV site and restrict the numbers using them concurrently at the same time. the downside is that this is quite a lot of work. Many VPN services have decided this isn’t worth it, the effort involved is not worth the customers. However some VPNs have decided to try and support access to streaming services like ITV Hub.
ITV Hub streaming still not working?
Even if you choose a VPN that is supposed to work, occasionally they’ll get it wrong. It’s quite a dynamic situation especially if there’s some thing popular on like a Euro match on ITV. If too many people start connecting on the same addresses, that IP is going to get blocked. Then you’ll suddenly find ITV Player not working all of a sudden. If your VPN normally works pretty well than simply disconnect, restart your browser (ideally clearing cookies too) and connect to a different IP address.
The companies like Nord VPN who have committed to supporting access to BBC iPlayer and ITV Hub have specified special servers to use which they will monitor. You should definitely use them to ensure that you have interrupted access – here’s the servers you should use UK# 1840-1847, 1850-1863, 1865, 1869, 1873, 1875-1878, 1880-1881, 1900-1901, 1903-1904, 1911, 1913, 1917, 1919-1920.
Remember all the VPN companies have to be pretty low key about supporting access to sites like BBC and ITV online. So you’ll rarely see it mentioned directly on the most visible areas of their websites. ask the support teams though and they should be happy to help if the company supports VPN access. Unfortunately many just pretend to do so and hope that you won’t ask for a refund!
Top VPN Discounts
The main VPN companies offer discounts all the time. Indeed the best deals are usually made for very long subscriptions up to three years. This is definitely the cheapest way to buy a VPN service although you are obviously locked into it to some extent.
Here’s our favourite VPN that works extremely well with both BBC and ITV Hub as long as you use the ‘media streaming’ IP addresses. It has apps for most devices and you can install onto up to six different devices. There’s a money back guarantee period too so you can check it’s working with ITV and BBC (but use the above servers).
How to Register and Watch Via the ITV Hub
It’s very simple to use the ITV Hub but just like BBC iPlayer you now have to an account. They’re free and primarily just make it easier to use the site. If you’ve already got an account then you can use that.
Otherwise just connect to your chosen VPN, select a UK server and then head to the ITV Registration page here – https://www.itv.com/hub/user/signup
Here’s the registration page, and the only bit you need to be careful about is the postcode. This is just like the US ZIP code and you must enter a valid UK one. You can use any postcode you like as long as it actually exists, so grab one from somewhere famous or check out the codes on this page.
Just use a valid UK postcode and you’ll be fine, there’s no actual checks on addresses other than that. With a VPN connection to a UK server you can register from anywhere in the world, if you want to install the application you may have to change your device settings too. So if you’re in France you may need to set your phones locale to the UK first (then change it back after).
Can I use a free VPN to watch ITV?
Unfortunately the days of using free proxies and VPNs to watch any of the larger media sites are long gone now. There are several issues but the primary one is that there’s too many people using each IP address. The commercial VPNs have this problem and try to rotate, the numbers using a free VPN are many times that.
The only possibility I can think of if you’re really strapped for cash is some of the free residential VPNs like Hola. These allow you access to a free VPN in return for allowing others to share your connection. This sounds incredibly risky to me, so I shan’t be testing but there’s a possibility that these addresses will work with ITV Hub if you wan to try. Remember though complete strangers will be allowed to use your connection! So it might be the best free VPN for ITV Hub but honestly don’t think it’s worth the trade.