For many years, I and literally millions of people have been using a VPN (Virtual Private Network) for a very specific reason. That is to bypass all the pesky geo-restrictions which block access to our favorite online TV sites – in my case primarily to stream BBC iPlayer. Despite being a TV license payer, the very minute I step outside the UK border it stopped working. The same happens with all the other free UK TV channels -ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 plus all the subscription channels too like Sky Go and BT.
These programs hide your real location, so you can connect from anywhere and appear to be in the UK. So for a small subscription for a program like NordVPN then you can enjoy all the British TV you’ll ever need. Brilliant, huh and if you’ve never checked out the sheer quantity and quality on the main UK channels like the BBC you really should.
I think I first tried this on a holiday to Turkey in 2007 and it’s been working extremely well ever since. I’ve switched between VPN providers occasionally because of speed and price but generally it’s not been an issue – most of them worked well enough. Until recently that is ! During 2020 even the most reliable VPN services have become at best unreliable and some simply don’t unblock BBC iPlayer anymore!
Can BBC iPlayer Detect VPNS and Proxies Now ?
If you’re using some VPN services it certainly can seem so. Indeed there seems to be an increasing number that are now pretty much useless for the major UK TV stations as whatever BBC are doing ITV and Channel 4 seem to be copying too. Searching on the internet will mostly find you duff and misleading information with posts like this –
- BBC iPlayer Not Working with VPN? Here’s How to Fix That!
- BBC iPlayer Not Working with VPN? Try This 3 Minute Fix
- BBC iPlayer VPN Not Working? A Simple Workaround?
All of them suggest that you just switch to the VPN they promote and all will be fine! Unfortunately this isn’t true as the majority of them although they sort of mention the issues then simply point you to a VPN that has the same problem. Providers like Nord VPN still work but they’re definitely less reliable and you can spend some time switching between different servers to find one that works.
The reason we’re having so many problems with our VPNs and online TV sites is fairly straight forward.
BBC iPlayer can’t actually detect a VPN connection but it can make a guess when it sees 10,000 people streaming from the exact same IP address. The reality is that these VPN services have become too popular and they’re easy to detect based on the number of people using them. It’s quite common for an IP address to be shared by a few people – from home connections, offices, schools etc. However when thousands sign up from the same address to watch Match of the Day on a Saturday night then it’s obvious it’s a VPN. What’s arguably worse, these can be detected and blocked almost automatically which involves minimal costs and effort too.
Every one of these mainstream VPN providers shares the same addresses with loads of people. Even if they have hundred of UK IP addresses, having tens of thousands of subscribers using them at the same time is a dead giveaway. Most of the websites suggest that the companies with the larger server networks are the ones to use, but generally they’re the ones with more users too.
The VPN is not the problem – it’s that too many people are sharing addresses.
So Do Any VPN’s Still Work Reliably With BBC iPlayer and ITV Hub?
Yes, but if you stick with the standard VPN provider and proxy companies you see advertised every where, then the problem will only get worse. Potentially if the BBC drop it’s limits on the number of concurrent connections allowed to a low enough level, then 99% of the VPN services will stop working. As it is, with a decent VPN mostly it’s a matter of switching servers and trying a different IP address to find one that’s ‘less busy’.
For casual viewing that’s ok for most people, indeed NordVPN despite it’s size usually has a lot of servers which work. It can get frustrating though especially if you’re watching live and your favorite show is about to start. Sometimes at peak times it can take quite a while to find a reliable server to connect too to watch BBC iPlayer without interruptions.
There is a Way to Solve the VPN Issue Completely Though
Remember at the moment the only way that your VPN is being detected and blocked is because you’re sharing the same address as loads of other people. If you didn’t have to share then your connection would be completely reliable and work every single time.
Try a VPN With A Dedicated IP Address
Now this might sound a little strange for those of us used to using standard VPNs because it’s just not the way they’re setup. The VPNs usually used through custom software where you can connect through a huge list of different servers (and IP addresses). If you use a big one like NordVPN you’ll have access to a network all across the world all included in the same subscription.
The question comes down to this –
- Do you want access to a world wide network of VPN servers to share with everybody else?
- Or a VPN with a dedicated, exclusive UK IP address that works 100% of the time with ANY UK web site.
I began to think of how I used a VPN and frankly I never touched all those other servers. It seemed great being able to use Japanese, Australian and all the other countries but I actually only ever used the UK ones to watch TV !
But surely there were no VPN services which offered a dedicated UK IP address ? Wouldn’t they be extremely expensive? Well on investigation, I have found just that for about the same price as you’d pay for a standard VPN!
They’re called IPBurger and they are a specialized proxy firm, here’s the current price list of their dedicated (exclusive) proxy servers. Don’t worry about the Professional or Business Options you really don’t need those. The basic option is plenty and offers you a superfast connection to a UK based proxy with your own exclusive IP address. Nobody in the world will be using that address except you so you’ll be completely safe from the VPN detection systems.
However you might be wondering if a proxy server is enough? Fortunately you can connect to your UK address in a variety of ways including a selection of free VPN clients which work on all the major platforms. Here’s the selection screen, where you simply input what platform you’re using for a choice of what’s available.
If you’re using a laptop or computer or similar I’d definitely suggest using the Chrome extension which you can enable from your browser with a single click to enable a secure VPN connection with a UK IP address. They’re all extremely easy to use and you’ll be completely unaffected by blocks like all the standard VPN users.
I have been using VPNs for well over a decade now and nothing works better than this to watch BBC iPlayer abroad. It connects every single time and is much faster than any VPN provider I’ve used especially through the Chrome extension. For unblocking BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub and the other UK channels it’s without doubt the best option on the market currently available in 2021.
It’s no more difficult to install than any of the normal VPN services, although I have to say the Chrome extension is super easy and recommended if you have the option. There is a short one month trial, however they charge a setup fee for the trial account. It costs about the same around $15 for the three month options so it’s better to try that first. Remember you only get one IP address based in the UK, although you can add extra exclusive addresses in other countries if you need. It would work out more expensive if you need access to multiple countries though obviously.
The best VPN for BBC iPlayer you can buy in 2021