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Watching BBC IPlayer Abroad or Outside the UK

Updated on June 15, 2015

BBC Iplayer Blocked Abroad

BBc Iplayer when you are abroad
BBc Iplayer when you are abroad

Using BBC Iplayer Abroad

I travel quite a bit with my work and however much I used to complain about UK TV, I miss it a lot when I'm away. That's why I like BBC Iplayer so much a half decent network connection and my laptop and I can watch all the BBC stuff I want. But there is a problem I don't know if you've found - that is that you cannot watch BBC IPlayer outside the UK.

This is something to do with licensing conditions I guess, but I've tested it everywhere outside the UK and you just get a little information message when you try to access it. Now I'm a bit annoyed about this as I pay my license fee and I should be able to watch BBC Iplayer abroad if I want to - this site shows how -!

So how are they stopping me watch BBC IPlayer Abroad?

Well basically it's all down to your IP address, that little number that gets assigned to your computer when you connect to any network. The problem is that the IPlayer detects what your IP address is and then checks if this range is inside or outside the UK. If it's UK based you're in luck and the BBC Iplayer will start streaming programmes to you - if your IP address is in another country tough. Obviously it can't check any other way so that's it.

So outside UK = no BBC Iplayer = no BBC TV ?

Hang on I didn't give up quite that easily ! It's seemed quite simple to me all I had to do was to make sure that my connection came from a UK based IP address and it would work. So being mean I looked for a free solution first.

Video Demonstration of Watching the BBC Abroad

BBC Iplayer Overseas
BBC Iplayer Overseas

Watching BBC IPlayer Abroad - Free methods

So what are the free methods for accessing the Iplayer free? Well the first one I tried was routing through my own PC which was sat at my home. I just left one of my servers on and connected to the Internet and used something called SSH tunneling. It's just creates a little encrypted tunnel between two computers in this case my laptop and my LInux server at home. I used a program called Putty to connect to my home server via SSH and then redirected my browser to use a local proxy connected through this SSH tunnel. The result was that all my browsing was routed via my server at home and as such was a UK based IP address.

Did it Work ?

Well it kinda did, I never got the blocked message when I tried to access IPlayer as it didn't spot my foreign IP address. But unfortunately the problem was performance mainly - my connection struggled to relay the video through my home server and frankly the service was unusable. Perhaps a moral victory but in the end I still couldn't bear to watch BBC Iplayer abroad as it was so slow.

Any other Free ways to watch BBC IPlayer when Abroad ?

There are other ways based on similar principles - if you search on the internet you can find anonymous proxies. These act the same as my server did - redirecting all web traffic from them, of course you have to find a proxy that is in the UK otherwise it won't work. There is a big problem with these in that they keep dissappearing so every time you want to watch BBC Iplayer outside of the UK you need to find a new free proxy server and 99/100 they are so slow they are unusable.


Watching the BBC Over Slingbox
Watching the BBC Over Slingbox

Are those all the Options for watching IPlayer oustide the UK ?

No there are a couple more - one is you can use something call the Slingbox which you can connect to your TV at home to stream the programs to yoru computer. You'll need a UK Skybox and subscription to use this and again fast network connections from your home. Might be an option for someone who can leave this stuff set up at home when they travel (although not useful if you've emigrated obviously !)

Commercial Options for BBC Iplayer

There are lots of companies who now offer services to surf via their own private proxy servers. These work in just the same way as the free ones but are faster and more reliable. I found about 4 different companies who offered similar services and the prices varied depending on the length of time - usually about £120-£180 a year but most offered shorter terms.

In the end I used a security program which offered the best deal here for a UK Proxy for Iplayer and had about 10 different UK proxies that I could use to stream BBC Iplayer to my laptop.

It also worked on ITV and Channel 4 versions of the Iplayer and because you had a choice of lots of proxies in different countries - I could also use it to listen to Pandora - the most amazing music site on the internet but only available to US surfers (or anyone surfing via a US Proxy server)


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