How to Watch BBC iPlayer from the USA (Tested April 2021)Last Updated by Chase Williams on April 19, 2021
I love streaming oldies on BBC iPlayer, but get frustrated when I can’t use the site outside of the UK. Fortunately, a quality Virtual Private Network (VPN) lets me sneak past BBC iPlayer’s geoblocks and watch my favorite content from anywhere.
However, choosing the right VPN for streaming without interruptions can be tricky and time-consuming. To save you time, I tested 43 of the best VPNs to see which ones worked with BBC iPlayer in April 2021. Of the 3 that work best, I recommend ExpressVPN — during my tests, it unblocked BBC iPlayer every time and automatically found me the fastest servers for uninterrupted streaming in UltraHD. You can try ExpressVPN yourself without risking a penny as it offers a reliable 30 money-back guarantee that you can claim with “no questions asked.”
Quick Guide: 3 Steps to Watch BBC iPlayer From Anywhere
- Get a VPN. ExpressVPN will choose the fastest streaming server for you. You can watch BBC iPlayer with ExpressVPN risk-free with its money-back guarantee.
- Connect to a server in the UK. Register for a free BBC iPlayer account using the postcode SW1W 0NY, and click “Yes” when prompted about a license.
- Start watching. BBC iPlayer is always free, so once you are registered and past the TV license requirement, just click on your favorite show and start streaming.
Note: BBC iPlayer doesn’t require users to provide proof of their UK TV license. However, keep in mind that viewing content on BBC iPlayer without a license is a criminal offence, and could result in large fines.
Why You Need a VPN to Watch BBC iPlayer in 2021
BBC iPlayer is blocked outside of the UK due to copyright laws. A VPN can help you get past the geo-blocks and watch BBC iPlayer from anywhere. By connecting to a UK server with your VPN, you mask your true location with a UK-based IP address. This makes it look like you are connecting to BBC iPlayer from the UK.
However, BBC iPlayer uses sophisticated technology to detect and block VPN connections. That’s why I recommend that you use ExpressVPN — during my tests, it sneaked around BBC iPlayer’s geo-blocks every single time, and had me streaming in UltraHD without lags. You don’t have to take my word for it — you can try using ExpressVPN to watch BBC iPlayer yourself risk-free with its 30-day money-back guarantee.
3 Best VPNs to Watch BBC iPlayer in April 2021
- 3000+ servers in over 94+ countries
- Stream BBC iPlayer with top speeds from anywhere
- Connect up to 5 devices at a time
- 24/7 live support via email or chat
- 30-day money-back guarantee lets you see it for yourself risk-free
I picked ExpressVPN because its speedy servers let me watch BBC iPlayer content in UltraHD and without buffering. I tested ExpressVPN’s UK servers from my location in Canada, and the results averaged 100Mbps — a 9% drop from my home network speed of 110Mbps. To see if distance affected speeds, I also tested ExpressVPN’s servers in Paris, New York, Frankfurt, and Melbourne, and these were still reliably fast with an average of 94Mpbs. These speeds were more than high enough to watch BBC iPlayer content without wasting a second on buffering.
BBC iPlayer uses advanced processes to detect and block VPN connections, so I was concerned that ExpressVPN wouldn’t unblock the site for me from my Canada location. Fortunately, ExpressVPN uses an obfuscation protocol to hide all traces of a VPN connection from streaming sites. My tests confirmed that I had nothing to worry about — each UK server location I tested gave me reliable access to BBC iPlayer content.
With its obfuscation technology, ExpressVPN is one of the few VPNs that work well in countries that restrict their citizens’ internet access. ExpressVPN can even bypass China’s censorship, making it a great option if you’re trying to stream BBC iPlayer content from that country. Although the Chinese government punishes unauthorized VPN with fines, don’t worry — your privacy is well protected with ExpressVPN’s proven no-logs policy.
If you’re not sure that ExpressVPN is the right choice for you, there’s good news: you can test all its features without risking your money. The VPN comes with a money-back guarantee, so you can test ExpressVPN yourself risk-free and see how well it works with BBC iPlayer for 30 days. I tested this by asking the 24/7 live chat agent for my refund after testing it with BBC iPlayer for 3 weeks. The agent was polite and helpful and processed my request within just a few lines of chat. She told me to expect the refund within 5-7 business days, but I got the money back only 4 days later.
ExpressVPN also unblocks: Netflix, HBO Max, Hulu, Disney+, Amazon Prime Video, BBC iPlayer, YouTubeTV, SlingTV, Vudu, and more.
ExpressVPN works on: Windows, Android, iOS, macOS, Linux, smart TVs, Chrome, Firefox, Playstation, Xbox, routers, and more.
April 2021 Update! ExpressVPN has dropped prices for a limited time to a crazy $6.67 per month for the 1-year plan (you can save up to 49%) + 3 months free! This is a limited offer so be sure to grab it now before it's gone. See more information on this offer here.
- 6800+ servers in over 90+ countries
- High speeds for streaming BBC iPlayer without buffering
- Connect up to 7 devices at a time
- 24/7 live support via email or chat
- 45-day money back guarantee lets you see it for yourself risk-free
CyberGhost has a selection of servers optimized for streaming, and these reliably unblock the most popular streaming platforms and offer top speeds for quality video playback. CyberGhost’s BBC iPlayer made it easy to bypass the site’s proxy error message, giving me average speeds of 86Mbps. With only a 22% drop from my home network speed, I used this server to stream BBC iPlayer content in UltraHD without any lag. Better yet, I didn’t have to waste time looking for this optimized server — all I had to do was type in “BBC iPlayer” into the app’s search field, and CyberGhost found it instantly.
I was happy to learn that CyberGhost’s other streaming-optimized servers, such as ‘Netflix UK,’ also unblocked BBC iPlayer with top speeds for bufferless streaming. This was useful, as I could easily switch to this server on the rare occasions when the BBC iPlayer server became overcrowded and slow during peak times.
When all streaming servers were full, I could still use CyberGhost’s regular, non-optimized locations to access BBC iPlayer. These non-optimized servers averaged 57Mbps, which is still fast enough for 4K streaming. I did get 10-20 seconds of lag before my video would start, but after this initial buffering period I could watch Match of the Day without further interruptions or pixelation.
To see if the service is worth your money, you can try using CyberGhost yourself risk-free for 45 days. After testing the VPN for 4 weeks, I decided to see if its money-back guarantee actually works. Getting a refund was super-easy using CyberGhost’s 24/7 live support chat. When I asked for my money back, the agent offered to troubleshoot any issues. I told her I simply changed my mind, and they processed my request right away. My money was back in my bank account in only 5 business days.
CyberGhost also unblocks: Hulu, Netflix, HBO Max, Vudu, DAZN, ESPN Sports, YLE Arena, Abema TV, YouTubeTV, Disney+, and more
CyberGhost works on: Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux, Blackberry, Chromebook, Xbox, PlayStation4, Firefox, Safari, Opera, Nintendo, and more
- 12,507+ servers in 74+ countries
- High-speed servers to watch BBC iPlayer from anywhere lag-free
- Watch on up to 10 devices at once
- Live chat and email support 24/7
- 30-day money-back guarantee
Private Internet Access (PIA) offers a variety of VPN protocols, letting you maximize speeds for lag-free TV and movies on BBC iPlayer. You can choose 128-bit encryption to give your streams on BBC iPlayer an extra boost for buffer-free HD video. Even though 128-bit encryption isn’t the highest level, it’s plenty for low-risk online activities like streaming. While it’s still powerful enough to hide your data and keep your activities private, you’ll have less lag and fewer quality reductions.
A small con to PIA is that a lot of its servers in the UK can’t get past BBC iPlayer’s location and proxy errors. However, this wasn’t a big deal as PIA’s UK London Streaming Server consistently unblocked BBC iPlayer instantly. I watched Top Gear in HD with only a few seconds of buffering at the beginning of the video, and it never stopped to load or gave me annoying quality drops.
With an included ad and malware blocker, PIA also prevents malicious software or marketing trackers from slowing down your streams on BBC iPlayer. These can run in the background and cause lag, so by preventing ads automatically I got reliable TV and movies on BBC iPlayer even in high quality.
If you want to see how it handles HD video on BBC iPlayer, you can try PIA for yourself with its 30-day money-back guarantee. As long as you cancel before the 30 days are up, you can get a full refund by contacting customer service.
PIA also unblocks: Hulu, Netflix, HBO Max, Vudu, DAZN, ESPN Sports, YLE Arena, Abema TV, YouTubeTV, and more
PIA also works on: Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux, Blackberry, Chromebook, Xbox, PlayStation4, Firefox, Safari, Opera, and more
FAQs on Watching BBC iPlayer With a VPN
Is BBC iPlayer free?
Yes, BBC iPlayer is free to use when you register with a UK postcode. However, you’ll need a top-grade VPN to access the site from outside of the UK.
While it’s tempting to use a free VPN to watch BBC iPlayer, it’s not a good idea. There are some decent free VPNs, but even the best of them have throttled speeds and strict data caps. These restrictions make it impossible to stream HD TV or movies for more than about 20 minutes without the video cutting off. Even some high-ranked free providers are just marketing tricks to steal your browsing data and sell it for profit. The worst free VPNs have malware in their code that could steal your logins or damage your device.
Instead of risking your online safety with free providers, I recommend taking advantage of a money-back guarantee to try a premium VPN without committing. During my tests ExpressVPN easily connected to BBC iPlayer, giving me the highest speeds for lag-free TV and movies in HD. Its 30-day money-back guarantee gives you plenty of time to try ExpressVPN’s super-fast servers to watch your favorite shows on BBC iPlayer.
Do I need a UK TV license to watch BBC iPlayer?
Yes, it’s illegal to watch anything on BBC iPlayer without a UK TV license. When you register for a BBC iPlayer account, you’ll have to enter a UK-based postcode. Then the BBC iPlayer app will ask if you have a valid TV license. While you can answer “yes” without providing proof, unlicensed streaming can leave you facing a criminal charge and a large fine. Keep this in mind if you don’t have a license, or are registering from outside the UK.
You will also need a VPN if you’re abroad or don’t have a UK-based address. I connected to a server in the UK using ExpressVPN, then registered with UK postcode SW1W 0NY. After answering “Yes” to the TV license question and confirming my email, I could watch anything I wanted on the BBC.
In all my tests, ExpressVPN was the most reliable VPN for BBC iPlayer. It let me register easily from a foreign country and watch with zero lag (even in HD). If you want to see for yourself if you get speeds as fast as I did, you can try ExpressVPN yourself entirely risk-free for 30 days with its money-back guarantee.
Can I watch BBC iPlayer on Fire TV Stick, Roku TV, and other devices?
BBC iPlayer works on Amazon Fire TV, Amazon Fire Stick, Roku, Smart TVs, Android, iOS, macOS, Windows, and other popular devices. Almost all of the top VPN providers I listed here are compatible with these devices as well. If you want to watch BBC iPlayer on a device that doesn’t work with your VPN, don’t worry — every provider on this list works on popular routers. Installing a VPN on your router protects every device on your network, including your smart TVs and gaming consoles.
I tested how each VPN performed on different operating systems, and ExpressVPN consistently unblocked BBC iPlayer on every device I tried. Whether I used my Windows PC, Android phone, or Macbook, I always got really fast speeds for bufferless streaming. Even on 5 devices at once, my shows on BBC iPlayer started right away and never stopped to load. If you want to make sure it works on your preferred streaming device, you can try using ExpressVPN to unblock BBC iPlayer risk-free for 30 days with its money-back guarantee.
Why can’t I access BBC iPlayer with my VPN?
BBC iPlayer is constantly blocking VPN servers, making it notoriously tricky to connect from outside the UK. Even if you subscribe to a premium VPN, most of them can’t get past BBC iPlayer’s advanced location filters. If you still get errors when you try to watch with one of the providers on this list, try these troubleshooting tips:
- Switch servers and try a different UK-based location.
- Update your VPN app if it isn’t up-to-date.
- Clear cookies and cached files in your browser.
- Enable leak protection in your VPN settings, if it’s available.
- Restart your device and connect to the VPN server again.
- Contact customer support and ask which server works best with the BBC iPlayer.
With dozens of servers in the UK that unblock BBC iPlayer, ExpressVPN never gave me any problems. Thankfully it has 24/7 live chat support — so if you try using ExpressVPN to unblock BBC iPlayer and it doesn’t work, help is always available. I reached out at 11pm on a Saturday to ask if ExpressVPN had a data cap, and within a minute an agent replied that there are no limits on bandwidth.
Can I unblock other streaming sites with my VPN?
A good VPN can unblock the most popular streaming sites including Netflix, Hulu, HBO Max, SlingTV, Amazon Prime Video, DAZN, YouTube TV, Disney+, Fubo, ITV Hub, and more. However, not all VPNs are powerful enough to get past the VPN detection technology these streaming services use.
To save you from having to test tons of different VPNs, I did my own tests — and ExpressVPN bypassed blocks on almost every streaming service I tried. In addition to BBC iPlayer, I watched lag-free shows on Netflix, Hulu, HBO Max, YouTube TV, and Disney+. If you want to see if it unblocks your favorite TV and movie sites, you can try streaming with ExpressVPN with no risk. If it doesn’t work and support can’t solve your problem, it’s easy to get your money back as long as you cancel your subscription within 30 days.
What else can a VPN do?
In addition unblocking TV and movie sites, you can use a VPN to:
- Watch global live sporting events that aren’t available in your home country
- Protect personal data like your location and IP address from hackers and other third parties
- Anonymously share files on torrent and P2P networks
- Stop speed throttling from your internet provider or government, giving you more value out of your internet subscription
- Bypass web censorship in China and other countries that restrict online content
Out of every VPN I tested, ExpressVPN is one of the only providers that could do everything on the list above — including connecting anonymously in China and other heavily-censored countries. If you will be traveling in China and want to be able to catch up on BBC shows, try ExpressVPN for super-reliable connections within China. Not even the Chinese authorities will know that you’re using a VPN.
Start Watching BBC iPlayer From Anywhere Today!
To watch BBC iPlayer, you need a UK TV license — but you still won’t be able to watch your favorite shows and movies from outside the UK. That’s why you need a VPN that can bypass BBC iPlayer’s advanced location blocks.
I tested 43 providers and ExpressVPN had the fastest, most reliable servers in the UK for watching BBC iPlayer from anywhere. Try streaming your favorite BBC shows with ExpressVPN — even in HD, I was never interrupted by lag or a lost connection. If you aren’t happy with the service, getting a refund is easy. I asked for one via ExpressVPN’s 24/7 live chat, and they processed it immediately with no questions asked. The money was back in my account in just a few days.