How To Access BBC iPlayer And More Online Video Internationally For Free

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bbc iplayerThose of us who spend a lot of time online often choose to view TV and films on the computer instead of on their TV. In fact, often these days the computer is the TV. Sadly though, some of the world’s best content is restricted to certain countries, without the option of allowing citizens elsewhere to just pay for access. Instead they seem content to allow third parties to profit by offering perfectly legal hacks.

So, if you’re a fan of Internet TV, but not a fan of “Sorry, you can’t view this content in your country” notices then read on. Here’s three great (mostly free) ways to get access to your favourite content worldwide, particularly the BBC iPlayer.

Proxy Switching

The first method most people try to use is by using a proxy. Proxies can work really well for some sites, but not at all for others. Plus, active proxies come and go all the time. Sometimes you can spend quite a while just trying to get things to work – and even then it can leave you with a flaky or slow connection!

However, if you’re going to give proxies a try, here’s some cool tools to help you:

Some starting points for proxies:

bbc iplayer

VPN (Virtual Private Network)

Using a VPN will usually work for accessing most video sites. However, the downside is that you’ll usually have to pay for access or convince a friend in the desired country to host a VPN server for you.

Here’s a few articles on VPNs you might like to read:

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We won’t go into too much detail on generic VPN access, since if you know how to use one you probably don’t need more information. There are also a few specific tools (mostly based on VPNs) which are free, easy to use and they work!

bbc iplayer download

Expat Shield

Expat Shield is a free program for Windows users (Windows XP/Vista/Windows 7) which gives you a UK IP address. It does all the fussing about for you and simply works. Because it gives you a UK IP address, it will allow access to sites as if you are in Britain, but not allow access to country-specific sites from elsewhere. In order to pay the bills, Expat Shield asks you to pay a small amount for Elite Access to watch BBC iPlayer.

bbc iplayer download


Tunlr is a simple, free tool designed to give you access to any video sites anywhere. They do the hard work at their end to ensure that you have access to Netflix, Hulu, MTV, CBS in the US, plus BBC iPlayer and other great services from various countries.

As a user, all you need to do from your end is to change your DNS (Domain Name System) servers to use their addresses. It’s easy to set up and once you’re done it just works. Now, you can’t go leaving your DNS settings like this though, as they have a lot of people to serve. In order to remind you to change back to your own ISP’s DNS servers for everyday use, they artificially slow down any network traffic that isn’t video streaming.

bbc iplayer download


TunnelBear is a free tool for Windows and Mac users, which uses a simple switch to give you a US or UK IP address whenever you want it. The only catch is that the free account is limited to 500MB per month, so you’ll need to be sparing with it if you want to keep your access free. Read more about how to Access US-Only Websites Internationally For Free With TunnelBear.

bbc iplayer app

Mix It Up For Free BBC iPlayer Access

So, you’ve tried all these services and you want to keep your access free? Here’s a plan of attack: Use Tunlr, ExpatShield, a VPN or a proxy in order to download your BBC iPlayer shows. You could choose “Series Record” for all your favourite shows and leave the computer downloading them all while you’re busy elsewhere.

Then when you want to watch your shows and authenticate iPlayer, use TunnelBear to quickly switch you to a UK IP address while you watch. To keep TunnelBear free, ensure that you’re not using any data while you’re watching.

bbc iplayer app

bbc iplayer

More About Watching BBC

If you love the BBC, check out these articles too:

Note: If you work for the BBC and you think this is unfair, please consider simply letting us pay a monthly/yearly BBC fee for access. There are a lot of us who would pay you! The iPad application is a good start.

What’s your favourite way to get access to BBC iPlayer?

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Comments (45)
  • Jamie

    Completely disagree with articles like this, we pay our license fees for us to watch not you lot!!! The BBC is one of the few things that are a British privilege and should remain that way!

    • bumbery

      do not be jalous.
      what difference does it make? it won’t get BBC bankrupted…

  • ab1

    Legal issues aside, if you are not afraid for roll up your sleeves and dive into Linux and The Cloud, this guide shows how to implement a solution to get around BBC iPlayer geo-restriction in Australia:

    Also, having a few friends share a solution like this is significantly cheaper than individually paying $5 a month for a commercial service.

    — ab1

  • Alastair Andrew

    I can suggest a VPN solution. With private VPN account you can bypass your firewall, visit all blocked web sites, watch TV online, bbc iplayer, hulu, Netflix, Boxee box, listen radio, access Flickr, YouTube, use Skype if it is blocked in your region and more. For me all work perfect with SSL based VPN.I researched appropriate VPN service and I found HideMyAss and I must admit I am very satisfied! Their services are highly effective and affordable!
    Here is the list of Top Best VPN Service Provider of the industry

  • Kieran

    Expat Shield is a nasty piece of software… best to avoid it and its also extremely hard to uninstall from Windows.

  • NiKEUS

    Smart DNS service does the trick for me, I purchased a VPN service with smart DNS, you can buy just smart DNS services for under £3 a month.

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Affiliate Disclamer

This review may contain affiliate links, which pays us a small compensation if you do decide to make a purchase based on our recommendation. Our judgement is in no way biased, and our recommendations are always based on the merits of the items.

For more details, please read our disclosure.