VPN not working with iPlayer? Try these fixes

These are the VPNs we recommend using with iPlayer

  1. ExpressVPN
  2. CyberGhost VPN
  3. Surfshark
  4. PrivateVPN
  5. VyprVPN

Unblocking iPlayer is possible with a virtual private network (VPN), but the BBC is on a mission to block each and every provider. You might find yourself receiving an irritating error message telling you that the "content is not available in your location," even if you've chosen one of the VPNs that work with iPlayer. If your VPN isn't working, follow our tips to troubleshoot the service and get it working again.

 

Is BBC iPlayer detecting your VPN? - Here's what to do

Our troubleshooting guide consists of 10 tips to help you get rid of your error message and get back to watching content. Click the links below for more information.

  1. Choose a VPN that supports BBC iPlayer
  2. Switch it off and back on
  3. Connect to a different VPN server
  4. Use a browser instead of an app
  5. Restart your browser
  6. Clear your cookies
  7. Update your browser's geolocation data
  8. Plug potential DNS leaks
  9. Fix WebRTC leaks
  10. Contact your provider's support

Why does the BBC block VPNs?

BBC iPlayer offers its catalog to local users for free because the network makes its money from the annual renewals of TV licenses in the UK. Internationally, the BBC makes substantially more money by licensing its content to other networks. In order to protect the investment of its partners, the BBC has gone above and beyond to reject VPN access, preventing international users from watching content that would otherwise cost them a subscription to another service.

How does the BBC block VPNs?

If the BBC is blocking your current VPN, this is likely because it has worked out that you are trying to bypass geo-restrictions. So, how can Auntie Beeb tell?

When a regular British viewer tunes into iPlayer, they are the only person accessing BBC programs from their IP address. Even in shared accommodation - or a family home (where various people all watch iPlayer at the same time) - the number of viewers is unlikely to exceed four or five people at any one time: the BBC knows this.

When many VPN users attempt to watch iPlayer using the same UK VPN server, it becomes extremely obvious that a VPN is in use. At that point, the BBC can easily block access to its service from the VPN's IP address.

Has the BBC blocked your VPN?

If you have already gone to the trouble of subscribing to a VPN that works with iPlayer then you are probably feeling frustrated if it isn't working. The good news is that there are a few things you can do.

iPlayer VPN block - Troubleshooting Tips

Below we will explain how to deal with all the problems mentioned above so that you can get your VPN working again.

  1. Choose a VPN that supports BBC iPlayer

    The BBC's effort to block VPNs has become an expensive battle for providers, causing most to admit defeat. Not a lot of services unblock BBC iPlayer, we recommed several that will on our best VPN for iPlayer guide. Our top pick is ExpressVPN because it has fast servers, offers cool features like a smart DNS so users can watch iPlayer on their TV with ease, and unblocks Netflix as well as other services.

    It's worth checking whether your chosen provider offers access to iPlayer. You can check their website, or contact support if you struggling to find a straight answer. This won't guarantee that you'll receive a problem-free experience, however, which is why we have more tips to help you troubleshoot.

    Top tip: It is possible to gain temporary access to an iPlayer VPN for free by taking advantage of VPN money-back guarantees and free trials. Check out of free VPN for iPlayer hack for more information.

  2. Switch the VPN off and back on

    Turning something off and on again is one of the oldest tricks in the book, but there is an explanation. Companies often have multiple servers in one location, meaning your refresh of the connection could connect to another, more competent server that can access BBC iPlayer.

    Once you've switched your VPN off and back on, navigate to BBC iPlayer and reload the page to see if it is working again.

  3. Try a different server

    You could continue to use trial and error to find a UK server that works, but VPN providers often set aside specific servers to access BBC iPlayer. Try changing from one designated server to another manually.

    Top tip: Get in touch with your provider's customer support team to find out which servers you should be using.

  4. Try a browser instead

    If you are attempting to watch iPlayer using the BBC iPlayer app for Windows, macOS, Android or iOS, it is possible that the app is giving away your location. Try opening your browser instead and accessing your iPlayer account in a tab. This should help the VPN to work as intended.

    Another option is to try an alternative browser such as Firefox. If all else fails try on mobile by asking your browser to serve you the desktop version of the page instead of the one optimized for smartphones.

  5. Restart your browser

    If you haven’t closed your browser in a while, it is possible that iPlayer is being a bit "sticky". Sometimes if you open iPlayer when connected to the wrong VPN server, iPlayer still won't work if you connect to the correct server and hit refresh. When this happens, it is a good idea to close your browser and restart it; as this can fix the issue.

  6. Clear your cookies

    If restarting your browser doesn’t do the trick (and you are sure you are connected to a compatible server), then you will probably need to clear your cookies and cache.  

    The BBC is known to leave cookies and tracking beacons in your browser that let it know where you really are. You must clear these to give your system a refresh and the ability to access iPlayer. 

  7. Update your browser’s geolocation data

    If your browser is sending geolocation data to the BBC, it is possible that this could stop the VPN from functioning properly. To fix this issue, try updating your browser’s geolocation data.

    This method varies slightly per browser, but on Google Chrome:

    Open Settings > Advanced > Privacy and Security > Location and turn on Ask before accessing (recommended).

    For more information, check out our in-depth guide to disabling geolocation in your browser.

  8. Fix DNS leaks

    None of the VPNs that we have recommended for watching iPlayer suffer from DNS leaks. So if you are currently subscribed to one of those services, it is highly unlikely that this is your problem.

    However, in case you are using a service we haven't recommended, we have decided to include this fix.

    DNS leaks can inform the BBC about your real location, which will result in your VPN not working. If you are using a VPN that you are convinced is supposed to work with iPlayer, then it is possible that you need to fix a DNS leak.

    You can test if your VPN is leaking using our VPN leak test tool.

  9. Fix WebRTC leaks

    Like DNS leaks, WebRTC leaks can ruin your VPN experience by disclosing your real location. As is the case with DNS leaks, none of the VPNs we recommend for watching iPlayer actually suffer from these kinds of leaks, so it is unlikely this is your problem.

    If you are using a random VPN (that you believe is supposed to work with iPlayer), then you may need to plug a WebRTC leak. In Firefox, you can completely disable WebRTC. In Chrome, you will need to download an extension called Easy WebRTC Block. Either of these solutions will fix the problem if it is being caused by a WebRTC leak.

    Again, you can use our VPN leak test tool to confirm if your VPN is leaking any information about you.

  10. Contact Support

    Once you have been through the other 9 steps in this guide, there is one more thing you can do if your VPN stops working - contact your VPN’s customer support directly for help.

    Many providers now offer 24/7 live chat for speedier interactions, so it is worth taking advantage of whenever issues crop up. They can inform you if the service is experiencing issues, or point you in the right direction to fix your issue. 

Does iPlayer support my device?

You should be able to watch iPlayer on just about any device. If you have a smart TV, you may need to connect to the VPN at the router level. If you are using an Xbox, you may prefer to use ExpressVPN’s MediaStreamer service (SmartDNS that can be accessed from inside the console for no added cost). 

On mobile devices, it is possible that the iPlayer app may give away your location - so try accessing the BBC website in your browser instead. Watching iPlayer on Kodi is also possible with a VPN. If you have any questions about watching iPlayer on a specific device, don't hesitate to drop us a message below; we are always happy to help. 

Finally, you can check the BBC website to check if your device is compatible with iPlayer.

Written by: Ray Walsh

Digital privacy expert with 5 years experience testing and reviewing VPNs. He's been quoted in The Express, The Times, The Washington Post, The Register, CNET & many more. 

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