How to watch BBC iPlayer from the USA

Stephen Mash

By Stephen Mash . 24 January 2024

IT Specialist

Miklos Zoltan

Fact-Checked this


BBC iPlayer is only available in the UK for users with valid U.K. TV licenses. You can, however, unblock BBC iPlayer by changing your IP address to that of the UK.

In this article you will learn about:

  • Why the BBC iPlayer is blocked in some countries
  • Methods to watch the BBC iPlayer from the USA
Watch the BBC iPlayer in the USA in just 5 minutes:

Quick summary & quick solution:

You can change your IP address using the following methods:

  • By using a VPN and connecting to a UK server – we recommend ExpressVPN
  • By using a proxy service (not always reliable)

BBC iPlayer users with valid U.K. TV licenses are traditionally the only ones who can enjoy the player. But what if you travel abroad?

Yes, you could use numerous other content services, but there’s probably nothing quite like your beloved TV shows that you’d normally view on the BBC iPlayer.

Summary: This guide delves into the methods for unblocking and accessing BBC iPlayer from outside the UK, focusing on users in the USA.

I discuss the geo-blocking mechanisms employed by BBC iPlayer and the effectiveness of VPNs or proxy servers in circumventing these limitations.

The guide highlights the benefits of opting for a VPN, particularly ExpressVPN, over a proxy server, owing to its superior speed, enhanced security, and user-friendliness.

I guide you through the steps of configuring ExpressVPN to access BBC iPlayer from overseas, while noting that such practices may breach the BBC’s terms of service.

How to watch BBC iPlayer from abroad

Why Might the BBC iPlayer Be Blocked?

If you’re trying to access BBC iPlayer from outside the U.K., you’ll get a message that access to the site is blocked. If you’re inside the U.K., but your public IP address’s country of registration is different, you’ll also be blocked.

BBC iPlayer uses the public IP address of each user to determine if they’re in the U.K. Geo-blocking technology prevents users located outside the U.K. from accessing the service.

Why Is BBC iPlayer Blocked Outside the U.K.?

Due to digital rights agreements, the BBC can allow its registered users to watch live, stream, or download BBC TV channels on the BBC iPlayer only if they’re in the UK.

You can watch downloaded programs on the BBC iPlayer anywhere if you remember to download them before you leave the U.K. If you forget, well, read on for how to watch BBC iPlayer abroad.

This situation also applies to Australia. Our guide on how to watch the BBC iPlayer in Australia will show you how to overcome this block.

How Can I Watch the BBC iPlayer in the USA?

If you’re abroad, or if you’re in the U.K., but the BBC thinks your IP address is registered elsewhere, how can you access the BBC iPlayer? The simple solution is to use a method to hide your real IP address and disguise it as one that’s from the U.K.

How Can I Watch BBC iPlayer Outside the U.K.?

To access BBC iPlayer from anywhere, you need to use a service that will provide you with an IP address within the U.K. to cloak your real location. Using this method, you can also watch ITV from the USA or anywhere else in the world.

One word of caution: Accessing the BBC iPlayer from outside the U.K. is against the BBC’s terms of service. If you’re found out, your account could get suspended.

Using a Proxy Server to Watch the BBC iPlayer Abroad

A proxy server is a device that will disguise your IP address to make it look like it’s from the country of your choice when you access the Player.

While this may sound great, you’ll have to use a much slower internet speed. And if you use a free proxy server, it may bombard you with ads when you’re trying to watch BBC TV. So, your viewing experience won’t be as smooth as you’d like.

Using a VPN to Watch the BBC iPlayer Abroad

VPNs are another option to conceal your IP address when watching the iPlayer. And they have several advantages over proxy servers, such as being faster, more secure, and more user-friendly.

Furthermore, the setup is a cinch. Access to BBC iPlayer is easy with a VPN, regardless of your location and the device you use.

A VPN makes watching programs on the BBC iPlayer when abroad effortless. The best VPNs start from as little as $3 per month, and you shouldn’t have to be a tech whiz to figure out how to use them.

After you select a VPN to help you watch BBC TV, sign up for a subscription plan and then get the software downloaded onto your device. All of this should take you only several minutes.

To help you out if you go for ExpressVPN, there are quick instructions you can follow below.

Then get the VPN up and running and pick a country (in this case, one outside of the U.K.) to connect from.

Now you have full access to BBC iPlayer content from the U.K. — as if you were there!

Using ExpressVPN to Watch the BBC Overseas

Step #1: Sign up for ExpressVPN and install the VPN

Follow this link to ExpressVPN and click “Grab the deal”.

Choose the plan you want. If you’re living abroad and want to use iPlayer and other services regularly, you can save a lot of money by signing up for longer.

Enter your email address and payment info and click Continue.

Once your payment has gone through, you’ll get a confirmation link, and you’ll be able to log in to the website to download the VPN software.

Click the downloads tab on the page, and the website will identify your device type and recommend the correct software. Click Download.

When the download is complete, please open it and agree to the terms of service.

Step #2: Sign in to the VPN and choose a server in the U.K.

Load up the VPN software (Search for ExpressVPN in Windows search if you don’t see it) and enter your email address and the password you created when signing up.

The great thing about ExpressVPN is that it has loads of options to keep nerds entertained, but the software comes preconfigured, so you don’t have to change anything the first time you use it.

Find the U.K. on the map, click the arrow, and ExpressVPN will connect.

If you want to know more about the advanced features, check our full ExpressVPN review here.

Step #3: Access BBC iPlayer

Now follow this link to iPlayer and choose the program you want to watch.

You’ll need to sign in or register if you haven’t used iPlayer before. Use your old postcode if you’ve recently moved away from the U.K.

And that’s it! Now you can watch BBC iPlayer from anywhere in the world — zero restrictions.

Beside just unblocking the BBC iPlayer you can also use a VPN for other purposes such as getting Netflix unblocked or to unblock YouTube videos.

1 Comment

  • Mike Thompson

    September 20, 2021 11:44 pm

    You cannot connect to IPlayer using a VPN on a Firestick as it’s not possible to sign in; it has to be done via a mobile, tablet or computer. This would have to be on the same VPN ip address, which is difficult to achieve.
    Any suggestions?

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