This can make it hard for fans who love the best of British television, yet it isn’t as hard as you think to access the BBC in the United States as you think.
Using a premium streaming VPN, it is possible to access BBC content easily. However, not all VPNs work with BBC iPlayer.
In the rest of this guide, we show how you can make full use of the best VPN and access on-demand content, box sets, and watch a BBC one live stream in the USA.
Read on, and see how you can access all the BBC channels free and without a TV provider.
Note: You do need a UK postcode for final registration to access BBC iPlayer outside the UK. We will show you how to do this or use any friends or family postcode you may know.
Why You Need a VPN for Watching iPlayer in the US
The primary reason for needing a streaming VPN service for watching the iPlayer in the USA is broadcasting rights.
This is the same for any movie or TV show, no matter which streaming service you wish to access.
The BBC also has another reason, and that is it isn’t an advert-funded channel. UK viewers need to purchase an annual television license, which grants them access to the iPlayer from the BBC.
Because of this, anyone who is outside the UK faces restrictions to access the service. Even inside the UK, if you say you have no TV license, then you can’t access the service.
Second, to Netflix in the US, the BBC has some of the strongest checks to stop anyone from accessing the service if they are not in the UK.
IP addresses are allocated to everyone, and when you try to connect, these are checked. If they are not allocated addresses for the UK, you will receive an error.
Once you find the best VPN provider that enables access, the software will encrypt your connection as soon as you connect. With this, it can spoof your location to that of a server in any country you choose (as longs as the VPN company supports that country).
Although, when watching the BBC iPlayer service, it appears to be free. In fact, viewers pay for the service via the TV licensing fee.
Best VPN for BBC iPlayer
With over 3,000 servers across 94 countries, users are assured they have the best connections. This is the industry leader in unblocking streaming restrictions and has the best record for accessing Netflix and the ability to unblock BBC iPlayer.
It runs on multiple devices compared to other VPNs, including Android and iOS, Mac and PC, Linus, and routers. There are also browser extensions for Chrome and Firefox.
The VPN has the best encryption to deliver privacy and security for its users and has a great killswitch.
If you are torrenting or P2P file sharing, users will be pleased to know there are no IP or DNS leaks while using the service. The VPN has the best 24/7 live chat in case of issues and an industry-leading 30-day money-back guarantee.
Users can connect five devices at once, and installing it on routers lets users have unlimited connections from one connection, with unlimited bandwidth. (Read our full ExpressVPN review)
Uses industry-first Trusted Server technology, where servers run in RAM and not on slower hard drives.
One of the industry’s most secure and privacy-conscious VPN providers. The company has a massive number of servers in over 60 countries and uses military-grade encryption.
Like other leaders, it is based outside any governing jurisdiction, so it is away from prying eyes.
NordVPN delivers good speeds in Europe or around the USA, so there should not be too much buffering when watching BBC iPlayer.
It also has one of the best records for bypassing geo-restrictions for many streaming services.
The virtual private network uses its smart DNS proxy to bypass restrictions and is one of the best VPNs to access the BBC. File sharing is well catered for, and when downloading vie P2P, there are no weaknesses in the leak test.
Uses Smartplay Technology that uses the best VPN and DNS for bypassing streaming restrictions for BBC streaming USA.
Surfshark is one of the younger VPNs in the market, but it does offer many features. With a kill switch and a built-in malware and ad-blocker, it does protect users from online threats.
It is easy to use and comes with extensions for the Chrome browser and other device support.
Other devices include Android, iOS, Mac and PC operating systems, Linux, FireTV, and other Fire devices.
It now has over 1,000 servers in 61 countries, so it is still in its growing phase. It allows unlimited device connections, so there is no worry when users want to access BBC content or many other streaming platforms. Download speeds are good, and there is a live chat option in their customer support.
Surfshark also has a free trial for iOS, macOS, and Android. (Read our full Surfshark VPN review)
It uses a multi-hop feature for added security, which bounces data around several servers to maintain privacy.
IvacyVPN is based in Singapore and has been in action since 2007. Spilled tunneling was introduced through this company, so they are not unfamiliar with VPN privacy. This means you can watch the BBC using the VPN, and all other network traffic goes via a different route.
While not an in-depth Ivacy VPN review, we can see this provider offers great privacy through high levels of encryption. There is a free version for Android, and this was created in conjunction with the NCSA.
With included malware protection, a smart connect feature, and the best military-grade encryption is backing all this up. With 1,000 servers, it isn’t the largest network, but it does deliver good speeds for streaming BBC One live without many stutters.
The provider allows 5 simultaneous logins, and there is a strict zero-logging policy in place.
Device support includes Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Linux, and Xbox. There are also browser extensions for Firefox and Chrome.
P2P and torrenting are taken care of, although Singapore is a partner to the coalition, so users need to consider this.
VPN is one of the few with a dedicated Kodi add-on for installing from inside the media player.
How to Watch BBC from the USA with a VPN
Before looking at more steps in-depth on how to gain access to BBC iPlayer, users need to know that not all VPNs can bypass the BBC restrictions.
Above, we chose the better VPNs that deliver the chance to tap into a BBC news live stream or access any on-demand content without any issues. Additionally, if there are, then these VPNs have live chat options for rapid assistance.
VPN’s do need to have these following characteristics, and anyone thinking Free VPNs are good enough needs to forget.
A free VPN needs to pay for its services, so they often bombard users with their own ads or sell on user data.
Add to this, they come with limited bandwidth, and you can use this before you even have a chance to watch Match of the Day.
VPN apps need to:
- Reliably unblock streaming services like BBC iPlayer (the USA, or any other country).
- Delivers compatibility with most devices. (Ideally, routers as an inclusion).
- Adheres to a strict zero-logging policy
- Offers unlimited data
- Offers multiple security and privacy features
- Offers fast download speeds across their virtual private network for streaming
UK TV License
We did mention this, yet it is worth going into more detail. BBC requires all users of the iPlayer to have a UK TV license. Unless you are a UK resident and are in the USA, the chances of you having one are minimal.
To create a free iPlayer account, any user must have a valid postcode from the UK. Although this isn’t clear if they do follow up, one check the BBC can do is to cross-reference email addresses for valid license holders or users who haven’t paid for a license. This didn’t pose any issues during testing, and it appears it never will, yet you never know.
Signing Up for the BBC iPlayer
These steps are super simple to follow and don’t require you to add any credit card details or anything. All you will need are some fundamental details.
Users don’t need to use a VPN to sign up for the BBC, yet you do need one to gain full access to any of the content.
You can browse as much as you like, yet you won’t get much further if you try to watch anything. You will see “BBC iPlayer only works in the UK. Sorry, it’s due to rights issues. In the UK? Here’s some advice.”
- Navigate to the BBC iPlayer website
- Click the sign-in option at the top of the screen next to the ‘BBC.’
- Select 13 or over option
- Add your date of birth in the next box
- Enter an email address and create a password. Change the country to ‘United Kingdom.’
- Click Register
- Select ‘No, thanks’ to receive emails
- Check your email and verify your account
- When asked for UK postcode, you can enter one of your friends or family. If not, you can easily find one from the internet. Select anyone, as there are no checks apart from the postcode being valid.
- If asked to confirm you have a TV license, select ‘Yes.’ If you choose no, you won’t proceed further.
Watching the BBC with a VPN
Before watching BBC, you do need to sign up for your VPN service. The signup procedures are straightforward and often as easy as signing up for the BBC.
The basic steps you will follow can be similar to the following:
- Head to the VPN website of choice (We recommended ExpressVPN)
- Select the first button to begin the signup procedure
- Choose the plan option (these often run from one month to one, two, or three years). The monthly fee reduces for longer tie-in periods.
- Enter your email address (some VPN’s ask to enter a password while some do this later)
- Select your payment method (Top tier VPN’s offer lots of payment options)
- Receive a confirmation email and follow their instructions
Once you sign up, all it needs is for you to download the VPN app for your device and complete the installation.
Once the app is installed, start the client and change the VPN server to one in the UK.
From here, you can start your iPlayer app or open the iPlayer website.
You will now be able to watch your favorite shows from the many listed.
If you do all this and find the iPlayer stopped working, it can be for several issues. If you face geo-restrictions, you see this “error” on the content you are trying to watch.
Other reasons can be for anything else. These you can check here: https://downdetector.co.uk/status/iplayer/.
This site shows iPlayer issues, and there is a dedicated button at the top of the page, “I have a problem with iPlayer.”
Click on this and select one of the options that send a report to the BBC. If you receive a reply, it may help. You can see many of the issues are on Smart TV. Mobile devices and the website show hardly any issues.
Aside from these issues, you can sometimes lose your VPN connection. Services that include Kill switches will block all connections on your internet connection. This is a safety feature to prevent your location and IP address from leaking.
You can change to another UK server to see if this helps because better VPNs will have several servers in each country they operate.
A free VPN won’t offer you this much luxury, so it is another reason to choose a premium VPN.
How to Watch BBC Live Stream
Once you know your VPN apps enable access to iPlayer, you will, at some stage, want to stream live TV. This will be the case if there are new shows that are BBC exclusive, BBC News, or full coverage of the World Cup.
You can find two options for accessing live streams. One is visually easier than the other because it follows a TV guide’s appearance.
- Head to the iPlayer site and select “Channels” in the upper portion of the screen.
- You will see a menu bar with One, Two, II!, Four, and other channels.
- Select one of these, and if there is a live broadcast, you can click “Watch Live” or “Watch from Start.” This will be displayed across the upper portion of your device.
- Head to the Website of the iPlayer
- Click on TV Guide
- You will see the previous and coming days in white and today’s date in color.
- Underneath these are the channels, and as soon as you select one, the site changes to that particular channel and takes you to the links for the program, which is live at the present moment.
- You can click on watch live or watch from the start
- This also allows you to see the programs that are coming up later in the day.
With each program listing, you have a short description and the length of the program you want to watch. After this, the amount of time it will be available for viewing on the iPlayer after the initial airing.
You may spot when using the second option is there are no live streams from BBC II! (3)
What Devices Support the BBC iPlayer?
Not everyone wishes to be watching BBC iPlayer on their computer. You can see many devices work with BBC iPlayer.
You can watch it at home, or you can watch on the go on the following devices:
- Windows and Mac
- Android and iOS, iPad
- Game consoles
- Roku and Now TV
- Apple TV 4
- Samsung, Sony, and LG Smart TV’s
- Amazon Fire TV, FireStick, and Fire TV Cube
Although there are lots of compatibilities, and there are more than the above. Getting the apps may not be straightforward outside the UK.
Downloading the apps on some devices may require UK accounts to find the apps in the relevant stores.
Just follow the instructions in these couple of examples to find the apps for your device. You do need VPN services installed and set to the UK before attempting these.
iPlayer app for Xbox One
- Start your console
- Head to My Games apps, then select apps and settings
- Click on the system then language and location
- Choose the UK
- Reboot and then locate the app from the store
iPlayer Apps on PlayStation
Head to the PlayStation site and start to create an account with UK details. You will receive an email from Sony. This confirms your new UK account. You can search the store for the UK iPlayer app.
BBC iPlayer on Apple Devices
You need to create a UK Apple account.
- Log out on your device.
- In the iTunes store at the bottom, select the UK
- Find a free app and click get
- Create an account with the “No Card” option
- Enter an email address
- Log out of any apple accounts you are logged in to
- Now, log in with your new UK account and search for the Apple BBC iPlayer app
iPlayer on Android
- Go to Settings on your Android device and select Apps.
- Search the Google Play Store app and click on it.
- Click “Force Stop.”
- Click on Storage, then Clear Cache and Data.
- Exit settings
- Start the Google Play Store App.
- Currency in the Store Should change to pounds
- Download and install
Smart TVs and other devices will also need regions changing to the UK before you can find the app for your device and watch content on the BBC channel.
What to Watch on the BBC
The BBC is known around the world for delivering some of the best TV ever. For these reasons, it is such a need to access the iPlayer, USA fans of British TV or any travelers don’t want to miss these great shows.
Here we look at what you can expect to find on the iPlayer. Before doing so, anyone new to using the iPlayer will find it very easy to use and laid out pleasingly to the eye.
The top toolbar will take you to other parts of the BBC, while everything underneath relates to the iPlayer.
Alongside the iPlayer logo, you have Channels, Categories, A-Z, TV Guides, and My Programmes. These allow you to filter or to go to the TV Guide to see the times shows will be starting.
As you scroll down the page, you have ‘Continue watching,’ This shows programs you were watching yet didn’t complete.
You then have BBC Three shows, followed by ‘Most Popular,” and then “Recommended for you.” These will change depending on your viewing preferences.
Toward the bottom, you will see box sets, which are complete series. Drama, comedy, documentaries, entertainment, sport, and films are the last few categories on the home page.
When you look at the available channels, there are more than enough to please the entire family. You can choose from BBC One, Two, Three, Four, Radio One, CBBC, CBeebies, Scotland, News, Parliament, Alba, and S4C.
Here is a rundown of some of the best shows you can find on the BBC.
This is a gritty life in Albert Square, and fans can’t get enough of the show. With classic characters like Dot Cotton, Dirty Den, and Angie from years gone by, the new characters have some tough boots to fill. Eastenders has fans gripped, no matter where they are from.
No streaming channel would be good without up-to-date news. The BBC News has some of the best breaking news teams that operate around the globe and the clock.
Top gear is the most-watched motoring show around the world or was when Jeremy Clarkson was the host. No matter who the hosts are, the show carries o delivering the best motoring news and is compelling viewing for anyone who loves cars of comedic banter.
Match of the Day
MOTD is the top soccer roundup. Here, you can find the best highlights, scores, or anything related to football you may not see anywhere else. With the iPlayer, you can watch matches of the day online on your phone, as easily as on your desktop or TV.
Tales of the time-traveling doctor have been going on for decades. Fans love the show, and it always manages to keep up to date with the changes in the Doctor every once and a while. Doctor Who has 157 episodes available, but you will need to look in another place if you like the Classic Doctor.
At one stage, you couldn’t watch Killing Eve after the first airing. It moved, but now both seasons are back of this smash hit. It took the world by storm in this spy thriller where two archrivals are out to better each other. This is a classic cat and mouse game at its very best.
His Dark Materials
In the US, this is on HBO, so using a VPN, free access via the iPlayer is granted to this new top-rated show. It is based on a trilogy and follows two children who go on a magical adventure through a parallel universe.
You can watch this show of the olden days and a student of Sigmund Freud. A new detective series from the 1900s takes viewers around the grand cafes and opera houses of old Vienna.
Other top-rated shows that have been on for several seasons are Call the Midwife, Peaky Blinders, Jonathon Creek, Fleabag, and lots more.
The Line of Duty is missing in action, as well. This has a couple of homes. The fictional tales of the police anti-corruption unit are on Hulu season 1-4 or season 5 on AcornTV.
There are a couple of world-leading shows, which are missing from the iPlayer. Sherlock is one of the best TV shows written for the BBC. There may be a season 5, yet it is hard to say. However, you will need a VPN and a Smart DNS to access this as it sits on US Netflix now.
One of the most awaited shows coming to the iPlayer is the new “Dracula” this three-parter has been written by Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat, who also wrote Sherlock’s episodes.
This means this show is likely to be something special. The BBC is airing this alongside Netflix for whom it was written. This may vanish after a while, so fans need to be quick.
What’s the Bottom Line?
The BBC offers so much depth and breadth of TV; it can be hard to fit in all the good things on offer. There are classics to new shows that quickly spread around the globe in popularity.
With a premium streaming VPN, it makes sense to sign up and use this great streaming service. It offers much more than many other streaming platforms and those you will have to subscribe to before you can watch.
For a service, which in theory is free, it is hard to find anything better. Every family member can find their favorite shows all in one place and accessible from a huge range of devices.
The BBC is one of the first companies to deliver TV to the public. Since then, they have gone on, and the iPlayer is just another step in history. Luckily, the great shows along the way are available for everyone to watch in the USA when using the best UK VPN.