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For many years although the BBC is technically unavailable outside the UK, people have indeed been watching it on their phones, tablets, PCs and laptops from all over the world. Like many of the large media firms the BBC have blocked access to their content on the iPlayer and main BBC site based on their physical location- here’s the BBC blocked info.
The BBC website just looked up where your IP address was registered in and blocked all non-UK addresses. However the truth is that they have never really tried that hard, and you could use the very simplest free proxy server to bypass these blocks and watch whatever you want. In fact the BBC only ever checked at the beginning of a stream, so you could even disconnect and use your real location after the programme had started.
Times however have changed and proxies stopped working to hide your location last year, people were forced to switch to VPN services which although cost a few pounds worked without problems unlocking all the UK TV sites and many other media channels elsewhere. We VPN users thought the BBC crack down was complete for another decade and thought nothing of it until thousands started noticed the BBC VPN block starting to happen.
A VPN (virtual private network) is an encrypted connection between your computer and a secure VPN server – they are actually very difficult to block. The problem for the media sites is that a VPN is almost impossible to detect automatically and that means stopping them requires a lot of effort.
Yet if you heard the cries – that one by one NordVPN iplayer not working, or the tunnelbear BBC iPlayer app being blocked you knew there was something going on!
So how is the BBC iPlayer detecting VPN connections? The most obvious method is to identify the IP addresses of these VPN servers either manually or by identifying multiple streams to addresses and putting them in a black list. This forms the core of the BBC VPN block with IP addresses of VPN servers being slowly blocked one by one and effectively locking out anyone who used them.
So is the homesick ex-pat sitting by their swimming pool on the Costa del Sol doomed to watch the Spanish News and be cut off from the BBC forever? Is the BBC iPlayer VPN workaround gone forever. Well fortunately it’s not quite that drastic.
The BBC VPN Block can Be Beaten!
Although the BBC has indeed blocked many thousands of VPN addresses, the reality is that they are fighting something of a losing battle with this method. It is very time consuming individually identifying and blocking each VPN address manually and the VPN service providers can rotate these IP addresses in response relatively easily. The serious companies like Identity Cloaker have many thousands of addresses available to rotate when required which is what is happening.
In reality the BBC and all the large media companies are very aware of this, however they know that they can drastically reduce access by focusing on specific targets. The ad sponsored free VPN for BBC iPlayer never worked very well because of speed but now because of the large number of concurrent connections they support means they are all pretty much blocked.
So if people find their BBC iPlayer VPN not working now, then just switch to one of the professional VPN service providers who are able to switch IP addresses at will, then any block will be very temporary. I did a brief test this morning and out of about 50 IP addresses I tried in my Identity Cloaker account only one wasn’t working and had been affected by the BBC VPN block.
Hopefully this will safeguard access to the BBC for the foreseeable future, select your VPN service provider carefully and you should be fine. There is one word of warning though, there is another huge attack on VPNs taking place by another large media provider – Netflix. They are going one step further than the BBC blocking VPNs by determining their category i.e the IP address will only be allowed access if it’s classed as a residential one (which most VPNs are certainly not). You can read about the best VPN for Netflix here, which has incorporated residential IP addresses into their network to use when needed.