You probably know that you can’t watch BBC iPlayer in Spain over the internet. The reason is that whenever you access any major website like the BBC it checks on your location by looking up the location of your IP address. The BBC only allow access to people physically located in the United Kingdom to use BBC iPlayer without restrictions. Your identity is effectively decided by the location you’re logging in from. It’s called geo-targeting and is the same technology which many sites use to determine what you see (or can’t see).
It’s exactly the same technology that Google uses when you use their search page. It’s why your search queries are always weighted to your location, so if you search for something like electricians you’ll primarily get local ones automatically. This is of course, very useful as it tailors your results to match your location. However this method is increasingly being used to deny or filter access to resources based on your location too. For instance most of the world’s largest media sites use this to ensure that only certain people can watch their sites.
Here’s what happens if I try and watch some of the free shows on ABC – the American TV network from outside the USA.
So when I connect – ABC looks at my IP address, checks where it’s registered, and if it isn’t in the USA then I’ll get this message and nothing will work. The same thing happens for French sites, Spanish sites and of course the subject of this post – BBC iPlayer. Most media sites allow access to their domestic users and then block viewers from other countries. There are variations of course, some sites will allow partial free access to domestic users and full access to paying customers. This largely depends on whether it’s a commercial station or not.
The BBC is a national broadcaster and puts no restrictions on anyone watching from within the United Kingdom. Although it does prompt to confirm if you have a UK TV license or not, the first time you log on. However there’s no checks or enforcement on this at all i.e. just say yes and you can watch. This is immaterial if you’re IP address is registered outside the UNited Kingdom as you’ll be blocked and redirected to an international version which has no TV, radio or films.
Many people feel aggrieved about this for a variety of reasons – the UK holiday makers who pay their license, the expats who paid for decades, the anglophiles who love the BBC but only have access to rubbish copies like Britbox or BBC America. All of these and many other groups would relish the chance to access the glorious British TV channels online – specifically the ITV Hub and BBC iPlayer.
How to Watch UK TV in Spain – Yes the BBC in Spain
So basically in order to watch the BBC over the internet anywhere outside the UK you need to change your IP address. Unfortunately this isn’t possible whilst remaining connected to the internet. So instead you have to hide your real address and supply one based in the United Kingdom. With this ability you can forget about paying for cut down versions or patiently awaiting an overpriced BBC iPlayer app for international audiences.
It sounds complicated but it really isn’t – here’s a video showing the process…
So with a UK IP address then you can watch any UK only websites including BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and 5 etc. If you have a Sky account you can use it to watch the Sky Player application online too. It’s simple to use, extremely discrete (your connection is completely anonymised) and the primary use of this program is to encrypt your connection to keep it safe from hackers and Identity thieves (oh and the NSA and MI5 snoopers!). Just bounce your internet connection through a server based in the UK (or whichever country you need) and everything will work perfectly.
There used to be several free options to do this many years ago , however unfortunately just using UK proxy server and then inputting the details into your browser doesn’t work anymore. If you want to unblock BBC iPlayer, all the UK TV stations and indeed media sites across the world then you need a VPN service (Virtual Private Network). Unfortunately the days of simply using a free BBC iPlayer proxy from the internet are long gone, the vast majority of media sites are able to and actively block simple proxies. The simple fact is that a proxy server can be detected quite easily and most sites will block access, but they can’t see VPN servers.
Pick the Right VPN and Unlock Everything
Not surprisingly most media sites have made efforts to block these circumvention tools. As mentioned proxies are now virtually useless, and in fact sites like the BBC have also blocked many of the VPN providers too. Although they can’t detect the VPN connection itself, they can identify when too many connections originate from the same source. So those providers who overload their servers in order to slash prices don’t really work. You might see posts online saying that BBC iPlayer not working through VPN services but it’s not actually true. What’s happening is those low quality providers are getting caught and their servers blocked.
Don’t worry though, there are still many VPN services that still work – mostly they are proper security companies who ensure their servers are not overloaded or detected. They’re still relatively inexpensive and the best will have lots of servers in different locations. Remember though the BBC needs to be accessed from a UK server!
So here’s our favorite – a VPN service without flashy graphics and sales pages but which has servers which always work with all the UK TV sites!
Try the short trial of Identity Cloaker first to see how well it works for you.
It’s perfect to watch the BBC in Spain in 2019 – 10 day trial Identity Cloaker.