Updated in October 2020, to cover the latest BBC iPlayer proxy and VPN service situation in 2020. So here’s an up to date version of how to watch BBC iPlayer from the Netherlands including the latest on watching Britbox in Nederland too.
I’m lucky enough to travel a lot with my job, which sounds an incredible bonus. Although the downside is that although I visit lots of different countries, because I work in IT I’m normally visiting industrial estates and factories in the middle of nowhere.
It’s the same with accommodation, despite a reasonably flexible expense account I’m normally stuck in nondescript ‘business hotels’ in the middle of nowhere. This means that although the facilities are generally pretty good, there’s rarely much to do and if you walk out of the door you’re unlikely to find much more than a busy road or a roundabout.
Which does get kind of boring, especially in the evenings which can certainly drag unless you spend them in the bar! Obviously this is not good for your health or career prospects. The hotel I generally end up in when I work in the Netherlands is just like this but fortunately it has a super fast (and free) Wifi connection.
Dutch TV actually doesn’t look too bad, but unfortunately my language skills are rather poor. So although I quite often enjoy football coverage, the rest of their broadcasts are not much use to me.
Of course, a fast internet connection means that what’s broadcast is irrelevant as most TV channels across the world stream online too. Including the wonderful BBC iPlayer which has enough in the archive to keep me entertained for years to come. Only one more hurdle to overcome, the stupid way that all British TV is blocked when you travel outside the UK. The fix follows though and it’s easier than you think
So How Can I Watch BBC in Netherlands
I’ve recently become rather addicted to the show – Silent Witness. It’s been around for years but I never managed to watch it until recently. But it’s true it’s a fantastic show and I was very pleased to see that there’s loads of the older shows in the BBC iPlayer archive too. For some reason they seem to have relaxed their 3 month rule and for many popular shows you can watch for twelve months.
Which makes it perfect for long evenings in hotel rooms, streaming BBC iPlayer to your laptop, with no interruptions. Yet first we have to overcome the annoying geo restrictions, which will block you the first time you try and access from anywhere outside the UK including the Netherlands!
Technically what happens is that the minute anyone visits the BBC website, your IP address is logged. This is then checked against a central database to check which country it’s registered in. If it’s from the UK then everything works fine, however anywhere else and you’ll be redirected to the international version of the BBC. This is fine but it doesn’t contain any video links or the ability to stream live or archived programmes. If you try and cheat and just go directly to the BBC iPlayer site, you’ll still get blocked – like this.
However don’t worry, for as we speak literally millions of people from all over the world are streaming the BBC, ITV and Channels 4 directly to their laptop irrespective of their location.
The method is simple – you just have to hide your true location by obscuring your real IP address. Now you can’t actually change your IP address because it’s assigned directly from your location but you can use something called a proxy to display a completely different address. As long as this address is registered and located in the UK then you will be able to access any UK television stations without an issue. This is what British TV fans do from all over the planet to access BBC iPlayer from their computer or BBC iPlayer app .
Here’s a brief video demonstrating the process –
That’s all there is to it, because you’re hiding behind a proxy server then your true location is completely invisible. The BBC website will only see the IP address of the proxy server so as long as you pick a UK one then everything will work as normal. The same thing happens with other UK only TV sites like ITV Hub, Channels 4 and 5. It also works with other sites which are restricted, personally I use it access Betfair which is also blocked to non-UK connections for some strange reason.
Now most of the main UK channels also require accounts but don’t worry they’re not used for location tracking. Use your ordinary account with the proxy service and all will work perfectly. If you haven’t got an account just make your connection to a UK server before creating one. Remember to put in a valid UK postcode and address though and everything will work fine.
Can I Watch Britbox in Nederland
Britbox is the latest streaming service set up by all the major UK TV channels. The majority of the content though comes from the BBC and ITV. It’s basically an enormous archive from the last few decades of the best shows from these stations and Channel 4 too.
At the moment it’s not available to directly subscribe to except from the UK, Canada and the United States. There are rumors that it will be available in Europe soon, although there’s no specific timeline for this yet. So the big question is can you use a VPN to watch Britbox in the Netherlands ?
Well sort of, here’s the current situation in October 2020 with regards Britbox.
- You can’t subscribe to Britbox (or get the free trial) from the Netherlands.
- You can watch an existing Britbox account anywhere in the EU (until the end of the year when the UK leaves)
- You can subscribe and watch to Britbox from the Netherlands by using a UK VPN service
There’s an important caveat to that last point, although you can subscribe using a VPN from outside the UK – you’ll also need a UK method of payment. This makes it a bit complicated for most people who won’t have access to banks outside their home country. In this situation it’s usually simpler to just connect to yoru UK VPN and just use the free versions of each site which are packed full of shows anyway.
VPN Services and UK Televisions Stations
There used to be an issue where the ITV Hub would not work even with a VPN connection hiding your IP address. This was because it checked what timezone your computer’s clock was set in, so you had to change to GMT. That doesn’t seem to be needed anymore but it’s worth remembering if you have issues with any other website if they don’t work initially.
There are lots of these services available but the important factors to look for are speed and security. If the servers are not configured properly they’ll leak your address and it won’t work. I’ve tried dozens of programs and lots of them are simply terrible. Last month I tried BBC iPlayer access with IP Vanish however it was terrible, it occasionally worked but it was very frustrating trying server after server looking for one that did.
There are numerous issues why lots of these don’t work and are useless to unblock BBC iPlayer, most of them really involve overloaded servers ! These are easy to detect and end up with IP address ranges blacklisted by the BBC and the other UK Television channels. Speed is also a crucial factor as you’re streaming video so it needs to be fast to be watchable. A slow server and connection will make the video buffer and stall which does not make for an enjoyable viewing experience! The cheapest VPNs are usually the worst for watching TV for precisely this reason, and don’t even think about trying to find a free VPN to stream video.
Also if you want to watch on other devices like smart phones and tablets then you should ensure that these are supported to. The platform is always changing and there’s lots to explore – the new BBC sounds application is also great to use on portable media devices for podcasts. Many people use a VPN just for BBC radio iplayer abroad too. Most of the advanced services like Identity Cloaker will allow you to connect via VPN manually too without having to use the software.