Like many other UK streaming service websites you’ll find online, there’s a bit of a problem if you want to watch BBC iPlayer outside the UK. Like all the other major broadcasters around the world, they restrict access to their domestic market. So although the BBC iPlayer site is entirely free of charge, it stops working the minute you step outside the United Kingdom.
So what’s going on? How does BBC iPlayer know where you are located ? Is there something you can do about it to watch BBC iPlayer in the Netherlands for example. Why does this inexpensive service allow you to watch whatever you want from anywhere in the world?
Well there certainly is, but before we see the options lets check what happens if you do try and access BBC iPlayer – this is what happens from Rotterdam.
First of all you’ll actually have trouble even getting to the BBC iPlayer site as you’ll be automatically redirected to the ‘International’ version of the BBC site. This is similar to the domestic version however doesn’t contain any of the media streaming services of the main site. You can visit the BBC iPlayer page directly but if you try and stream any of the programs or TV channels then you’ll see the error message illustrated above.
What happens is that the moment you try and access the BBC iPlayer site then your IP address is checked. More specifically it checks the location that the IP address is registered from. So from Rotterdam, Holland you’d obviously have a Netherlands registered address. This means that you’ll be redirected to the International version, great for news and information but no options to watch the BBC programmes we all love.
This is obviously frustrating for all of those who love channels like BBC One and even if you pay your TV licence are restricted from watching the BBC and other UK channels like ITV Hub from outside the UK. So is all the live Television stations and archived shows like Fawlty Towers, yes Minister and Doctor Who plus thousands of radio shows denied us from outside the UK ? Nope…
How Anyone Can Watch British TV in the Netherlands ?
So how’s it done? How can you bypass these geo restrictions and enjoy the wonderful, high quality BBC iPlayer from anywhere in the world? Well it’s actually fairly easy to do and in fact thousands (if not millions) of people access the BBC from all over the world by quietly sidestepping these restrictions.
The secret is to take control of your IP address and make sure that when you access BBC iPlayer it sees a British IP address instead of your real one. Now potentially this sounds kind of complicated but in reality it’s actually quite simple. It used to be done using something called a proxy server but these no longer work. What you need now is to hide your real IP address by using something called a VPN service which can do just that.
Here’s a simple demonstration of how anyone can use VPN services which have servers located in the UK.
Basically when you use the VPN service to connect to a UK server then your real address is hidden and you’ll appear to have a British IP address. This is all you need to do and how you’ll find thousands of ex-pats have been enjoying the BBC from all over the world for longer than a decade. You’ll be able to watch anywhere as long as the VPN server is British based. As well as being able to watch the BBC you’ll also be able to access any other UK site like Channel 4 and ITV Hub without issues too. All of this is possible using an inexpensive subscription to a VPN provider and your existing internet connection from the Netherlands or wherever !
Don’t Stop There – Try TV from Different Countries Too
Many of us initially were slightly aggrieved at having to pay for a VPN subscription to watch BBC iPlayer shows. It was especially annoying if you were just travelling and had paid the UK TV licence fee anyway. However it perhaps to under appreciates the value and usefulness of a connection protected by a virtual private network.
Most of the decent tier 1 VPN providers don’t just supply VPN servers in a couple of different countries. The best ones typically cover dozens of locations all over the world. Indeed my favourite VPN company NORDVPN has over 5000 servers in 59 different locations across the world including Australia – all of which are accessible through the standard subscription. Imagine this means you can adopt any of these locations on any device as your own with just a click of a button. Online you can watch TV sites from most developed countries, if you’re lucky enough to speak more than one language it opens up loads of possibilities. You don’t need to worry about blocks or broadcast rights because you can switch your location whenever needed.
For example, I can only speak English but I’m learning French (and Dutch obviously). So I often watch familiar shows on the French TV stations online. I just click a French VPN and I can enjoy M6 Play, a large French broadcaster who stream loads of English movies and TV shows online. They’re generally English with French subtitles or sometimes dubbed into French. Either way it’s really useful to help develop vocabulary and learn a new language. I even try and watch the French native shows but usually lose track! So I can watch French domestic TV from anywhere in the world just using whatever internet connection I happen to be using.