If you’re interested in a high-quality VPN product, ExpressVPN is a reasonable choice. With plenty of apps for most platforms and a great list of features, as well as support for P2P file sharing protocols, it’s a great tool for anyone looking to protect their privacy.
But does ExpressVPN work with the BBC iPlayer? Companies like the BBC have stepped up their security precautions in an attempt to stop non-UK residents from accessing BBC content. Today, many VPNs and SmartDNS services are being blocked and can’t be used to access the BBC iPlayer overseas.
This is pretty annoying if you’re a British expat looking to watch the iPlayer, so you may be wondering what choices you have for a VPN that works with the BBC iPlayer. Does ExpressVPN work—and is it a good choice? Find out below!
Does ExpressVPN Work With the BBC iPlayer?
In a word? Yes! You can use ExpressVPN to watch the BBC iPlayer if you choose a UK server and IP address. If that’s all you wanted to know, you can go give ExpressVPN a try now!
But the longer answer is a bit more complicated. While ExpressVPN can be used to bypass the BBC iPlayer block, it may not always work, depending on the server you choose. Why?
Because the BBC can recognize VPN connections—just like streaming websites such as Netflix and Hulu—and if they see too many people connecting from the same IP or server, they’ll blacklist it and block it entirely.
To get around this, ExpressVPN constantly sets up new servers in the UK so they can stay one step ahead of the BBC when it comes to this game of VPN “cat and mouse”.
Now, let’s discuss the details of ExpressVPN, and talk about features, pricing, and alternative VPNs, so that you can decide if it’s the right choice for your particular needs.
If you want to watch the BBC iPlayer using a VPN, ExpressVPN has some great features that make it a good choice for doing so. You’ll get a total of about 1,500 VPN servers that are located in 35 different countries.
There are 7 servers located in the UK, so you’ll have plenty of choices for watching the BBC iPlayer, and you’ll be able to choose the server with the fastest performance. This ensures a high-quality, consistent video stream.
And, as mentioned above, ExpressVPN makes it a point to ensure that at least one of their UK servers is working for viewing the BBC iPlayer, so you’ll never be without your favorite BBC shows such as Sherlock or Peaky Blinders.
You can use your ExpressVPN subscription on a total of up to 3 devices at once, which allows you to watch the BBC iPlayer on just about every platform. Currently, ExpressVPN supports Android and iOS, MacOS, Windows, and Linux, and also has extensions for both Chrome and Firefox.
You can also set up ExpressVPN on your router, which allows you to provide a secure connection to all of your devices on your home WiFi network, though it’s a bit difficult to set up this service, and it is not supported by every router.
ExpressVPN, like most VPN companies, has a tight, “no-logs” policy. This is something you should look for in any legitimate VPN company. Essentially, a no-logs policy is a promise to you from your VPN provider, saying that they do not keep any records (logs) of your activity or how you use your VPN.
This means they won’t be able to share that information with third parties, which is the reason most people use a VPN to begin with.
ExpressVPN supports all modern VPN tunneling and encryption standards, including:
- OpenVPN UDP
- OpenVPN TCP
However, support for each of these protocols may vary, depending on the server that you use. The UK – Kent server, for example, does not support IPSec, PPTP, or SSTP at this time.
Another nice feature of ExpressVPN is that you can buy your subscription with Bitcoin. If you don’t want to share your credit card information and would like to remain anonymous, this is quite beneficial.
ExpressVPN subscriptions and pricing
One drawback of ExpressVPN is that it’s quite pricey compared to several other VPNs on the market.
If you choose a monthly subscription, you’re going to have to pay $12.95 a month, which is one of the highest fees of any VPN service that can unblock the BBC iPlayer.
However, you can save a bit of money by getting a 6-month subscription for $9.99/month. And, if desired, you can get 15 months (12 months + 3 free months) for $99.99 (6.67 per month) if you choose to pay in advance.
If you do choose the yearly option, ExpressVPN is about the same price as the competition. Still, it would be nice if there was a 3-month option, and if the prices were a bit lower for the short-term subscriptions.
You can definitely find another subscription to a VPN service which unblocks the BBC iPlayer for a lower price.
However, given ExpressVPN’s great customer service, and the fact that they are actively changing their server infrastructure to ensure the iPlayer is unblocked, you do get quite a few benefits for your money.
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ExpressVPN setup and installation
Setting up ExpressVPN is quite simple. First, you will head to the download page for ExpressVPN once you’ve purchased a subscription. A link will be sent directly to your email address.
Then, just choose your preferred platform—macOS, Linux, or Windows. You can also download ExpressVPN on Android and iOS, or use the Firefox or Chrome extension, whichever you prefer.
After you’ve installed the VPN, you’ll see the following screen:
Sign in, and use the activation code that was sent to your email to log on. You can also find the activation code from your user account if you login on ExpressVPN’s website. All you need to do is enter the code—there are no usernames or passwords to remember, which is very convenient.
Once successful, you’ll see this screen:
To connect to a VPN, just press the large central “power” button to be auto-connected. However, this won’t unblock the BBC iPlayer. To do that, you’ll use the CHOOSE LOCATION button.
This button reveals the different servers available to you on ExpressVPN. Choose United Kingdom, and select a UK-based server.
The list is organized by country, so it’s quite easy to find the server you’re looking for, whether you’re looking to unblock the BBC iPlayer or watch Hulu outside of the US. You can click the “star” buttons to save your favorite servers and locations, which pins them to the top of the list. You can also enter any country in the search bar, which makes navigation simple.
If you’re looking to dig more deeply into how ExpressVPN works, you can simply click the “hamburger” menu located in the top-left of the window.
This allows you to test different servers, analyze the speed of your connection, perform diagnostics, and even change preferences, such as encryption and VPN connection type.
However, unless you’re a VPN power user, you can pretty much ignore these options—ExpressVPN functions perfectly even on default settings. It’s still nice to have the customization, though.
Why can’t I access the BBC iPlayer with ExpressVPN?
If you use ExpressVPN to watch the BBC iPlayer, you’ll be able to access the service 99% of the time. However, as mentioned, the BBC is taking steps to try and block people from using VPNs while accessing the iPlayer from outside of the UK, even if they are a UK citizen and pay for a TV Licence.
This means that, every once in a while, you may find that one or more UK servers has been blocked by the iPlayer. Should you be blocked, simply contact ExpressVPN customer service. They’re really helpful, and will point you toward the best server to use for the BBC iPlayer.
Are There Any Alternatives to ExpressVPN?
Yes! There are many several VPN companies who offer VPN service that unblock the BBC iPlayer. Let’s take a look at two of the most popular alternatives to ExpressVPN.
StrongVPN has been around for a very long time, and has developed a reputation as a safe, reliable VPN provider with reasonable prices, particularly for those looking to get around the “Great Firewall of China.”
StrongVPN comes with an obfuscation service that allows users to watch content from the BBC iPlayer, and it has pretty good performance. The service also has support for modern encryption standards like SSTP, IPSec, and L2TP.
You get a total of 650 servers that are located in 26 countries around the world, which is fewer than ExpressVPN, but still reasonable. As far as servers in the UK are concerned, though, StrongVPN comes out on top. At the time of writing, StrongVPN had more than 78 servers in the UK alone.
The price is also reasonable. You’ll pay a $9.99/month fee if you choose to pay monthly, but you can get a 12-month subscription for $69.99, which works out to a very low $5.83 per month.
StrongVPN does not keep user logs, so you can be sure that your activity is safe and protected from any unauthorized third parties. With good features and a reasonable price, it’s a solid alternative to ExpressVPN.
Naturally, StrongVPN also does not keep user logs, so you can be sure that your activity is safe and protected from ISPs and any other agencies who may want to observe your online activities.
StrongVPN does have some speed issues on occasion, so you may want to run speed tests when you’re using it to ensure that your chosen connection is speedy enough to stream BBC iPlayer content.
NordVPN is a reliable way to unblock the BBC iPlayer, and it has a lot of features at an excellent price.
You get a total of 4,300 servers in 62 countries, which is more than any other VPN mentioned in this article, as well as 542+ servers in the UK. This includes servers that use obfuscation, as well as dedicated P2P and “double VPN” encrypted servers.
For a monthly subscription, you’ll pay $12/month, which is only slightly less than ExpressVPN for that type of subscription. But if you have the cash to pony up for a 1-year subscription, you’ll only pay $5.75 per month. If you extend that to 2 years, you’ll pay $3.29 per month, and if you commit for 3 years, you’ll pay a ridiculously low fee of $2.75 per month for a limited time.
All of these plans are refundable for 30 days, so you can give them a shot and see if you like the service without any commitment.
NordVPN provides apps for all major platforms, such as Linux, MacOS, Windows, and iOS/Android mobile devices, as well as the Chrome and Firefox web browsers. You can use it on up to 6 devices simultaneously, making it a good choice for larger households or multiple-device users.
Why Does the BBC iPlayer Block International Users?
The BBC iPlayer is free for all UK residents to use, due to the fact that they pay a fee for a TV Licence. If you are not from the UK, you cannot have a television licence, so you cannot use the BBC iPlayer, even if you are just a UK citizen traveling abroad.
However, using a VPN allows you to get around this. If you simply use a server with a UK IP address, the BBC iPlayer lets you access its content, as it thinks you’re a UK citizen.
This makes a VPN a great tool for UK citizens who are traveling, but don’t want to miss their favorite BBC shows while abroad.
How Do VPNs Help Me Access Blocked Content?
VPN is an acronym for “Virtual Protected Network”. A VPN service is used to encrypt all of your web traffic, and then “tunnel” it into a third-party server, which can either be located in your own country, or in another country.
Then, your web traffic will appear as if it is coming from a different computer in that country, and you can “fool” different servers into thinking that you’re connecting from a computer in their country.
This lets you get around geo-restricted content blocks from companies like the BBC, Hulu, and Netflix while you’re abroad. It’s just that simple!
Eric Liston is a content writer based in Columbus, Ohio. Since 2015, he’s been writing about technology, cord-cutting, and helping everyday people save money. He also has expertise writing about medicine, dentistry, insurance, and a variety of other industries. No matter what he’s writing, his focus is always on simplifying complex concepts and making them approachable for everyone. When he’s not slamming away on his keyboard at his home office, you’ll find Eric reading sci-fi novels, improving his disc golf game (he just hit his first 400-foot drive) and playing video games on his gaming PC.