There are many thousands of people who live in Germany who want to watch the BBC, yet unfortunately it is not currently available there. Of course, you can watch a German news channel, however obviously your language skills need to be up to it. Even for German speaking expats obviously the channels will focus on the Germany news headlines not those from the UK. So people are keen to access British TV over the internet if they can.
If you access the BBC iPlayer site in Germany you get redirected to an international version of the site which doesn’t have any live TV or archived programmes in BBC iPlayer. For those who try and bypass the international version and go straight to the UK based site to access BBC Deutschland this is what happens when you try and watch a programme:
The BBC website looks up your IP address and checks which country it is registered to, if it’s not in the UK then you’ll get this message. Anywhere in the UK and the video will stream normally without any problems. It doesn’t matter who you are, even UK citizens who pay the UK TV license will get the same message and be blocked when they’re outside the UK.
In fact the only real BBC programmes you can get are the World Service broadcasts and occasionally you’ll get some live broadcasts streamed live to the BBC YouTube Channel – for example sometimes you’ll find parts of the Test Match Special broadcasts on here.
Now this is not some sort of British Brexit meanness, it’s actually fairly standard practice for most media companies. In order to minimize copyright issues and maximise revenues the majority of online TV channels restrict access to their domestic markets only. For example there are around 1400 German online channels and most of them are only accessible from inside Germany including ZDF and ARD. It’s obviously the place to get all the germany breaking news and some have English language slots at specific times too. The same goes for media companies across the world, the vast majority cannot be accessed outside the country of origin.
So How to Watch BBC iPlayer in Germany?
Ok so we’ve said you can’t watch the BBC in Deutschland – but that’s not entirely true. You’ve probably heard that it is possible to watch the BBC or any UK TV channels from Germany somehow – and you would be right. The secret is regaining some control about your privacy, all these websites look up your IP address and decide what you can or can’t see. However if you can control the origin of that address suddenly all these websites can be unlocked.
Although it’s not possible to actually change your IP address, it is possible to hide your real address and present a false one to these sites. Here’s how it’s done in this short video –
These services were initially limited to one or two countries but you can see that most now allow access to a wide selection of different countries. Which means that you can bypass pretty much any region block that you encounter simply by switching to the appropriate VPN server.
This is the method that literally millions of people are able to access the BBC and other British TV sites from outside the UK. It is remarkably easy to use and the program – it can also be setup on smart phones, tablets and even on Smart TVs if you have a compatible router.