Accessing BBC iPlayer with DNS

Now on this site, we talk a lot about using VPNs, proxies to hide your IP address in order to access the BBC from outside the United Kingdom. The concept is simple, the BBC checks your IP address when you logon and if it sees a non-UK registered address you get redirected to the rather dull International version of the BBC. It’s actually not a bad site but unfortunately it lacks all the best stuff like live TV and the wonderful BBC iPlayer archive. To access the full site you need to hide your true location and pretend to be in the UK to access any British TV sites.

Proxies no longer work and indeed many VPNs have been blocked too but many still work and as long as the server you connect to has a UK IP address, then everything should be fine. However for a variety of reasons, perhaps you can’t use a VPN to access the BBC, perhaps it’s an old computer, a media device or perhaps a games console which won’t support a VPN connection. Also on very slow connections VPNs can slow down your internet speed significantly making it difficult to stream video successfully.

BBC iPlayer with DNS

So what can you do? Are there any other options for people who can’t use a VPN for whatever reason?   The basic solution is after all the same, hide your real IP address and make it look like you’re in the UK.

Using BBC iPlayer with DNS

However, there is a another method if you want to use a Smart TV, games console or are just stuck with a super slow internet connection which grinds to a halt when you attempt video over a VPN!   It’s called Smart DNS and you’ve probably seen it mentioned in expat forums or the many sites which help you access the BBC from anywhere.

The basic premise is exactly  the same, hide your IP address from the BBC web servers and pretend to be in the UK.  However there are two fundamental differences between a VPN and Smart DNS which make it a viable option for many.  Firstly to set it up you need no client software or operating system support for native VPN functionality.  Basically you need just one thing, the ability to change the DNS servers specified on the device you need.

Secondly, unlike a VPN your whole connection doesn’t need to be routed through the third server.  When you try and access a geo-restricted site like the BBC, only part of the connection is routed through a UK server – basically enough to fool the web site that you’re in the UK.   It also doesn’t encrypt the connection which can also impact the speed, although obviously if you’re concerned about privacy this may not be a good thing.

Here’s how it works –

In the example above it’s running on a computer but the beauty of Smart DNS is that you can set it up on most devices that are internet enabled. If you can get access to the network connections and manually update the DNS server addresses on a device there’s a good chance that it will work. There is one major caveat though, some devices use something called ‘transparent DNS proxy‘ which force them to use specific DNS servers. There aren’t loads of devices which use this, but the Roku and Xbox One console are two high profile examples.

You can still get Smart DNS to work on these devices but it’s much more difficult. Basically you have to map static routes on your internet router to force the devices to use the Smart DNS servers instead of the set ones (usually Google DNS servers). However it can be quite tricky and not all routers will support this functionality.

Not Recommended for Smart DNS

If you haven’t got your hardware yet, it’s worth checking you can change the DNS settings if you want to use BBC iPlayer with DNS on it. There aren’t many devices which enforce their DNS settings, but the number seems to be increasing presumably due to pressure from these media companies.

Obviously you haven’t much choice if you want to enable something like a Smart TV directly, as a VPN will be impossible to enable directly. Again though it’s worth checking the manufacturer as it could save you some anguish.  Generally if you can get access to the DNS server configuration under some network settings area then you should be ok. On the Roku for example there’s actually no proper network configuration settings accessible.   Although on these devices you may be able to assign the DNS servers using DHCP from your wireless/cable or ADSL router.

Normally though it’s pretty straight forward and most devices you can enable BBC iPlayer DNS settings very quickly in a matter of minutes.   Here’s the steps you would take on most devices –

  • Sign up for a Smart DNS Service – (free trial )
  • Check IP addresses of Smart DNS servers
  • Change Devices DNS server to the Smart DNS ones
  • Enable IP Address on Smart DNS Service

All of the steps can be completed very easily and after that Smart DNS should be enabled on that device and you should be able to access a myriad of previously blocked sites including of course BBC media iplayer and it’s associated sites. Many of the best Smart DNS app services will even allow you to configure your device to use different versions of sites – such as specifying US Netflix. This is also easier than using a VPN which will lock you into a specific country whilst it’s enabled – e.g if you use a US server you’ll be locked out of UK sites like the BBC.

This sounds trivial but it’s actually a huge time saver meaning you can set up a single device to watch US Television and UK Televisions stations without changing anything.  Before you even need to access the BBC iPlayer sign in screen – the DNS server directs you to the appropriate proxy server whenever you try and access the site, so a BBC iPlayer proxy would be in the UK and for Hulu, HBO etc you’d be redirected via a US one and so on.

After you set up your Smart DNS account it petty much all goes on in the background.  However if you change your main IP address then you’ll have to re-enable it in your account.  This can be a bit inconvenient if your address changes often and makes Smart DNS not really ideal for mobile devices if you move around a lot.   For home connections though it’s certainly the easiest BBC iPlayer proxy option that works anywhere in the world.

So if you want to learn how to watch BBC iPlayer in Canada, the USA or anywhere in the world then try it out.

Here’s the Smart DNS Free Trial Below. 

Smart DNS

BBC VPN Sverige – Watch the BBC in Sweden

I’m writing this post as a result of a brief visit to Sweden, I wasn’t there long and visited two places both which I really loved.  First I went to a place called Lund a medieval city with a cool cathedral and a great University. After a few meetings there I finished off by travelling to Stockholm a wonderful city to visit.

Sweden is a great place, the people are very friendly – it’s easy to get around as nearly every one speaks English (I know that sounds bad and I’m trying to learn Swedish).  It just feels a safe and hospitable place, my only slight reservations that nearly everyone seems better looking and taller than me.

I learnt to love a few things, ice hockey is actually quite exciting and the Swedes make great breakfasts!  However as always when travelling I get a little homesick, and this is the subject of this post a solution to this problem – how to watch the BBC in Sweden. It does make a difference, being able to watch the wonderful BBC channels whilst you’re abroad and indeed lots of Swedish people love the BBC too – so here’s the method.

BBC VPN Sverige – Watching BBC iPlayer in Sweden

As soon as you step onto Swedish soil and connect to the internet, you are effectively a Swedish web surfer. There’s nothing particularly surprising about that, you’ll get the Swedish version of Google, Swedish based web results and you’ll be able to access Swedish only media sites without problem. However you’ll also lose access to a host of the best UK only sites including the wonderful BBC iPlayer.

I discovered this when logging into to the BBC website from my Lund hotel room. It was Saturday night and I was looking forward to watching Match of the Day online live on my computer, alas it wasn’t to be.

BBC VPN Sverige

The BBC and the iPlayer application is limited to the UK only and if you log on to the internet from any other country then you’ll get blocked like this.   It’s basically all down to the IP address which is assigned when you connect, to access the BBC you need a UK IP address which you’ll only get if you connect from inside Britain.

Although it’s pretty much impossible to change you IP address directly, there is a workaround of hiding your real address by using something called a Virtual private network (VPN).  Here’s how it works –

As you can see, it’s not necessary to change your IP address but merely have the ability to be able to hide your real location. Using a VPN service with a large infrastructure you are able to switch your IP address at will. So for bypassing content blocks you merely select a server in the country you need, so for the BBC pick a UK one, for US Netflix choose a US one and so on. The BBC iPlayer VPN workaround is used by literally millions across the world.

When you don’t need to bypass these blocks either select the same country as you’re actually in so that your internet connection is encrypted or disconnect the connection and revert to your actual IP address.

Over the years all proxies and many VPN services have been blocked by some of the major media sites. Indeed when the BBC iPlayer detecting VPN services in 2017 it caused some worry. However many are still working fine and are not accessible by the BBC,for example Identity Cloaker is still working perfectly with the BBC iPlayer abroad and in fact all the major media sites.

Click here to try the cheap, no obligation trial of Identity Cloaker.

How to Watch BBC iPlayer in the USA

Of course, everyone probably has their own favorite websites and many of them are linked to where you’re originally from.  For example, I’m fairly certain that for most people in the UK the BBC site is one of the most popular.  Indeed when I used to run a network of proxy servers for a large pharmaceutical company based in the United Kingdom, the BBC was easily one of the most popular sites.

It’s not surprising if you’ve every used it  – not only do you get thousands of pages of news, local news, sports, arts, education, politics and cinema.  You can also watch all the BBC TV channels live, all the national and local radio stations plus thousands of programmes archived in the BBC iPlayer section.  Indeed it’s actually a whole entertainment and news centre in a single web site.   I absolutely love it and I’m definitely not alone!

How to Watch BBC iPlayer in the USA

Unfortunately like many of the internet’s best media sites, access to the BBC iPlayer is actually limited to the United Kingdom only.  In fact when you try and access the site, any IP address which is not from the UK will be redirected to the ‘International Version” of the site.  This is basically a version with none of the TV live streams, archive or radio channels on it.  Fortunately there is a way to bypass these blocks and re-directions and enjoy the wonderful BBC TV channels anywhere in the world.

How to Watch BBC iPlayer in the USA

It’s actually surprisingly simple to do, and indeed millions actively use this method every day and have done for many years. All you have to do is ‘hide’ your real IP address and display a British address instead. You do this by routing your internet connection through a server based in the UK, the BBC see’s this address rather than the real one. It’s sounds complicated but it’s really not, here’s a brief video showing you how it’s done.

As you can see its a relatively straight forward process and there’s no real technical wizardry involved in learning how to watch BBC iPlayer in the USA or anywhere outside the UK. There are some caveats, the server needs to be fast otherwise the connection will be very slow to watch, remember you’re effectively relaying the video through an extra server. This used to be possible using ‘free proxies’ that you could find online, however those days are long gone now as the BBC like most media sites can detect and block proxies automatically. Speed is vital as there’s nothing worse than sitting down to watch Match of the Day and finding the video stream slow and stuttering.

There are lots of different services available however you should be careful which you use as many have been blocked or blacklisted.  If you search online you will find posts and questions about their BBC iPlayer VPN not working – which is actually true.  However there are a select few which have been working for more than a decade and continue to do so. Avoid those which offer ‘free trials’ as these get overloaded and blocked by the BBC, and those which openly advertise TV watching facilities – easy targets for legal departments. The best services are low key, secure VPN services which ‘fly under the radar’ and hide your location completely.

The advantage of using one of the professional services is that it can be used anywhere in the world and to unlock other sites. For example, you can use US servers to access sites like Hulu, Pandora and Netflix which can be inaccessible while travelling. Switch to a Canadian server to watch some of the great documentaries and shows on Canadian TV channels, then practice yoru French with M6 Replay the French broadcaster.

You can also use the VPN services to unlock other sites beyond multimedia web sites. Some banking sites restrict access based on your location, lots of gambling and casino sites block IP addresses from certain locations. Even YouTube videos are often only available to people in specific countries, just connect to that country to unlock!

Click here to try the cheap trial of Identity Cloaker. 

You’ll get full access for ten days to every UK TV channel, there’s no commitment or  sneaky automatic subscription – just try and it and see how to watch BBC iPlayer in the USA , it takes minutes.