How to Watch the BBC Abroad

How to watch the BBC abroad can be a tricky subject for some. But with a little guidance, it can be ever so easy. I’m an Expat located in Colombia between the Andes, in a fairly remote location. I do however have broadband. This is the single thing helping to keep me sane. Back in London, I never really had much time for TV and would only use the TV for catch-up programs from time to time or for viewing films and shows obtain by torrent downloads. I never in my life paid a TV license in any country and would never dream of paying it either. Mostly thanks to the BBC and their biased reportage. Enough of that for now anyway…

Update: Contact me or leave a comment as I can try to get you a further discount on ibVPN packages.


More recently there was a program that I wanted to see on iPlayer (Panorama – Labour: Is the Party Over?). Clicking through to the page I get a rude message claiming that “..programs are available to play in the UK only.”! Well BBC, we live in the internet age and it couldn’t be easier to bypass that restriction. The theory of the internet’s founding was that the network could survive a nuclear attack. The BBC, no matter how many resources it consumes, is not a nuclear attack on our self-giving right to access information.

About this time last Year, the BBC went all out trying to block VPNs from accessing its content (BBC iPlayer Blocks UK VPN Servers Over Piracy Concerns – October 2015). Up to this point, Expats were rinsing iPlayer via their VPN providers. Nowadays, it’s not as tricky as using VPNs. What I am going to show you is the manipulation of your DNS setting. The plus side of doing it this way is that you will benefit from no diminishment in speed as the traffic is not being routed through a VPN connection.

How to Watch the BBC Abroad

  1. There are many services out there but I would like to straight up recommend these guys (and gals): ibVPN. They have a few packages available but the only one you required for this task (Accessing UK on demand TV) is: “ibDNS / SmartDNS“. At this time it’s $4.95/Monthly or $36.95/Year. That’s just under £4/Month and under £30/Year. Less than the TV license itself.
    • If you take a look at their price plan page you’ll see that they are offering a free unrestricted free trail (but limited to 6 hours) at the top of the page. This is how they won me over. Let them know your email and they’ll send you an instant email a username and password. Pretty cool, so you can try this guide for free and watch that program in a few moments.
  2. Whether you signed up for the free trial or purchased the above-recommended package, you will get an email with your username and password. This information can be seen again at any time here.
  3. You will need to go to their enable ibDNS page, click on the Green “Update to your current IP” buttons.
  4. Follow their swift ibDNS guides (with images) to complete the last step for your device. Example for windows (but you can use your Apple, Android, Routers, TVs and game consoles..):
    1.  Right-click on the Network icon (bottom right corner) and select “Open Network and Sharing Center”.
    2. Click on “Change adapter settings”.
    3. Right click on your Network Connection (Wi-Fi or LAN) and click Properties.
    4. Select Internet Protocol Version 4 (TCP/IPv4). Now select Properties.
    5. Select “Use the following DNS server addresses”. Paste Check “Validate settings”.
    6. You can easily revert this by selecting “Obtain DNS server address automatically” on the last step.

There’s an even easier, non-technical way…

Below is a video I made of my smartphone accessing content through the BBC iPlayer app. I merely used an easy ibVPN app to switch my apparent location to the UK.

That’s it. You’ll have access to every single service as if you were back in the UK. It’s not just for iPlayer. It’s the same for Channel 4’s 4oD. I used it to watch Singapore Formula 1 race live last weekend. Furthermore, it’s not just for us Brits. The US, Canada, Netherlands, France Germany and Australia get this kind of access too with the same package.

I am totally independent and am really recommending this from my own experience. The links here are affiliate links and I will make some money (hopefully). So please, if you are going to do this, please sign up through my affiliate link. I used to be with Boxpn but had to get a refund as the BBC were blocking their VPN connections at peak times. They had too few numbers of servers and their support was useless.

I am very happy to hear how you get on with this service in the comments below or by sending me a message here. Once you’ve used up their 6-hour free trial you can ask nicely at the pop-up support chat if you could have extended. The gave me a further three days for free. If you’ve outstretched this too you can get more by adapting your Gmail email address (if you have one). This is done by extending your address with the “+” sign. Adapting to Free trail emails will still go to your regular Gmail inbox this way. If you still don’t want to sign up, ibVPN does a free VPN account here (left-hand side). You’ll need to make a tweet or Facebook post about them.This free account won’t support the DNS method above but will give you a UK geographic connection via standard VPN protocol. The downside is that it will be patchy and the BBC and others seem to sense when they get a large number of connections coming from the same VPN portal.

Otherwise, there are some other ways to access BBC content for free through apps, browser add-ons and a plethora of streaming websites that come and go regularly. From my experiences, these are not reliable. Having said that, Corrigan, a fellow expat here in Colombia has shared with me a pretty good alternative to the above-recommended option. It is good for accessing a selection of live UK channels.

One thing is for sure. Access cannot be denied and with the help of these VPN providers, a free internet will persevere.