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 obtained 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: 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-given 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). At this page is the BBC’s official reasoning and explanation on why you can’t access content whilst abroad. Over at this page is the BBC’s plan to keep viewers updated on how they can legitimately access BBC iPlayer abroad. But it looks like any steps will involve a UK TV license. The nearest BBC permissible avenue is available to US viewers only through an endorsed service call BritBox but expensive and has only limited content.

Up to this point, Expats were rinsing iPlayer via their usual VPN providers. Now, my method is not as tricky as using VPNs. What I am going to show you here on this page is the manipulation of your DNS setting. The plus side of doing it this way is that you will benefit from no diminishment in your connection speed as the streamed traffic is not being routed through a VPN connection. This is important as traffic will be bounced through more than enough servers to reach us expatriates living across the globe.

Click to see there price plans. ibDNS is the service you need for UK TV.

ibVPN is my recommended service to access everything just like back in the UK.

How to Watch the BBC Abroad

  • There are many services out there but I would like to straight up, right now, recommend these guys (and gals): ibVPN. They have a few packages available but the only one you require for this simple task (Accessing UK on-demand TV) is: “ibDNS / SmartDNS“. At this moment in 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.
  • 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.
  • You will need to go to their enable ibDNS page, click on the Green “Update to your current IP” buttons.
  • 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..):
    •  Right-click on the Network icon (bottom right corner) and select “Open Network and Sharing Center”.
    • Click on “Change adapter settings”.
    • Right click on your Network Connection (Wi-Fi or LAN) and click Properties.
    • Select Internet Protocol Version 4 (TCP/IPv4). Now select Properties.
    • Select “Use the following DNS server addresses”. Paste 31.3.254.2. Check “Validate settings”.
    • You can easily revert this by selecting “Obtain DNS server address automatically” on the last step.

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

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. There’s also an easy app for Windows and Mac computers.

Now Start Streaming Unrestricted

That’s it. Now just head over to watch the BBC abroad and all your other favourite channels.

  • BBC iPlayer for your Eastenders, Apprentice, BBC News, Doctor Who, Wimbledon, Match of the Day, Top Gear and all those BBC Documentaries, not to forget CBeebies too from New York to Sydney.
  • All 4 for your Gogglebox, Great British Bake Off, Formula 1, The Last Leg, Made in Chelsea and more from Cape Town to Hong Kong.
  • ITV Hub, for The X-Factor to Britains Got Talent, I’m a Celebrity Get me out of Here, Coronation Street (not forgetting Emmerdale), Loose Woman to The Only Way is Essex, with a Tour de France (in English) from Toronto to Berlin.
  • My5, for Neighbours (and Home and Away), and your Big Brother from Benidorm to Tenerife.

Oh, and perhaps even more important access those restricted radio programs (yep, BBC restricts certain radio too).

  • iPlayer Radio for 5 Live Sports Extra, for all those ‘rights restricted’ sports coverage from Cricket to Formula 1 to Rugby to Football to Wimbledon live coverage. Unrestricted listening from Buenos Aires to Jerusalem.

Let’s not forget about a BBC reverse restriction. Thanks to my suggestion to ibVPN and thanks to them for accepting, we now have a Colombia server to access the content that the BBC restricts from those accessing from the UK out.

  • BBC Mundo, yep, the BBC has a Spanish language arm of their World Service. Access their news, videos unrestricted this way too, from London to Glasgow.

ibVPN are the guys I’ve been using for Years. Never let me down and still working perfectly to this day.


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 your trail extended. They 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 name@gmail.com to name+anything@gmail.com. Free trail emails will still go to your regular Gmail inbox this way. If you still do not 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 and only some of the time.

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