Oct 172015

BBC IPlayer starts to block VPN servers concerning piracy worries

The BBC is taking measures against the unauthorized use of its iPlayer service by actively blocking UK VPN services. The measures aim to prevent foreigners from accessing iPlayer without permission, but they’re also blocking many legitimate UK citizens from surfing the Internet securely.

The BBC’s online catchup service iPlayer has been a great success, both in the UK and abroad.

While the service is intended for UK viewers, who have to pay a mandatory TV license, it’s also commonly used overseas. Recent research suggests that 60 million people outside the UK access iPlayer through VPNs and other circumvention tools.

However, over the past several days TF has received several reports from VPN users who can no longer access iPlayer from UK-based VPN servers.

“BBC iPlayer TV programmes are available to play in the UK only,” is the notice they receive instead.

This effectively stops foreigners and expats from accessing the service, but it also affects license paying UK citizens who use a VPN to browse the Internet securely. They will now have to disconnect their VPN if they want to access iPlayer.

“We regularly make updates to our technology to help prevent access to BBC iPlayer from outside the UK which breaks our terms of use,” a BBC spokesperson tells us.

“BBC iPlayer is freely available to users across the UK without a VPN, and we also seek to ensure users of private VPNs such as those used by schools and companies in the UK have access.”

The BBC admits that this may affect privacy conscious UK license payers as well, but says it doesn’t have the ability to discriminate between legal and unauthorized VPN users.

Several VPN users are not happy with the change and have voiced their complaints. The issue is also causing concern among VPN service providers, which are looking for options to circumvent the blockade.

the move follows the shuttering last month of the BBC’s experimental “global iPlayer” service, which made certain shows available to international users willing to pay a monthly fee. Instead, the BBC appears to be pivoting to selling shows internationally for viewing on other platforms such as Netflix and Hulu.

What will likely happen now is a game of whack-a-mole, in which VPN providers work to find workarounds, and the BBC work to ban any new VPN IP addresses from accessing the service.


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  2 Responses to “BBC IPlayer starts to block VPN servers concerning piracy worries”

  1. I have been able to access iPlayer via a UK VPN until Christmas Eve when it was all stopped. Presumably the BBC wanted us all to have a very Unhappy Christmas!

    • Contact your VPN service, as they may have a solution.
      Or find one that does work.

      As you are not meant to use BBC Iplayer outside the UK, due to how the programme rights are bought and sold, then the BBC and all broadcasters will and can try to limit viewing in areas that they do not own the broadcaster rights for.

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