How to Watch BBC iPlayer in Australia

Updated: December 12, 2016

  1. Firstly, signup for a VPN account
  2. Next install the VPN software onto the device(s) you want to watch BBC iPlayer in Australia from
  3. Open the software and then connect to a UK-based server
  4. Go to BBC iPlayer and you will have access to login to your existing account or setup a new one
  5. Enjoy BBC iPlayer in Australia

How to watch BBC iPlayer in Australia in more detail:

NOTE: The solution for this quick guide on how to watch BBC iPlayer in Australia involves using a VPN. There are a lot of VPN providers to choose from, so I personally reviewed the top-rated ones and decided to go with ExpressVPN. Check it out here:


NOTE: To go straight to the solution click here and the page will snap to the steps.

BBC iPlayer is epic. Being a native UK citizen, I use iPlayer religiously to stay on top of my favourite British TV shows. I don't know what I would do without them! 

With BBC iPlayer being an online media streaming service, I was super excited to be able to stay on top of my favourite shows while on my month-long work trip to the land down under: Australia. 

However, upon arriving at my Sydney AirBnB, settling in for the night and popping open my Macbook to catch up on my iPlayer shows; I was devastated to be denied access to the entire BBC iPlayer service! 

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OK, maybe "devastated is a bit extreme, but I was super frustrated to not have access. What was I going to do for the rest of the month in Australia without being able to catch up on my Sherlock, Peep Show and the like? 

Well, I was in no mood to lie down and just accept this iPlayer block. So I set to figure out a solution that would work 100% effectively and securely. It took a bit of trial-and-error, since BBC iPlayer have really increased their efforts to keep their block as unbreakable as possible of late -- but I was victorious! 

So as soon as I figured out this solution I wanted to write up this quick guide to help others looking to do the same. Thus, here is my guide on how to watch BBC iPlayer in Australia


Why is BBC iPlayer not Available in Australia?

My first point of research was to understand why BBC iPlayer is blocked in Australia. What was the reasoning behind their decision to do this? 

Well it didn't take me long to realise that this comes down to licensing rights agreed upon between the BBC and the owners of each TV show that iPlayer wants to offer on the service. 

This means that when iPlayer wants to offer, for example, Sherlock on their service, they will only purchased the license to offer the show to users physically located in the UK -- and thus had to agree with the owners of Sherlock to deny any users located outside the UK from accessing the show. 

With all of iPlayer's shows being UK made and having the biggest viewership from within the UK, it makes sense that iPlayer chooses to restrict the entire service to only be accessible from within the UK. It would cost iPlayer too much money to buy licensing rights to offer shows in countries outside the UK and run the risk of not getting enough return on such an investment since the biggest viewership is UK based. 


How is BBC iPlayer Blocking Access in Australia?

Now with the main reason why understood, I next researched how -- technically speaking -- BBC iPlayer blocks access to users in Australia. 

So after some reading and testing, I determined that iPlayer uses a common process called "geo-blocking" to block and allow access to the service accurately and consistently. What is geo-blocking? Well, it's a simple process that essentially uses the IP address of each and every user to confirm the physical locations of each user instantly. 

With the how figured out, the solution began to emerge. All that you need to do is figure out a completely effective and secure method to change your IP address to a UK-based one... preferably without having to physical be located in the UK.

Well, there are actually a few methods to change your IP address. However, the BBC have been working very hard over the last few months to determine whether a user is using such "IP address changing" methods to access iPlayer, which has resulted in many methods becoming ineffective now. 

However -- luckily there is one approach that still works right now, which is by using a Virtual Private Network (VPN). The most important factor with using a VPN for this solution is to use a VPN provider that is working harder than iPlayer to keep the service accessible through their VPN service, which a few VPN providers are doing. 


How to Use a VPN to Watch BBC iPlayer in Australia

Step 1: Sign up for VPN

So after personally testing out the "top-rated" VPN providers to see which ones are staying ahead of BBC iPlayer's efforts to block users using VPNs to access iPlayer in Australia, I narrowed down my selection to a handful of providers that satisfy this -- settling on ExpressVPN as it best suited my (modest) budget. 

Thus for the following setup steps I'll use ExpressVPN as the example. Let's do this! 

Step one is to head over to the ExpressVPN website and choose the plan that you want to commit to. You'll see that a 30-day money back guarantee is given when you first signup, which is nice of them. 

Here's a quick snapshot of this step:

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After processing your account you will receive a confirmation email that will take you onto the next step...


Step 2: Download & Install VPN

With your account setup, you will see a link in your confirmation email to the download area of the ExpressVPN website. Click on this and then choose the appropriate software download link for the device you're currently using.

Here you will see that ExpressVPN is compatible with essentially every device you would ever want to watch BBC iPlayer in Australia on, which is great:

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So for me, I downloaded the OS X software onto my Macbook, then went to the Google Play Store on my Android device and downloaded + installed the dedicated ExpressVPN Android app there. 

Installation on a desktop/laptop is straight forward. It will begin automatically when downloaded, then you just follow the steps as prompted. 

Step 3: Connect to UK-based Server on VPN

Once you have downloaded and installed the VPN software onto the device(s) you want to watch BBC iPlayer in Australia from, open up the software and then choose which server location you want connect to the VPN through. 

This is the step that will change your IP address show your location as whatever server location you choose in the VPN -- which will tell BBC iPlayer where you are "located". So be sure to choose a UK-based server location from the list of options. 

Here's an example of the ExpressVPN software on my Macbook, wherein I'm connecting to a US-based server:

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Of course you don't want to do that -- you want to connect to a UK-based server, like I demonstrate below on my Android device:

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Step 4: Watch BBC iPlayer in Australia

So as soon as you are connected to a UK-based server on your VPN, you can then go back to BBC iPlayer on your VPN enabled device and you'll have full access to BBC iPlayer in Australia (or whatever non-UK location you happen to be in at any time.) 

You may need to refresh your cache and history then restart your browser to make double sure that BBC iPlayer takes your newly updated IP address, so if you don't get access then definitely do this right away. 


Conclusion

As mentioned at the start of this quick guide, iPlayer is working hard to determine users accessing the service through a VPN and block such users accordingly -- so you really need to make sure the VPN provider you use is working hard to stay ahead of iPlayer to keep allowing users to bypass this block. 

My testing of the best VPN providers out there resulted in narrowing down a selection of five VPN providers that right now -- February 15, 2016 -- still allow access to iPlayer from outside the UK. So here they are, to give you more options:

Thanks for checking out this quick guide on how to watch BBC iPlayer in Australia. If you have any feedback or questions at all -- please let me know in the comments section below and I'll be happy to help out in any way I can. 

Happy iPlaying!


Chris Beattie
 

Managing Director & Editor in Chief at Fried.com -- I live for tech, fitness, autonomy, music and purpose.

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