Using a Proxy to Watch the BBC Iplayer in USA

You’d never hear the word ‘proxy’ outside of an IT department a few years ago, but now everyone uses them. This post is specifically how to use a proxy to watch the BBC iPlayer application in the USA. Now firstly a quick introduction to the problem, the internet is not open or unrestricted in fact it’s more compartmentalised than ever before. One of the reasons, is a technology called ‘region locking’ or ‘geo-targeting’ which have very similar meanings.

These technologies are basically designed to ensure that certain websites are only accessible from specific physical locations. It sounds crazy, but it’s true – where you are based physically has a huge impact on what you can access online. I’m not talking about the stupid filtering that paranoid governments do either, these restrictions are deployed by the web sites themselves. Mostly it’s to do with money, profit or copyright laws but they affect a huge proportion of the world’s best web sites.

I would certainly put the BBC and it’s application BBC iPLayer as one of the best web sites on the internet. You get access to all the BBC broadcasts live, something like six or seven 24 hour TV channels plus all the radio channels. You can also watch stuff for about six weeks after using the BBC iPlayer, all quality programmes with not an advert to be seen. Unfortunately it’s only accessible in the UK, if you try and access from the USA you’ll get blocked.

Which is where our friend the proxy comes in, a server that sits between you and the web site you visit basically hiding your real location. The trick is to use a proxy server that sits in the country you need access to, which for the BBC is of course the United Kingdom.

So here we go – How to watch the BBC iPlayer USA simply by using a proxy server.

As you can see this is on a computer, the software demonstrated is called Identity Cloaker and actively hides your true location when you visit any website. In this instance, the BBC sees the UK proxy server and assumes that is your location and as such everything works, you can even watch the BBC News.

Now a few years ago pretty much any proxy server would work, even the free ones you could find online. However this has now changed and there’s a few things you should bare in mind when looking for a way to watch the BBC iplayer in the USA.

Speed – it’s everything when streaming video, otherwise whatever you’re watching will buffer all the time.
Discretion – don’t sign up to a proxy/vpn service which openly advertises bypassing the BBC blocks and has it’s logos all over the site. They will get blocked or closed down.
Security – last year the BBC started actively blocking these connections from proxies. They need to be securely configured so as not to be detected.
Other Countries – If you want to access websites and TV stations in other countries, you’ll need access to proxies in those countries too.

Identity Cloaker is our recommendation because of it’s speed and security, plus it’s very reasonably priced.   Try the 10 day trial first to make sure it works well for you.  Although the core program is software to run on your computer/laptop you can also connect through from a tablet or smartphone by creating the connection manually.  It’s easy to do and there’s a guide here.

How to use a US IP Proxy Server

There used to be a time when configuring and using a US IP proxy server was only for the technologically advanced. However times have changed and now millions of people with limited technical knowledge use IP proxies every day for many mundane situations.

One of the most common uses for an IP proxy is to access content that is restricted by region locking. For instance if you try and access any of the mainstream US media sites like ABC, NBC or Hulu from outside the USA then you’ll find that the majority of the site is inaccessible. The sames goes for lots of other media sites across the world – all inaccessible outside their domestic market.

It kind of makes a mockery of the global communication medium that we call the internet. It certainly wasn’t designed to restrict and block access based on your physical location however that is how it has turned out. Which is why for a US citizen travelling or living abroad a US IP proxy server is so useful.

Using a US IP Proxy Server

The fact is that most of these websites determine your location by looking at your IP address and where it’s registered to. This will of course determine your physical location, however if you connect through a proxy server then the IP address of the server will be revealed and not your own. Therefore someone on holiday in Europe who connected to the internet through a US IP proxy server would appear to be in the US. Here’s a quick video which demonstrates this in action:

As you can see in the demonstration, the software is used to connect to a network of different proxies. In this particular example a US proxy is selected in order to access the film and movie site Hulu. Without using the proxy then the site won’t be accessible as the content is only licensed for US based users. However you can see that there are many different countries available in the software which can be used to watch or access web sites in other countries.

Connecting through a Canadian proxy would give you access to all the Canadian websites, using a French proxy would give you a French IP address and the ability to watch sites like M6 Replay.

As you can see from the video there is no real technical knowledge required as it’s all taken care of by the software. There are a whole host of these programs available now which you can install easily and then change your IP address to whichever you need. It is worth remembering though that when your connection is routed through a specific country then your browsing will be tailored to that country.

Someone connected through a US IP proxy will for example get the US version of Google complete with US related search results. It is obviously not a major issue but it can be confusing if you forget!

How to Switch IP Address Quickly

Many of us now use VPNs and proxy servers routinely to hide our real IP addresses. The reasons are many however for most us it’s either to bypass the thousands of region locks which exist online or simply to hide our real location and identity. Investing in a VPN solution is usually a wise move, providing protection for when you’re online either at home or using an insecure wifi connection in a cafe or hotel for example. When you connect through a VPN or proxy your real ip address is hidden and the website you visit has no way of logging your location.

How to Change IP Address Quickly

The problem is that for region locking uses, having a single additional IP address is rarely enough. The problem is that all these regional filters are based on different locations, so you often require addresses based in a variety of countries and being able to change address quickly is essential. Here’s a quick demonstration of some software called Identity Cloaker which facilitates this:

You can see that the software that controls the connection sits in the task bar and you can enable the VPN or switch it to use another server whenever you like. So for example if you where trying to watch the BBC you’d need a UK IP proxy but to watch ABC or CNN live streams you’d need a US proxy and IP address. All you need to do is open the control panel and switch to the appropriate country.

A few of the biggest VPN providers now provide multiple servers across different countries so you can switch like this. It makes sense to use one of these rather than the companies who charge additional for each country you sign up for. Using these companies you’ll find information on how to change IP address quickly as the subscription covers all their servers. Most of the sites cover countries like USA, Canada, UK, France and Germany whereas for other countries you might need to search around.

One of the difficult countries to get a proxy or VPN in is Australia, simply because the internet costs tend to be much higher there and it’s expensive to include Australian servers in their infrastructure. There are a few around though and you can find a few around, but remember to watch BBC iPlayer in Australia you need a UK proxy not an Australian one. Although any one based in Australia would be advised to use a local proxy when they’re not trying to bypass region locks simply because of the speed.

There is another reason why you should regularly rotate and change your IP address and that’s to keep the fact that you’re using a secure connection private. If you don’t switch addresses and just use a static video proxy, any ISP logs will show the use of a proxy as all requests will be routed through the one specific IP address. Switching this address periodically makes it much more difficult to detect.