Saudi Arabia has many websites and services blocked, and that unfortunately includes the BBC iPlayer. However, you can regain access to your favorite British streams and break through KSA censorship with a VPN. Today, we review the best VPNs for beating Saudi geoblocks while preserving your connection speeds for smooth HD video streams.
BBC iPlayer is a UK-based service that allows users to listen to the radio, catch up with the latest TV programs, and stream a wide variety of content. Unfortunately, due to BBC’s licensing terms, the service is only available for people with UK IP addresses. Moreover, in the last few years, the BBC began to block IP addresses associated with VPN providers, which makes it that much harder to enjoy content through the iPlayer website or app.
The Saudi government blocks BBC iPlayer, but you can regain secure access with these VPNs:
- NordVPN – Best for Saudi Arabia – NordVPN has years of experience dealing with harsh government censorship like KSA’s. Break through to a secure UK server to enjoy unlimited BBC iPlayer streaming in complete anonymity.
- Surfshark – A turnkey solution for accessing banned sites anywhere in the world. Affordable, sleek, powerful.
- ExpressVPN – Tried-and-true VPN famous for its ability to foil Netflix’s proxy ban. Super-fast, secure, and user-friendly.
- CyberGhost – Offers an obscene number of servers around the world. Dead-simple to use, with a clean, colorful UI.
- PrivateVPN – Neither the biggest nor fastest VPN, but one of the most flexible in the hands of an experienced VPN user.
Luckily, with a good VPN provider, you can still bypass these regional blocks and enjoy the streaming service hassle-free. For users trying to unblock BBC iPlayer from Saudi Arabia, the VPN also provides a layer of security, which will ensure that your identity and all online activity will remain protected at all times. In this article, we will discuss how to pick the right VPN, give you our top recommendations, and explain why BBC iPlayer is limited to a UK-based audience.
How to pick a VPN for unblocking BBC iPlayer
When looking for a VPN service that would effectively bypass regional restrictions and keep your online identity secure, there are a lot of things to think about. For example, in order to unblock BBC iPlayer from Saudi Arabia, you will need a VPN provider that has servers in the UK. Below, we have indicated the criteria for choosing the best VPN service for your needs.
- Servers in the UK – In order to get BBC iPlayer working from abroad, including countries like Saudi Arabia, you will need a UK IP address. In order to get one, you will need to have the option to connect to UK-based servers, therefore choose a provider with nodes in the UK.
- Strong encryption – For Saudi Arabian users, security in a VPN is crucial in order to avoid government snooping and ISP tracking. With 256-bit AES encryption, you can be certain that your data will remain protected at all times.
- No-logging policy – A no-logging policy will ensure that no logs are being kept on your data, which means that your browsing history, IP addresses and even email address cannot be traced back to you.
- Fast connection – In order to fully enjoy the streaming service, you will need a fast connection. To avoid lagging and buffering delays, opt for a VPN that provides unlimited bandwidth, no speed caps and no throttling.
VPNs proven to unblock BBC iPlayer in Saudi Arabia
If you’d like to enjoy streaming and listening to content on BBC iPlayer from Saudi Arabia, take a look at our top VPN recommendations:
NordVPN provides top-of-the-line security and privacy features, but its most notable quality is its massive network. With 5,500 servers in 58 countries, NordVPN has one of the biggest networks in the industry, and it is continuously growing. Because of the number of servers, NordVPN also offers various speciality servers for advanced users, including onion over VPN, anti-DDoS, P2P, and obfuscated servers, which hides the fact that you are using a VPN at all. This is particularly great for unblocking BBC iPlayer since their algorithm is sensitive to VPN usage. Furthermore, NordVPN provides no limitations on bandwidth.
In terms of privacy, NordVPN is keeping up with some of the top VPN providers. The service uses 256-bit AES encryption, which means that it is practically unbreakable and would take the world’s strongest supercomputer millions of years to crack. Encryption protocols include UDP, TCP, L2TP, and SSTP. Furthermore, the no-logging policy is considered to be one of the most complete in the industry – it does not log anything from traffic to bandwidth and browsing history.
Read our full NordVPN review.
- Optimized servers for unblocking Netflix
- GooglePlay users rating: 4.3/5.0
- Torrenting is explicitly permitted
- Retains no metadata of your browsing
- Live chat support is available.
- Some servers can be slow and unreliable
- They can take 30 days to process refunds.
Surfshark does things a little differently. Rather than making you wade through advanced settings or fish around for a handful of specialty servers among a network of thousands, Surfshark servers “just work” to unblock streaming services like BBC iPlayer. And, it even works in highly restrictive countries like Saudi Arabia.
It works through a combination of advanced encryption (OpenVPN, IKEv2/IPSec, or WireGuard with an 256-AES-GCM cipher), built-in smart DNS functionality, NoBorders anti-censorship mode, plus Camouflage obfuscation–each of which is available on every one of their 3200+ servers. Surfshark’s network covers 65 countries, with the UK particularly well represented by standard servers, as well as static IP and multi-hop connections.
Getting caught breaking the rules in KSA comes with harsh penalties, but Surfshark has your back with a kill switch, IP/DNS/WebRTC leak protection, plus a water-tight no-logging policy.
- Every server optimized for unblocking Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Hulu, and more
- Every server is a speciality server
- No questions asked money back guarantee
- Based in the British Virgin Islands, where there are no data retention laws
- Responsive customer support available 24/7.
- Growing network doesn’t have same coverage as more mature VPNs
- New-kid-on-the-block status may not instill same trust as larger providers.
Read our full Surfshark review.
ExpressVPN is one of the most popular and reliable VPN providers on the market due to its combination of speed, security, and ease of use. With a large network of 3,000+ servers in 94 countries, including servers in the UK, the provider lives up to its name and gives users the option to pick the fastest available server in a variety of countries. The overall speed is considered to be excellent – with no limitations on bandwidth, no speed caps and no throttling, you will be able to enjoy a fast connection while browsing, streaming, and downloading.
ExpressVPN does not fall short in the security department, either. The service uses 256-bit AES encryption, which will keep your data secure and your identity protected at all times. Other encryption protocols include OpenVPN’s UDP, TCP, and SSTP, which beats even the most hardcore censorship blocks. Furthermore, ExpressVPN has a solid no-logging policy, which guarantees that exactly zero records are kept on traffic, DNS requests, IP addresses, and even browsing history. Other noteworthy security features include the automatic kill switch, which shuts down your internet in case you ever get disconnected, thus protecting your data from being unencrypted. The DNS leak protection also makes sure that your connection is always protected.
Read our full ExpressVPN review.
- Works with US Netflix, iPlayer, Hulu and other services
- Super fast, reliable connection
- Secure encryption & VPN protocols
- Strict no-logging policy
- 24/7 Customer Service.
- Month-to-month plan has high cost.
CyberGhost is a provider that focuses on security and reliability, but it is particularly appealing to new users who do not have experience with a VPN. The app is very easy to install, and the minimalist display will make it simple to use regardless of what your VPN needs are. Upon launch, you can pick from six different configuration profiles. The appropriate settings are then being automatically applied depending on the profile you chose. These include “unblock streaming”, “choose my VPN server”, and “surf anonymously”. These profiles can further adjusted with toggles like “block ads”, “block online tracking” and “extra speed”.
CyberGhost has strong security features that are in line with the industry standard. The service uses military-grade 256-bit AES encryption via OpenVPN, and includes other encryption protocols such as UDP and TCP. Furthermore, CyberGhost employs an immaculate logging policy, which logs almost nothing at all, including your email address. This means that there is absolutely no way to connect your activity back to you. A vast server network spans more than 6,200 servers in 90 countries, giving you a wealth of options to customize your VPN connection.
For desktop users, other security features include a kill switch (in case you ever get disconnected), a connection guard and an ad blocker.
Read our full CyberGhost review.
- Unblocks US Netflix, BBC iPlayer, YouTube
- Great user experience and easy installation
- 7 simultaneous connections
- Private: Strong no logs policy
- Reliable and knowledgeable 24/7 live chat support.
- IPv6 WebRTC leak in macOS
- Can’t unblock some other streaming sites.
PrivateVPN is a great VPN for users who love to stream content from websites like Netflix, Hulu, and BBC iPlayer. At just over 150 servers in 60+ countries worldwide, you have plenty of options to bypass geographical content restrictions. Of that number, 6 servers are maintained in the UK, giving you some flexibility in beating BBC’s harsh VPN block. Other high-demand countries are represented in PrivateVPN’s proxy server list, including France, United States, Germany, and Brazil.
PrivateVPN has strong security features that make it a solid choice for unblocking streaming services. While the default service comes with 256-bit AES encryption, for those who are slightly less concerned about privacy but want faster connection speed, PrivateVPN gives you the option to downgrade to 128-bit. This is still very strong, but allows you to boost your connection and stream content faster. Furthermore, the no-logging policy ensures that no outsiders can track down your online activity logs and trace them back to your ID.
Read our full PrivateVPN review.
Why do I need a VPN in Saudi Arabia?
Whether you are a KSA local or simply visiting for work, a VPN will become an essential tool for bypassing harsh geo-restrictions and staying safe online. Saudi Arabia has been identified by the Freedom House organization as a “not free” nation when it comes to Internet freedoms. This means that content filtering is quite common, particularly by the government and ISPs.
Surprisingly enough, content filtering in Saudi Arabia applies to more than just adult and political content. Other banned and censored websites and online services include Wikipedia, gambling sites, social media sites, YouTube, and Google Translate. Furthermore, according to the Anti-Cyber Crime Law (introduced 2007) any production, possession or distribution of content related to gambling, adult topics, anti-religious topics and controversial political subjects is considered a crime.
The biggest issue concerning Saudi Arabia’s internet filtering is the crime factor, which implies that individuals can face long prison time and corporal punishment. This means that if people try to post their personal opinions regarding politics, women’s rights, illegal activities or any other sensitive subject online, there is always a risk that they will be persecuted.
Securing your connection in Saudi Arabia is not merely a matter of bypassing censorship, but a matter of maintaining your privacy and security. A VPN helps solve both of these issues since it encrypts a user’s data and allows them to connect to a different IP address. This means that your physical location will be masked, and your online activity will be stored securely (if at all). This way, not only can you enjoy streaming services like BBC iPlayer, but you’ll know not to worry about being monitored when surfing the web.
Why is BBC iPlayer blocked outside the UK?
If you are a fan of anything BBC, the iPlayer is a must-have for you. The BBC iPlayer allows you to watch all BBC programmes online, which are available on demand almost immediately after the live broadcast. From MasterChef to Doctor Who, you can enjoy the fast streaming without having to wait weeks for the release of new episodes.
The problem is, BBC iPlayer services are restricted to those in the UK. As of 2011, the BBC TV production company limited its audience to the UK because of UK television licensing laws and agreements with third-party partners. Specifically, copyright holders that sell TV show and film rights to the BBC only agree to a British viewership, therefore broadcasting said content globally would be in violation of their contracts.
Same goes for content that is created by the BBC itself. In order to generate revenue from all audiences worldwide, the BBC must sell broadcasting rights separately. However, the BBC knows how difficult it is to identify users who unblock the iPlayer from abroad, therefore it focuses on blocking VPN providers rather than blocking individuals.
How to unlock BBC iPlayer from Saudi Arabia
In order to enjoy UK’s favourite streaming service in Saudi Arabia, you will need to combine the BBC iPlayer software with your VPN of choice. BBC iPlayer will allow you to enjoy the latest shows, films, and other special features, such as radio. However, no less important, you will be able to browse securely while in Saudi Arabia. In order to get started, follow the steps below.
- Create a BBC iPlayer account, unless you already have one.
- Open your browser and subscribe to your VPN provider of choice. Download and install the right app for your operating system and device.
- Once the app is downloaded, launch it and sign in with your new credentials.
- The majority of VPN services automatically connect you to the fastest available server. However, in order to get BBC iPlayer working, you’ll need to manually connect to a UK server.
- Before you start enjoying your new access to BBC iPlayer, it’s important to check that the connection is working properly. Visit ipleak.net – this page will automatically run an IP leak test within a few moments. Once it loads, check the “your IP addresses” section. If you see the UK server you picked, you are ready to start streaming. If you see your location in Saudi Arabia, you need to contact your VPN provider directly; there may be a leak.
Saudi Arabia has been known for its harsh internet laws, which is why there are many blocked and restricted websites for local users. The BBC iPlayer is limited to a UK audience, however, with a VPN, you can both stay secure and anonymous online as well as bypass these regional blocks. In order to get started within minutes, simply choose one of our recommended VPN providers and follow our simple instructions.
What are you planning on using your VPN for? Are you located in a country with internet filtering? Leave us your comments down below!
If you need a VPN for a short while when traveling for example, you can get our top ranked VPN free of charge. NordVPN includes a 30-day money-back guarantee. You will need to pay for the subscription, that’s a fact, but it allows full access for 30 days and then you cancel for a full refund. Their no-questions-asked cancellation policy lives up to its name.