Watch BBC iPlayer by Proxy USA

Not strictly a maths post, but more a need in order for me to watch a programme being rebroadcast and thus watch BBC Iplayer in USA.  It was released a year or so ago, but I have been tipped off that it is being shown again and so for US citizens possibly a chance to catch it on the IPlayer application.  The series is called The Story of Maths and is presented by Marcus du Sautoy, it chronicles the history of maths through the ages and I am expecting great things.

But first the problem – BBC Iplayer doesn’t work in the US as when you try and access it does some sort of lookup and blocks non-UK addresses.  So I did some reading on geotargeting, proxies, VPNs and IP addresses and finally found a way to bypass these blocks and watch whatever I like.

So here it is –

How to Access :BBC iPlayer for America by Proxy

Now I don’t know if you’ve tried at all but when you visit the BBC Iplayer abroad, if you’re not in the United Kingdom, you get redirected to the Radio section (which you can use).  However if you persist and try and watch something on the main BBC site – you get the following message below.

This happens whatever you try to watch and it’s purely down to the location registered to your IP address.  At this point of course many people give up or try but it’s actually not that difficult to bypass these blocks.

Firstly you need to know what’s happening – when you connect to the BBC website your IP address is recorded.  This is the unique number that is assigned to you by your ISP when you connect to the internet, everyone has one.  Next this address is checked against a large database which contains all assigned IP address ranges and which country they’ve been allocated to.  So if you’re in the US or using a USA Proxy then you’ll have an American assigned address, explained here.

That’s pretty much it, if your IP address is registered anywhere other than the UK then you’ll get the above message. So in theory all you have to do is change your IP address so it’s a British one and not American registered.

Now you can’t change the initial address you’re allocated because a US ISP can only assign the addresses it has been allocated.  Occasionally you might get lucky and an address range is incorrectly listed in  the database – but that’s a bit of a long shot.

The trick is to use a proxy or VPN service to connect through.  This is a server that sits between you and the website you visit, it simply forwards all information acting like a middle man.  However if this server is based in the UK, the BBC application will think you are also based in the United Kingdom.

So here’s the application I used, there are lots of others available but I used this one because it’s one of the cheapest and I know someone who worked on some of the code so I know it’s a legitimate company.   Here’s the screenshot from the program I use called Identity Cloaker.

This is the screen where I select which server to connect to, they have lots of countries but I need a UK one. After clicking on a UK server I then can go back to the BBC Iplayer site and try again.  This time I connect the site sees a UK based IP address (from the proxy) and so allows me to watch whatever I want.

bbc iplayer for america

In fact you can even disconnect the proxy after the program has started and it will still work as the IP address is only checked at the beginning of the show. So that’s it really – how you can access BBC Iplayer in America! I’m really pleased with Identity Cloaker,  it’s super fast and very easy to use – you can get a 10 day trial here if you want to try it.  My only issue is that there’s no sign of The Story of Maths yet so I have to keep checking!

Additional Reading

The Fermi Paradox

The detection of life somewhere in the Universe other than the Earth would probably be the greatest discovery in history.  When pondering this thought a physics/maths teacher called Enrico Fermi wondered why considering the age and sheer size of the Universe that no other species had got in contact with us so far.  Think of it there are billions of stars, billions of planets which have all existed for billions of years – you would think that SETI would have picked up more than just white noise.

At the heart of this idea is a paradox – the Fermi Paradox.  It was in 1961 that Frank Drake perhaps moved towards an answer to this paradox when he developed an equation for the probability of a contactable alien society living somewhere else in the Milky Way.  The Drake equation tells us that there is a chance but it’s still quite uncertain.

Here’s the basis of the Drake Equation

N=N*x FpxNexFixFjxFcxFl


N is the number of civilizations in the Milky Way detectable by electromagnetic emissions

N* is the number of stars in the Galaxy

Fp is the fraction of stars which have planetary systems

Ne is the number of planets per solar system with an environment suitable for life

Fi is the fraction of suitable planets which have actually shown some life

Fl is the fraction of life bearing planets which have spawned intelligent life

Fc is the fraction of civilisations capable of communicating their existence into space

Fl is the fraction of the civilisations lifetime that detectable signals have been released (e.g for Earth it’s pretty small!)

Obviously some of these variables are quite difficult to calculate but all our research suggests that we should have been contacted somehow by something.  So Fermis Paradox still is true.  If you’re interested more about this subject it’s covered by two maths series on British Television one on BBC and the other Channel 4.  If you have trouble connecting with UK TV because of your location – this website shows you how to watch the BBC  abroad.  It’s a simple technique involved in just routing through a UK located proxy server which allows video streaming.

For further information –