Software cheat lets people watch BBC iPlayer abroad: An update

Kevin Rawlinson

On Tuesday, I reported, in i, that British expats can now access the BBC’s iPlayer using a newly-released computer program called Expat Shield, which assigns a UK IP address to connections made abroad, tricking the system into believing they are domestic.

anchorfree 300x204 Software cheat lets people watch BBC iPlayer abroad: An updateNeither the BBC nor the program’s developer AnchorFree were available for comment at the time but the latter has since got in touch to answer questions on the potential breach of clause 3.2.1 of the terms and conditions attached to the Coroporation’s iPlayer by users logging on from outside of the UK.
The company said the launch of the product was in line with its policy of promoting “freedom of speech and access to the content and information” users want.

AnchorFree CEO David Gorodyansky added: “Imagine if you are a businessperson traveling abroad, or a student spending a semester in a foreign country. For many people it’s important to have a tie back to home, and we are creating a way to do so. We are not aiming to do anything malicious or dangerous, but rather are creating a way for a British citizen to have an uninterrupted online experience no matter where they are in the world.”

“There are 6 million UK expats around the world. We think that this will have broad appeal for any UK expats wherever they might be in the world, and therefore see if being highly useful.”

The BBC refused to comment.

The original story is below…

British expats can now watch BBC TV abroad for free, via the Corporation’s online iPlayer, after the release of a computer program which tricks the system into thinking it is in Britain.

The iPlayer’s catch-up service is only available in the UK, a common source of annoyance for British expats. But Expat Shield – designed by software company AnchorFree – assigns a UK IP address to connections made abroad, making it appear domestic.

It has been technically possible for people outside the UK to access the iPlayer for some time via Virtual Private Networks – similar to those used by companies to provide staff with remote access to their work IT facilities – but, as technology blog The Next Web reports, the VPNs required to secure it are complicated and usually cost money to set up. Expat Shield, however, is free to download. Both companies were unavailable to comment.

  • Marianna

    I’ll give it a try. I desperitely need to find ways to listen to TMS for the Boxing Day Test while on a skiing holiday in the Continent.

  • gcross


  • John Harrison

    This kind of technology has always existed. This is not news.

  • KE55

    I want the BBC to explain why they threatened the author of an Android phone version of the iPlayer with legal action unless he withdrew his program. That was many months ago, and the BBC have still not produced their own Android player (and when they finally do it will probably be bloated, unreliable and have cost license payers a fortune), so what’s the problem with allowing someone to do it for free?

  • from_the_rock

    Proxy technologies like this have been around for a long time, and are technically fairly simple for people like the BBC to block if they wanted to (they only have to filter out Anchor’s UK IP addresses).

    “If they want to” is the operative phrase there, historically the BBC seems to have been tolerant of small scale solutions (a bit like sky and all those illegal spanish pubs with the football) but as soon as a service attracts a lot of publicity and users it gets stamped on.

    Another problem for Anchor in this case is I suspect all this free Indy publicity is going to put a sudden strain on their bandwidth and servers, and start to make things go grinding slow making for very un-happy users.

  • Pluckuh

    Trouble is it doesn’t work, even though it does give me a UK ip address the BEEB and others still give the “not available in your area” message.

  • Pluckuh

    A follow up, I asked contacts in Australia and US to try this and same result… Content not available in your area. Seems as if the BEEB is fighting back.


    False promises as usual! It does not work, the same as all of these sites, they offer the world but never deliver and never work with the BBC iPlayer and even if it did, it does not work on a mac. I would gladly pay the same fee as if I were still living in the UK to access the content but certain laws prevent this. Oh well I guess I will have to keep on downloading the torrents of the shows I want to watch for free instead all be it a few hours behind the actual showing in the UK at least it works and at least it is free :) LOL Nice one BBC and to all these Expat Shield type companies please give up and stop waisting yours and our time.

  • tomcatskill

    This is not new news.
    I have been using for about a year, you have to pay an annual fee, but it works on my mac, and is easy to install. I am about to watch F1 Qualifying from Brazil on iplayer from deep in the Catskills in upstate New York.

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