Widespread BBC iPlayer Error Is Locking Users Out [Updated]

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A significant number of BBC iPlayer users are facing an unwelcome surprise these past few days, as they find themselves locked out of the popular streaming service.

Despite being within the UK, a geolocation glitch is misidentifying them as being abroad, and halting their access.

The BBC acknowledged this glitch in a statement released earlier today, marking a rare disruption in the otherwise smooth streaming experience that iPlayer is known for.

According to the BBC’s announcement, some of the affected users are seeing “Error Message 02066” when they try to use BBC iPlayer.

This technical hiccup is stirring a wave of frustration among its vast user base, with some taking to social media to complain.

The broadcasting corporation has delved into an investigation to unearth the cause and to find a swift resolution to this widespread problem (and has suggested a few things to check – see more below).

Fire HD 8 BBC iPlayer
BBC iPlayer

From what we know so far, the device you’re watching on isn’t necessarily related to the issue – and the problem may lie with certain specific networks.

Therefore, the BBC suggests, where possible, to try and use another network until the issue is fixed – that is, if you’re seeing the error message while you’re on a cellular network, you might be fine on your home broadband, or vice versa. 

Why Does The BBC Geo-block iPlayer?

BBC iPlayer is a treasure trove of free content (as long as you pay the TV Licence), but access to it is primarily restricted to the UK – which is why you can’t normally use it when you’re abroad (unless you download shows in advance).

The reason behind this geographical restriction, commonly known as geo-blocking, boils down to broadcasting rights.

The BBC holds the rights to broadcast certain shows and events only within the United Kingdom, and hence, it employs geo-blocking to ensure it adheres to these legal agreements.

Man watching a tablet on the beach vacation

Geo-blocking works by identifying the location of users through their IP addresses, which are unique identifiers assigned to each internet connection.

When you attempt to access BBC iPlayer, the service checks your IP address to determine whether you are accessing from within the UK or not. If it recognises the IP address as UK-based, voila, you gain access. If not, you’ll be greeted with an error message.

However, this system is not without its flaws. Sometimes, the mechanism can mistakenly identify UK-based users as being outside the country. This can occur due to several reasons.

For instance, if a user is employing a Virtual Private Network (VPN) or proxy service to browse the internet, these tools can mask the real IP address, causing BBC iPlayer to misinterpret the user’s location (and iPlayer tends to block some VPN services regardless of where they “say” you are).

geoblocking video not available vpn

Additionally, if an IP address is newly created or not correctly registered as UK-based by the Internet Service Provider (ISP), BBC iPlayer may also misidentify the location.

BBC iPlayer Error 02066: What Can I Do?

Until the BBC manages to fix the current widespread issue, viewers can try and check whether they’re actually affected by this error – or by something else that’s causing iPlayer to think they’re not in the UK.

Based on the guidance provided by the BBC, here’s a consolidated guide to assist you in troubleshooting this problem:

VPN and Proxy Services:

If you’re using a VPN or proxy service, it’s advisable to disable it temporarily. These services can mask your real IP address, causing iPlayer to misjudge your location.

Using VPN on laptop

After disabling, wait for a few minutes and clear your browser’s cache to ensure the changes take effect. If a VPN or proxy is detected, iPlayer will restrict access as it cannot reliably determine your location.

Check Your IP Address Registration:

Sometimes, an IP address may not be correctly registered in the UK, especially if it’s newly created or sourced. This misregistration can mislead iPlayer.

The BBC suggests you contact your Internet Service Provider (ISP) to verify if your IP address is registered correctly in the UK. They can provide clarity and possibly rectify any registration issues (although I have to add – with the current widespread issue, it may be easier to wait until the BBC releases a fix).

Verify Your IP Address Details:

Utilize IP-checking websites like WhatIsMyIP to review your IP address details. These sites provide information on your geographical location as perceived by your IP address.

If there’s a discrepancy in the details (that is – you know you’re in the UK as it’s grey and raining outside, but your IP says you’re not in the UK) contact your ISP for further assistance.

Web Accelerator:

If you employ a web accelerator, try disabling it. Web accelerators can sometimes interfere with location detection.

Work Computer Networks:

Some work networks route data outside the UK. If you’re using a work computer (or a work VPN), consult with your company’s IT support to ascertain if this might be the cause.

technicians working on Ethernet network cable and router

Tor Network:

If you’re on the Tor network, be aware that only Tor relay nodes can access the iPlayer. Adjust your settings accordingly if this applies to you.

Mobile Device Settings:

Check for any data reduction features in your browser settings. Some mobile browsers route data outside the UK when these features are activated.

Ensure your browser is up to date, or try using a different browser to access iPlayer.

Additionally, disable any data compression apps as they may also route data outside the UK.

Where Can I Continue To Watch BBC iPlayer?

Sometimes when BBC iPlayer goes down (and we’ve seen a few breakdowns this past year), it only goes down on specific devices. At that point, we usually suggest trying another platform – move from your mobile to your Smart TV, or from your Smart TV to your Fire TV app, etc.

BBC iPlayer new look navigation

In this case, however, it seems the issues are related to the broadband network you’re on – though it never hurts to try running iPlayer on additional devices, if you have them, and see if that does the trick (we’ve seen mentions of the issue for people with a PS5, for example).


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