Tapping into the BBC web site gives you live streams of nearly every major Olympic event. This means you can stay up-to-date with all the gold medals before most people in the United States even have the opportunity to watch the events—an absurd scenario in a connected world.
The catch: the BBC's live video streams are region locked, meaning you're supposed to be connected to the internet in the UK to access it. Thankfully, a little know-how will get you around that lock and watching live, silky smooth HD feeds direct from the BBC.
To do this, we're going to use the DNS routing service Unblock Us. We tried a few different options, and Unblock Us gave us the highest quality streams with the least amount of hassle. Unblock Us is free for one week (perfect for an Olympic-sized trial), or $4.99 for the month. Set up is very simple and works well on a ton of different devices. Within five minutes we were watching men's field hockey. Here's how to set it up.
Step 1: Sign Up for Unblock-Us
Head over to Unblock Us and create a free account with your email address. Within a couple of minutes you get an email confirming your account is active, and you're ready to go.
Step 2: Enable Unblock Us DNS Servers and Restart
Next up you need to run your computer's connection through Unblock Us's DNS servers. Set up is a little different for both Windows and Mac.
Set Up Unblock Us on Windows 7
Setup in Windows 7 is pretty straight forward. You can either follow the directions below and do it manually, or download an easy setup app.
1. Click Start > Control Panel > Network and Internet
2. Select Network and Sharing Center
3. Select Change adapter Settings
4. Click Local Area Connection (if you're wired) or Wireless Network Connection (if you're wireless)
5. Click Properties
6. Uncheck Internet Protocol Version 6 and Check Internet Protocol 4
7. Click Properties
8. Add the following DNS servers under "Use the following DNS server addresses:
9. Click OK and restart your computer
Set Up Unblock Us on a Mac
Click to view Setting up Unblock Us on your Mac is just as easy as it is in Windows.
1. Open System Preferences > Network
2. Select either Wi-Fi (for wireless) or Ethernet (for wired)
3. Select Advanced > DNS
4. Click the plus symbol and add these two DNS servers:
5. Reboot your computer
Step 3: Watch the Olympics
Now your computer is set and you can watch the Olympics either on BBC's official landing page, or iPlayer. If you don't want to watch the Olympics on your tiny computer screen, you can always hook your computer up to your TV.
The only problem with Unblock Us is that it changes your location for all your internet browsing. This means if you want to use your computer for something other than the Olympics is might be a little slow and your connection isn't secured. If you're not watching the Olympics, we suggest you turn Unblock Us off and return to your normal DNS settings. If you want something you can easily flip on and off, you have a few more options.
Alternate Methods to Watch BBC Stream Outside the United Kingdom
The above method is just one of many different services you can use. If you'd like to try a different approach, here are a few suggestions:
• Sports Streaming Sites: Streaming web sites aren't exactly reliable, but they're easy to use. AtdheNet and First Row Sports both provide live streams of BBC's various broadcasts, and they're both viewable in pretty much any browser.
• Use Linode and an SSH Tunnel: This method is a bit more difficult to start up, but it supposedly works really well. You're essentially signing up for a virtual Linux server, then tunneling through that to access the BBC stream.
• Use Any VPN You Want: Another option is to set up a VPN to reroute your traffic. Any VPN will do (although you might want to stick with one of these five). If you subscribe to a Usenet service like GigaNews, you might even get a VPN for free as part of the package. Users over on Reddit have had mixed luck with the Windows-only VPN software ExpatShield. It's free and assigns you a UK IP address. It's worth checking out if you're on a Windows machine.
• Tunnelbear: Finally, if you want an incredibly easy-to-use, on-off switch, Tunnelbear works wonders. Simply download the software, flip the switch to UK, and you can start streaming immediately. When you want your normal internet back, turn it off. The free version will only get you 500 MB for the month (probably less than an hour of streaming), but $4.99/month gets you unlimited access. It's a little slower than Unblock Us, and the connection dropped a couple of times, but it might be worth it if you want a quick toggle for your location.
• Set up a Proxy Server: If a browser extension is more your style then using a proxy service is easy enough. The speeds won't be that great, but it's easy to shut off when you're done. You can also try the Tor browser for a few more options.
Regardless of which method you choose, the BBC's coverage is a lot more widespread than NBC's and the streams seem to work a lot better. Unblock Us was certainly the fastest and most reliable for us, but your mileage may vary.