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How to sideload BBC iPlayer and SBS onto your Android TV Box

BBC iplayer

One free way to watch the Olympics is to do so via BBC iPlayer or Australia’s SBS. Both are free to watch but only in their respective countries. A good way around such geo-blocking is to use SmatDNS. The basics of it are you go to a SmartDNS provider, get two DNS server IPs, use these to replace the ones provided by your ISP and voila, you are able to watch iPlayer or SBS. Sounds easy right? In reality, it’s not so easy.

Problems normally crop up when you want to on your TV and sports are best watched on a big screen. If you are lucky and have a PlayStation or an Xbox it’s a matter of installing either the BBC iPlayer or the SBS app. On Android TVs or a TV Box, things are not so simple. You have two options:

  1. Use your phone to cast to your device. This requires you to have very good networking skills as the inbuilt Chromecast uses it’s own DNS i.e. 8.8.8.8 and 8.8.4.4. You need to capture traffic to these IPs and redirect it to either your SmartDNS or drop those packets to force the device to use your SmartDNS. Not only is this hard to configure, doesn’t always work and it can break your network.
  2. Install the apps SBS and iPlayer apps from the Playstore. Again, you have to go through hoops here. The Playstore does geo-blocking and device blocking. Traditionally only the Nvidia Shield TV box had these apks available and these didn’t work on other Android TV boxes. Thankfully that seems to have been fixed and this article will show you how to install these APKs.

I promise I will explain method 1 someday but if you have an Android TV Box method 2 is the way to go as it doesn’t involve you having to deal with pesky Chromecast quirks. It does however involve sideloading APKs downloaded from a third party. You should only sideload APKs downloaded from trusted sources and I take no responsibility whatsoever if things go wrong. If this works however feel free to sing me clan praises.

How to sideload the BBC iPlayer App?

NB, Unlike other Android TV, optimised APKs, the BBC iPlayer app doesn’t show up in the channel list with previews. To launch it you will have to look for it in the installed apps menu. On my TV it also changed my display to 1080p 50 Hertz instead of the usual 60 Hertz for some reason. Again to watch BBC iPlayer using the app just make sure your Android TV is configured with SmartDNS or appropriate VPN.

How to download and install SBS

Unlike the BBC iPlayer app, the SBS app is a full-fledged Android TV App with profiles and shows up in the Channels and Up Next lists. I didn’t need to do this but in addition to SmartDNS, the SBS app sometimes requires that you change your Timezone to Australia otherwise it will not work.

These apps can work on Chinese boxes too

Often online I see sellers peddling Chinese TV boxes claiming you can watch shows like Netflix on them. This is almost always never true. To enjoy Netflix and other premium services like Amazon Prime you need Google Widevine Level 1 and these devices don’t have it. Most of them are running repurposed tablet and phone versions of Android and not the official Android TV operating system.

Fortunately SBS, ITV and iPlayer seem to work even on these boxes. It’s possible the fact that they are public-funded networks means they are not using high-level DRM. That might change in the future though so if you are looking for a TV Box or TV Stick buy the Mi Box S or the Mi Stick. We can deliver the box to wherever you are in Zimbabwe if you buy from our Techzim Market Store.

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5 thoughts on “How to sideload BBC iPlayer and SBS onto your Android TV Box

  1. Very unsafe computing practices are being promoted here, all in the name of watching the Olympics. After the Olympics are done and dusted, any vulnerabilities or compromises stay with the device. 😂

    1. The safest way to protect your Android TV Box is to unplug it and keep it off. That said I do acknowledge the dangers of sideloading apps here. However the APKs (at least at time or writing) seem to match the hashes of the official APks.

      1. The fact that a device may be passively vulnerable on its own, is not justification to actively add vulnerabilities. It is akin to saying, “you can die in a car crash whilst wearing a seatbelt, so why bother wearing one.”

        You have also forgotten the DNS service which probably logs your traffic and data too.

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