back to article BBC iPlayer to run on iPads. Eventually

Yesterday the BBC announced version 3 of its iPlayer catch-up service, which allows viewers to stream programmes for up to seven days following their initial broadcast, or to download them to keep for up to 30 days on supported platforms. The new version adds social media integration, linking to Facebook, Twitter and Windows …


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  1. Anonymous Coward


    Must admit I dont really get all this iplayer stuff, using it via a ps3 on a 48" HDTV its shocking quality and blocky central, you are much better off with torrents if you actually want to watch the program rather than just hear it.

  2. Ian 45

    PS3 Iplayer

    iplayer on the PS3 is fantastic, just wish ITV and C4 would follow suit then have the perfect media centre. The Ipad is just for the fashion people.

    1. Squirrel

      totally agree

      If youtube can do 720p and 1080p, I can't see why the mighty BBC can't.

      The tiny PAL boxes of blockiness need an upgrade.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        iPlayer HD, mofo, do you speak it?

        Also, the SD stuff is available at full res, similar to the version broadcast.

    2. Jared Earle

      Fashion People?

      There must be an awful lot of Fashion People in the world.

      Just because you don't like something, it doesn't mean you need to belittle the people that do like it. Sure, rag on the device, but surely the "it's only for people who like style over substance" myth has played out enough for you to realise picking on the users of a product simply because you don't like it os a bit puerile.

      So yeah, there are a lot of fashion people out there. They're called the rest of the world.

    3. LuMan

      BBC PS3 iTV JHC!

      Totally agree with you regarding the PS3 and iPlayer. iTV and C4OD need PS3 clients too as it's so much more convenient than booting my PC, waiting for Windows to let me do something I want to do and then navigating the iTV website while rolling the mouse around my leg.

      However, I don't agree with your iPad sentiment. It may well be for the Form-Over-Function brigade, but it's within everyone's interest to pump TV to as many different device-types as possible - if for nothing more than advertising!

      Horses for courses methinks!

    4. Code Monkey

      iPlayer + PS3

      iPlayer is pretty much the only thing I use my PS3 for. It was handy on the laptop but telly on demand on the actual telly is superb. C4 and ITV need to catch up (in my case I'm not that arsed about ITV, mind, unless the darts is on).

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The BBC trust

    should do well to realise that if people can't get their shows through iPlayer, especially on mobile devices, there is always p2p...

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Waste of resources

    Seems a waste of licence fee payers money to write a DRM-friendly app from scratch just for one device just because the manufacturer refuses to allow consumers a choice in plugins that would allow the existing efforts and investments (including the h.264 encoding the iPlayer already uses) work just fine.

    What is it with the BBC and Apple?

    1. ThomH Silver badge

      What is it with the BBC and the boat race?

      The BBC needs to support Apple devices because millions of people in the audience they're meant to be catering for have bought them. The BBC don't get to pick, just as how they broadcast endless hours of minority interest programming because their charter and funding structure requires them to, not because it attracts any substantial number of viewers.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        Seeing as the BBC is only available to UK viewers and the iPad hasn't launched in the UK yet then the only viewers they would currently be supporting are the ones who have imported an iPad.

        I don't think the comment was about iPhone devices as that already has an iplayer app.

      2. Anonymous Coward

        Boat race

        The boat race has been on ITV for the last few years. Only this year did it return to the BBC.

        1. ThomH Silver badge


          The comment was "What is it with the BBC and Apple?" with no reference to the iPad. I therefore assumed that it was at least partly referencing the specific steps the BBC took to ensure iPhone compatibility, as outlined in the story.

          There's actually no iPlayer app, the Beeb just created a mobile version of the site that delivers standard H.264 video in a bit rate and container that the iPhone/iPod are happy with. Irritatingly, the site doesn't work on Android (well, my Nexus One anyway) even though I bet it would if they'd just be a bit more open with user agent recognition. It also doesn't seem to work on the current iPhone OS 4.0 beta, but it at least shows the mobile site and attempts to stream a movie.

    2. chr0m4t1c

      That depends

      If the BBC are paying a licensing fee to the current DRM providers to use their technology, then it may be more cost-effective long term to develop their own in-house one that they can port to whatever devices appear in the future.

      Right now they deliver different DRMed content to different platforms. Aren't they already wasting resources?

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      pay-for app?

      It doesn't seem unreasonable to me that any extra cost in getting BBC content onto the iPad (or any other device that can't use what everyone else uses) should be recouped by charging for the app.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        There's an issue there

        The BBC isn't allowed to charge money. BBC Worldwide are allowed to charge for stuff, but they are muppets who can't find their own bums with both hands in a darkened room.

        Sadly, the part that could make the app (R+D, FM+T) aren't allowed to charge.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Thumb Up

        re: pay-for-app

        I fully agree. I will buy an iPad (at some point) and I would be happy to pay for an iPlayer app on the iPad, that seems fair.

    4. Anonymous Coward

      > What is it with the BBC and Apple? <

      > What is it with the BBC and Apple? <

      Some kind of massive discount for staff on Apple products?

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "We're not wedded to Flash. Let's be really clear about that"

    o rly?

    Then why can't I opt out of using Flash on my PC in favor of something a little less shit?

    and while we're at it, this is completely off topic but: to the people who made the BBC3 iPlayer ident, please please please get the audio remastered properly. I've stuck my head inside jet engines that were quieter. If I get my ears blasted by that thing one more time I'm calling my lawyer. Okay?

  6. Ian Ferguson
    Thumb Up

    Good BBC *pats*

    I hate it when people whine that the beeb are playing platform favouritism, eg. the Linux and Android fanbois. I think they're actually trying damn hard to bring iPlayer and associated content to all available platforms.

    It's also not really their fault when problems come down to DRM issues. The BBC iPlayer team aren't ultimately responsible for deciding whether content has to be protected - they have to answer to the content producers, who are usually not exclusively the BBC. Not to mention all the content paid for by license fee payers, who would rightly be miffed if the rest of the world started getting equal free content.

    I do hope our new government doesn't start squeezing the BBC's budget to stop innovatism like this.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Hot damn

    and my iPad is on route to me at the moment...

    ok, i know i am going to get mocked, but i dont care, i love my Macbook pro and my iPhone - and my netbook is old and tired now, so i will see if it does take over the things i use my netbook for...

    1. Campbeltonian

      BBC radio is wedded to Flash

      The BBC has radio streams in AAC (open standard), WMA (proprietary) and Real Audio (proprietary). The latter two are accessible to the public but the AAC stream can only be accessed through Flash on the iPlayer.

      I find this immensely frustrating, because to listen on my iPhone I have to download an app that can decode WMA in software (none of which I find particularly reliable), despite the fact that the device is perfectly capable of decoding the AAC stream in hardware.

      1. Anonymous Coward


        Are people just downvoting anyone that declares their ownership of an iPhone now? Why in the world does this post have 2 downvotes?

    2. Rob Crawford


      I have both Android & Symbian phones and neither work with iPlayer does that make me a fanboi?

      I will give you a hint no it doesn't I'm simply a pragmatist that won't buy a phone which is atrocious at making phone calls (DOH stupid me)

      If you have the right Nokia the BEEB will allow sideloading or streaming, but the majority of Nokia phones are not supported. Hint theres a shitload more Android & Symbian phones than iPhones

      I have beebplayer installed but if exemption can be made for the iPhone/iPod then why not other platforms?

      Yet heres the BEEB talking about the as yet unreleased leisure item known as the iPad getting support.

      Ok so when FroYo turns up I will have Flash (even though dislike flash)

      However the Apple/BBC love affair is a bit annoying.

      1. Ben Rosenthal

        it's not official

        but you can get an iPlayer app on Android and it is fairly good.

        Of course it would be much better with official support and as Android devices have been around a lot longer than Iplad it does smack of dodgy dealings.... but that'sone of the things love about Android, it doesn't matter so much because some talented young thing will whip up a home made version to get you by :)

        1. Kay Burley ate my hamster
          Thumb Down

          Very dodgy

          In that they are going out of their way to support products which are so locked down as to come within a hair of breaking their own DRM responsibility.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @Rob Crawford

        Actually, they may just be playing by the numbers. The iPhone surpasses even all the various Symbian phones when it comes to mobile web usage, therefore, it's not illogical to assume that an app on that phone will be actually used by more people than an app on the Symbian platform.

        And correct me if I'm wrong, but how many flavours of Symbian would they have to support? One version wouldn't be able to run on all the Symbian phones, would it? Just like Android. With the iPhone, one version (plus the iPad which is screen real estate) will run on all of them. Looking at it that way, doesn't it make more sense to play by the numbers and address more people in an easier fashion first. Then they can look at the other platforms, and should.

  8. Individual #6/42

    Elgato eyeTV for Ipad

    With associated App it could be a winner?

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    open to devices

    provided they support closed-source authentication.

    pain in the arse it no longer works with xbmc.

  10. matpol

    ipad versus xbmc

    Lets write app for a device that isn't available yet in the uk(not quite) and withdraw support and app that lots people use.

    Blimin iphone/ipad/ipod nobbins - there are other electronic devices out there you know!

    By devices I don't mean phones!

    What is it with the BBC and Apple?

    1. The BigYin

      And the BBC... XBMC for a while! I have a Wii and, frnakly, the iPlayer on it is crap. It drops connections and jitters etc. (probably down to Flash raping the CPU of the poor Wii). My old pre-360 xBox will play iPlayer content perfectly (right up until the DRM pish kicks in).

      I think the next builds of XBMC may contain a workaround.

      1. Danny 14 Silver badge

        bloody BBC

        look in google for exobuzz iplayer workaround (it live on The workaround works fine on an xbox XBMC. I had issues getting it to work on a linux LIVE XBMC running off a memory pen but it *does* work although you need to grow a linux beard for a while.

        effing DRM crap. Hopefully the (possible) HTML 5 workaround will work on XBMC.

  11. Ian Yates

    "Content protection"

    "On low resolution mobile devices, as with an iPhone, you sometimes don't need protection. As you get to higher resolution ones, you do. On iPad we're likely to use SSL based streaming."

    Is he really saying that SSL is a form of content protection (meaning DRM)?

    Obviously, it is content (data) protection, but why would I care if someone snooped on me catching up with QI?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Given that this seems to be a home made app, they can make it work any way they want.

      What about using SSL to encrypt the stream but with a certificate that's tied to each device by means of it's UID or something. Then make the app only play the stream live and buffer in RAM so that there's no way to store a copy of the whole show?

      On a PC you'd just make an app that gets to the unencrypted stream data, but perhaps this is the advantage of a closed system like the iPad/iPhone, where every app has to go through Apple first?

      I'm sure someone would break such a system in the end though, but perhaps it wouldn't be used enough for them to care.

  12. Andrew Dyson


    Does anyone else find the whole DRM thing a bit puzzling with regards to iPlayer (and the C4, ITV etc equivalents)?

    I only say this because: they are trying to restrict how long you can keep downloaded material for, and to what extent you can copy it.

    But, if you're really intent on piracy, you just get a PC with a DVB card, and either MythTV, Windows MCE, or whatever, and record whatever you want, at the quality it was originally broadcast at, and make as many copies as you want with no (physical, not legal) restrictions. The only catch is you have to remember to tape the show, but that's hardly tricky.

    So the whole slavery to DRM seems a bit futile to me - have I missed something?

    1. Pete Hinch


      I agree with the points Andrew Dyson made, but you don't even need a PC or a good memory. A bog standard PVR box can be set up to record TV programs at the correct time, and will allow you to copy them to a DVD-R disk. The latter can be played on most DVD players. This is simply using commercial equipment as intended: no technical skill or hacking required. Added to that the quality is as good as the original broadcast.

      Can the BBC not see that their horse actually bolted several years ago? The time and money wasted on a futile DRM system could surely find better uses.

    2. The BigYin


      DRM is just there to reduce the usefulness of content to the consumer and allow the distributor a new way to bleed the consumer dry (the actual content creator will get nothing).

      All the restrictions put in place by DRM is one reason why some people turn to illegal sources to get content, or use illegal tools to access it (e.g. DVD decryption, region unlocking etc).

      We gain *nothing* from DRM, and neither do the content creators (the real talent).

      The other thing with DRM is it, that it never works. No matter what they do, they are not as good as an army of nerds with too much time on their hands. If they played fair, then they would solve most of the problems they are creating for themselves.

      1. handle


        "We gain *nothing* from DRM"

        Yes we do. We gain the ability to download programmes on the BBC iPlayer and watch them for 30 days. If there were no DRM, the holders of the rights to the content the BBC transmits would not allow the BBC to do that.

        It's as simple as that.

      2. handle


        Actually the quality is not likely to be as good as the original broadcast, because the original broadcast is likely not to have been transmitted in a format compatible with DVD. (Not all MPEG2 is the same.)

        But that is simply a variation on the VCR and not what rights holders are particularly worried about anyway. It may not be logical but that's the way they think.

        1. The BigYin


          "We gain the ability to download programmes on the BBC iPlayer and watch them for 30 days. If there were no DRM, the holders of the rights to the content the BBC transmits would not allow the BBC to do that."

          I call false dichotomy. Current terrestrial broadcasts have no DRM. By your argument there should be no commercially viable broadcast TV stations. Whoops!

          Content is only licensed under DRM so that the non-savvy consumer is forced to buy the same content again and again, rather than pay a fair price in the first instance (not due to the stated belief of the license holders that it prevents piracy - it does not and it never has).

          A DRM-free world would be different than it is now (slightly) and some would lose out hard (licensees who take the piss). But most would just carry on as normal, with costs reduced by not having to implement DRM bull-crap. Sure there would be piracy, but we still have piracy despite DRM.

          1. handle

            @Big Yin

            It's not "false dichotomy" - it's oversimplification on your part. I have already tried to explain that there is a compromise between the expense and effort of particular methods to prevent copying versus their effectiveness. As I pointed out, it is judged (rightly or wrongly I am not debating - I am just stating the situation agreed by the rights-holders) that DRM on downloads is necessary whilst on broadcasts it is not. We all know that there is no way of preventing piracy completely, so please stop erecting straw men to knock down.

            Making it non-trivial to copy the material increases its value elsewhere, such as in DVD sales. The BBC makes money from sales of its material on DVD, as do the rights-holders.

            I am no friend of DRM and how companies like Microsoft attempt to use it as a way of making money by its usual method of proprietary lock-in. I was particularly incensed by the release of the original iPlayer as a Windows-only service under the leadership of that idiot Ashley Highfield (now head of Microsoft UK - go figure). Fortunately the BBC Trust was savvy enough to knock that one on the head.

    3. handle

      Yes you have missed something

      Yes you have missed something - the many times your question has been asked before and the answers provided. The argument goes that it's a trade-off between the effort and expense needed for a certain level of protection versus the leakage you will get if you don't offer that protection. You can get round the DRM by doing as you say, but as it requires expense, technical know-how and forethought (you can't get broadcasts on-demand) then most people won't bother. If the broadcaster wanted to stop you doing it, it would have to apply content protection to the broadcasts, rendering every Freeview/Freesat set-top box inoperable at a stroke.

    4. ThomH Silver badge

      Probably not their choice

      Much of the BBC's output is produced by independent production studios, and I suspect the nature of the deal is that the BBC can afford to buy the programming if they promise DRM on iPlayer downloads and can't if they don't.

    5. Anonymous Coward

      RE: DRM

      "So the whole slavery to DRM seems a bit futile to me - have I missed something?"

      You've missed British copyright law basically. People in the UK have a legal allowance to record programmes when they're broadcast to watch them later under the copyright act. There's no such allowance for on-demand content, so broadcasters want people to be able to keep the files themselves, they have to go and buy the rights for all the third party material they use (not just programmes from TV producers et al, but all the component parts - feel free to ask PRS how much they'd like for this…). Given the market rates for permenet copies established by markets such as DVDs and books, that's something no broadcaster could possibly, possibly afford - it'd cost way more than even Sky and the BBC's revenues put together.

      Also worth noting that rights are often sold seperately to different types of devices - for instance, the Premier League has that nice expensive mobile highlights rights package it sells to various operators on an exclusive basis, so at that point you have to start restricting how broadcasters can send programming with that footage to mobile devices etc etc. The only way you can begin to enforce those windows is with DRM. And again, nobody could possibly afford to do anything else.

      1. Andrew Dyson

        RE: DRM

        "You've missed British copyright law basically"

        True, but then I was talking about piracy. By definition, they don't generally have much respect for copyright, so the point is moot. My question was, it's so easy to copy and redistribute a conventional broadcast (as another poster pointed out, you don't even need a PC or any technical ability really), does DRM on iPlayer really plug that much of a hole?

        Granted, it might put off very casual copying, but since it's trivial enough to do it from the original broadcast, even those people won't be discouraged for long if they're keen to make copies - the commercial/large scale pirates will have already found a technical way round the protection, or used the method I've suggested. The only reason to use iPlayer is if you've forgotten to record something. If you're keen enough on the show that you want to copy and keep it, I'd argue that you'd usually remember to record it. Plus, series record settings on PVR boxes and software make that an easy job these days.

        So I still maitain, the DRM seems a bit of a wasted effort, and if, as the article suggests, it could restrict the available platforms and methods of delivery for iPlayer, then it's a bad thing.

        To those saying "well it's what the rights holders want", then yes, fair enough, but maybe the BBC et al need to point out to them the naivety (IMHO) of their position.

  13. Anonymous Coward

    Whither Dirac?

    All that work for fuck all.

    1. handle

      Not fuck all

      Dirac Pro is alive and well in the professional environment, helping to keep programme-makers' costs down:

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        It was a rhetorical question...

        ...but why isn't the BBC using it for ordinary viewer's benefit (another rhetorical question).

        Wither Dirac Home?

  14. ColonelClaw

    BBC Bashing

    It's easy to bash the BBC for their many cock-ups, but the iPlayer has to be the single best thing they've ever done. A true game-changer, and all done on public money I'm happy to have given them. When was the last time you can remember public funds spent so well?

    Best of all, though, is that it makes that massive twat James Murdoch absolutely livid.

  15. Kay Burley ate my hamster


    Clearly on GoogleTV, based on Android (with Flash) running the Chrome browser we can just use...

    Good luck with that Padbois! :D

  16. SiCo FR34K

    iPad... what about the Xbox?

    how about the iPlayer joining the Sky player on the Xbox 360? - Good times to be had!

    1. handle

      Why there is no iPlayer on Xbox

      Do the research. For example:

      "According to sources close to the BBC’s Future Media and Technology department, a deal between the two parties has still been unable to be reached because Microsoft’s strategy of charging for all content on its Xbox Live platform is incompatible with the BBC’s public service remit."

      Such a refreshing turn-around from when it seemed that Microsoft could sweet-talk or bully the BBC into doing anything.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      re: "iPad... what about the Xbox?"

      Because the BBC are not allowed to charge money for their service, you flaming muppet. Learn to read already.

  17. Jared Earle
    Thumb Up


    Eventually? Try Today.


  18. JB


    Would love to see this on the Ipad as an app.

    All academic, as the BBC don't like us ex-pat Brits accessing the iplayer!

  19. Matt_1985
    Thumb Up

    iPlayer beta

    I use iPlayer a lot - converting it for use on smart phones is good in my opinion.

    Is anyone using the new iPlayer beta? What do you think?

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