back to article BBC admits iPlayer downloads are broken

The BBC has acknowledged that problems with the latest iPlayer software for PCs and Macs have left users unable to download shows to watch offline. The problems have affected the current build for over a week. The BBC notes that shows requested for offline viewing stall after about 12MB have been downloaded. Others report …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Thank god get_iplayer still works fine, and is not limited to the "approved" platforms

    https://github.com/get-iplayer/get_iplayer

    1. codejunky Silver badge

      Re: Thank god get_iplayer still works fine, and is not limited to the "approved" platforms

      I dont know why they dont just direct people to get_iplayer. It works.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Thank god get_iplayer still works fine, and is not limited to the "approved" platforms

        If someone can stick a GUI on top that could even be a viable option - most people don't do well with a command line (in a way that's good - command lines hide a lot of power).

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Thank god get_iplayer still works fine, and is not limited to the "approved" platforms

          If someone can stick a GUI on top that could even be a viable option

          Try the automator (for Macs).

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: If someone can stick a GUI on top that could even be a viable option

            Web PVR ?

        2. GregC

          Re: Thank god get_iplayer still works fine, and is not limited to the "approved" platforms

          If someone can stick a GUI on top that could even be a viable option

          I did myself a basic one in VB.NET (yes, really) years ago - took minutes, still using it to this day. If I can do it I'm honestly amazed no one has done a proper one.

          1. Geoffrey W Silver badge

            Re: Thank god get_iplayer still works fine, and is not limited to the "approved" platforms

            @GregC "I did myself a basic one in VB.NET "

            I did a get_iplayer GUI in C#. I wonder how many variations there are out there. One of us needs to pull his finger out, polish up the code a bit, and open source it properly. If only I had the time. Or the will.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: If only I had the time. Or the will

              And there you have the modern paradigm.

              The amount of effort to go from "works, but is shit" to "awesome" is far greater than the people who would appreciate the difference could make it worth.

        3. Chemist

          Re: Thank god get_iplayer still works fine, and is not limited to the "approved" platforms

          After using get_iplayer for years I finally built a KDialog GUI box (started from an icon) that you can paste the pid number from the iplayer program page into, that then kicks off a bit of c that sends a request to a Pi that does the download. Works really well and the Pi downloads to a pendrive so I can easily pull it and take it away

          The embedded KDialog line is : X=`kdialog --inputbox PID?` ; /home/bin/gip $X where gip is the c program that requests the pasted pid from the Pi daemon

          You could, of course, just pass the pid from the dialogue to a script downloading the programme to the local machine

        4. Paul

          Re: Thank god get_iplayer still works fine, and is not limited to the "approved" platforms

          https://github.com/speculatrix/web_get_iplayer

          1. Geoffrey W Silver badge

            Re: Thank god get_iplayer still works fine, and is not limited to the "approved" platforms

            Jumpin' Jehosephat! It's simpler to just use the command line program than to get that GUI working.

        5. jake3d

          Re: Thank god get_iplayer still works fine, and is not limited to the "approved" platforms

          I developed a userscript that seamlessly links the BBC's iPlayer site to get_iplayer's Web PVR. Just cruise around the BBC site and click the pink button to queue a program for download.

          It requires Tampermonkey or similar.

          https://greasyfork.org/en/scripts/376954-get-iplayer-helper

      2. Stuart 22
        Pint

        Re: Thank god get_iplayer still works fine, and is not limited to the "approved" platforms

        The BBC know all about get_iplayer - if only because I'm guessing some of their IT people prefer it. Hence rather a Nelsonian eye is aimed at its 'tender' enforcement of certain things.

        The biggest danger to get_iplayer is we tell too many people about it. Its the paradox - if it becomes too popular and a real threat to the BBC third party licensing deals - it will simple be defeated by a cunning change of download specs. The BBC have done that many times already by accident which the author had to reverse engineer.

        The beer is for the get_iplayer developer. Wish I could award another for the iPlayer devs. Its still the best from the mainstream broadcasters though C4 & ITV are beginning to catch up on picture quality.

        1. Ben Tasker Silver badge

          Re: Thank god get_iplayer still works fine, and is not limited to the "approved" platforms

          if it becomes too popular and a real threat to the BBC third party licensing deals - it will simple be defeated by a cunning change of download specs. The BBC have done that many times already by accident which the author had to reverse engineer.

          Unless things have changed (and I missed it), that's already in the works. BBC are (or maybe were?) planning on completely changing iPlayer to use their new "Nitro" API.

          To interact with the API the software needs to present a valid key, and the BBC has/had a staunch list of who exactly those keys would be issued to, which is unlikely to include get_iplayer.

          I'm hoping things have changed though, because get_iplayer is a decent bit of software (where the "official" product is not).

          1. Tom Chiverton 1

            Re: Thank god get_iplayer still works fine, and is not limited to the "approved" platforms

            "iPlayer to use their new "Nitro" API. To interact with the API the software needs to present a valid key, and "

            And DRM has worked flawless in the past. Never been broken when motivated...

  2. JimmyPage Silver badge
    FAIL

    They ****ed something up

    sometime last week. My LG TV (has an iPlayer app) has - for the past year or so - faithfully built up a history of iPlayer progs I have watched. And remembered where I was, if I paused part way.

    As of Saturday - no. All gone.

    But in a clue as to what they have fucked with, I did get asked the question about a TV license.

    Again.

    4th time in a month.

    So I can have a good guess at what activity has SNAFUd things.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Boffin

      Re: They ****ed something up

      "LG TV"

      I have located the problem.

      1. JimmyPage Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: "LG TV"

        It's the closest way to get iPlayer on the TV. If it fails, I have:

        TiVo;

        Chromecast;

        Firestick;

        Cast tablet to TV

        Laptop.

        Which is why paying for any "smart" feature is a mugs game, The sooner the ̶T̶V̶ panel manufacturers realise that, the better.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Thank God ..

    .. the BBC is mostly repeats these days.

  4. Hans 1 Silver badge
    Mushroom

    Remove! Flash! Everywhere! on! your! site! Now!

    Pause iPlayer, nobody cares, atm, JUST remove the bloody flash player from bbc.co.uk, NOW - you already hide it for iP*ds!

    Just invert the code that checks the user agent and replace Apple device user agents with ancient (unsupported) browser user agents, HOW HARD CAN THAT BE ? Would probably take me 10 minutes, tops, in notepad/vi/emacs/nano/eclipse/visualStudio/sed/awk/whatever and I have never seen your code, FFS!

    BBC, embarrassment to the world!

    Seriously, it is so TRIVIAL a fix that I would be inclined to think some evil bastard org is forcing you to stick to flash ... then again, your are the Beeb for reason, hey ?

    BTW: Care to name your webmasters/devs ... would not want to end up hiring one of them...... EVA!

    1. Don Dumb
      Pint

      Re: Remove! Flash! Everywhere! on! your! site! Now!

      Calm down Hans 1 - Just uninstall Flash.

      I haven't had it on my computer for a couple of years. iPlayer has worked for a long time and the vast majority of the rest of the BBC content (not old news stories) is not flash based. They seem to have shifted news stories off flash around the time of the 2016 Olympics. I rarely (if ever) come up against a video on the beeb asking for flash.

      Beer icon, because I think you need one.

      1. Chemist

        Re: Remove! Flash! Everywhere! on! your! site! Now!

        "Calm down Hans 1 - Just uninstall Flash."

        I have a couple of sites I use that need Flash, but I do have it set up to ask for permission. On the BBC sites I generally find that ignoring the request to authorize Flash now automatically starts the html5 version.

    2. Kraggy

      Re: Remove! Flash! Everywhere! on! your! site! Now!

      Or maybe YOU should do the sensible thing and remove Flash from YOUR system, problem solved.

      1. RonWheeler

        Re: Remove! Flash! Everywhere! on! your! site! Now!

        Some people want to read information over making point of principle statements.

    3. anothercynic Silver badge

      Re: Remove! Flash! Everywhere! on! your! site! Now!

      Aaaaaaaaaaaand breeeeeeeeeeeathe, Hans 1.

      In through the nose, out through the mouth, in through the nose, out through the mouth. Feel better yet?

      Probably not.

    4. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

      Re: Remove! Flash! Everywhere! on! your! site! Now!

      For iPlayer, just opt in to the HTML5 version online

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Remove! Flash! Everywhere! on! your! site! Now!

      Mangle and invert the agent check? Really? That's your solution?

      I'd not want to hire you!

  5. nematoad Silver badge
    Unhappy

    Bah!

    "...some people are experiencing problems downloading BBC iPlayer content to computers. "

    Yes, me for one.

    Not because of any cock-ups with the iPlayer but because the BBC does not recognise Linux as an OS. I have complained repeatedly to the BBC about it and have always been blown off with the reply that "We do not support Linux" Why the hell not? Don't tell me that some IT people in the BBC have never heard of Linux.

    If my licence payments are good enough why should the fact that I use Linux disqualify me from something I actually pay for?

    1. g00se
      Linux

      Re: Bah!

      Because they know that using a powerful OS might be used to circumvent their DRM?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Bah!

        There is NO DRM on iPlayer.

        None, not now, not ever.

        1. Andy 97

          Re: Bah!

          Not true, the prototype had a DRM.

        2. g00se

          Re: Bah!

          There's DRM by definition - it's a streaming client. What they don't like is any saving of that stream

    2. Tom 38 Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: Bah!

      If my licence payments are good enough why should the fact that I use Linux disqualify me from something I actually pay for?

      Pfft, consider yourself lucky mate, think of us poor VIC-20 users, we're still waiting too!

      (Because it is a horrific waste of money to spaff a disproportionate amount of it on such a small special interest group like Linux users - and I say that as a Linux user. Besides: wtf, you never heard of get_iplayer?)

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Bah!

      If something doesn't work on linux, you guys are quick to moan about cross-platform accessability. But if a product does happen to have a linux version, and anyone else complains, you're always the first to shout "you should use linux"

  6. David Nash Silver badge

    Not just downloads

    They have broken the sync between sound and pictures. It's been unreliable in that respect on my Amazon stick for a while. Now, since an update that was supposed to give "improved quality" on my phone, even on downloaded programs, it gets so out of sync that it's unwatchable.

    Next I will try get_iplayer for this. Normally I use that mostly for radio.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Can they sort out the sodding android app too whilst they are at it. Sound goes out of sync and crackly about half way through any downloads. This is on Samsung S6, so not exactly an obscure device.

    I'm *forced* to use getiplayer if i want to watch stuff on my phone due to the BBC's own fuckwittage.

    I'm guessing the I thingie versions work just dandy?

    Oh, and ffs, is 1080p and DD sound really too much to ask for?

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Just ditch the BBC.

    I got rid of BBC iPlayer last September with the new rules for iPlayer, blocked it in the router. Even asked my ISP if they could block it.

    I had a trial for a month on Amazon Prime to wean me off (not difficult though), I genuinely haven't missed it even though I expected I would.

    I now have a regular night out at the Cinema instead (instead of watching the same crowd plug their wares on Graham Norton). House got decorated over Winter (that would never of happened) and looking forward to a lot more outside activities this Spring/Summer.

    1. Simon Harris Silver badge

      Re: Just ditch the BBC.

      "...blocked it in the router. Even asked my ISP if they could block it."

      Isn't it enough that you blocked it yourself without trying to get your ISP involved too?

    2. phuzz Silver badge

      Re: Just ditch the BBC.

      Why block it at all? Why not just stop using it?

      Honestly, it's like some people enjoy winding themselves up about things.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Just ditch the BBC.

        You don't understand, when the TV licence man comes round he's going to invite him in and show him his router's firewall rules. Only then will he have stuck it to The Man.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Just ditch the BBC.

        Yes. I personally am still very surprised when people deploy hyperbole in comments pages on news sites. I expect a more relaxed, calm and measured approach from users of the interwebs.

    3. Mage Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: Just ditch the BBC.

      Amazon prime

      Much more evil to content producers than Sky or BBC.

      Subscription services MUST be bad value, because you pay the same even if you take a break watching and the people selling them make a LOT of profit. That's why Adobe has switched to sub. Cheaper subscription services are only cheap because they are in customer acquisition/growth mode. I expect Netflix to double in price in Ireland and does Spotify actually make money?

    4. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

      Re: Just ditch the BBC.

      I guess that you aren't paying for a TV license then?????

      Otherwise, despite its faults, you get iPlayer and the downloads for free if you are a license payer.

      So you moved and became a license payer to Amazon Prime. Bully for you but you really must have had a huge fit of pique to want your ISP to block iPlayer. They wouldn't but I expect that your request gave the support team a bit of a laugh.

      Sheesh. There is no pleasing some people.

  9. P. Lee Silver badge

    Its this new fangled "internet" thingy.

    We're still developing the tech to allow you to download a file from the interwebs.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    HTML5

    I cannot get iPlayer to do anything unless I install flash.

    1. Martin an gof Silver badge

      Re: HTML5

      I cannot get iPlayer to do anything unless I install flash.

      I had this problem for a while on BBC News pages (which are mostly what I use - programmes I get via get_iplayer). Two things.

      If you either do not have Flash installed, or have it "click to activate", just wait for about five seconds and the page will refresh and give you the HTML5 player if your browser is capable. Personally I'd prefer it to be HTML5 first, refreshing to Flash for older browsers, but hey.

      This might not happen if you have something like NoScript and have blocked certain sites (can't remember which now, as not at that computer).

      You can tell which you are viewing by right-clicking on the window. It should be obvious from the menu that pops up.

      Even if the page does refresh, you might find that the HTML5 player doesn't work - I did; it gave me the controls, but just sat there with a spinny thing for ever. It turned out that it uses a different (pair of?) content delivery network(s) to the Flash player and I had to unblock those on NoScript before it would work.

      M.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Fine

    Well my torrent downloads continued to work.

  12. Mystic Megabyte Silver badge
    WTF?

    Autoplay madness

    Watching videos on the BBC news site with Ubuntu 16.04 (64) is driving me mad. Flash refuses to remember "Autoplay off". Just because I view one story about a volcano does not mean that I want to see every volcano since the beginning of time :(

    Dear BBC, please abandon Flash.

    1. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Re: Autoplay madness

      The thing is that would be easy for a two year old to set and read from a cookie but for some reason they dont want to implement it - they'd rather waste our and their bandwidth than write a couple of lines of code.

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Autoplay madness

      Install a flash blocker and the page will reload and play HTML5 instead. If you search BBC html5 you should find a page where you can select html5 as your default too.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Never mind the bug. Was one sad individually really going to sit down and watch 880 minutes of something?

    I think "get a life" is the phrase I'm looking for.

    1. BebopWeBop Silver badge
      Joke

      well is was Wagner, so there was at least 10 minutes of fantastic stuff in there somewhere

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    iPhones/iPads Do have a download issue

    It not the case that "Mobile and tablet downloads are not affected by the issue", unless this is a different issue, which has affected iOS devices for over a month (since that last update). Refer message on BBC:

    Problems with downloading on iPhone/iPads

    *** Thursday 2 February ***

    We're aware that some users of iPhones/iPads are having some problems with downloads. We're looking into the cause of this and we'll update this FAQ when we have more information

    [https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/help/latest-news/ios-downloads]

  15. Stevie Silver badge

    Bah!

    Turns out there was a loose valve that needed re-seating and the cat's whisker was broken.

  16. PeterM42
    FAIL

    No surprise there!

    iPlayer is CRAP,

    iPlayer always was CRAP.

    I suspect iPlayer will ALWAYS be CRAP.

    1. David Nash Silver badge

      Re: No surprise there!

      Recent problems notwithstanding, it's a hell of a lot better than other UK terrestrial channels equivalents, in my experience.

  17. muffled1

    get_iplayer no longer working

    Help!! get iplayer automator has stopped working - constantly states "Unknown PID"

    Worked fine for years. Also will not take updates and cannot send text files to the developer so I'm somewhat stuck. This is an amazing piece of DL software. Any help greatly received.

    Current Version 1.9 (1841)

    macOS Sierra 10.12.5

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