The BBC’s on-demand TV service will launch next month.
The iPlayer allows viewers to download their favourite programmes, such as Doctor Who and The Apprentice, over the internet for up to seven days after they are broadcast.
Once viewers have downloaded a programme online, they will have up to 30 days to watch it.
The corporation eventually wants to make the free service available on TV screens.
It hopes to launch the iPlayer on cable later this year followed by other TV platforms.
Mobile phone viewing
Plans are also afoot for viewers to be able to use the iPlayer, which will contain 400 hours of BBC programming a week, on mobile phones.
An hour-long programme currently takes 60 minutes to download, while a half-hour show takes 30 minutes.
But viewers will eventually be able to stream programmes immediately.
They will also be able to stack certain TV series.
Ashley Highfield, the BBC’s director of future media and technology, said: ‘BBC iPlayer is a free catch-up service for UK licence fee-payers.
‘Your favourite programmes from all the BBC’s network TV channels will be available to download over the internet, and watch on your PC without advertising for up to a week after transmission.’
The iPlayer, and other services from ITV and Channel 4, are the latest responses to the decline of traditional TV viewing, with consumers expecting to choose when to watch programmes.
The BBC is in discussion with MSN, telegraph.co.uk, AOL, Tiscali, Yahoo!, MySpace, Blinkx and Bebo, as potential distributors.
Later this year iPlayer will become available on YouTube.
It is also hoping to develop software to give access to users on sites such as Facebook.
The BBC Trust gave the go-ahead for the iPlayer in April, and its launch has been brought forward from November.
The corporation is in discussion with Virgin Media about launching it on cable.
The iPlayer launches in the UK at bbc.co.uk/iplayer on July 27, followed by a marketing drive.
It is still being tested by around 15,000 people.
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