Using the BBC iPlayer The BBC iPlayer
What is the BBC iPlayer?
The BBC iPlayer lets you catch up on virtually all BBC TV shows that have been broadcast in the past seven days (with the exception of some movies, musical performances and sports events). Rival TV channels including ITV, Channel 4 and Five also offer online TV services – you can find out more about these in our online TV report.
Popular BBC shows viewed on the iPlayer have included The Apprentice, EastEnders, Doctor Who, Saturday Kitchen, documentaries… the list goes on!
You can watch these shows in a lower-quality ‘streaming’ mode on the iPlayer website or you can download crisper, full-length shows to your computer. If using this method, you'll have 30 days to start watching them - even when you're not connected to the internet.
iPlayer copyright and licensing
BBC iPlayer programmes have usage restrictions. The shows have a limited shelf life, and you won't be able to make copies to keep or send to friends, either. All the programmes you watch are protected by what is known as digital rights management (DRM) software.
The iPlayer is very easy to use, but a broadband connection is essential for smooth and trouble-free viewing on the website. You also need to be in the UK for it to work (there are technical workarounds, although you’ll be violating the terms and conditions if you try and do this).
Downloading shows to your computer uses a process called peer-to-peer (p2p). This is an efficient way of sharing files via a network of users, rather than everyone trying to access them on one central computer, which could cause bottlenecks. In effect, p2p lets everyone send parts of the required file to each other - and transferring them in bite sizes pieces helps speed up the download.