BBC: Global iPlayer coming to iPhone and Apple TV next
28th Jul 2011 | 02:45
Beeb explains Apple partnership
The BBC has revealed that the next stage of its global iPlayer roll-out will see the service launch on the Apple iPhone and Apple TV set-top box.
The Corporation revealed late on Wednesday that the iPlayer's long-awaited international expansion will arrive exclusively via the iPad in 11 European countries on Thursday.
Following the one year iPad trial, Auntie will set its sights on other Apple devices and appears to be focused on partnering only with the Cupertino-based giant for the time being.
"This is a pilot – we want to learn more about on-demand behaviour ... We think the next phase will be on iPhones and Apple TV," said the BBC's president of worldwide networks Jana Bennett.
The admission also offers a hint for the UK-based iPlayer's future. Apple TV compatibility isn't something us Brits have at our disposal, nor is it something that has yet been heavily mooted.
The BBC also explained the decision to go exclusively with the iPad for the initial European launch of the iPlayer, which means only the 7.5m Europeans who own an Apple tablet can access the service.
"We hope that this service becomes multi-device, multi-platform and multi-territory over time, but as a premium-but-niche service, we did not want to go in with both feet from day one," said Luke Bradley-Jones, who heads up BBC.com
"We're spending the next year in a pilot-type phase focusing on one device, to make a clean and very compelling experience. We have a great relationship with Apple in terms of the promotional commitments they'll give us too."
The BBC also revealed that it was able to override a key piece of iPad functionality in order for users to download iPlayer content to view offline.
"When we were doing our user testing, the use case was picking six shows before going on a long journey, and leaving them to download to the iPad overnight," said Mark Smith, director of the global iPlayer project
"The way the device works, though, is it hibernates and stops you from doing that: you wake up the next morning and only half a show has downloaded. We have managed to override that functionality, and Apple are comfortable with us doing that."
So for now, the moral of the story seems to be this: If you're an ex-pat who wants to watch BBC content on-demand, you'd better get yourself an Apple gadget pronto.