BBC iPlayer launches mobile downloads service for iPhone and iPad

From today the new feature will be available for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch devices allowing users to download and store their favourite programmes for a 30-day period

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It’s early Monday morning and you’re sitting on the tube on your way to work – you’re droopy eyed, longing for your bed and struggling to psych yourself up for the gruelling week ahead. What on earth could make this ordeal more bearable?

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Well, for starters how about a spot of Matt Smith in Doctor Who? Followed, perhaps, by Benedict Cumberbatch strutting his stuff in Parade’s End? And to round it all off, a catch-up on last night’s EastEnders…

From today, miserable mornings and tedious long-haul flights will be transformed as BBC iPlayer launches its mobile download service for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch devices. For the first time you will be able to download most of BBC’s TV catalogue to your Apple mobile device and watch it later without an internet connection.

The new feature allows a 30-day window in which to enjoy your viewing. Once you’ve pressed the play button, you then have seven days to finish watching before it becomes unavailable.

The process is fast and straightforward – once you’ve updated your BBC iPlayer app via the App Store, simply tap the Download button (left) to add the programme to your queue and, the next time you connect to Wi-Fi, open the app and your chosen programme will automatically start downloading to your device.

The new feature is in response to an increase in demand for content available across mobile, tablet and internet-connected TVs, combined with a growth in the amount of customers watching live television on BBC iPlayer. The launch of the Live Restart button back in June was part of a move beyond catch-up TV and has helped build the service a live audience of 18% (excluding Olympics coverage which peaked at 24%).

Daniel Danker, BBC’s General Manager of Programmes and On-Demand said:

“With mobile downloads for BBC iPlayer, you can now load up your mobile phone or tablet with hours and hours of BBC television programmes, then watch them on the road, on the tube, on a plane, without worrying about having an internet connection or running up a mobile data bill.

“The download service changes how people travel – I don’t think we’ll be using the tube in quite the same way. Normally you can’t watch iPlayer abroad, but now you can download in the UK and watch internationally.”

Dave Price, Head of TV and iPlayer, added: “Users can continue to stream live and on-demand programmes in exactly the same way they’ve always done but what they can now do is download programmes to watch for when they don’t have a connection afterwards.”

The new feature is currently only available on the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch but will soon be available for Android, too. The service will only allow users to download television programmes, with the option of adding radio downloads to be examined at a later date. A similar download function was previously available on selected Nokia, Samsung and Sony Ericsson smart phones but BBC iPlayer has since retired these services.

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BBC iPlayer was first launched back in December 2007 as a simple catch-up website but has since grown to add live streaming, more content across TV and radio and personalisation features such as Favourites and recommendations. As of last year, 20% of the UK adult population used BBC iPlayer in any given week.