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This article was published on July 28, 2011

Global iPlayer: The BBC answer your questions

Global iPlayer: The BBC answer your questions
Paul Sawers
Story by

Paul Sawers

Paul Sawers was a reporter with The Next Web in various roles from May 2011 to November 2014. Follow Paul on Twitter: @psawers or check h Paul Sawers was a reporter with The Next Web in various roles from May 2011 to November 2014. Follow Paul on Twitter: @psawers or check him out on Google+.

We reported earlier on the launch of the new global BBC iPlayer, which is available today in 11 European countries: Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, The Republic of Ireland, The Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and Switzerland.

But fans of BBC programming around the world will no doubt have a few lingering questions on the finer details. As such, BBC Click ran a Twitter question and answer session with the Director earlier today, designed to clarify any outstanding queries. And here’s the answers…


As we reported already, it will be available as an iPad app first of all, costing €6.99 a month, or €49.99 for a year’s subscription.

The first year is being treated as a pilot in Europe, and the US and Canada will be next to gain access to the global BBC iPlayer in Q4 2011. Australia will follow in Q4 2011/Q1 2012, accompanied perhaps by New Zealand, though this isn’t definite yet. Other countries will follow after Q1 2012, though which countries these will be remains to be seen.

Furthermore, fears from UK licence-fee payers that international users would be getting access to the same programmes for a fraction of the cost were allayed. A standard color TV Licence costs £145.50 per year, whilst someone in Europe could access the player for less than €50 per year, but it was noted that there will be a limited amount of new shows available. The international version is more of a video-on-demand (VOD) service, than a catch-up TV service.

Given that BBC programmes will now be more readily available in non-English speaking markets, the issue of subtitles was raised too. This is apparently a possibility further down the line, but not this year. The BBC sees its first big audience as anglophones.

Unlike the domestic version of iPlayer, radio won’t yet be available on the global iPlayer, because the international rights in radio are a little more tricky. However, audio programming could be added within a year.

As has already been reported, the global BBC iPlayer will include additional features not currently available on the UK player, such as the ability to stream shows over 3G. Plus, the international version enables users to download and store programmes on the iPad for offline viewing.

And what about those who don’t yet have iPads? Well, The global iPlayer will work on iPhones within the next 12 months, with other platforms possibly to follow after the pilot period.