App allows Irish viewers to watch BBC iPlayer


THE BBC has finally opened up its iPlayer service to Irish users with the start just after midnight of an iPad application aimed at international viewers.

Fans of BBC programmes such as Doctor Who, Blue Planetand Fawlty Towerswill be able to access the programmes through Global iPlayer, over wireless internet or a mobile 3G connection.

However, users will have to pay a subscription fee to access the video on demand service, BBC said. The service has been developed by BBC’s commercial arm, BBC Worldwide.

“This is a unique and different product,” said Jana Bennett, president of BBC Worldwide networks and Global iPlayer.

“The Global iPlayer has a similar name, the same high standard look and feel and user experience, but that’s where the resemblance starts to end.”

The iPlayer service for the UK market, launched in 2007, shows live broadcasts, the previous seven days of programming on its channels and also includes access to BBC’s radio channels. The international app will have a slightly different focus, opening up the BBC’s archives and mixing classics with new content.

“It’s a different proposition and a very different business model aimed at the international market,” said Ms Bennett. “The content is different, the underlying technology is different and so is the consumer and market need we’re addressing.”

The launch is part of a pilot scheme being tested in 11 western European countries including Ireland, Belgium, Germany and Spain. About 1,500 hours of content are available on the app.

Classics such as Only Fools and Horsesand Last of the Summer Wineare available to watch alongside newer productions such as Lutherand Top Gearin the international app.

Viewers will also be able to access news and cultural programming. Children’s shows have also been included in the launch line-up.

The global app groups content differently, opting for genre and “editorial curation” of content to highlight interesting programmes available through the service.

Subscribers will also be able to download the content to their iPad to watch later or in places where there may not be an internet connection, limited only by the capacity of the iPad. The available content will also change from country to country.

Ms Bennett said about 100 hours a month of new content would be added to the iPlayer international service.

The app is free to download from Apple’s iTunes store but the service will cost users €6.99 a month or €49.99 for the year.

A limited amount of content will be available free, as part of deals with sponsors.

Subscribers will get an ad- and sponsor-free service.