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TARDIS
Posted on Saturday 28 September 2013 at 8:43 am

BBC iPlayer [Fill in the Blank]


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iPlayer is the BBC's system for letting people watch TV on the computer. It used to have two main components: watch online or download for later. If you wanted to download for later, you had two main options: download for Windows Media Player or something similar I've forgotten or download using the iPlayer Desktop program you could download to your computer from the BBC's website. The best part of the iPlayer Desktop was that you could sign up for a series and it would automatically download every new episode of that series. The worst part about the desktop was that it frequently broke and wouldn't work at all or would only sort of work. The worst part about all of it is that you have to have a UK IP address (easily worked around) in order to download any of the TV stuff and it came with DRM on a 7/30/7 schedule (7 days after airing in which to download a program, 30 days after downloading in which to start watching the program, but once you hit play for the first time you then had 7 days in which to finish watching it even if you were nowhere near the original 30 day limit or even if that would put you over the original 30 day limit).

The BBC have decided to fix the "Desktop was frequently broken" problem by doing away with the series record feature, among other things including the ability to download Windows Media Player files or anything else outside their program, and changing to what they are calling iPlayer Downloads. To quote from their FAQs:
BBC iPlayer Downloads is a much simpler offering compared to BBC iPlayer Desktop. While BBC iPlayer Desktop allowed the user to download programmes, set-up automatic downloads using the series stacking feature and offered the ability to stream BBC TV channels, it proved unreliable especially when third party updates were installed.

With BBC iPlayer Desktop we've concentrated in providing a service that allows you to download a programme, watch it and delete the programmes once expired. That's it. We believe that keeping it simple offers an improved and more reliable experience.

I suppose I understand. If they can't get the tech to work, it is better to have a no frills that does work than a fully loaded option that doesn't work.

This new iPlayer Downloads program is almost certainly what they will be using for Radio downloads starting sometime next year. They have confirmed that the radio downloads will have the same 7/30/7 DRM restrictions as the TV programs but have said nothing about if they will switch that to UK only as well. I don't know how the introduction of DRM to the files will affect the programs I currently use for downloading radio.

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