BBC iPlayer update brings offline viewing to mobile devices

BBC iPlayerThe BBC’s iPlayer catch-up and video-on-demand service is being updated to allow users to watch shows offline on their smartphones and tablets, meaning viewers will be able to download programs to watch later on the train, in the car or even on vacation. Before now, viewers using the app could only stream content to their mobile devices.

The new feature is being rolled out in an app update for iOS devices on Tuesday, and is also expected to be introduced soon for Android handsets and tablets.

“This fundamentally changes one of the most annoying restrictions about viewing programmes,“ Daniel Danker, the BBC’s general manager of on-demand programs, told the Guardian, adding that the update will allow even greater freedom when it comes to choosing where and when to watch a TV show.

Danker continued, “With mobile downloads, you can now load up your mobile phone or tablet with hours and hours of BBC 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.”

After downloading a show onto a device, users have 30 days to watch it.

The Guardian report says the move by the BBC comes in the wake of program requests on iPlayer leaping by 142 percent in the last 12 months to 30 million a month, brought on in part by the rapid increase in ownership of smartphones and tablets.

The iPlayer has been a huge hit since it came on the scene in 2007, allowing users to enjoy BBC TV shows and radio programs on mobile devices, PCs and many TV sets.

The service is free to those located in the UK, though last year the BBC launched a paid-for video-on-demand (as opposed to a catch-up) service in 11 countries, including Canada, Australia and a number of European countries.

The global iPlayer is part of a year-long pilot scheme, and with that year just about up, we might soon be hearing news of a US launch for the BBC’s popular service.