Television programmes can now be downloaded from the BBC iPlayer service to your iPhone and iPad making them available offline, thanks to an update to the on-demand video service.


A Wi-Fi connection is required to download content, and television programmes can be had in either standard or high quality. Once downloaded, the content can be viewed without a data connection and it will be automatically deleted seven days after you start watching.

The BBC said: "For the first time, the quality programmes on BBC iPlayer's award-winning app are available wherever you want to watch them, whether or not you have a Wi-Fi or 3G signal. Watch on the underground, on planes, or any location where internet access is beyond your reach.

"Programmes downloaded from the UK can also be viewed abroad for up to 30 days, so you can take the BBC on holiday with you. Once you've pressed play, you can keep watching for seven more days."

IBTimes UK downloaded the update to our iPad and found that it works just as described, with standard quality programmes measuring around 160MB for half an hour, compared with 330MB for a similar half-hour programme in the higher quality.

There's no HD download option just yet and the app has to remain open - downloads can't be done in the background while you use a different app.


The lower resolution programme took around five minutes to download, while the high quality version took just over ten minutes. However we wouldn't say that doubling the file size doubled video or audio quality - both versions looked similar to the quality of live streamed TV on the app.

Once the programme is downloaded, you can switch Wi-Fi off and start watching wherever you like; the app is as responsive as ever, although skipping through a downloaded programme took slightly longer than iOS's own video app.

The iPlayer app update will initially be available on iOS devices only, with an update for Android coming soon.

Managing your downloads is easy, as multiple programmes can be downloaded at once and each be deleted before the seven day restriction if you want to free up some storage space.

General manager of programmes and on-demand for the BBC, Daniel Danker, 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."