BBC iPlayer to launch July 27 in UK

The iPlayer is the BBC's first step into the world of online on-demand television

The BBC is to launch its new on-demand iPlayer on the 27 July. That's according to a statement released by the Beeb early this morning. The BBC iPlayer is a free catch-up service for UK licence fee payers.

Your favourite programmes from all the BBC's network TV channels will be available to download over the internet, and watch on your PC without advertising for up to a week after transmission.

The on-demand project is currently in closed environment testing amongst some 15,000 people. It will go live to the general public in open beta on 27 July. This will allow the number of users to increase over the summer in a controlled manner, before a full marketing launch in the autumn.

In time, extra features will be added to the BBC iPlayer, such as live streaming on-demand. This will enable users to watch a programme online straight away. And series stacking will also give you the opportunity to download episodes from selected series retrospectively.

Catch-up with BBC shows

At launch, the BBC iPlayer will include a display settings toolkit for the hard-of-vision and sign language for the hard-of-hearing. Subtitles and audio description will be rolled out in the coming months.

To start with, the iPlayer will only be available to Microsoft Windows XP users, leaving Apple Mac OS X and Windows Vista users out in the cold. The BBC did however say it was working to remedy this problem.

"We are committed to making it as easy as possible to use BBC iPlayer. Developing a version for Apple Macs and Microsoft Vista is absolutely on our critical path," said Ashley Highfield, director of Future Media at the BBC.

"We're also committed to making it available on the television screen, which is why we are delighted to be working with Virgin Media towards a launch on cable later this year. We are hopeful that other TV platforms will follow soon after.

"Our vision is for BBC iPlayer to become a universal service available not just over the internet, but also on cable and other TV platforms, and eventually on mobiles and smart handheld devices."

The Windows XP -exclusivity of the iPlayer beta has brought about some criticism from the open-source community, which has threatened to complaint to Ofcom .

James Rivington

James was part of the TechRadar editorial team for eight years up until 2015 and now works in a senior position for TR's parent company Future. An experienced Content Director with a demonstrated history of working in the media production industry. Skilled in Search Engine Optimization (SEO), E-commerce Optimization, Journalism, Digital Marketing, and Social Media. James can do it all.