BBC iplayer: tips, tricks and fea­tures

New to BBC iplayer, or a reg­u­lar user who wants to know more about its short­cuts and hid­den fea­tures? You’re in luck, as we’ve com­piled a list of our favourite tips, tricks and fea­tures...

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Sign up for a BBC ID ac­count

The ser­vice re­quires all view­ers to log in. It’s still free, and sign­ing up of­fers plenty of perks such as tai­lored rec­om­men­da­tions, synced favourites lists and seam­less play­back across de­vices. You will be asked for your post­code dur­ing reg­is­tra­tion, al­though the BBC in­sists it’s just for de­liv­er­ing rel­e­vant lo­cal in­for­ma­tion.

Pay your li­cence fee

Pre­vi­ously, you didn’t have to pay if you only watched on-de­mand con­tent on iplayer and not live con­tent. That’s changed and a valid TV li­cence is legally re­quired to watch any­thing on iplayer, live or on-de­mand.

Lan­guage and lo­ca­tion

Scroll right to the end of the page (or go to the app’s set­tings), and there’s an op­tion to change your lo­ca­tion to any UK re­gion. You can also change the lan­guage from Eng­lish to Welsh, Irish Gaelic or Scot­tish Gaelic.

Stream­ing out­side the UK

You can only stream con­tent from iplayer (live or on-de­mand) if you’re in the UK so if you’re go­ing on hol­i­day or on a long flight, down­load shows be­fore you head off. You can lis­ten to BBC Ra­dio from any­where in the world, though.

Pro­gramme in­for­ma­tion

Right un­der the play­back screen you’ll see plenty of use­ful in­for­ma­tion – episode blurb, pro­gramme du­ra­tion, when it first aired, how many days longer it’s avail­able on iplayer - and icons for down­load­ing, adding, buy­ing and shar­ing the cur­rent show.

How long are shows avail­able for?

Gen­er­ally, the ex­piry date for any­thing on iplayer is 30 days. Most shows are avail­able for stream­ing and down­load­ing for 30 days af­ter air­ing. Once you’ve down­loaded a show, you have 30 days to watch it. There are ex­cep­tions: Ques­tion Time episodes are avail­able for a whole year, while Match Of The Day is avail­able for a much shorter time be­cause of broad­cast­ing rights is­sues.

SD or HD?

All shows will au­to­mat­i­cally down­load in stan­dard def­i­ni­tion - it’s quicker to down­load and won’t take up too much space. But if you want to view your saved shows in high def­i­ni­tion (720p), go to the app’s set­tings and turn on ‘Higher Qual­ity Down­loads’.

These go to 11…

The vol­ume bar on the play­back screen goes up to 11 – a homage to the leg­endary am­pli­fier scene in the 1984 mock­u­men­tary film This Is Spinal Tap.

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