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...
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.
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.