BBC is plotting to cull the ability to download shows and films from iPlayer to watch when you don’t have an internet connection across all PC and Mac computers. Starting from March 11, the BBC iPlayer app on laptop and desktop machines will lose the ability to download ―a feature that first launched for licence fee payers over a decade ago.
To watch offline, BBC viewers would need to download a separate iPlayer Downloads app to their Windows or Mac computers. Downloads are usually available for 30 days, but if something is coming to the end of its period on iPlayer, it might vanish sooner. The iPlayer app will notify you when your episodes, films, or documentaries are getting close to the expiry date.
For those who travel with a laptop and want to watch on flights or train journeys, the decision is sure to be a blow. It’s worth noting that BBC iPlayer apps on other devices, including iPhone, iPad, and Android smartphones and tablets, will still support downloads for offline viewing.
BBC iPlayer will still allow offline downloads on certain gadgets, like Android phones and tablets, iPhone and iPad
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In preparation for the shutdown next month, BBC has already stopped new downloads of the dedicated iPlayer Downloads app on Windows and Mac. If you haven’t already installed the software installed on your laptop, it’s too late now.
The decision to remove the functionality from the desktop app was confirmed in a small update to iPlayer’s support pages, which was spotted by the eagle-eyed team at telly-focused blog CordBusters.
“We have started the process of closing the Desktop Downloads App,” the small-print reads. “Downloading programmes from a computer or laptop will no longer be available from Monday 11 March. You can still watch your existing downloads until Monday 8 April 2024. You can also still download your favourite programmes on your mobile device, and add programmes to your Watchlist to return later.”
Head to the iPlayer website on your laptop or desktop PC and attempt to download an episode, movie, or documentary to watch at a later date offline and you’ll be greeted with the following warning: “From the 11th March you will no longer be able to download content from the web. If you already have the Downloads app installed, you can continue to download until this time.”
If you want to watch your favourite BBC shows without an internet connection from March 11 onwards, you’ll need to download the iPlayer app on an iPhone, iPad, Amazon Fire tablet, Android phone or tablet.
If you prefer browsing on the bigger screen of your Mac or Windows device, you can add shows or movies to your Watchlist. This list of must-see episodes and movies is synced across all of your devices, so you’ll be able to tap the “Download” button on your mobile device to save it to your internal storage when you’re ready to travel. You can also stream over a mobile connection (4G or 5G) or Wi-Fi when out-and-about on all devices, including your laptop, so you won’t be impacted by the latest change if you maintain your connection.