BBC announces Windows Phone iPlayer app in the works

This is not a drill. I repeat, this is not a drill. The BBC has announced, in a recent blog post about mobile and the iPlayer service, that a Windows Phone app is well on the way. Consumers who reside within the UK will soon be able to enjoy content on the catch-up service. This will prove to be a huge boost for Windows Phone as a top media provider looks to support the platform. So when can we expect to see the app arrive?

The blog post states that the work will be released in the next few months, but before anyone gets super excited and jumps with joy we will have to point out that the Windows Phone access will be restricted to the mobile website, but will come loaded with a media player and some Windows Phone integration with Live Tile support. The positive result is a BBC iPlayer app (available on the store), which can then be improved on in the future. Baby steps, folks.

The BBC reveals that the corporation and Microsoft have both signed a deal and have been working together to bring iPlayer to Windows Phone - big cheer for Microsoft for stepping in. Cyrus Saihan, head of Business Development, BBC Future Media states that mobile is an important platform for the development teams to target.

Let's throw in the fact that Windows Phone has been building some momentum in the UK, as well as consumers writing in with suggestions for an app to be made. As an added bonus, the app (or shortcut - either way works) will work on both Windows Phone 7.x and 8, enabling all owners access to content from the BBC. 

It was previously speculated that the BBC would develop an app for Windows Phone early last year, but was subsequently squashed by an official statement. It's good to see minds have changed and Microsoft has created a partnership that will hopefully see further enhancements and integration into the system occur sooner, rather than later.

Be sure to stay tuned as we'll update when the app is available.

Source: BBC (2); thanks, Neil, for the tip!

Rich Edmonds
Senior Editor, PC Build

Rich Edmonds was formerly a Senior Editor of PC hardware at Windows Central, covering everything related to PC components and NAS. He's been involved in technology for more than a decade and knows a thing or two about the magic inside a PC chassis. You can follow him on Twitter at @RichEdmonds.

  • Throw * ... And yes this is great. Microsoft always comes through (albeit in the 11th hour)
  • At last
  • Finally the BBC have come to their senses. Just need one for WinRT/8
  • Maybe they will release a Win8 App at the same time seeing Channel 4 and 5 both have there catchup apps in the Win8 store. That's what may have spurred them onto make a dedicated app and if you are writing an app for Win 8 you may as well add the little bit of extra work to make it WP8 compatable.
  • I certainly hope so - personally I don't like watching videos on a smartphone - the screen is just too small, but I'd love to have a proper app for iPlayer on Windows 8...
  • Your concepts are not clear. Watching a video on a 4" screen phone, 18" away from your face is the same as watching a 45" tv 12 feet away. Its actually better when your phone has a HD screen. Only approximating here guys.
  • In theory maybe. Definitely not the same experience. 
  • And a good exercise by holding out your arms.
  • Whilst a metro app for iPlayer would be great, I was watching iPlayer, via the web, on my RT fine on Saturday. I was watching Match of the Day live without any trouble, I must admit I was surprised at just how well it was working, flawless and looks gorgeous on the Surface screen.
  • Although the website is fine it would be nice to have an that let you download like the desktop (non-metro) one
  • All it took was money. Guess we shouldn't be surprised.
  • This is great news for us Brits. Now we need to start nagging Sky to get their SkyGo app on the platform. Those two apps would sway a lot of UK potential users.
  • I agree, Sky Go is one I would like to see. I cant see that happening though, they are so restricted with the handsets they will release it on, even on Android.
  • +1 for skygo. Typical media loveies think the world revolves around apple. Also need iPlayer on RT
  • do i need sky for sky go or is it like iplayer "you should not watch this without license"
  • Yes, you need to be a Sky subscriber to use SkyGo. You can also only watch on it channels that you actually subscribe to.
  • Well we have a skybox in house with all the anytime fun - i guess i will have to check sky go out. Could i get the Subscribernumber out of the box or do i have to find written stuff from sky?
  • Yup, the BBC IT department is stuff fulled of Hipster Apple lovin' nerds and Linux fanboys. They can't tie their own shoelaces.
    You only have to have some knowledge of the fact they've had to oursource much of their IT cos their inhouse saps are hopeless, but public owned bodies are very often like this. Lifer jobsworths who contribute very little but noone can get rid of 'em.
    I'm more hopeful a commercial entity like Sky will at some stage come to the WP party, and they would do it with help from MS with free dev or joint marketing. The BBC was an uphill cultural battle I should imagine, so this is actually more significant in my book.
  • Edit - thid comment was written in response to a now deleted comment.Lol, if you don't pay the tv license, you have zero grounds to complain. I love the BBC for what it brings to British broadcasting. It is one of the central features of UK culture and peoples feelings for them should considerably transcend whether they have a WP app or not. Having said that, this is great news and will further help the UK WP market.
  • ABOUT BLOODY TIME, next up SKY GO!!!!!!
  • 4od is what U want, government owned and not for profit
  • Woo hoo
  • Woo hoo too
  • Woo hoo who?
  • You know who to whoo hoo!
  • So MS paid them, and the best they could do was a website wrapped by a live tile and not an actual real full app? And it takes months to finish? Better than nothing I suppose
  • Isn't the iOS version of the iPlayer app also limitted to the mobile site with some iOS chrome around it? The point is that the mobile site does not work on WP devices at all right now. Them pushing through this app means we will finally get access to iPlayer on WP devices which is what we've been calling for BBC to do for a couple of years now.
  • No, iOS app is a full proper non-HTML5 app with support for things like 30 day offline video.
    Mobile website is only for streaming.
  • Its a big deal if they now move to HTML5 for the site. That way a Windows 8 / RT would be possible really quickly too.
  • This is big news and finally shows the windows phone has entered mainstream. It can only get better from here on.
  • Seeing as Channel 4 and 5 both have on demand apps in the Win8 store I'm suprised they haven't released WP8 apps yet seeing as it only takes a bit of extra coding.
  • Meh.... Get the apple loving toffs out of the bbc.
  • About time, time for us to 'persude' Sky to release Sky Go for Windows Phone 7x and 8 devices next
  • +1000
  • Lol
  • Hooray! 
  • Ha ha that's a sudden turnaround
  • Reading the source article they state that they made iPlayer available on the Blackberry Z10 before any Windows Phone - what's that all about.
    Equally we are always looking at new devices we can bring iPlayer to and I have good news! Earlier this month we added support to the iPlayer mobile web site for the new Blackberry Z10.
    I am also thrilled to announce that we have also been working with Microsoft and within the next few months we'll be enabling the same mobile site for devices running Windows Phone 7.5 and 8.
  • BB Z10 has flash enabled of the website.. It was easier to allow it.
  • how about i boycotte there (i) player cause i have windows not apple untill they pay me to use there service? lol if only
  • About bloody time!
  • Fantastic!!!
  • a website shortcut? you mean like Microsoft and Google partnered for a youtube experience?
    its a start but a native app is what makes the difference between an enjoyable experience and a cluncky one.
  • It's a definite start and at least there'll no longer be cries for an app since we'll have the foundations. Here's hoping the team will continue to build a native app.
  • Great news and i so wish Sky Go were next! Also, will the WP BBC app allow download for offline play?
  • This is obviously great news. However im not that excited. As you cannot download shows its use is limited. If im in my house ill watch iPlayer on the Xbox. If im on a train or plane then the signal isn't good enough so you need an offline mode. Great to see platform support but of little use until it gets iOS like downloads.
  • I want Virgin Media app
  • I put a complaint into the bbc about the lack of support for windows phone a week ago. Maybe they are listening to people now. Great to see the bbc producing something
  • LOL. Thanks for sorting it for everyone! 
  • I been complaining to and generally bitching about BBC lack of WP support for months and months. Looks like it was your email that tipped the balance. Excellent work chap.
  • I like that the UK support of windows phone is paying off. Their market share probably made this happen. Now if only the US could push closer to the fabled 10%.
  • And still people bitch about MS not doing enough to get the big name apps (mainly shelling out $$$).
    But they have been doing it all along and continue to do it. There real reason some of those other big names (like we all don't know I'm talking about Instagram and Pandora) haven't taken the $$$ is because their management doesn't like MS or they are trying to extort an unreasonable amount of monetary compensation.
  • Yay for those in the UK! I'm jealous! :-)
  • Boom... My mind is blown. About time really. It will probably be like the last android version, that was just a web interface.... Wasn't great but it wasn't awful.
    WP seems to be picking up steam.. Banking, games, fitness and now big tv apps, never had a doubt :P
  • Woohoo!
  • US people probably don't get this but this is the big one. As soon as something gets iplayer, its mainstream.
    This is huge. Even if it doesn't scratch the ankles of other OS' apps, this means WP is now going somewhere. Its the watermark.
    Having been around when it hit ios, this is the one that made the kids go 'oooooh'
  • Thanks for clearing this up. So wp8 has arrived in Britain? Congrats to y'all. :-)
  • Yes it has hit. And it has hit with a mahoosive thud!
  • Now all we need is a damn instagram app XD
  • Unless I'm mistaken, how is this really that much of a big deal? Being able to download episodes for viewing offline is in my opinion the killer feature. Being able to stream on WIFI is meh - i'm almost always near a better equipped device in those circumstances. 
    The lack of a native app, in the same way as YouTube, is depressing.
  • It's a big deal because up until last week the BBC were saying that they wouldn't be releasing anything for Windows Phone because of 2 things: 1 was the playback technology used by MS which was incompatible with the current BBC standards and 2 was scale - they didn't feel there were enough users to justify the spend.
    Also, this will act as a virtuous circle; the BBC release an app (web browser) so people who wouldn't have bought a Windows Phone now consider it.  The BBC can track how many users of the service use WP devices and as that number goes up the chances of a native app increase.  Meanwhile Sky will see the traffic that the BBC are getting and decide that they want a piece of that pie and then behold, we have a SkyGo app within months. 
    This is good news and a very, very big deal.
  • Finally!!!
  • About time too. The Apple bias at the BBC is painful to watch at times. Watch any show and you are likely to see a half masticated apple adorning the back of the tablet or laptop they are using, all on channels where no one brand is supposed to be given "undue prominence".
  • I just hope its better than the Android version. Picture quality on that is super rubbish...
  • Why don't the bbc just make the content available and then let the community write the app?  This is a public body.  Give us API's and content, we'll write the apps.
    Why is channel 4 and 5 so much better at this.  Why is Iplayer avail on xbox but not WP?  This is a fail for MS not making some unified player stack.
    That is all.
  • Even though this doesn't effect me since I'm in the US. Still glad to see more major apps come to WP.
    I can't wait for the day instagram, Pandora, and many others finally hit the WP AND W8/RT store.
  • What does this really mean? I'm guessing that it means that they have agreed to work with MS to develop the player to work without the requirement of the current codecs BBC use...
    I think it is a bigger deal than what BB is getting as they are just basically giving BB a website link as they can play flash inherently.
  • I don't understand, is it a app that able to play mutiple media files likes mp4? Or it is just simply for user to play BBc video?
    Besides, is it only available for uk consumer?
  • Yeah its just uk bbc content. The content we get is due to the national tv licence we pay for monthly/yearly.
  • ...yes, only to those paying the TV license. I've heard some using a VPN server sitting in the UK can watch from anywhere..yes WP8 doesn't have VPN functionality, yet. 
  • Great news for the platform! Although I'd never sit there watching tv shows on a small phone screen, I'm glad it's coming for people that want it.
  • Brilliant news! I've been pining for iPlayer for ages. Sky Go next!
  • YAY
  • HALLELUJAH. This might just stop me migrating :))
  • Good news and kudos to MS for, it seems, pushing this forward. Who knows, maybe the BBC will realise that their fixation with all things Apple is soooo 2010, one of these years.  A proper app would be nice though...particularly for WinRT with download/offline viewing function. Perhaps someone should remind Auntie Beeb that their iPlayer would never have taken off witthout the Windows platform in the first place.
  • Now we just got to get it on BB10
  • Just like when Nokia stepped in regarding Angry Birds, Rovio soon changed their tune. The power of a name people!
  • Does anyone else think its kinda sad that one of the largest media corporations in the world had to steal the branding for their online media from Apple
  • Don't you think its ironic the BBC is meant to be impartial yet, are total Apple lovers in general.
  • This makes me happy. Now Sky, ITV and Channel 4 please lol.
  • how can we get live tile support without a dedicated app. is this new and why havent wdbsites done this already?
  • It is a dedicated app. It is just that the UI for selecting and finding programmes is the iPlayer mobile website (Internet Explorer is embedded in the app as a "control"). When you tap on a link for a video stream, the BBC Media Player code that is included in the app takes over.
    Whats kinda interesting (and might be where Microsoft have got involved) is that on other platforms this thing called the BBC Media Player is implemented in Adobe AIR. Which doesn't work on Windows Phone. So its had to be re-implemented in Silverlight (since it works on WP7 as well). So I bet that MS have offered to do most of this coding/port for the BBC, thats what the deal is.
    Oh, and BTW this is not about codecs, this is about the "streaming transport" system. iPlayer uses h.264 for its codec which Windows Phone can handle already.
  • Don't really care for iPlayer go out of my way not too watch BBC content. biased. bloated. corporation.
    Especially now with there paedophile investigation going on that my tv license money will have to pay for their legal fees and such
  • have you guys read that blog post properly, it doesn't say they are releasing an app for Windows Phone, it says they are enabling the mobile site to work with Windows Phone, which is why it will work through the live tile, as the live tile will just be a shortcut.
    Quote below.
    "Equally we are always looking at new devices we can bring iPlayer to and I have good news! Earlier this month we added support to the iPlayer mobile web site for the new Blackberry Z10. I am also thrilled to announce that we have also been working with Microsoft and within the next few months we'll be enabling the same mobile site for devices running Windows Phone 7.5 and 8."
    Still good news, but an app would be better, as i'd prefer to have the bbc iplayer radio app
  • Its an app, sort of. The confusion is because the Beeb are talking about "wrapping" the iPlayer website:
    By wrapping the iPlayer mobile website together with its proprietary Media Player plug-in, the broadcaster can offer access to streamed feeds of its material
    So its an app, that has the "BBC Media Player" code in it, and also embeds the Internet Explorer code, but it turns the URL bar off. Open the app, and it displays the embedded IE, and loads the iPlayer mobile site. Tap on a link for a video stream, and it then switches to the "Media Player" part of the app.
    Its quite similar to how they implemented iPlayer on Series 60 3rd Ed devices. It just means the UI for finding and searching for programs isn't native "Modern UI" but a webpage.
  • This is great althoug I think it would have been better to include features such as episodes download. It is on Symbians such as N8 I don't see whyt there shouldn't be for WP8. Anyways, better than nothing. And with Live Tiles it will be even better. 
  • There are some messages on here about iPlayer on windows Rt being needed. It already works. Unless these people are talking about a 'metro' app ?
  • About bloody time. I'm thoroughly nauseated by the way the BBC supports Apple as if they held major stock in the company, but has been totally dismissive of the WP ecosystem. I know it's economically motivated as everything is but it genuinely grates when you see them developing and releasing all manner of obscure Apple apps when they could divert that resource to supporting other OS users - who have already paid their tv license and would appreciate the much deserved support!
  • If by "economically motivated" you mean that the BBC has a finite budget, and they have to target "platforms" that will reach as many license fee payers as possible for the amount of expenditure involved, then yes, its economically motivated. Windows Phone only broke the 10% market share level in the UK in the last month or so, and yet because WP cannot use any of their existing delivery technologies (HTTP Live Streaming, and Adobe AIR in particular) it would have been just as expensive to implement as an iPhone app. And then that Windows Phone marketshare is partially fragmented (if your app needs a feature not available through Silverlight, thats goodbye to WP7 users).