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BBC iPlayer for Xbox One: Not perfect but we're glad it's here

For British Xbox One owners, BBC iPlayer is one of the apps we've waited on the longest. Similar catch-up TV offerings from Channel 4 (4OD) and Channel 5 (Demand 5) have been available for a while, but the BBC app has been frustratingly absent. That recently changed and now we've got almost the full repertoire – ITV anyone? – and all the BBC TV shows we can shake our controllers at.

But while we're pleased to have it, it's by no means perfect. Read on to find out more.

On the design front things are pretty decent. Anyone who's ever used the iPlayer on other platforms or the web will feel right at home. Text is large, images are large and generally it's well laid out. It'd be hard to call it pretty, or anything else to that effect, but it's not horrible to look at in any way. One nice touch is that whatever you're watching will remain playing in the background if you decide to look for something else. Sure, you won't see the picture but you'll at least be able to follow along with the audio.

Performance draws both praise and criticism. Starting with the positives, it seems pretty fast at streaming content. I have a good broadband connection, but so far there haven't been any real signs of buffering. You choose something to watch and you're almost instantly watching it.

The negative comes from just navigating the app. While it's not unbearable it's just not smooth. When you're looking at something that's a little janky on a screen as big as this you notice. And when you've noticed once you can't un-notice.

BBC iPlayer for Xbox One

Diving into the settings you'll find a couple of really useful features. If you're on a slower broadband connection there are a few options to reduce the quality of the video to keep things running as smoothly as possible. If you've got kids, too, take advantage of the parental controls to help keep them away from things they shouldn't be watching.

All told, BBC iPlayer for Xbox One is good enough. And that's all it really needs to be. It'd be great if it was smoother all round and discovering things to watch still isn't a strong suit for the service since it's still essentially a catch-up offering. But it's here, and if you know what you want to watch then you're all set.

Download it now for free from the Xbox One store.

Richard Devine is an Editor at Windows Central. A former Project Manager and long-term tech addict, he joined Mobile Nations in 2011 and has been found on Android Central and iMore as well as Windows Central. Currently you'll find him covering all manner of PC hardware and gaming, and you can follow him on Twitter and Instagram.

36 Comments
  • If I download this in the US, can I watch top gear UK?
  • Not without a UK ip address.
  • Nope, because your IP address location is in the US. Not the UK.
  • Don't need to change IP, use "unotelly" or "unblockus" DNS servers for this. Much faster, and good for services from numerous countries at the same time.
  • Thanks! I guess i'll stick to the good ol' Kodi
  • Yup. I'm in Toronto and have been using UnblockUs for a few years now to get all my U.S streaming as well as iPlayer, works great for HD performance. Can't go wrong for $5 a month. No issues using the iPlayer app on XboxOne either.
  • Thank God. Sucks to live abroad and miss show from the homeland.
  • Have a look on youtube, you 'll find lots of U.K. TV series including top gear. Youtube is my most useful app on Xbox.
  • Looks almost identical to the one on my Samsung TV. Probably an HTML/JS app.
  • Can't understand why anyone would use an Xbox for catch up TV. Every man and his dog has either Sky or BT or Virgin packages and the services are there already.
  • Cause it's possible! I think :)
  • I've been waiting for this for ages. Some of us use freeview and have no interest in getting sky or a youveiw box. I use the digital tv tuner to get freeview through the xbox one. Now iPlayer is on xbox one my set up is complete.
  • Good point, well made.
  • Sorry to contradict you old chap, but I have neither Sky, BT or Virgin, and I intend to remain resolutely TV subscription-free. The combination of the XBox One TV tuner dongle with catch-up TV apps on XBox (iPlayer, itv Player, 4oD and Demand 5) is perfect for my family's viewing habits. Plus it means one less set-top box.
  • That's fine if you use the Xbox then. I wouldn't have one in the house so I'm good with Sky.
  • I used to have virgin media but most of what I watch is available on freeview or catchup. Paying for a monthly tv subscription is a waste of money, for me. Xbox one with usb digital tv tuner is one great bit of kit. All for a monthly amount of £0.00 :) just because it works for me doesn't mean it is the answer for other people though.
  • I don't pay for subscription TV, no one I know pays for it and I can't think of any reason why anyone would. Why would I want to pay for TV if those paid for channels then have adverts on?
  • Fair point but my phone and internet are free too so it works for me.
  • For me, the only reason for subscription tv is live football.
  • One reason using an app over the set top box is the programming for the box is provided by the network, not the provider, hence streaming could be laggy, programs not available, and so forth. Using a device - like Xbox One - you are using the network's own app, giving you a more stable connection and them the ad $ instead of the provider. At least that's how it is here in the States.
  • Can't understand why anyone would use an Xbox for catch up TV. Every man and his dog has either Sky or BT or Virgin packages and the services are there already
    Turns out its every "other" man and his dog and also the "other" dogs spare room and other convenient locations not serviced by your payview systems without shelling out more of the hard earned.
  • Would be nice if it had OneGuide support!
  • Agreed
  • Even though its not perfect and they said the delay was because of the Kinect integration, it still works better than Netflix with the Kinect.
  • OK so I guess another four years before our state TV brings out its iPlayer for Windows Phone.
  • Er ... http://www.windowsphone.com/s?appid=4ca944d4-2c9d-47a0-a153-731b67b69b80 ​
  • No I meant proper, decent iPlayer for Windows Phone, similar to that offered on iOS and Android. NOT the pile of S###t they claim to be a native iPlayer.
  • Now you are P0wned! Hahahaha...
  • Dont think he was considsering all the "1 star" reviews- BBC may have not bothered!
  • If you have used it on WP then the one star reviews seem quite generous!
  • Yeah 1 star is far too generous. It's not just BBC- Sky and Microsoft have really done a poor John not bringing sky go to Xbox one and WP- I want to watch F1 live on my XBO!!!!! I rarely watch BBC programmes- the best ones they do are space and nature related series, and are way too few and far between. I used to love watching wildlife on one programmes when I was a kid. Even UK top gear is rubbish these days!
  • This version is identical to the NowTV/Roku version. It looks pretty but is a nightmare to navigate and sluggish compared to the older version. As a Licence payer, I'm going to complain to the BBC's iPlayer team there is no way this is as easy to use as the older version.
  • I complained and got a bs email back saying basically, that the web wrapper for WP and their current windows/x box efforts are good enough and they don't want to spend any more money on MS related platforms.. I really am unhappy about the mandatory license fee!!
  • Used it for the first time last night to watch The Fall. No complaints.
  • Where as I am glad it finally made it to the One I cannot for the life of me understand the delay. The excuse was kinect but then why not just release a non kinect version... baffling. Plus its supposed to work with smartglass but nohting smart happening on my tablet and lastly its navigation is a bit crap. Just before I whine off the last point and somebody made it already nice oneguide support.... not.
  • Shame the BBC have 'updated' the iPlayer so it no longer works on thousands of license fee paid Smart TV's but only works now on non-license fee phones, game boxes etc. Brilliant strategy from the BBC again wasting fee payers money.