BBC iPlayer finally comes to Apple TV

When the revamped Apple TV launched in September there was a certain BBC-shaped hole in the streaming device that other devices didn’t experience at launch. For example, streaming the BBC iPlayer on a Firestick has been possible since day one. In October, the BBC’s director-general Tony Hall confirmed that a BBC iPlayer app was indeed in the works, due to land “in the coming months”. It has now gone live.

BBC iPlayer finally comes to Apple TV

The BBC issued a statement this morning, namedropping a range of exclusive programmes available on iPlayer over Christmas, including Luther: The Journey So Far. The statement also signals an update to BBC iPlayer’s mobile and tablet app, which allows signed-in users to stream BBC Store purchases directly from the app.

“Christmas is a popular time for viewers to come to BBC iPlayer, as they unwrap new devices and browse and discover the BBC’s fantastic Christmas programmes,” commented Dan Taylor-Watt, head of BBC iPlayer. “With the launch of iPlayer on new Apple TV, I’m delighted we’ve been able to give people another way of accessing the full breadth and range of BBC programmes.”

While iPlayer is available on streaming platforms such as Amazon’s Fire TV, Sky’s Now TV and Google’s Chromecast, this is the first time iPlayer has been included as an app on Apple TV. Previously, users had to stream iPlayer content from their iPhones or iPads to Apple TV. Even though the BBC said in September it had “no plans” to change this setup, the broadcaster seems to have had a change of heart.

Audience grab

While the launch may end up aiding sales of the Apple TV in the UK, the BBC will also be banking on the app driving up usage of iPlayer. Earlier this year, it was announced that the iPlayer’s popularity had suffered a shock drop – the first fall since the video streaming site was set up in

In an increasingly crowded marketplace for streaming services, the BBC has to compete with the likes of Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, Now TV, HBO Go and Hulu to name a few. That drop in numbers no doubt raised questions about the BBC’s ability to maintain a dominant position in the online video market. 

In an attempt to show it can keep pace with cord-cutting new contenders, the BBC is also planning to launch an online subscription service – à la Netflix – in the US next year. How this plan will gel with the inclusion of iPlayer in Apple’s living room behemoth remains to be seen, but what is clear is that the BBC is making moves to stay on top of the shifting mosaic of digital services.   

Apple TV: Buy now from John Lewis

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Fire TV Stick: Buy now from Amazon

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