back to article Beeb iPlayer gets Firefox-friendly

The BBC has finally made the download version of its iPlayer on-demand TV service compatible with Firefox, after six months as an Internet Explorer-only product. There's still no support for operating systems other than Windows, but it marks the first official break with the multi-million-pound application's Microsoft-only …


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  1. Gavin McMenemy

    Still no support for XP x64

    I am a windows user who cannot get the Beeb to support X64 XP.

    Try reporrting this error to the Beeb and see what response you get...

  2. Tim J

    Licence fee

    If I watch BBC iPlayer streaming flash content, or indeed streaming BBC News 24 online, do I have to pay a licence fee? I suspect the law is spectacularly unclear on this point.

  3. Anonymous Coward

    More millions wasted by the BBC

    yes it might be viewable in firefox now, but who in there right state of mind would want to go and use the bloated overpriced (its not free, its been payed for by us mugs) pos that is iplayer to watch the 7 day old crap that the bbc are currently putting out, (excluding top gear)

    not only do about 90% of people in the uk have a Cap/Bandwidth Limit/FUP/and whatever the hell else its known under, its more than likely a very inadequate one, and if i am gonna miss Top Gear, i will simply schedule my dvd recorder, or leech it from one of the multiple different sources available that is also faster, less cumbersome, and likely better quality than some crappy stream or limited time download.

    Its time the license fee was bloody capped or improve the programming, 95% of what i watch is on other channels.

  4. David Haworth

    @Tim J

    The BBC have stated that iplayer does not yet require the ownership of a TV licence.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Licence fee...

    Tim J - Ofcom have indeed stated that this is a grey area of law. Their general guidance is that if it's downloading\streaming a delayed recording then it falls under the watching pre-recorded exception (ie no licence fee is needed) but if such a stream or recording is watched near-live to when it's broadcast then a licence fee is required.

  6. Ian

    License Fee

    My parents, who have never had a television, have a link to a clear statement by the BBC that (a) you don't need a license in order to view BBC content via the Internet and (b) they have no intention of pushing for legislation. That's because the set of people in the UK currently who have broadband and do not have a TV license is vanishingly small (and access to the content is limited to the UK). If that changes, however, the BBC will reconsider its position.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    As it stands

    From work I've done with IPTV Services, I understand the fine print to be if you use any device to watch broadcast television, regardless of if its a PC or TV (remember most new PC's come with the ability to capture and play TV signals) you need a license.

    That's what Universities tell students in halls that have IP TV services, if you want to be legal, you need a license, of course there is no way of enforcing it, but thats a different question!

  8. AndyC

    re: Licence fee

    Well, there was talk of them a while ago wanting to push the licence fee on every body that had a computer hooked up to the net, but not heard anything on that one. Currently, the law is for any equipment capable of recieving broadcasts (exclusions for battery powerd and small screens too I think) so depends how well a broadcast is defined...

    My two pence and all that...

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Found it useful

    Missed a few programs now and then. I must admin to being a sceptic but was actually impressed by the performance and quality.

    Bet you didn't know you can't use it abroad either, it geo locates your ip and won't let you watch outside the UK.

  10. Chris


    The BBC tech people have written a p2p plugin for Firefox. Is that really news?! Why didn't it work with Firefox in the first place anyway??

    They really didn't think about standards at all when they development this albatross. DRM is one thing, but developing an online app which only works with IE that's just idiocy.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Sod the p2p iPlayer

    The flash version is excellent. They should work on improving that.

  12. John Macintyre
    Paris Hilton

    @David Haworth

    Man and I stupidly went and bought one anyway. bastards.

    paris.. cause I feel like her right now :(

  13. Iain

    No iPlayer for me, thanks.

    I don't want to let kontiki within a mile of my Vista box. Not that I believe it works on Vista anyway.

    Besides, "other sources" allow me to stream the HD file to my 360 rather than forcing me to watch it in the PC room on an ancient box that doesn't have the firepower for HD anyway.

  14. Paul Fleetwood

    A. Coward it's not money wasted by the BBC at all

    I use the service regularly as I'm not very good at scheduling my life around when TV shows happen to be broadcast. This means that I'm getting far better value for money for my licence fee.

    Top Gear isn't the only BBC show worth watching, unless you have a very limited set of interests. Quite why illegally leaching shows off the internet is better than being able to watch them legally is beyond me.

    my UKNova account has been sorely neglected from the moment the iPlayer appeared.

  15. Anonymous Coward

    But wouldn't it be simpler

    Just to put the stuff on iTunes rental?

  16. Michael Warburton

    Still no linux love

    "Linux and Mac versions have been promised within two years."

    Two fricking years?!

  17. Anonymous Coward

    Flash version works

    The flash version works on firefox in linux, if i want to download stuff i use torrents or usenet.

  18. Ben Mathews

    I love that...

    The volume in the streaming iPlayer goes all the way up to 11. Louder than most applications.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton


    Top Gear == impotent mans tv.

  20. Tim J

    @David Haworth

    Thanks - I hadn't really looked into the current situation with the iPlayer, I just remembered the warnings that were issued by the TV Licensing people in the summer of '06 which stated that online viewers of the live (streaming) World Cup coverage needed a TV Licence.

    Ashley Highfield's blog post from is entirely consistent with that - i.e. under the current law the critical distinction is between 'live' and on-demand TV programmes.

    It does however create the interesting scenario that if you don't have a licence you cannot watch streaming BBC News 24 online, but can watch many of the reports that are airing on that channel via the on-demand BBC News player - indeed you cannot watch Newsnight when it goes out live online simultaneously with the BBC2 broadcast, but shortly after the programme has finished you are able to watch the whole thing on-demand online.

    If the licence fee funding model is to remain in the future (and I'm thinking here of a time when people will download HDTV programmes on-demand via an iPlayer type service), perhaps every household or premises that has a broadband connection should have to pay as well...

  21. matty

    What's all the fuss over DRM anyway?

    The DRM on the files downloaded by iPlayer is broken anyway... One quick search on the Web will throw up a number of applications that can remove the locks from any WMV file...

    That aside, I've found iPlayer very simple to use and VERY fast. It's nice to see the BBC have done something good for a change, even if they haven't really finished the job properly.

    (It's also a shame that Little Miss Jocelyn is the only thing on there I actually watch...)

  22. Anonymous John

    Couldn't even get it to work on IEthis week.

    I missed episode two of Torchwood on TV.

    The first time, iPlayer was down for routine maintenance. Then it reported problems playing it for two evenings in succession. Then it was no longer available.

    So much for the "unmissible being unmissible"... .

  23. Matt
    Thumb Down

    @Paul Fleetwood

    "Quite why illegally leaching shows off the internet is better than being able to watch them legally is beyond me."

    Because I do not have a computer that runs Windows XP SP2 32 bit (I trust you've seen the comment from the poor soul inflicted with 64bit XP)-- my computing requirements dictate the specifications for the OS that I use on my computer (and Windows XP SP2 32bit does not meet those requirements).

    Had the BBC chosen to go the standards based route then at least they would have to only worry about the server software and hardware, and trust that there will be good client applications for the viewers, regardless of the platform they run on... and they need not have wasted all this money on the iplayer client application.

    My current choices are: buy another computer just to use iplayer, go the illegal route, or just not watch the programs (in practice I seem to have taken the last choice).

  24. Anonymous Coward

    @Gavin McMenemy

    "Still no support for XP x64 "

    Well, you shouldn't use a non-mainstream platform. I don't see why BBC money should be poured into developing a plug-in for XP x64 before Linux, Mac or Acorn RISC OS

    The asbestos boiler suit please. And the welder's helmet, thank you.

  25. Anonymous Coward

    re: License Fee

    wasn't there something about people watching a football match on the internet requiring a TV license a while ago..? I need to stop getting stoned and sort my memory

  26. Anonymous Coward


    @AC "Top Gear == impotent mans tv"

    Viewing figures would suggest otherwise.

    there aint that many people that are impotent

    @Paul Fleetwood

    you must watch news, news,bitchy anne robinson, neighbours and crappy east enders then?

    and you cant mention bbc2 showing heroes, because its US, and i viewed it months before they got there arse in gear to finally show it.

  27. Steve Browne

    License fee for broadband

    You can fuck right off.

    I dont watch TV, so why should I contribute anything to them.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Kontiki works on Vista, as does iPlayer.

    You can also stream the DRMed files to an Xbox 360 to watch them on your TV.

  29. Tim J

    @Steve Browne - Re: Licence Fee

    Do you make use of any of the BBC's online services, including their News website? Do you listen to BBC radio? Indeed, do you listen to BBC radio online?

    Anyway, chill out! I was just floating an idea, one that has surely already been pondered by the BBC, Ofcom and DCMS.

  30. Oldfogey
    Thumb Up

    Broadband - no TV

    As one of the "vanishingly small number of peoplke who have broadband and no TV", I used this for the first time tonight to watch Torchwood - streamed.

    Not bad.

    The BBC website is very upfront that no TV licence is required, as this is on demand, not Broadcast.

    Whilst I imagine the majority of people who use this service will have a licence, I personally know of 4 households in the same position as me; normally I watch DVD or video, but now I can watch and decide whether to buy the DVD when it comes out.

    Personally, I think that when Digital was introduced, the opportunity should have been taken to kill the licence fee and make all tv pay per view. No compulsory subscriptions to channels, or even just programmes, you don't want (almost everything), just pay as and when for any item you do watch.

  31. Anonymous Coward

    Note to Oldfogey

    I notice you say "video"; if this is a video recorder that has a TV tuner built in; or you are using a television that has a tuner built in; you ARE liable to pay the TV license, even if you say you do not watch broadcast TV. This HAS been contested in court and the people lost; the equipment must be unable to receive broadcast signals, either because it has no tuner or because the tuner has been permanently disabled by a qualified engineer.

    How big is the fine these days???

  32. Tony Paulazzo
    Thumb Up

    New here - but...

    I've been running Vista64 and Firefox for ages and I've watched loads of 4 ondemand (it opens in its own window so I don't know if it's an IE window or not) without a problem, and I finally watched 1 BBC prog yesterday on it's streaming website, (a docu about gravity), and it appeared to work fine.

    What I dislike about these services is the proprietary software you have to install to watch the stupid things - Oh yea, and the license fee as it's basically extorted money (pay this or go to jail advertising).

    Tony F Paulazzo

  33. Martin Usher

    What is Television, anyway?

    One of those really stupid, glaringly obvious and completely unanswerable questions. I think the UK government and the BBC need to get this figured out before technology leaves them behind. They've had adequate warning -- radio sets once needed licensing but it got dropped because the sheer administrative difficulty of tracking millions of portable radio sets. TVs were left behind because they were a large, fixed, piece of equipment.......but that's not the case any more.....

  34. Oldfogey

    @ Note to Oldfogey

    I do use a video recorder, and I do not need a licence.

    I have a letter from the TV Licence people confirming that this is so. Whilst not compulsory, it makes life easier if no channels are tuned in, and there is no aerial installed, as it is more obvious that you are not watching a broadcast.

    The letter is very clear; the licence is to receive broadcasts, not to own equipment, or even to watch TV programmes. It is therefore completely legal to watch videos, and is not in breach of the licence to watch TV programmes on iplayer, or that have been recorded for you by someone else (though this, like all TV recording, is breach of copyright).

    I think the case you have in mind involved using the video recorder tuner rather than the TV tuner.

  35. Ben Mathews

    @ Ian Emery

    Actually, that's not true. I recently bought a TV to use as a second monitor for one of my PCs and I called and they said I didn't need one but that someone would come and check that the equipment wasn't connected at some point.

    Also, from the TV Licensing website:

    Q: What if I only use a TV to watch videos/DVDs/as a monitor for my games console? Do I still need a licence?

    A: You need to notify us in writing that this is the case and one of our Enforcement Officers may need to visit you to confirm that you do not need a licence.

  36. John Bailey

    Funny thing

    After all the twaddle about not supporting non Windows systems, I find that the streaming iplayer works perfectly on my Linux box every time, and even works on my N800(linux web tablet). but every time I try to use it on my Windows box, it crashes in both IE and Firefox. Nice to see the streaming version is more popular though.

  37. John
    Thumb Up

    Works on Linux !!!

    I have just watched "Have I got News for you" full screen on my TV through my Linux PC. Brilliant. BBC has finally got it's act together. Quality isn't the best, but then thats streaming for you.

    I remember trying the download service ages ago on XP and it took forever and the quality was poor. Much better to get stuff from the torrents if you want to keep it.

    I just wish that they could put match of the day on it......

  38. Matt


    Sod the licence fee issue. I want to know when they are going to address the (il)legality of only letting people who live in the UK watch the shows. As a British ex-pat I'd love to be able to watch some stuff.

  39. Vulpes Vulpes

    @ Matt

    It's not the BBC that imposes the geo IP limitation, they just implement it.

    It's the rights owners who have demanded that little inconvenience, as they wish to protect their ability to sell the content on DVD to overseas territories.

  40. Tim J

    BBC overseas

    Eh? Hold on... why exactly should people outside the UK get access to BBC content for free? They haven;t paid a licence fee after all?

    (And yes, there are a very small number of people in the UK who haven't paid a licence fee coz they don't watch 'live' broadcasts, yet can still legally watch on-demand iPlayer content - but as has already been pointed out, the number of people who currently do this is so insignificant as not to be an issue - at least for the moment).

    Making television programmes isn't some kind of new world utopian creative commons fantasy that doesn't cost anything - making television is still an expensive business. Cast, crew, presenters, editors, researchers etc etc have to be paid for, as does all the expensive kit - this isn't some charitable endeavour.

  41. Matt

    I'm sure there's an EU ruling....

    ....that states that EU nationals who reside in another country are entitled to receive television and radio broadcasts in their own language. Of course, a cursory Google search turns up nothing.

    Seeing as I never buy DVDs of TV series the rights owners are losing out with me on this one.

  42. JonD

    @Tim J

    iPlayer restricts access to certain programs if you don't have what the deem to be a UK IP address. I have this problem when over in Ireland.

    This feature prevents TV license holders from accessing programs that they have paid for when abroad.....

  43. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Let me see...

    "Quite why illegally leaching shows off the internet is better than being able to watch them legally is beyond me."

    Oh, I don't know. Better quality, not having to have that Kontiki process continually running unless you manually stop it (yes, it still does it even when you turn it off), system resources being your own again, no limit on how long you have to watch the episode, better choice in programming, none of that 'The BBC iPlayer service is unavailable, please try again later'...the list goes on. I've tried both, and frankly I wouldn't let iPlayer anywhere near my PC again.

  44. Tim J


    I think you misunderstand the EU's "Television Without Frontiers" directive, which states:


    Freedom of reception and retransmission (Article 2a)

    It is confirmed that, as a general rule, the Member States must ensure freedom of reception and must not restrict the retransmission on their territories of television broadcasts from other Member States.


    Read it carefully - it definitely does *not* state that broadcasts from one member state can be retransmitted in another member state without the permission of the broadcaster. What it is saying is that a member state cannot prevent the reception of a channel that is licensed by another member state - e.g. the UK cannot prevent Al-Jazeera English from being received in the UK, as it is licensed by the French media regulator CSA.

    Also, how on earth do you figure that the rights owners losing out if you can't see their programmes on iPlayer outside the UK - given that as a non-UK resident you are not paying the licence fee, hence you are not contributing anything to the BBC?

    In fact the rights holders would be losing out if you were able to see their programmes for free on the BBC iPlayer.

  45. John

    To all the ex-pats and jonny foreigners

    Learn about proxies

  46. Anonymous Coward

    thanks to all you license payers...

    for funding the BBC, as I don't have a license, and just leech anything I want to watch off the interweb.

    to all other non-licensees: don't let/inviteTV Licencing in without a warrant:

    1/ they're no longer the TV License authority, they're TV LIcensing Ltd, a subcontracted bunch of goons who get paid for harassing old ladies and students, and have very little authority

    2/ they have no right to invite themselves in for inspections, the burden of proof is on them, NOT on you, to prove you are or not watching *broadcast* TV

    3/ LCD panels and computers and digital receivers do not emit the signals that old CRT and analogue tuners emitted that their detector vans and handheld equipment could detect. a small DVB-T USB dongle is easily hidden, and if attached to a laptop operating on battery that belongs to a visitor who DOES have a license, then it's legal!4/ make the bastards go through the headache of getting a warrant. most of the time they won't bother unless you are taking the piss and watching broadcast TV in your front room when visible from the street.

    5/ TV licensing don't necessarily even have the right to venture on your property, not even to walk up to the front door, if you right to them and explicitly deny them the right to step one foot on your land, they must obey unless they get a warrant.

    don't succumb to the tv tax!

  47. Anonymous Coward

    Student TV Licences

    As a landlord of several student houses if you're a student living in a shared house here are some TV Licence tips for you:-

    *) If you have a joint tenancy agreement (i.e. there is one tenancy agreement for the house with everyones name on it) then you only need ONE licence for the property, end of story. If you are receiving any TV Licence mail addressed to "Room 1", "Room 2" and such like then contact the TVL to have these "addresses" removed as they do not exist. Stuff about locks on internal doors is an urban legend.

    *) If you have an individual tenancy agreement (i.e. Room x, Name n) then you need a seperate TV licence for each tenanted room which has a TV set. If a TV is supplied in the lounge/common room then the landlord must have a licence which covers this TV ONLY! (and the kitchen/any other common area if one is in there).

    *) As mentioned in the post above, should a TV licence person knock at the door you are not obliged to let them in and advised to politely decline to answer of the questions or engage in any kind of dialogue with them.

    I've seen students in a seven bedroom house shell out £948.50 for TV licences due to nasty letters from TVL when legally they only required one licecne. Above all make sure you are covered but dont get FLEECED!

  48. Anonymous Coward

    Linux and Mac versions have NOT been promised within two years.

    The article is wrong, unfortunately. The BBC Trust's *interim* conclusions of the Pubclic Value Test for the iPlayer mandated this, but the final report was watered down to a "review" every six months.

  49. Mark Hudson

    Who watches TV on their PC anyway?

    Would be nice if the BBC would work on a version that would work on TV-connected network media players and/or games consoles such as the Wii, PS3 and XBox 360. Who wants to sit in front of their PC watching a programme they missed? I'm sure they'd rather be in front of the TV that said games machine or media player is connected to.

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