BBC calls out Apple over iPlayer DRM drama

The BBC has announced that content downloaded to Windows Media PCs using its iPlayer service can now be side-loaded to a growing family of compatible devices – and stormed at Apple’s reluctance to share its DRM as reason for the lack of feature parity for Mac and iPhone users.

The news means video can be played on any mobile device that supports Windows Media digital rights management. The BBC has assembled a list of compatible devices.

To use the feature users simply select a new ‘for media players’ option when downloading content using the iPlayer service, it can then be pulled across to the device. The BBC will in future iPlayer content available for the Nokia N96.

The broadcaster offered a little joy for Apple users: “Currently, sideloading is available for Window Media DRM-compatible devices only, which also means that you’ll need to do the download from a Windows PC. For our Mac and Linux users, don’t despair: we have another release coming up very soon, aimed at improving your BBC iPlayer options – stay tuned for updates.”

Mac users have been annoyed since iPlayer first reached public beta that while Windows users are able to download content for playback, Mac users are confined to streaming content only.

Anthony Rose, head of the online media at BBC Future Media and Technology explains: “Unfortunately, Apple keeps its DRM technology close to its chest and has so far not licensed that technology to third parties. This means that as of today, it’s not technically possible for us to make rights-protected BBC iPlayer programmes available for download from the iPlayer website in a format compatible with Apple devices.

“That’s a major missing piece for us and a disappointment for Apple device owners, so please know that this has our full attention.”

The BBC iPlayer team looks forward to working with them, as well as other device manufacturers and future technology partners, to make BBC iPlayer even more widely available, and continue to improve the BBC iPlayer experience.

8 thoughts on “BBC calls out Apple over iPlayer DRM drama

  1. Reginald W, Edmonton, AB CANADA

    Wonder who the BBC are going to call out on Linux for not licencing the Linux DRM so the BBC can use it for iPlayer. Wonder how close to their chest the Linux DRM is held. 😀

  2. Jon T

    Giving the BBC the keys to Fairplay would certainly end in it falling into Microsoft’s hands.

    The last time Apple allowed that to happen, they got stuffed and Microsoft made Windows… So I don’t blame Apple at all.

    The question for the BBC is why they should be paranoid about content made for portable players. Fair enough if it was HD, but it’s not. So why not let the handheld viewing go out DRM free?

  3. Jeremy

    But the BBC are quite happy to sell their shows on iTunes…which means they are using Fairplay for that. It is ridiculous. I presume Windows Media DRM is platform specific. iTunes and Fairplay works on both platforms. So who made the error in judgement – and who is helping the Windows monopoly? Auntie Beeb. Well done.

  4. AdamC

    What DRM is BBC talking about, they can release all their stuffs in H.264, pardon my ignorance, they need the DRM because they want to make a quick buck.

  5. Robert Hancock

    If you want to download and copy to other devices use iPlayer Downloader 2.0 or later. Works a treat.

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