iPlayer downloads for Mac this month?

There’s been a whole hoo-hah about the BBC making it possible to download its TV shows to Mac and Linux computers – now it seems the broadcaster may be moving to launch the service, which is already available on Windows, and the launch could come this month, if a report’s to be believed.

The broadcaster has frequently gone on the record to say that it wants to make it possible to download shows from iPlayer to the Mac, but has castigated Apple for refusing to license FairPlay to the corporation in order to easily achieve this.

Macs are capable streaming clients for iPlayer content – indeed, a report claims the Beeb notes that 90 per cent of traffic through the catch-up TV service is streaming only. But what’s nice about downloads of shows is that you can watch them on or offline to your heart’s content…

Well, technically you get to watch the shows for the time period allowed by the BBC. The BBC requires DRM in order to make shows available for download because its broadcasting and licensing rights mean it must actively protect the content in order to preserve copyright for programme makers. While the BBC could potentially liberate those shows it produces in-house, many shows are commissioned from outside the organisation.

That need to protect the content is what has prevented the BBC offering downloads to the Mac, and the lack of cooperation in achieving parity for the Mac is a direct result of Apple’s failure to license FairPlay. Though to be fair, Apple is at least consistent – it won’t license FairPlay anywhere.

There may be a light at the end of the tunnel for square-eyed Mac users, though, as a report on the matter from GigaOm notes, “The BBC has similarly high hopes for the much-rumored Mac version of the iPlayer that is going to be released later this month.”

Does this mean Mac support is definite? Well, given the furore surrounding Google’s voice-activated search application for the iPhone (is it real or isn’t it? Will it ship or won’t it?), we’re taking a reserved position and do hope the GigaOm report is accurate.

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