The BBC has revealed that it’s tinkering away at a version of iPlayer for the new Apple TV – but it won’t be available from launch.
The near-universally available catch-up service, which gives viewers up to 30 days to watch old BBC programmes, was notably absent from the list of launch services Apple has talked up – UK buyers will get to watch iTunes content when it goes on sale later this week.
But while repeats of Strictly Come Dancing won’t be immediately available to stream, the BBC has announced that a tvOS-compatible version of iPlayer will be hitting the wires ‘soon’.
It’s virtually unheard of for a new streaming platform to launch in the UK without BBC iPlayer on board.
A possible reason for the late launch is the service-agnostic search and recommendations tool of the new Apple TV. Like Roku’s mini streamers, the new Apple TV will let you search across multiple platforms instead of opening and closing discrete apps. In theory, this will let you search for, say, science fiction shows and be recommended District 9 alongside episodes of Doctor Who.
Since 2013, BBC developers have been working on a single connected TV platform which basically lets them roll out updates to iPlayer across multiple services, like YouView, Fire TV, PlayStation 4 and many more.
Instead of just bolting on the standard HTML5-based iPlayer onto Apple TV, it’s though that developers are working on integrating the new voice search tool.
The BBC’s director-general Tony Hall has declined to put a finger on release date for the new service but mentioned that it’d be live within ‘the coming months’ – hopefully this means late 2015.
“Available on over 10,000 devices, BBC iPlayer is one of the biggest and best on-demand video services in the world, and has transformed how UK audiences watch programmes online,” Hall added.
“I am delighted that iPlayer will be coming to the new Apple TV in the coming months, helping to bring the BBC’s distinctive and loved content to an even wider audience.”