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BFI Player coming to desktops and tablets

The browser-based BFI Player will launch on October 9. 

Over 1,000 titles from the British Film Institute vaults will be available anywhere to anyone with an internet connection. 

The streaming service, available at player.bfi.org.uk, will offer a range of free and paid content. Most of the films, around 60 per cent, will be free to view, with the rest available on a pay-per-view basis. 

Costs for paid features will vary. Archive titles will cost £2.50 for SD films and £3.50 for HD titles while short films will cost just £1. 

BFI Player coming to desktops and tablets
The new BFI Player logo and URL

As well as making content from the BFI’s library available, premieres of upcoming films and events will be available to watch. The recently restored 1924 film Epic of Everest will be screened for the first time at the BFI’s London Film Festival on October 18, and BFI Player will have it on the day of release. 

Upcoming drama The Selfish Giant, which premieres on October 25, will be available on BFI Player on the day of release. Same day release titles are expected to cost £10, with prices expected to fall after cinematic runs have finished. 

The BFI wants to use the new app as a way of premiering future titles, breaking specialist cinema out of the confines of its Southbank centre and into people’s living rooms. 

At a press briefing this morning, BFI Chairman Greg Dyke said that the launch of BFI Player means that everyone across the UK will now have access to the widest choice of film, saying that he hopes to replicate the success of the BBC iPlayer

“The iPlayer, which was planned when I was still at the BBC, launched six years ago. It’s one of those technologies that you can’t imagine what life was like before you had it. It has transformed broadcasting. It was a public service intervention that enriched the lives of millions The BFI Player has the potential to do the same for film all across the UK.”

Other content available from launch includes films and shorts spread across seven different channels, including classic horror films, cult films along with everything you can currently access on the Samsung Smart TV app

All content will be available in HD, where possible. The BFI Player will use adaptive streaming, so the quality of the stream you’ll get will be dependent on your current broadband speed and network congestion. That said, we understand that a speed of around 4Mbps will be adequate to watch BFI Player content in SD, and 8Mbps to comfortably watch Full HD 1080p streams. 

The service is browser-based and will work on most devices. While mobile support has not been explicitly confirmed, devices with large, high resolution screens like the HTC One and Samsung Galaxy Note 3 should be able to access the service easily. 

Edward Humphrey, the BFI’s director of digital said that there were no solid plans to launch dedicated mobile OS apps yet, but mentioned that the BFI was looking at developing a service for other platforms. 

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