Tuesday, September 6, 2011

iPlayer comes to France!

No I haven’t forgotten that we only talked about iPlayer in France a couple of months ago – even my aging memory can remember that far back.
But dreams can become reality and you can now watch everything from Doctor Who to Absolutely Fabulous in your own little corner of France – and many other countries in western Europe*.
I just received a press release about the ‘iplayer coming to France’ and since lots of people are interested I’m pleased to pass on the details (quotes from the press release are in italics).
“allow millions of Brits living abroad to experience the pleasure of home away from home through a rich archive of classic and contemporary British programmes”
This is the  ‘iplayer, jim, but not as we know it’. There are important differences between this service and the iplayer that UK residents are familiar with:
1) the international iplayer is an ipad application – so if you don’t have an ipad yet either buy one (recommended option) or forget about the iplayer in France for the time being
“Brand-new video-on-demand subscription service...means that Brits abroad can reminisce with classic comedies such as Fawlty Towers and Only Fools and Horses, share the adventures of Doctor Who…”

Watch TV in a hotel without wifi
The reference to ‘subscription service’ might have alerted that this service isn’t free – you are going to have to shell out seven euros a month (or 50 euros a year if you prefer)
“Discover and explore imaginatively crafted themed collections curated from the extensive BBC archives, or simply enjoy seeing recent episodes of their favourite soaps such as Eastenders!”

3) The ipad iplayer application is not a ‘TV on demand’ system as in the UK where programmes from the last seven days can be watched. Rather it will offer a wide range of programs covering lots of different subjects and categories (they specify Entertainment; Drama; Comedy; Science & Nature; Family & Kids; Music & Culture and Lifestyle)
Clearly this is the great appeal of the iplayer app. Being sourced by the BBC there will be an enormous amount of great programmes to choose from which makes it all very tempting.
Hours of new programming will be added to the service every week along with imaginatively themed collections curated from the BBC’s extensive archive, including David Attenborough and the story of the Royal Family.
Another particular advantage – if you know you will be in a place without wifi – a train or a dodgy hotel for example – you can download your chosen programmes in advance and watch them wherever you like.
Personally I think this is a very big plus, given the number of times I’ve found myself in hotel rooms twiddling my thumbs because the wifi doesn’t work!
Overall I’m a bit surprised that it is being marketed as ‘iplayer in Europe’ given the important differences but it sounds like a very good idea all the same.

Darcy can’t decide – can you?
Indeed I could almost think they’d got the idea from my earlier blog where I said “if there are lots of people willling to pay for an ‘illegal’ monthly subscription to watch iplayer why not allow them just to pay the BBC directly and have an ‘approved’ connection?”.
But are there lots of expats willing to pay seven euros a month for the service? I have to say I have no idea. Most of the expats we know haven’t exactly got loads of money to throw around, but we probably mix with the wrong types!
I would have preferred the app to be ‘free but with adverts in the programmes’ myself, or to have a ‘try it free for three months’ option to see what I’m getting for my money before signing up to any monthly subscription.
Meanwhile Mrs B has pinched my ipad this week so I can’t check it out in more detail until the weekend – and I suspect there is nothing to download unless I sign up for a subscription first anyway – but you can find all the details and download information at www.bbc.com/iplayer/tv.
*Available in most countries in western Europe at the moment – the bbc international iplayer is currently available in Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, The Republic of Ireland, The Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and Switzerland.
(Photos above all copyright BBC)

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