Neil Turner's Blog

Blogging about technology and randomness since 2002

The new BBC iPlayer Downloads app

Screenshot of BBC iPlayer Downloads on OS X

Last week, the BBC unveiled a new version of its desktop iPlayer client, now called ‘BBC iPlayer Downloads’. For the first time, it doesn’t require Adobe’s AIR framework to be installed.

This will hopefully prevent a repeat of a problem encountered last November, when an update to AIR completely broke the old BBC iPlayer app. That required users to downgrade to an older version, and then ignore the various nagging messages until a fix was deployed. It also resulted in downloads being deleted, meaning that users would have to retrieve old downloads from backups.

However, a peek inside the application bundle on my Mac revealed that it includes a runtime version of Adobe AIR. So it looks like it still uses it. But, you can safely uninstall the separate AIR framework and BBC iPlayer will still run with no problems.

The new app is much simpler than before and a number of features have been removed. These include ‘Series Record’ which automatically downloaded new episodes, and the ability to change the window size, amongst others. Whilst it is a shame that Series Record has gone, I always found it to be buggy and sometimes ended up with phantom programmes. The new app now just focusses on the core tasks of downloading and watching, making it easier to use.

I’m pleased to be able to get rid of Adobe AIR and I’m okay with the simplified nature of the new BBC Player client. But I can understand the frustrations of those who used the features which are no longer present.


  1. It just doesn’t work. I get about 12Mb and it just stops downloading saying there is an error. I’ve tried 2 different laptops.

    • I get same problem since around Christmas using Windows 7. Have contacted BBC and followed all suggestions (reinstall this browser, try that browser, reinstall iplayer downloads etc etc) but no joy. Seems like more people are having same problems so hopefully BBC will resolve ….eventually.
      Anyone any ideas what I could try next?