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What's the difference between Downloads, Podcasts and Streaming?


A download is a full radio programme which you can download onto your phone or tablet. Downloading a programme means you can save it on your device so that you can listen to it when you're not connected to the internet.

On a phone or tablet, you can download most of our programmes to listen to again via the BBC iPlayer Radio app. Downloads are not yet available on computers and laptops or via the BBC iPlayer Radio website (but you can download podcasts on your computer - we'll explain this below). It's not yet possible to download on the BBC Sounds app, but this is coming soon.

Downloads are subject to rights restrictions and so are only available for a set period of time. In most cases this will be 30 days but some downloads, mostly sports events, may only be available for shorter periods or not at all.

You can download content directly from the episode page by clicking on the icon that looks like this:

 Download Button


A podcast is an edited piece of radio content which you can download on your computer, laptop, mobile or tablet (they're also available on some internet radios). Podcasts can be complete programmes or they can be edited extracts or highlights from the programme (such as ‘5 Live In Short’) - that's what makes them different to downloads.

Unlike downloads, most podcasts don't expire and are yours to keep. However, not all content is available as a podcast.

Podcasts can be downloaded as an MP3 file from our Podcast site. You can also subscribe to podcasts from a series so they arrive on your device automatically as soon as they're available. If you're using our BBC Sounds app, you can only stream podcasts at present as downloading is not yet available (but this will be coming soon).

Find out more about podcasts on our What is a Podcast? FAQ. 


Streaming a programme means listening to it online, i.e. without downloading it. You can stream a programme by finding it on the BBC iPlayer Radio website, BBC iPlayer Radio app, or BBC Sounds app and pressing Play. 

You can also stream content from our live station links as well as from an episode page when catching up. Streaming works by playing the content a bit at a time so it is possible that playback might be interrupted if you have problems with your internet connection.

Check our How do I use BBC iPlayer Radio? FAQ for more advice on getting the most out of BBC iPlayer Radio.

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