Programmes - Availability
On BBC iPlayer you’ll find a selection of programmes from most BBC TV channels and radio stations.
To make a programme available on BBC iPlayer, we need to get the necessary rights. The rights to make a programme available for streaming are different from those for downloading. We aim to acquire both, but sometimes we can only get the rights for streaming. So not all programmes are available for download.
How long are programmes available on BBC iPlayer?
Programmes are generally available for up to 30 days after broadcast. But there are some exceptions:
- If a programme is repeated during those 30 days, we normally extend its availability.
- Some news bulletin programmes and Crimewatch are only available for 24 hours after broadcast.
- Some current affair programmes, such as HARDtalk, Click and Panorama, are available for 365 days after broadcast via your desktop computer. These may be available for a shorter period on other platforms.
- Some programmes in BBC Four Collections are available for a fixed period of more than 30 days. Others are available forever.
- BBC iPlayer Exclusives (programmes that are only available on iPlayer, not on any broadcast channels) are available for at least 30 days, sometimes longer.
Why are some programmes still only available for seven days?
We always aim to offer all our programmes to stream on iPlayer for 30 days. However, for legal reasons this isn’t always possible.
Why isn’t “Series catch-up” available any more?
We've decided to phase out series catch-up for TV programmes to make way for a more straightforward 30-day availability period.
Downloading programmes with BBC iPlayer Downloads
Most TV programmes are available to download from BBC iPlayer for up to seven days after broadcast. Once you’ve downloaded a programme, you have up to 30 days to play the programme. And once you’ve hit play you have up to seven days to finish watching it.
For programmes broadcast on or after the end of November the availability period for downloads has been extended to a straightforward 30 days.
When do programmes become available on BBC iPlayer?
We try to make programmes available on iPlayer as soon as possible after broadcast. For programmes that aren’t pre-recorded, it can take a while to process them and put them on iPlayer, sometimes up to three or four times the duration of the programme itself.
If you can’t find a programme straight after broadcast, please check again later.
If you still can’t find a programme a few hours after broadcast…
If a programme still doesn’t appear after a few hours, and it’s not listed as “Available shortly”, this probably means we don’t have the necessary rights to make it available on iPlayer.
Why aren’t some programmes available on BBC iPlayer?
Due to the cost involved, we can’t acquire the rights for every programme we broadcast. Sometimes we’ll only be able to acquire the rights to stream a programme, but not to download it.
Types of programme that may not be available on BBC iPlayer
Here are some of the types of programmes that can be subject to rights restrictions:
Film and sport – Sometimes rights agreements mean sporting events are only available for streaming on BBC iPlayer (not for downloading). In some programmes, like A Question of Sport, we may have to remove sporting footage for which we haven’t been able to acquire the rights.
Imported programmes – Programmes from overseas may not be available because our agreement with the rights holder doesn’t extend to putting them on BBC iPlayer.
Some radio programmes – You can listen to nearly all radio programmes from the past 30 days on BBC iPlayer Radio. However, there are some exceptions, particularly if you’re outside the UK, and especially if a programme contains sports coverage.
Specific episodes in a series – Very occasionally, certain episodes from a series may not be available while others are. This is because we haven’t been able to acquire the rights for those individual episodes.
News Magazine Programmes – Some news magazine programmes (BBC Breakfast for example) are unavailable in iPlayer for rights reasons.
Are News programmes available for longer than the usual 30 days?
Some current affair programmes, such as HARDtalk, Click and Panorama, are available for 365 days after broadcast via your desktop computer. On other platforms, however, these programmes are only available for 30 days.
Older news content is available in text form, with audio and video where relevant, on the BBC News website.
Availability of programmes from BBC Four Collections
BBC Four Collections select classic full-length programmes from the BBC archives and make them available online.
Some programmes in BBC Four Collections are available for a fixed period of more than 30 days. Others are available forever.
Most programmes in BBC Four Collections will only play on desktop computers. Some, however like the Great War Interviews and Post-War Architecture Collections, are also available on mobiles and tablets.
For details on the process that produces video content for BBC iPlayer do visit the BBC Internet Blog.