Q&A: BBC iPlayer outside the UK

Q I downloaded an excellent BBC drama to send to an American friend in Italy, as he says that he cannot watch it on iPlayer. When I try to play the movie here Flip4Mac complains that its WMV DRM is unable to play the protected content. How can I help my friend to watch this movie?

A The best way is to locate a European-region DVD and send that to him, as he will be unable to play this protected content, at least until the BBC adds Italy to the list of permitted countries for iPlayer. This is documented here.

It appears that the only app which can play downloaded encrypted BBC content, such as this movie, is iPlayer. When launched, it checks whether your current IP address is in the UK, and whether the movie was downloaded to a UK IP address. As a concession to those from the UK who take portable devices overseas, it will also play legitimately downloaded programmes anywhere in the world for the first 30 days after the original programme was broadcast.

Only when it satisfies itself that you are within the BBC’s terms and conditions will it decrypt the content and play the movie, and you can be fairly certain that unless current rules become more liberal, your American friend will be unable to watch that movie in Italy, or in the US.

Updated from the original, which was first published in MacUser volume 29 issue 7, 2013.