How to get the best from BBC iPlayer

Love watching telly on your tablet? Get the best from the iPlayer app with our top tips

20 Jan 2017

The iPlayer – as well-known as Yorkshire Tea? 

The phrase ‘to iPlayer it’ is part of everyday language.

Whether you’re watching EastEnders in the staff room, or the weekend football on a weeknight, the catch-up service has transformed how we watch telly.

We’ve watched (literally) billions of programmes from the iPlayer, with 69.3M requests in just 1 week (between Christmas and New Year). Of course, the rise of superfast broadband, and tablets and phones with sharp screens have helped.

No wonder it’s one of Britain’s best-loved brands, named alongside Yorkshire Tea and Dyson in a YouGov survey.

Now the BBC wants to make it the top online TV service in the UK by 2020. Director General Tony Hall outlined the plans, and commentators suggest we could soon see more series released in their entirety on the iPlayer to take it beyond catch-up TV.

In the meantime, here’s how to get the best from it… 

BBC iPlayer 

1. Master the ‘love’ button

Always looking for something new to watch? Get tailor-made recommendations by showing your love. Press the heart icon when you’ve enjoyed a show – in the same way you would on, say, YouTube or Facebook.

Personalised recommendations of shows you might like based on the programmes you love are then sent your way.

2. Peruse the bestseller list

Are you a sucker for a bestseller list? The BBC has compiled one of its most loved iPlayer shows. It’s based on shows that have had the most presses of the heart icon.

EastEnders made the top spot, with The Apprentice featuring in the top 10. But among some of the more unexpected entries, CBBC drama The Next Step came in at number 2. The list of most-loved shows.

3. Watch live TV as well as catch-up

As long as you’ve got a TV licence you can also watch live programmes via iPlayer. Simply select the TV Guide options to see what’s on. 

And if you’ve missed those crucial first five minutes, most shows can be restarted, meaning you can get up to speed with what’s happening.BBC iPlayer

4. Catch up on TV when you’re offline      

You don’t have to be online all the time to enjoy the iPlayer app. 

When you’re browsing online, choose the download option to save programmes to your phone or tablet.

This allows you to watch whenever you want – even when you’re out and about and don’t have an internet connection


5. Watch TV in Full HD with a sharp-screened tablet

As tablets have become more about streaming TV shows and movies and playing games, their screens have got better.

Do your screen justice by watching the iPlayer shows in high definition. Just select HD when you’re watching.


6. Keep your favourites close

Use the favourites function to get quick access to the programmes you watch again and again. All you have to do to choose Add to favourites, and the programme will appear in your My Favourites folder.

Find the right tablet for your iPlayer binges

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