Developers Press BBC to Bring iPlayer to Apple TV by Building Their Own Proof of Concept App

Following the unveiling of the new Apple TV back in September, United Kingdom-based public service broadcaster BBC told fans on Twitter that there were "no plans currently" to develop an iPlayer app for the new platform. While the broadcaster has backtracked slightly since that time, more recently stating it doesn't "have any info to give" on the topic, with the launch of the Apple TV right around the corner, a couple of Dorset-based developers have taken the task into their own hands to prove that the app can be made with relative ease.

BBC iPlayer POC 1

Screenshot from the proof of concept iPlayer app

The BBC iPlayer app allows viewers of the popular British channel to catch up with current series and watch live TV on a smartphone or tablet. The company expanded support for the service to streaming devices like Chromecast and smart TVs last year, but never made the leap to Apple TV due to its limited SDK support and nonexistent functionality with other platforms like Android. Now, a pair of developers from Bournemouth, Dorset in the United Kingdom -- Matt Cheetham and Phillip Caudell -- have used a recent hack event to prove Apple TV support for BBC iPlayer could be implemented fairly easily by the broadcaster.


The pair took to GitHub to share the app they created, dubbed the "Auntie Player," which splits the iPlayer experience up into Home, Categories, Live, and Search tabs, with full episode lists, descriptions, and run times for each show. Cheetham and Caudell cite BBC's "disappointing response" from September as the main source of inspiration for the proof of concept app, pointing out BBC's failure to support Apple TV as a direct contradiction to its public purpose to "make engaging digital content and services available on a wide range of digital platforms and devices."

BBC iPlayer POC 2
Most impressively, the duo planned, coded, and completed the app in under nine hours at the "Hack to the Future" event in Bournemouth over the weekend. As they note in the GitHub post, the two won't be submitting the app to the App Store, but they wanted to showcase "what can be achieved with the tvOS platform and the BBC's amazing content."

The app we're publishing here was built in just under 9 hours at a hack event to prove it could be done. It's by no means complete or perfect, and it's very much a proof of concept. It's our hope the BBC will release an official app for Apple TV, as they've made iPlayer available on a wide range of other set-top boxes and Smart TVs.

Check out the developers' full suite of source code for Auntie Player on GitHub, along with an array of screenshots and more of the reasoning behind sharing their creation with the public.

With Apple's new tvOS developer tools for the fourth-generation Apple TV, the platform is now open to all developers, significantly broadening the potential for Apple's set-top box beyond the locked-down content provider model that has existed until now. Just yesterday, Apple CEO Tim Cook reiterated his thoughts that the television experience needs to be reinvented and that apps are the way to do it.

Related Roundups: Apple TV, tvOS 14
Buyer's Guide: Apple TV (Don't Buy)

Top Rated Comments

LiE_ Avatar
70 months ago
I won't be getting the new ATV until all the catch up services are available. It's a minimum requirement in the UK.
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
nightcap965 Avatar
70 months ago
I understand that the British pay for the BBC through their television tax, and do not expect that they would give their American cousins access to iPlayer without charge, but surely there must be some way to make it a pay service. I would love greater access to British television.
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
kemperman Avatar
70 months ago
Why don't these guys polish it up and then sell to the BBC?
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
ncollingridge Avatar
70 months ago
Wait, these Brits literally have to pay a TV tax. They should be able to watch programming on every and any device they want. I can't see any logical reason why BBC would NOT be developing an app.
Better a "TV tax" as you put it than the rubbish that passes for broadcast TV in the states. At least our broadcast TV is thoroughly excellent, and on the BBC without ads in addition. To put it in perspective, because everyone (almost) pays the BBC subscription it only costs about £12 per month. Sky on the other hand, that produces virtually no original programming, is typically in the region of £30+ per month. I know which model I prefer!
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
phillipcaudell Avatar
70 months ago
One thing I noticed is the speed of playback... I wonder if that was edited or really fast due to some other reasons? That seemed impressive.

Or maybe I have a lame connection here and just expect everyone else gets a 5-10 second buffer lag before playback? :)
Hey, one of the developers here.

No editing: it really is that fast! The stream will start off low quality and quickly ramp up to full 1080 quality. We've also skipped out the idents which the website adds at the start of each video, which slows things down.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
mikejobson Avatar
70 months ago
I also enjoy the differences in language such as "colour" vs "color" or "boot" vs "trunk" :D.
ALUMINIUM .
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

microsoft edge ios android

Bill Gates Says His Preference for Android Over iPhone is Due to Pre-Installed Software

Friday February 26, 2021 3:35 am PST by
Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates this week participated in his first meeting on Clubhouse, the increasingly popular invite-only conversation app, where he fielded a range of questions as part of an ongoing book tour. Gates was interviewed by journalist Andrew Ross Sorkin, and given that the Clubhouse app is currently only available on iOS, naturally one of the questions that came up was...
First Look Big Sur Feature2

Apple Releases macOS Big Sur 11.2.2 to Prevent MacBooks From Being Damaged by Third-Party Non-Compliant Docks

Thursday February 25, 2021 10:07 am PST by
Apple today released macOS Big Sur 11.2.2, the fourth update to the macOS Big Sur operating system that launched in November. macOS Big Sur 11.2.2 comes two weeks after the release of macOS Big Sur 11.2.1, a bug fix update. The new ‌‌‌‌macOS Big Sur‌‌‌ 11.2.2‌ update can be downloaded for free on all eligible Macs using the Software Update section of System Preferences....
flat mbp 14 inch feature yellow

Redesigned 14-Inch MacBook Pro Expected to Feature Brighter Mini-LED Display With Slimmer Bezels and More

Thursday February 25, 2021 7:48 am PST by
Apple plans to unveil new 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro models with Mini-LED-backlit displays in the second half of this year, according to industry sources cited by Taiwanese supply chain publication DigiTimes. The report claims that Radiant Opto-Electronics will be the exclusive supplier of the Mini-LED backlight units, while Quanta Computer is said to be tasked with final assembly of the...
jon prosser imac 2021colors

Prosser: 2021 iMac to Come in Five Colors, Apple Silicon Mac Pro to Resemble 'Stacked' Mac Minis

Wednesday February 24, 2021 7:26 am PST by
Hit-and-miss leaker Jon Prosser has today alleged that the upcoming 2021 iMac models will offer five color options, mirroring the colors of the fourth-generation iPad Air, and revealed a number of additional details about the Mac Pro with Apple Silicon. In a new video on YouTube channel FrontPageTech, Prosser explained that the redesigned iMacs will come featuring options for Silver, Space ...
steam apple logo

Valve Ordered to Give Apple Information on 436 Steam Games As Part of Epic Games Legal Case

Thursday February 25, 2021 1:50 am PST by
Valve, the makers behind popular game distribution platform Steam, will be forced to hand over aggregate historical sales, price, and other information on 436 games hosted on the store to Apple, as part of the Apple vs. Epic Games antitrust case. As reported in a paywalled report by Law360, during a virtual discovery hearing on Wednesday, U.S. Magistrate Judge Thomas S. Hixson ordered that...
apple store macarthur center

Apple Store at MacArthur Center in Virginia Permanently Closing Following Years of Safety Issues at Shopping Mall

Thursday February 25, 2021 4:45 pm PST by
Apple today indicated that its retail store at the MacArthur Center shopping mall in Norfolk, Virginia will be permanently closing after over 14 years of business, although an exact closure date has yet to be announced by the company. Apple has assured that it will be offering all employees at the store other positions within Apple, and said that it looks forward to continuing to serve...
m1 mac mini

M1 Mac Users Report Excessive SSD Wear

Tuesday February 23, 2021 7:07 am PST by
Over the past week, some M1 Mac users have been reporting alarming SSD health readings, suggesting that these devices are writing extraordinary amounts of data to their drives (via iMore). Across Twitter and the MacRumors forums, users are reporting that M1 Macs are experiencing extremely high drive writes over a short space of time. In what appear to be the most severe cases, M1 Macs are sai...
apple refurbished m1 mac mini

Apple Begins Selling Refurbished M1 Mac Mini

Thursday February 25, 2021 6:42 pm PST by
Apple today began selling certified refurbished Mac mini models with the M1 chip for the first time in the United States and Canada, with prices discounted by approximately 15 percent compared to brand new models as usual. For example, a refurbished Mac mini with the M1 chip, 256GB of SSD storage, and 16GB of unified memory is available for $759, compared to $899 brand new. Other custom...
qualcomm snapdragon x60 5g

iPhone 13 Lineup Expected to Use Qualcomm's Snapdragon X60 Modem With Several 5G Improvements

Wednesday February 24, 2021 8:10 am PST by
Apple's next-generation iPhone 13 lineup will use Qualcomm's Snapdragon X60 5G modem, with Samsung to handle manufacturing of the chip, according to DigiTimes. Built on a 5nm process, the X60 packs higher power efficiency into a smaller footprint compared to the 7nm-based Snapdragon X55 modem used in iPhone 12 models, which could contribute to longer battery life. With the X60 modem, iPhone...
2021 mbp sd slot feature2

Kuo: New MacBook Pro Models With HDMI Port and SD Card Reader to Launch Later This Year

Monday February 22, 2021 8:52 pm PST by
Apple plans to release two new MacBook Pro models equipped with an HDMI port and SD card reader in the second half of 2021, according to analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who outlined his expectations in a research note obtained by MacRumors. The return of an SD card reader was first reported by Bloomberg's Mark Gurman last month. "We predict that Apple's two new MacBook Pro models in 2H21 will have...