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 Roundup: Apple TV
Buyer's Guide: Apple TV (Neutral)

Top Rated Comments

LiE_ Avatar
82 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
82 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
82 months ago
Why don't these guys polish it up and then sell to the BBC?
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
ncollingridge Avatar
82 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
82 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
82 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)

Popular Stories

iOS 15

Everything New in iOS 15.4 and iPadOS 15.4: Face ID With a Mask, Emojis, Apple Card Widget, Universal Control and More

Thursday January 27, 2022 12:08 pm PST by
Apple today seeded the first betas of iOS 15.4, iPadOS 15.4 to developers for testing purposes, adding a slew of new features to the latest iOS operating systems. iOS 15.4 is the biggest update that we've had to iOS 15 to date, and it brings Universal Control, Face ID with a mask, new emojis, and tons more. Face ID With a Mask With iOS 15.4, there is now an option to unlock your iPhone...
iOS 15

iOS 15.4 Adds New Emoji Like Melting Face, Biting Lip, Heart Hands, Troll and More

Thursday January 27, 2022 11:33 am PST by
With the iOS 15.4 update that was introduced today, Apple has added support for Emoji 14, introducing a selection of new emoji like melting face, biting lip, heart hands, and more. There are 37 new emoji and 75 skin tone additions in Emoji 14, resulting in a total of 112 characters. New faces include melting face, saluting face, face with open eyes and hand over mouth, face with peeking eye, ...
intel vs m1 max chip purple

Benchmarks Confirm Intel's Latest Core i9 Chip Outperforms Apple's M1 Max With Several Caveats

Wednesday January 26, 2022 8:56 am PST by
Benchmark results have started to surface for MSI's new GE76 Raider, one of the first laptops to be powered by Intel's new 12th-generation Core i9 processor. Intel previously said that its new high-end Core i9 processor is faster than Apple's M1 Max chip in the 16-inch MacBook Pro and, as noted by Macworld, early Geekbench 5 results do appear to confirm this claim, but there are several...
MAsk On Face ID iOS 15

iOS 15.4's Face ID With a Mask Feature Requires iPhone 12 or Newer

Thursday January 27, 2022 1:22 pm PST by
In today's iOS 15.4 beta that's available to developers, Apple added a useful new feature that changes the way Face ID works. There's now a Face ID with a Mask option that allows the iPhone to be unlocked when you're wearing a mask, but you need to have an iPhone 12 or newer. Right now, an iPhone can be unlocked with a mask if you have an Apple Watch for authentication to add an extra layer...
MAsk On Face ID iOS 15

iOS 15.4 Beta Lets You Use Face ID With a Mask On

Thursday January 27, 2022 10:54 am PST by
The iOS 15.4 beta that was introduced today added a new feature designed to allow Face ID to be used with a mask and without an Apple Watch for authentication. Apple says that the feature can "recognize the unique features around the eye" for authentication purposes. If you opt to use this feature during setup, you will need to rescan your face for Face ID. From there, Face ID will be able...
Apple Watch Red Yellow Green Feature 1

Apple Launches Black Unity Braided Solo Loop With 'Unity Lights' Watch Face

Wednesday January 26, 2022 6:05 am PST by
Apple today announced the Black Unity Braided Solo Loop for the Apple Watch, as well as a new downloadable watch face, to celebrate Black History Month. Following the launch of the limited edition Black Unity Apple Watch Series 6 and Sport Band in 2021, Apple today launched the Black Unity Braided Solo Loop as part of its celebrations for Black History Month this year.Apple is launching a...
ios 15

Apple Releases iOS 15.3 and iPadOS 15.3 With Fix for Safari Bug That Leaks Browsing Activity

Wednesday January 26, 2022 10:00 am PST by
Apple today released iOS 15.3 and iPadOS 15.3, the third major updates to the iOS and iPadOS 15 operating systems that were released in September 2021. iOS and iPadOS 15.3 come almost two weeks after the release of iOS and iPadOS 15.2.1, minor bug fix updates. The iOS 15.3 and iPadOS 15.3 updates can be downloaded for free and the software is available on all eligible devices over-the-air in ...
General Dropbox Feature

macOS 12.3 Will Include Cloud Storage Changes Affecting Dropbox and OneDrive

Tuesday January 25, 2022 3:31 pm PST by
Dropbox today announced that users who update to macOS 12.3 once that software version becomes available may temporarily encounter issues with opening online-only files in some third-party apps on their Mac. In a support document and an email to customers, Dropbox said it is actively working on full support for online-only files on macOS 12.3 and will begin rolling out an updated version of...