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Global BBC iPlayer app arrives in Europe, puts archive Auntie in iPad

iPlayer is now available in Europe, via an iPad app stuffed full of classic BBC telly -- which differs from the iPlayer we know and love in a few crucial ways.

iPlayer is available in Europe from today, via an iPad app stuffed full of classic BBC telly. Fawlty Towers, Top Gear and Doctor Who are among the programmes available through the Global iPlayer app, which differs from the iPlayer we know and love in a few crucial ways.

The Global iPlayer app, announced in December, "looks and feels similar to the UK iPlayer, but functions in a different way". International viewers pay a monthly subscription, and instead of the seven-day catch-up service we're familiar with, the app will showcase selected BBC shows, old and new.

An editorial team will curate shows by genre, seasons, or themes, involving classic and popular shows such as Only Fools and Horses, Sherlock and EastEnders. There'll be about 1,500 hours of programming initially, with 100 hours of new programmes added each month. Different countries will also be offered different shows.

Auntie's global family

BBC Worldwide probably has sound commercial reasons for curating content like this, but if we were foreign we'd want proper access to the iPlayer catch-up service -- and as Brits, we'd certainly love a crack at all that lovely archive stuff. Just think of all the classics in the BBC vault!

It's clear from even a glance at Twitter that the communal nature of telly-watching is now global. People in different countries want to watch and discuss telly at the same time -- and when we can't, we're more likely to turn to piracy. Nobody wants to wait six months for the new series of Sons of Anarchy or Breaking Bad or Doctor Who. Sky Atlantic reckons showing programmes such as Game of Thrones at roughly the same time as its US broadcast cuts down significantly on piracy.

Still, we love the Beeb, we love iPlayer, and we're glad to see its rich back catalogue of classic television earning money for the future of the Big British Castle.

Downloading Del Boy

European viewers will get one other feature not available in the UK iPad app: the ability to download stuff to watch when you're away from an Internet connection. Downloaded content can be kept as long as you keep paying your subscription. Brits can download from the desktop version of iPlayer, but not in the iPad app.

An iPhone launch is possible before the end of the year, but other platforms such as Android tablets and phones are a long way off. British holidaymakers also won't be able to use the app while on 'olidays abroad.

The global iPlayer launches in 11 European countries, as a trial before a proper global launch by the end of year. So if you own an iPad and live in Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, the Republic of Ireland, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain or Switzerland, this is your chance to get acquainted with the best of British.

Laugh? I nearly paid my licence fee

The app costs €7 (£6) per month, or you can go for an annual subscription costing €50 (£44), roughly a third of the licence fee. The Euros earned will supplement licence-fee income. The Beeb hasn't said when US viewers will have access to the service.

Flicking over to the other side, ITV yesterday announced it will try micropayments for online telly in the UK at the end of the year, to see what people are prepared to pay for -- and how much. Stuff you'll have to stump up for will include bonus content such as webisodes, while the ITV Player catch-up service will remain free.

Are you foreign? Are you excited about Auntie on your iPad? Tell us your thoughts in the comments section below or on our Facebook page.

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