BBC iPlayer on Xbox 360 from today, for free

BBC iPlayer is now on the Xbox 360, bringing voice and motion control through Microsoft's Kinect sensor bar.

Luke Westaway
Luke Westaway Senior editor
Luke Westaway is a senior editor at CNET and writer/ presenter of Adventures in Tech, a thrilling gadget show produced in our London office. Luke's focus is on keeping you in the loop with a mix of video, features, expert opinion and analysis.
2 min read

The iPlayer has arrived on the Xbox 360, bringing video streaming from the BBC direct to your console, for free.

Word of iPlayer's imminent arrival on Microsoft's machine was doing the rounds last week, and those rumours have now been proved true. The app will be rolling out to Xbox consoles in the UK from today, though I've been informed it may take a few days for the app to appear on your dashboard. If you don't see it yet, it should be there soon.

Once installed, the app delivers Auntie's catch-up service, with the option for HD playback. What's more, it packs voice and motion-control using the console's Kinect sensor bar. I've tried this out and it works well, letting you bark the names of TV shows tiled on screen to select them, or spout commands like "HD on" to change the quality.

The app can be navigated without picking up a remote by waving your arms around to indicate what you want to select. You can skip to a particular part of a TV show by dragging the playback bar across the screen and yanking your arm downward to confirm the start point. Nifty.

There's no option to download programmes to watch later, unfortunately, so for now your options are limited to streaming. Fans of crowding around the wireless will be dismayed to hear there's no radio on the app at present, though I'm told it will be coming later this year.

Most impressive is that unlike all other UK video services on the Xbox, you don't need to be paying for Xbox Live Gold to get the iPlayer app. That's because as the loyal license-fee paying public, we've already splashed out for the service.

It was reported donkey's years ago that iPlayer's need to be free was a bone of contention between Microsoft and the Beeb. I'm glad the service has finally arrived as it moves the Xbox closer to being a comprehensive source of TV and movies.

The iPlayer was born on computers, but the BBC told me that one-in-four requests made to iPlayer last year came from a device hooked up to a TV. That includes Virgin Media as well as gear like smart TVs, set-top boxes and games consoles.

iPlayer now squats on all three major gaming machines, with the Nintendo Wii and Sony PlayStation 3 making up that geeky triumvirate.

Do you watch TV on your Xbox? Or do you get your fill of Upstairs Downstairs via some other channel? Let me know in the comments, or over on our Facebook wall.