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Media Streamers

BBC iPlayer finally coming to Apple TV

An iPlayer app will fill the BBC-shaped hole in the lineup for Apple's tarted-up media streamer.

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BBC iPlayer will find a new home on Apple's latest home entertainment device.

BBC

For as long as Apple TV has been around in the UK, it has had one major problem: no BBC iPlayer.

All that is now set to change, as the BBC confirmed on Thursday that its catch-up and on-demand services will finally be available on Apple's home entertainment box.

The new version of Apple TV is on sale now in the UK, starting at £129, and while iPlayer won't be immediately available on the set-top box, the BBC has confirmed it will be "coming soon".

iPlayer is a crucial addition to Apple's UK app offering, and could make all the difference to the success of the refreshed device in the UK by providing access to the likes of "The Great British Bake Off" and "EastEnders". Apple TV owners have been frustrated in the past over iPlayer's no-show, especially given that it is available on every rival platform, including Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Google's Chromecast and multiple games consoles. Apple will now be able to compete with these devices on a more level playing field.

Previous versions of Apple TV did allow video to be streamed from the iPlayer app on other Apple devices to the box using its AirPlay streaming system. The new Apple TV is a very different beast, however, running dedicated software called TVOS. It's beneficial for the BBC to have its own native app for TVOS, as one of the features of the software allows you to simultaneously search across multiple apps, based on actors, directors -- even down to individual episodes.

"I am delighted that iPlayer will be coming to the new Apple TV in the coming months, helping to bring the BBC's distinctive and loved content to an even wider audience," said BBC director general Tony Hall.

ITV and Channel 4, the BBC's two biggest free-to-air competitors in the UK, are yet to announce plans to launch their own Apple TV apps, despite both having on-demand and catch-up services. Neither broadcaster responded to a request for comment on the matter. Sky provides movies, sport and entertainment with its Now TV app, which offers various different subscription deals starting at £6.99 per month.