Using the BBC iPlayer outside of the UK
This article doesn't explain how to use the iPlayer from outside the UK, it is about what happened in 2007 when the iPlayer was first launched and the BBC thought you were outside the UK. An official international version of the BBC iPlayer is now available.
I was hoping this week to be able to write a piece about how the BBC's iPlayer beta performed when I took it out of the country on my laptop.
I was all geared up for it, and had defined the set of test cases I wanted to explore:
- Downloading a programme in the UK, watching it in the UK, then re-watching it before the expiry of the 7-day window outside of the UK
- Downloading a programme in the UK, watching it for the first time outside of the UK
- Partially downloading a programme in the UK, and then resuming the download outside of the UK - most likely in Athens airport during the lengthy stopover I had there before reaching Chania.
- Initiating a download outside of the UK when successfully downloaded programmes existed in the library.
Unfortunately, this isn't that article - because my plans were inadvertently scuppered by T-Mobile's wifi.
Because I had been staying at various different places during my couple of weeks in the UK, and, naturally, hadn't been able to connect my own laptop willy-nilly to the BBC's network, it took a while to get the iPlayer installed.
And not just because of having to upgrade to Windows Media Player 11 in the process.
In fact, I didn't get the iPlayer beta fully installed until a couple of days before I left the UK, and so on my last day in the BBC's offices last week, I took an hour out to sit in the Starbucks below the BBC's Media Centre in White City. That meant I could get on with some work on my regular laptop using the T-Mobile wireless hotspot there, and in the background get downloading the files from iPlayer that I needed to conduct my tests.
Which is when I ran into the fact that the iPlayer already thought that I was outside of the UK.
As this video clip shows, it wasn't an iPlayer specific problem.
You'll note that when I visited the BBC News site straight afterwards, it has the tabbed international version of the global navigation toolbar on screen, not the regular UK grey one.
So for whatever reason, presumably to do with the way that T-Mobile route their wifi hotspot traffic, the BBC's website thinks that the branch of Starbucks underneath the buildings where the BBC website is made, is outside the UK.
Despite being underneath the BBC's offices, the T-Mobile hotspot in this Starbucks appears beyond the UK's shores to the BBC.
I know that geo-locating IP addresses isn't (yet) a completely done deal, but the irony of it made me laugh out loud. Less amusingly though, it meant that I couldn't run my iPlayer tests this week. Ho-hum, maybe when I'm back in the UK in September.