BBC wipes your downloads as iPlayer is blocked on millions of laptops today, how you can still watch offline

Gary Lineker pictured in a mock-up image of a device running bbc iplayer

BBC iPlayer will no longer support offline viewing on Mac and Windows laptops, with any previously downloaded files now wiped from users' devices

Aaron Brown

By Aaron Brown

Published: 08/04/2024

- 10:16

Updated: 08/04/2024

- 10:34

If you want to download shows for long journeys, you should leave your laptop at home

  • Downloaded shows are no longer available to watch on Windows or Mac
  • Saved TV shows, documentaries and films will be wiped today (April 8)
  • You'll no longer be able to watch offline on the desktop app
  • Downloads will only be supported on smartphones and tablets
  • BBC iPlayer stopped users from downloading new shows on March 11, 2024
  • The latest deadline wipes any existing downloads saved to your laptop

BBC has remotely wiped any remaining downloads saved on your laptop.

The broadcaster ditched the ability to download new episodes of TV shows, documentaries, and blockbuster films from its BBC iPlayer service last month (March 11, 2024) but anyone who already had a library of content downloaded to their device was given 28 days grace to watch everything before it vanished.

But starting from today, BBC iPlayer has culled the ability to watch offline on millions of laptops — removing everything you might've previously downloaded.

Downloads allow you to watch content from iPlayer without an active internet connection, like when you're on an underground train to work, travelling with patchy 4G signal, or a long-haul flight.

If you want to download from iPlayer, you'll need an iPhone, iPad, Android smartphone or tablets, of Fire Tablet from Amazon with the BBC iPlayer app to watch offline. Windows and Mac laptops can still stream from iPlayer by heading to the website, but no longer have a dedicated app. The latest blow comes as BBC documents revealed some of the major changes coming to iPlayer over the next 12-months ahead of the licence fee review.

Watching without an internet connection on a laptop was always a somewhat convoluted process. To watch offline, BBC iPlayer viewers were required to download a separate iPlayer Downloads app onto their Windows or Mac machine.

BBC designed the iPlayer app to notify you when episodes of your favourite shows, films, or documentaries were coming close to their expiry date. For those who travel with a laptop and want to watch on flights or train journeys, the decision to strip out all of this functionality is sure to be a blow.

For those without a tablet, laptops offer some of the biggest screen sizes of any portable devices, so can provide a more immersive experience on a plane or train journey than a smartphone.

a screenshot of the android app of bbc iplayer that still offers offline viewing

BBC iPlayer will still allow offline downloads on certain gadgets, like Android phones and tablets, iPhone and iPad


BBC stopped new users from downloading the dedicated iPlayer Downloads app on Windows and Mac earlier this year, so those who hadn’t already installed the software on their laptops lost the functionality a little while ago. But those who had already installed the iPlayer Downloads app could continue to download new content from iPlayer until March 11.

And from today, anything left in the app will be removed by the BBC — the final proverbial nail in the coffin.

The decision to remove the functionality from the desktop app was confirmed in a small update to iPlayer’s support pages, which was spotted by the eagle-eyed team at telly-focused blog CordBusters.

“We have started the process of closing the Desktop Downloads App,” the small-print reads.

“Downloading programmes from a computer or laptop will no longer be available from Monday 11 March. You can still watch your existing downloads until Monday 8 April 2024. You can also still download your favourite programmes on your mobile device, and add programmes to your Watchlist to return later.”

Heading to the iPlayer website on your laptop or desktop PC and attempt to download an episode, movie, or documentary to watch at a later date offline and you’ll be greeted with the following warning: “From the 11th March you will no longer be able to download content from the web. If you already have the Downloads app installed, you can continue to download until this time.”


If you want to watch your favourite BBC shows without an internet connection, you’ll need to download the iPlayer app on an iPhone, iPad, Amazon Fire tablet, Android phone or tablet.

If you prefer browsing on the bigger screen of your Mac or Windows device, you can add shows or movies to your Watchlist. This list of must-see episodes and movies is synced across all of your devices, so you'll be able to tap the "Download" button on your mobile device to save it to your internal storage when you're ready to travel.

You can also stream over a mobile connection (4G or 5G) or Wi-Fi when out-and-about on all devices, including your laptop, so you won't be impacted by the latest change if you maintain your connection.

You may like