BBC iPlayer has blocked downloads on millions of laptops today under dramatic shake-up for licence fee payers

a screenshot of the bbc iplayer app on-screen showing the boxsets available to watch and download

BBC iPlayer updated its support pages to reveal plans to cull offline viewing on all Windows and macOS devices next month

Aaron Brown

By Aaron Brown

Published: 11/03/2024

- 08:06

If you want to watch offline on a Windows and Mac laptop, you're out of luck

  • BBC iPlayer stopped supporting offline viewing from March 11, 2024
  • The change only impacts laptops and desktop PCs running Windows or Mac
  • The Beeb quietly announced the change in the small-print on its support pages
  • iPhone, iPad, Fire tablet, and Android devices continue to support downloads

BBC has dropped the ability to download television shows, documentaries, and films from its BBC iPlayer service to watch when you don’t have an internet connection across all Windows and Mac computers.

Starting today (March 11, 2024) the BBC iPlayer app on laptop and desktop PCs has lost the ability to download episodes from the internet ― a feature that first launched for licence fee payers over a decade ago.

To watch offline on a laptop, BBC iPlayer viewers were required to download a separate iPlayer Downloads app on Windows or Mac. Downloads would be saved for a maximum of 30 days, but if something was coming to the end of its availability on iPlayer, it might've vanished sooner.

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. The Player Downloads app will no longer work.

It's worth noting that BBC iPlayer apps on other devices, including iPhone, iPad, and Android smartphones and tablets, will still support downloads for offline viewing.

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 downloads of the dedicated iPlayer Downloads app on Windows and Mac last month, so those who hadn’t already installed the software on their laptops lost the functionality a little while ago.

But if you'd already installed the iPlayer Downloads app and were happily using it — that comes to an end today with the deadline from the BBC finally here.

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 from March 11 onwards, 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