BBC iPlayer

BBC iPlayer is the front door to the whole of the BBC on demand, offering audiences a treasure trove of ambitious, high quality content from films and kids’ titles to sport, music and arts and all the  BBC’s TV channels – including Radio 1 TV and BBC Three online.

Available on over 10,000 devices from computers and smartphones to tablets and connected TVs, BBC iPlayer is revolutionising how audiences enjoy the BBC in an internet first world.

iPlayer was born a catch up TV service but today 30% of viewers are enjoying content on iPlayer they’ve discovered for the very first time. With reach to iPlayer up 16% year-on-year, iPlayer is fast becoming a primary entertainment destination, especially for younger audiences.

Whilst iPlayer inherits a wealth of content from the BBC’s linear schedules we want to ensure the service offers the optimum mix and range of content for the BBC’s growing on demand audience.

Therefore, we’re looking to complement our broadcast content with a select range of exclusive content commissioned specifically for iPlayer aimed at younger, under 45-year-old audiences.

We want big ideas that will make a splash and build iPlayer’s reputation as the first place to go for the best on demand entertainment in the UK.


Our tone

iPlayer is in the top three most talked about brands in the UK and we want to grow the love for iPlayer by making it an entertainment habit for all British audiences. Unlike other video on demand (VOD) services, iPlayer offers brand new content, every single day.

Our tone is inspirational and personal. We want to take each and everyone who comes to BBC iPlayer on an adventure to discover amazing content that enriches as well as entertains.


Our audience

BBC iPlayer has a weekly reach of 10 million people which is equivalent to 17 million browsers a week. It is the most commonly used VOD service in the UK (51% of adults). 46% of iPlayer users are under 34 and we index well with black and minority ethnic (BAME) audiences.

But iPlayer is for everyone, so we want to attract audiences beyond youth to the service – in particular under 45-year-olds who are increasingly turning to on demand services for their entertainment.

We also want existing users to come to iPlayer more frequently – not just monthly (as the majority do), but weekly and daily. Importantly, we want to drive more audiences to iPlayer from outside the BBC’s existing viewership, hence our commissioning focus on younger, diverse and C2DE audiences.


Programme aspirations

Our intention for iPlayer first commissions is not to compete with our own broadcast channels and programmes, but to complement them – find the gaps, explore what’s missing for on demand audiences and challenge convention by experimenting with storytelling outside the creative borders of the broadcast schedule.

Our exclusive commissions are also focused on reflecting younger (under 45) and BAME audiences.

Over the last year we’ve commissioned an ambitious range of pioneering, slot busting content exclusive to BBC iPlayer and seen reach to this content triple as a result. We’ve had 69 million requests to iPlayer exclusive content in 2015/16.

A number of these commissions are related to our big TV shows like The Apprentice and Luther. Others are original, ‘iPlayer first’ titles for example My JihadThe Rack Pack and Adam Curtis: Bitter Lake.

We commission a very select number of iPlayer exclusive titles across the calendar year and these titles need to work really hard to punch through with audiences and assist in re-positioning iPlayer as an entertainment destination in its own right.

In 2016/17 our commissioning focus is re-inventing the 'Film' category in iPlayer. Film is an important draw for on demand audiences and we want to offer titles beyond films from the schedule.

This is a truly exciting opportunity to commission an extraordinary range of British films across all genres - from the slapstick to the surreal – films of all different shapes and sizes, authored by the most exciting filmmakers, writers, journalists, personalities and artists in Britain today.

What works for us in the originations space is the edgy, the cult, the uncompromising, ideas that defy the creative borders of the schedule and artists who are a real draw for audience groups we struggle to serve through the schedule.

In the past year we’ve welcomed huge names to iPlayer to create original work including Adam Curtis, Matt Berry, Frankie Boyle and Modern Toss as well as exciting emerging talent for example Charlie Lyne, Shakeel Ahmed and Grace Victory.

Given we’re looking to commission only a handful of original film titles across the year we will post these opportunities on the BBC Commissioning website or as an invitation to pitch.

Where we are looking to work with specific writers, directors or personalities we will first approach the talent or their agents about these opportunities and take things from there.

We are not looking for unsolicited ideas to be sent via BBC Pitch. 

Beyond originations in the film category we’re looking to commission content for iPlayer that ambitiously extends the format of a handful of our big broadcast TV brands given these titles bring new audiences in volume to iPlayer (for more information, please below).


iPlayer comedy

The Rack Pack

The Rack Pack

Comedy is one of the most popular categories in iPlayer. To complement the great TV shows we have available in the service we want to push the boundaries of comedy as a genre and commission a small number of exclusive comedy titles for BBC iPlayer featuring Britain’s finest comedians.

We’re looking for original work that simply could not come to life within the traditional linear schedule. 

Find out more on the iPlayer comedy page.


iPlayer factual


Fear Itself

Fear Itself

Arts content is being reinvented on BBC iPlayer in the form of essay films, building on the success of Charlie Lyne’s film Fear Itself and Adam Curtis: Bitter Lake.

We are looking to commission up to four essay style feature length films a year for BBC iPlayer from British journalists and filmmakers who want to really push the boundaries of filmmaking in new and original ways, whose stories are timely and provocative and creatively cannot be told within the borders of the traditional TV schedule.

Find out more on the iPlayer factual page.



BBC Archive on iPlayer


In 2016, we introduced access to BBC Store into iPlayer, enabling audiences to own forever BBC programmes outside their 30 day availability on iPlayer.

In addition to this iPlayer offers exclusive archive Collections for free from the BBC’s deep archive that complement programming on BBC Four.

Find out more on the iPlayer factual page.


iPlayer drama

Eastenders: Back to Ours

EastEnders: Back to Ours

For established or returning broadcast drama series we want to commission exclusive episodes and series recaps for BBC iPlayer that heighten audiences’ excitement for the return of the series or get them up to speed on events that have passed in previous episodes. 

Find out more on the iPlayer drama page.


iPlayer entertainment

The Apprentice Honest Subtitle...

The Apprentice: Honest Subtitles 

Our primary focus is BBC One where we want to innovate around the format of programmes and events that everyone is talking about - from Saturday night entertainment to annual events like Children in Need and Comic Relief

Find out more on the iPlayer entertainment page.


iPlayer music

We are excited by ideas that tap into the emotional power of music which forms an integral part of peoples’ lives and can inspire a variety of emotions - joy, anger, sadness, elation. We want to appeal to mainstream audiences with treatments and formats that provoke unexpected or surprising emotional reactions.

Read more about BBC music television commissioning, the BBC Music brand and Radio 1 in iPlayer.


Latest iPlayer news