• BBC iPlayer
iPlayer Help How-to Guides General information about HD (High Definition)

General information about HD (High Definition)

Programmes that have been broadcast on the BBC are usually available to watch in HD (High Definition) on BBC iPlayer.

Sometimes, a programme may not be available in HD due to rights restrictions.

If a programme was broadcast live, it may take longer for the HD version to become available, as it can take longer to process. In such cases, please try again later.

You can stream HD programmes via the browser version of iPlayer and on the following devices:

  • PlayStation 3
  • PlayStation 4
  • Xbox 360
  • Xbox One
  • Chromecast
  • Virgin TiVo
  • YouView
  • Sky (via compatible Sky+ box)
  • Compatible Smart TVs and connected set-top-boxes/Blu-ray

How to watch in HD

If you’re using iPlayer via your web browser programmes will automatically play in HD where possible on desktop machines. 

On other versions, simply use the HD on/off switch on the programme page.

How to download in HD

When you click on the Download button you'll be given an option of downloading in SD or in HD.

If you have a compatible Sky+ box, you’ll find the HD version of a programme alongside the SD version.

How fast does my internet connection need to be?

We recommend an internet connection fast enough to allow 3.2Mbps (megabits) playback. If you’re having buffering issues while streaming but think you have a fast enough connection, you should contact your internet service provider.

You could also try switching to SD (Standard Definition).

What do you actually mean by “High Definition”?

To be classed as "true" high definition, we encode in at least 1280x720 resolution or 720p. We use h.264 with a bitrate of 3.2Mbps and 192kbps audio. This means that streaming programmes in HD quality will put demands on your network connection.

Can I watch in HD on an older computer?

Some older computers may struggle to handle HD playback. To avoid lots of buffering during playback we recommend a modern computer with a graphics card and processor that can handle the graphics. You'll need to watch in full-screen mode to reduce the demand on your computer.

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