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May 12, 2017

You now need to register and sign in for BBC iPlayer: Here’s why

by John_A

Back in September last year, the BBC announced that a BBC account would eventually be needed to access some of the Beeb’s online services, including iPlayer and iPlayer Radio. That day has come.

From today, Friday 12 May, you will need to sign in with a registered account when accessing BBC services online through the web or via the mobile and tablet applications.

Smart TV BBC iPlayer apps don’t yet require sign up but you’ll be missing out on some features if your TV does allow you to sign in.

Here’s everything you need to know about the new BBC iPlayer sign-in, including how to register for an account and the benefits it brings.

Why do you need to sign-in to use BBC iPlayer?

In September 2016, the BBC outlined changes to its online strategy that included mandatory BBC account registration to use some of its services. BBC iPlayer and BBC iPlayer Radio are two of the main services affected.

The BBC explained then that by getting users to sign-in it could make the iPlayer platform more personalised, offering recommendations to users based on their viewing habits, alerts about specific programming or events and even watch a programme on one device and pick it up on another at the point you left off.

These are features other video streaming services offer but they generally require a subscription fee. The BBC doesn’t require payment beyond the standard television licence fee that you need to pay to watch BBC broadcasting through TV or online. However, it does need to know who is watching the service, otherwise it cannot personalise it.

Critics suggest that it also enables the BBC to find and penalise those not paying their licence fees and while that is possible, with the Beeb itself admitting that email accounts can be cross-referenced to find those who are watching but not paying for the privilege, that isn’t the main reason.

It promises that online surveillance is not being adopted and IP addresses of those watching will not be sought. In future it might implement systems whereby those not paying the licence fee cannot access BBC iPlayer, due to a Government request, but that is still in the discussion phase.

What is a BBC account?

Formerly known as BBC iD, a BBC account has been a feature of for some time. You can register on the site and have your homepage customised to your own interests, including localised information, such as the weather.

The same account is now being used to sign into iPlayer and other online services.

Is a BBC account free?

A BBC account is totally free to sign up for. You need to pay the TV licence fee, which costs £147 a year, in order to watch BBC iPlayer or any other TV programming in the UK, but that is required to legally watch television in this country, even if you never use iPlayer.

How do I get a BBC account?

All you have to do to get a BBC account is register for one at here.

If you already have an account, which you’ve used for the Beeb’s website before, that will work. It doesn’t require all of your personal details, just your date of birth, email address, gender and a password to use when you sign in each time.

You can also flesh out your profile with your name if you like.

One other benefit to having a BBC account is that you can link a child’s profile with your own for parental controls.

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