How to play BBC iPlayer on Apple TV

I finally bought an Apple TV box last weekend. It’s a lovely piece of kit. But my biggest question was: can I use the BBC iPlayer on it?

The simple answer is yes, but not straight from the Apple TV box. I played the iPlayer on my first generation iPad, streaming it to Apple TV via AirPlay. It works beautifully – you wouldn’t know it wasn’t a live broadcast. This is what I did:

  • Choose the content you want to play on the BBC iPlayer app on your iPad or iPhone.
  • Double-click the iPad/iPhone home button – the physical square button on the front of the device. This will bring up your open apps. Slide the icons to the right, revealing various video buttons and the AirPlay icon (a square with a triangle underneath) – as seen in photo below. Click the AirPlay icon, and select Apple TV. Click the play button on the iPad or iPhone  – and enjoy the show.

Playing BBC iPlayer on Apple TV: getting started

(NB: remember to set up home sharing on Apple TV and your iPad before you start.)

Not such a smart TV: no BBC iPlayer on Samsung

I bought a new TV today for our kitchen. The old one stopped working after digital switchover this week, so I replaced it with an internet-connected one that enables us to watch BBC iPlayer on TV. John Lewis in High Wycombe said the Samsung UE22ES5400 LED 22 inch TV would do just this.

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I was impressed by how easy it was to set up. But I couldn’t find the iPlayer. The web based iPlayer said the BBC didn’t support my device (above).

I didn’t think that mattered. After all, Samsung’s BBC iPlayer app features prominently on the company’s website – but that was also missing:

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At this point, I called John Lewis. Its friendly technical help person couldn’t help. He said I could return the TV – or call Samsung. I didn’t think there was much chance Samsung would answer the phone late on a Saturday afternoon. But to its credit, I did get through to someone who explained after some research that the iPlayer app wasn’t yet available for the 5400 TV as it was a new model but would be in early May.

So I won’t be taking the TV back to John Lewis just yet.

PS: why are TV names so obscure and impossible to remember? Samsung could learn a lot from Apple. iPhone is so much more compelling and easier to remember than UE22ES5400.