Why you’ll soon need a password to watch BBC Iplayer

A password is being added to BBC Iplayer. Picture; Getty
A password is being added to BBC Iplayer. Picture; Getty
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Changes are coming to the iPlayer, the BBC’s on-demand service. Within the next few weeks, the broadcaster will require viewers to sign in with a password.

Why are the BBC introducing a password?

Why will you soon need a password for BBC Iplayer? Picture; Getty

Why will you soon need a password for BBC Iplayer? Picture; Getty

The BBC is introducing a password system so they can tailor search results and programme suggestions more closely to viewers’ needs.

Some have voiced concern that introducing a password is a ploy to allow the Corporation to crack down on licence fee evaders; the BBC have denied this.

MyBBC launch director Andrew Scott wrote in a blog post that passwords aren’t “about enforcing the licence fee – it’s about giving you a better BBC and helping you get the best out of it.”

Will the BBC be holding personal information?

Internet privacy is always a concern, and with the BBC introducing passwords, questions will be raised. But Scott is keen to point out that the Beeb won’t use “mass surveillance techniques or ask internet providers for IP addresses” to identify evaders.

It looks like users will have to provide some personal information, though only to “help TV Licensing ensure that people are abiding by the law”.

“By matching email addresses we may be able to identify someone who has told us they don’t need a TV licence,” writes Scott, “while at the same time having signed in and watched iPlayer.”

Will it improve the experience at all?

Think of Netflix, where passwords and user accounts allows the company to suggest films and TV shows to watch based on your viewing habits.

The BBC will now be able to do this with iPlayer, and passwords will also allow users to start watching a programme on one device and then pick up where they left off on another.

The move comes as the BBC plans to make iPlayer “more personal and relevant to you”, according to Scott. The service will also aim to keep users logged in, so you should rarely have to enter your password.

When is it coming into force?

There’s no definitive date yet, and they could roll out passwords to groups of viewers at a time.

From today May 11, anyone attempting to access iPlayer content will see a message saying they “will soon need to sign in to watch”.

The option to sign up will be given there and then, and you’ll be encouraged to do so before a deadline.