The BBC has come good on its promise to bring the iPlayer to regions outside the UK, with a launch in 11 European countries: Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, The Republic of Ireland, The Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and Switzerland.
Unlike the UK iPlayer, the foreign service is not free - as only domestic BBC viewers pay a license fee - but rather will be supported by subscriptions, although a limited number of programmes will be available free of charge. The subscription is available at either €6.99 (£6.14) a month or €49.99 (£44) a year (an almost one-third saving). BBC Worldwide (the BBC's commercial arm) hopes that income from subscription fees will supplement the license fee it receives in the UK.
The international iPlayer app has a notable feature lacking from the UK version - the ability to download programmes for later viewing. Where in the UK the iPlayer is pitched as a catch-up service, intended to supplement broadcast television, in Europe - and eventually elsewhere - the iPlayer is intended as a video-on-demand service, much like Hulu or Netflix, and will showcase older programmes, such as Fawlty Towers and Only Fools and Horses, in addition to newer shows such as Sherlock and Doctor Who.
Interestingly, although providing them to foreign iPlayer users, the BBC has no plans to make its archive footage available via the iPlayer in the UK. It seems likely that such an offering would be popular, even if the same subscription fee was imposed for non-catch-up programmes, so the limitation is almost certainly a litigious one. UK iPlayer users may also question why they are denied access to downloading shows for later viewing using the app - especially when that feature is present on the desktop version of the iPlayer.