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Howto: Download MP4 from BBC iPlayer

Mar 9, 2008

With the launch of BBC iPlayer for iPhones it seems they’ve let slip a little extra “feature”. You can now download programs from BBC iPlayer without DRM in a well encoded MP4 format. How? Easy.

First of all, install User Agent Switch for Firefox and setup the iPhone user-agent:

Now browse to any BBC iPlayer program page and you’ll notice that it tries to serve up a Quicktime video, the MP4. As the URL isn’t displayed raw in the code, you can use a little Javascript wizardry to redirect you to the raw stream:

javascript:(function(){url = document.getElementById('mip-flash-player').getElementsByTagName("object")[0].childNodes[0].value; window.location = url;})()

Or if you want a simple drag and drop bookmarklet: iPlayer Download

The BBC will either pull the iPhone beta or re-engineer it with the iPhone SDK to develop a full client, either way this will not last long. Initally when I heard the iPhone was supported by iPlayer I was outraged, Why does a device with only around 100,000 users in the UK get priority over a operating system? It almost seems like Karma is against them, but no doubt this will get into the news as “hackers exploiting the system” rubbish. Only time will tell, enjoy it while you can.