I’ve written before about my concerns with the BBC iPlayer but nevertheless, it is the only legal way to download BBC programming to my computer that I am aware of. Since I wrote that post, iPlayer has been improved to include streaming content for unsupported platforms but that doesn’t allow for offline viewing (catching up on TV episodes on the train, for example).
Well, there is a workaround and, as I figure that I am a BBC licence fee-payer and the content has been downloaded legally, converting it to watch it on another device is at least morally acceptable – even if the BBC may not agree. After all, it’s not as if I’m sharing the resulting files with other people. Based on my initial tests, it seems to work well – at least with the version of Windows Media Player that my iPlayer machine is using (v11.0.5721.5230).
All it involves is taking one copy of Windows XP, with a working BBC iPlayer installation, and running a couple of utilities to identify the keys to the Windows Media Player and remove the DRM from the .WMV files that make up the iPlayer content (by default, this is held at %allusersprofile%\Documents\My Deliveries\iplayer_live). The resulting file(s) should play in Windows Media Player without DRM restrictions – and, critically, will also play back on Windows Vista or MacOS X (using the Windows Media Components for QuickTime).