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Posted on November 23rd, 2008 by Barry Collins

How to watch the BBC iPlayer on the Xbox 360

Xbox 360Ever since the BBC announced that its iPlayer works perfectly happily with a couple of Media Center Extenders (NetGear’s EVA8000 and the Linksys DMA2200), I’ve been determined to get the service working on my Xbox 360. After all, if the iPlayer works on third-party MCE devices, why the hell shouldn’t it work on Microsoft’s own?

The BBC’s Where To Get iPlayer page suggests getting the service to run on any MCE (or Home Media Hub as the Beeb calls them) should be a piece of cake. Simply download the programmes as normal on your PC, open Windows Media Center and add the iPlayer downloads folder to your Media Center library, then jump on to your MCE device and simply play back the relevant files from the comfort of your TV. Robert is your dad’s brother.

Except it doesn’t work on the Xbox 360. Well, at least not my Xbox 360, nor those of a couple of colleagues I’ve spoken to. Although judging by numerous internet forums, it seems to work flawlessly for some people. When I click on downloaded programmes using the Xbox 360’s MCE, however, I’m presented with a blue screen displaying the message:

“Video Error. Files needed to display video are not installed or not working correctly.”

This is, of course, complete bunkum. Other, non-DRM protected videos stream perfectly happily from my Vista laptop to the Xbox 360 MCE. It’s only those pesky iPlayer files that produce the error message.

So I’ve found a couple of ways around the problem. The first is a doddle. Instead of choosing the Download To Computer option from the iPlayer service, go for Download For Media Players. This bypasses the iPlayer App on your PC and simply downloads the video like any other file. Save the video to a folder that’s monitored by your Xbox MCE (the default Videos folder should work fine) and it plays back perfectly.

BBC iPlayer

The problem with choosing the Media Player files is that they are designed for portable players, so the video is heavily compressed. Even on my relatively modest 28in screen in the lounge, the picture quality is horribly patchy.

So, with the help of a couple of internet forums, I’ve found a way to watch the higher quality Computer downloads on the Xbox. Here’s how you do it:

1.  Make sure you have Windows Media Player 11 downloaded on your PC.

2. In Windows Media Player, click Library | Media Sharing and make sure that it’s set up to share video with your Xbox 360.

3. Download the programme of your choice using the Download To Computer option from the iPlayer website.

4. Once it’s downloaded, play the programme for a few seconds in the iPlayer app on your PC so that the appropriate DRM licence is downloaded (make sure you play past the BBC ident, or the licence won’t be downloaded).

5. Now for the bizarre part. Make a copy of the programme you’ve just downloaded (you will find it in C:\Users\Public\Videos\My Deliveries on a Vista PC) and plonk it in your Videos folder (or any other folder monitored by your MCE).  Now rename it to something a little more friendly – the iPlayer downloads are given hideously long filenames by default.

6. Navigate to the folder you just copied the video to on your Xbox 360 MCE, and the video should play.

7. The video will be in the old-school 4:3 format, but if you click on the X button on the Xbox 360 controller and select the Zoom option, you can fill the screen.  Whilst not quite Sky+ quality, the video is perfectly watchable.

So there you have it, the iPlayer on the Xbox 360 – albeit with a little bit of faffing around. I’d be interested to hear your experience of watching the iPlayer on the Xbox 360, particularly if you can get it to work without the seven-step procedure outlined above. One theory I’ve seen floated on forums is that it works flawlessly with Windows XP MCE PCs but not Vista. Let me know your thoughts on the comments below.

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22 Responses to “ How to watch the BBC iPlayer on the Xbox 360 ”

  1. technogeist Says:
    November 23rd, 2008 at 6:31 pm

    Could it be anything to do with XBOX 360 using a non-x86 CPU? (PowerPC)

  2. adisonic Says:
    November 23rd, 2008 at 10:20 pm

    very well derived…..but not the most convenient manner i’ll have to say.
    nevertheless, it does imrpove my bbc iplayer experience by some deal

  3. lmaooo Says:
    November 23rd, 2008 at 11:31 pm

    heh nice been doing it for a while here but even better is files are downloaded as .avi
    so play once in windows media player then stick it on usb stick and works fine on 360.
    you may be prompted to update forxvid/divx codex

  4. Grimer Says:
    November 25th, 2008 at 2:22 pm

    Or you could just join and download avi files without any DRM.

    Fair play for find the ‘workaround’, but what a complete pain in the arse. Use BitTorrent, it is quicker, easier and there is a better selection of programmes than on the BBC’s iPlayer.

  5. Michael Says:
    November 26th, 2008 at 12:12 pm

    Pointless? If you have sky+ record it first. If you have a PVR record it first. If you have virgin media v+ box, either record it first or watch their better quality iplayer mpeg2 streams or simply watch the programme when it is broadcast.

    Why would anyone want to sit and wait for a download, fiddle about to get the license, copy it and rename it to watch it on their xbox, when there are plenty of better ways to watch the programme in much higher quality?

    Do folk really buy 42+” TVs and watch iplayer downloads on them? Blimey, and they said NTSC was bad :)

  6. Barry Collins Says:
    November 26th, 2008 at 12:41 pm

    Michael – I agree, recording programmes in the first place would be a much more sensible option. But that’s not the point of a catch-up TV service. The idea is that you can watch shows you forgot to record in the first place.

  7. Grimer Says:
    November 26th, 2008 at 11:11 pm

    Seriously Barry, join Pretty much everything shown on UK Terrestrial and Satellite TV is captured and uploaded. I can’t see there being any serious copyright issues as most broadcasters offer their own ‘catch up’ services anyway. It would also be pretty weird to get sued for downloading/watching something that is probably going to be repeated on BB4, More4, etc later the same week.

  8. Colin Parkes Says:
    December 24th, 2008 at 8:05 pm

    Anyone got an invite for

    Only accepting sign ups by invitation :-(

  9. D Thompson Says:
    December 25th, 2008 at 10:08 am

    Thanks for the tip, it worked a treat!
    Well Done!

  10. Ian Says:
    January 8th, 2009 at 10:21 pm

    Doesn’t work for the newer iplayer desktop beta (the only one available on the iplayer website, unless I’m blind). There’s no such directory as mentioned in the tutorial. All the vids are now under C:\Users\username\Videos\BBC iPlayer with mp4 extension, altho configures as an adobe air file.

  11. fuck Says:
    February 20th, 2009 at 3:53 pm

    Fucking Wankers

  12. amster Says:
    April 15th, 2009 at 10:19 pm

    Ian, you’re getting the mp4 files because you’re signed up to the beta labs. Un-sign yourself to the beta labs. delete the current iplayer desktop client, and redownload and install again for a different client which downloads in wmv format.

  13. New BBC iPlayer: good news for PC and Xbox 360 owners | PC Pro blog Says:
    April 22nd, 2009 at 10:08 am

    [...] worked flawlessly with a select few MCE devices, trying to watch files on the Xbox 360 required a byzantine set of hacks to bypass the digital rights management. Now, all you need do is download the WMV files on a PC on your home network and the Xbox 360 plays [...]

  14. Gaz Says:
    April 24th, 2009 at 7:38 am

    I’ve been using Vista with my XBOX 360 since I bought one in December without any hassles, I just share the iPlayer kontiki client downloaded files via WMP 11 and play them back, no workaround required – there is a media/codec update for the XBOX available which I installed – could that be the reason you have problems?

  15. Mark Says:
    September 13th, 2009 at 5:09 pm

    Good news, just gone to iPlayer, you can now download as a windows media player file so can stream straight away without having to watch etc etc.

  16. Sandie Says:
    February 18th, 2010 at 1:27 pm

    I am finding that using iplayer on my Humax Freesat box is a much better and easier way. Also the iplayer implementation on the PS3 is very good.

  17. mike Says:
    March 31st, 2010 at 1:22 pm

    Tversity media player supports iplayer on xbox 360

  18. dev Says:
    April 1st, 2011 at 6:31 pm

    and for the radio shows

  19. Ron Says:
    April 23rd, 2011 at 6:45 pm

    No, as the 360 uses a Quad Core Intel.

    Even the original Xbox used a Intel, Pentium 3 in early models and a Celeron on the older ones.

  20. Daniel Says:
    July 8th, 2011 at 12:57 am

    What is the point of watching iplayer thruw your xbox connect your laptop or pc
    To your tv by VGA or hdmi if you don’t have a tv with a hdmi port or VGA use svid cable if your tv does not have that watch it on your computer easy. ;-)

  21. Karl Says:
    July 20th, 2012 at 3:54 pm

    Nice setup, but you`ll need a VPN for BBC if you`re outside the UK. Right now I use this UK VPN, streaming video on BBC iPlayer works great with it.

  22. xbox support status code Says:
    August 29th, 2012 at 4:42 am

    Xbox 360 will get you nowhere lol :-)


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