How to download DRM free .mp4 videos from BBC iplayer

The BBCs iplayer is a potentially fantastic service, however one of the biggest problems with it is that you cannot download the videos without installing their software, and even then it has restrictive DRM which enforces a 30 day expiry date on videos.

License payers paid for the creation or licensing of these programs, we should not have to jump through the BBCs draconian hoops to access them.

However, I recently discovered a way to download DRM free .mp4 videos from it, which resolves my biggest issue with this service -

1. Get Mozilla Firefox web browser (although 56.95% of you already use it)
2. Install the extensions User Agent Switcher and Firebug, restarting Firefox after installation.
3. Set up the User Agent Switcher to be the profile of an Apple iPhone.
To do this, click Tools > User Agent Switcher then go to options. Head to the user agents tab, and click "Add.." and put in this information.

Description: iPhone
User Agent: Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; U; CPU like Mac OS X; en)
App Name: AppleWebKit/420+ (KHTML, like Gecko)
App Version: Version/3.0
Platform: Mobile/1A542a Safari/419.3

Once you have done this, select "iPhone" from the User agent switcher

4. Browse to the BBC iplayer. From there, pick any video you want to download. If done correctly the video won't actually load up.

5. Open Firebug.
This is probably the hardest stage, but still not that hard. When you open Firebug, the entire code makeup of the site should be shown in the bottom panel.

First expand 'body'
then div id="blq-main"
then div id="blq-content"
then div id="bip-primary"
then div id="bip-content"
then div id="mip-container"
then div id="mip-content" class="clearfix"
then div id="mip-flash-player"
then object width="512" height="288" type="video/mp4"

Then two addresses should show, one with "mp4" in it, for example -
" ming_http_mp4/b006c7t3"

Copy this address, and paste it into a new tab, hit return and your download should start!

This whole thing works because the BBC have launched a version of the iplayer for Apple iPhones which uses DRM free mp4 files, and by tricking the iplayer into thinking that your browser is an iPhone you can access those mp4 files. I seem to be getting download speeds between 50kbs and 100kbs.


Update: For the videophiles out there, the file use the codec "avc1", and are in resolution 480 x 272 and 25fps, the audio is 2 channel 48,000 Hz, 16 bits per sample and a bitrate of 1.5kb/s,


Joe said...


Oh, and first.

h_g said...

hmm, but not quite the same quality as the wmv's to download through their client. I just use a drm stripper for the wmv files and then use the PS3's compatibility to playback the files on my TV.

Woody Winfield said...

I just had a good crack at this and the 'agent switcher' now has additional fields. So setting up a new profile didn't work for me. It did however come with iPhone 3.0 which seemed to work, different layout and video didn't play.

When I inspected the source I couldn't extract / make a link that would work!

For sure the divs have all changed, I wonder if they now have drm on iPhone...

Any ideas?

I downloaded the desktop player on a powerbook G4 but it's too slow now to playback without ridicculous stuttering!! A lower quality version would playback fine on xbmc )-: