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BBC iPlayer joins Canada's video-on-demand library

Free Global iPlayer app boasts 1,500 hours of programming, 30 shows a month free and the option to pay for more


Like many digital consumers, I've been teeter-tottering on the idea of cutting the cable-TV cord. While I haven't fully committed (mostly because I'm hooked on 24-hour live news programming), we're coming to the point in our home where we're watching more subscription-based content, ranging from Netflix on our television to Treehouse (for my toddler) on our iPad.

This week another compelling video-on-demand service was launched, the British Broadcasting Corporation's Global iPlayer.

The free iPad app, now available in Canada, showcases more than 1,500 hours of programming from the BBC. Think endless episodes of Doctor Who, Absolutely Fabulous, The Naked Chef, and for the wired minds among you, the internationally known tech show, Click.

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Similar to the Treehouse app, some of this programming is available for free (30 BBC shows a month to be exact), but to get the full range of content there is a recurring fee ($8.99/month or $84.99/year). Unlike Treehouse and Netflix, which are streaming services (in other words, you need to be online to watch), the BBC iPlayer app lets you download shows for offline viewing. This, quite frankly, makes the cost easier to swallow.

If you're embarking on a long flight or going on a road trip with the family, you still have access to your library of shows. The range of programming includes such genres as Science & Nature, Family & Kids and News & Documentaries. The videos are also designed to be viewed beyond the tablet, so they still look good on a television screen (although they're not HD).

The app is quite slick, it's responsive and has an easy-to-use navigation, it would be nice to see a few more features added that allow you to personalize your searching experience. It would be nice to have something as simple as the ability to re-order archived shows from newest to oldest (instead of BBC's default).

As one of my pals @reneritchie tweeted early this morning, with this new BBC offering the streaming and downloadable content market in Canada is looking brighter and better. To date, the Global iPlayer on iPad is available in 16 countries. Canadians can also be thankful that we're getting this app before the U.S., something that pretty much never happens on the digital front.

Now the only problem is my dream of saving money on content – by cutting the cable cord – is starting to fade. I'm slowly realizing that subscription-based Internet content is going to put a serious dent in my wallet.

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