"This is a significant moment,” said director of BBC Vision Jana Bennett. "It heralds a new era when viewers will have the freedom to watch programmes from the BBC's linear TV channels when they want.”
Once a programme has been downloaded, viewers will have up to 30 days to watch it, after which time the files are automatically deleted.
The BBC said that later this year the player will become accessible via links from YouTube and other potential distribution partners including MSN, telegraph.co.uk, AOL, Tiscali, Yahoo!, MySpace, Blinkx and Bebo. The BBC also says it is working with Virgin Media towards a launch on cable later this year, as well as developing a version of the player for Mac and Microsoft Vista.
BBC director of future media & technology Ashley Highfield said that the iPlayer would become available not just over the internet but also on cable and other TV platforms and eventually on mobile.