ITV Player: UK Silverlight-based catch-up

Jan 20, 2009
Updated • Dec 13, 2012
Music and Video

Catching up with the BBC's iPlayer and Channel Four's 4oD, British broadcaster ITV has released its own free video-on-demand service: ITV Player.

ITV Player uses Microsoft's Silverlight format to stream its media, which allows it to be played on Windows and Macs. Users report problems with it working under the Linux build of Silverlight. The website itself looks quite slick but is nowhere as near as nice to use as BBC's iPlayer.

The service allows users to watch shows like Coronation Street but I cannot see any way to download these episodes to watch portably as you can with iPlayer.

Whilst it's nice to see ITV using a non-Windows only brand (unlike Channel 4), it would have been good had they used a more universal format like Flash or OGG.

There are a few other issues with it. Many shows can't be watch live due to licensing issues, the video is too small and the only options are small or fullscreen – unlike iPlayer. ITV Player also fails to offer HD shows.

I think ITV Player will either be drastically improved or scrapped! I'm surprised ITV are in-touch enough with the public to stay clear of DRM but I'm disappointed they used Silverlight and made it incompatible with Linux. The interface needs work too.

I expect the site won't work outside the UK but it's still a convenient service British readers may have overlooked. If it does work outside, please comment and let us know!

Update: ITV has released an update to iPlayer recently. When you open the site right now you get a selection of popular shows that air on ITV, and options to browse ITV 1 to 4 by day to find out what is airing and what has aired on each channel. A click loads the player interface which is now using Flash and not Silverlight. Note that you can only watch shows using ITV Player if you are living in the UK as contents are geographically restricted to that area.


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  1. Christopher said on October 17, 2010 at 9:41 pm

    Eh.. ITV have been using Flash rather than Silverlight for over a year now. Same as the iPlayer. The BBC only uses Adobe AIR for downloads.

    1. nigel said on October 23, 2010 at 10:00 am

      ITV player maybe ok for catch up after the programme has been broadcast but useless at live broadcasts.
      they claim it is possible to watch and all you ever get is a couple of adverts and then a screen message stating that such and such programme is not available. Dead loss for anyone in the UK who wants to watch a morning programme for example

  2. bob watching uk tv abroad said on October 17, 2010 at 8:24 pm

    I wish they’d just used Adobe AIR like the BBC iPlayer. Silverlight has really bad browser support maybe the new version will be better……

  3. Chris de Hoedt said on October 27, 2009 at 12:56 am

    BBC ITV etc are stopped from making content available outside the UK by the copyright holders. That means that the copyright holders – Holywood, Documentaries, Premier Leage, etc want to collect money from each country broadcaster seperately to maximise their revenues. Hence we are never likely to see legitimate global broadcasts until the copyright holders have found a way to secure payment from the global audience.

  4. fred said on September 22, 2009 at 11:48 pm

    It’s a doddle to watch both outside the UK. I’m in the USA and do it all the time — use a UK proxy server.

  5. Czechboy said on June 25, 2009 at 5:06 pm

    Just another thing, how come the BBC has this very good tech team but they can t set up a pin ID system so I could give them my money and not a cloaking company. They would earn millions. I d happily pay a 100 Euros a year for the BBC, I m sure there are millions of others who would too. Is there any reason they can t do this? There are no copyright issues as all shows in Iplayer are BBC programes so why can t I access them for a fee?

  6. thomas said on June 24, 2009 at 11:06 pm

    itv have the drama compulsion on iplayer to watch why ? all you get is a blank screen. i live in england. if that is the best they can do, may be they should close down

  7. Vic said on May 28, 2009 at 10:13 pm

    The itv player is garbage with many people, inc me, only getting adverts, c4 catch up also rubbish due to player probs, only the bbc iplayer is stable and extremely user friendly, and their HD with a good connection is amazing. Outside the UK you need an IP cloak, tunnel or something that puts your IP address in the UK. But be warned only the bbc will work for sure, but as it is excellent, downloadable and on call it is probably worth the 100 euros or so it ll cost. Shame you can t just pay the beeb the cash and have a unique pin but it seems they haven t worked out just how good the iplayer is and are losing millions in revenue from ex pats, etc.
    BTW Kangaroo is dead in the water

  8. Barry said on April 16, 2009 at 6:11 pm

    I watch ITV, iplayer etc etc. from Greece using ADTelly.

    1. eddy said on April 12, 2010 at 6:03 pm


      I would like to install Ad telly . What is your experience and how many and which tv channels can you get



  9. GIT said on April 9, 2009 at 9:20 pm

    i can’t install silvershite on linux. I’ll just torrent any shows i didn’t want to miss and connect my laptop to my HDTV PC port sorted!

  10. Sturmey said on March 23, 2009 at 5:58 pm

    ITV player does NOT work outside UK. The choice of Silverlight was probably one of convenience since Microsoft probably gave them a ton of support to use Silverlight instead of some other platform. M$ is pushing silverlight as a better option than using flash, however I suspect someone will find that it has better DRM than flash does and that is why so many users are having problems with it.

    This leaves people outside the UK with no options to legally watch ITV programming. The only recourse is illegal methods. It is regrettable that can’t legally access some really good programs. why is it that I can listen to the BBC, but I can’t watch it?

  11. Val said on February 18, 2009 at 1:40 am

    No problems watching BBC at all but cannot watch an ITV programme through without several reloads.

  12. rupert said on February 8, 2009 at 12:46 am

    You think that is bad?

    Channel 4 using Windows Media Player for their catch-up??? MAJOR ./fail

  13. RImbaud said on February 7, 2009 at 7:54 pm

    I wish they’d just used Adobe AIR like the BBC. Silverlight has really bad browser support and Mono is a joke on Linux.

    Yet another FAIL by ITV.

  14. rupert said on January 20, 2009 at 7:31 pm

    You realise that all the major networks (BBC, ITV and Channel 4) are working on a universal platform called Kangeroo – whch would allow one user to access content from all the different providers??

    Sadly the competition watchdog has put some holds up on it saying that it is anti-competitive to over digital cotent providers and thus not in the interests of the UK users (huh!! how is giving us access to all shows on one player not in our interest,stupid watchdog). So, whilst they figure out those legal issues,I guess itv-player is ther to fill in the gap.

  15. Chris said on January 20, 2009 at 3:34 pm

    Just bypass the need to install Silverlight on whatever platform by using the Firefox plugin.

    Also lets you resize it etc.

  16. Joe said on January 20, 2009 at 10:27 am

    Peter S: Doesn’t work under Moonlight.

  17. darkkosmos said on January 20, 2009 at 10:21 am

    Why would it be scrapped? The only reason ITV is alive is because of it’s soaps and they’re not going.

  18. Peter S. said on January 20, 2009 at 1:55 am

    While not being familiar with the iPlayer, you could try Moonlight to get Silverlight to work on Linux.

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