The BBC's on-demand TV service, the long-awaited BBC iPlayer, is to launch on 27 July.

"BBC iPlayer is a free catch-up service for UK licence fee payers", said Ashley Highfield, director of future media & technology.

"Your favourite programmes from all the BBC's network TV channels will be available to download over the internet, and watch on your PC without advertising for up to a week after transmission."

If you miss a BBC programme you want to watch just go to the BBC iPlayer at and download the programme, you then have up to 30 days in which to watch it. Once watched, the programme file deletes itself.

To expand the service further, the BBC is in discussion with a wide range of potential distribution partners, including MSN,, AOL, Tiscali, Yahoo, MySpace, Blinkx and Bebo to provide mini-clips and content links back to the site.

Highfield also confirmed that: "We are delighted to be working with Virgin Media towards a launch on cable later this year. We are hopeful that other TV platforms will follow soon after".

Over time, extra features will be added to BBC iPlayer, such as streaming on-demand, series stacking and BBC Radio Player.

Sounds great. The bad news? The current version won't work on Macs or Vista, something the BBC is working on.