According to the latest stats from the Beeb, the number of programmes downloaded or streamed on demand via its iPlayer has now reached 17 million, which is up to 500,000 a day.

The Corporation says that daily volumes have been increasingly steadily since the iPlayer's launch on Christmas Day but last week, it broke the half a million barrier.

During January, more than 2.2 million people watched a programme on BBC iPlayer, with approximately 11 million TV programmes streamed or downloaded on demand.

The most popular programmes were Ashes To Ashes, coverage of the Six Nations clash between England and Wales and Life In Cold Blood.

The iPlayer is also impacting on other BBC websites - there was an average of 20 million UK visitors weekly to across January, marking an increase of 29% on the corresponding period in 2007, driven chiefly by BBC iPlayer (accounting for up to 1.3 million unique visitors weekly) as well as the news, sport and weather websites.

Also driving the demand is the fact that BBC content is now available through Yahoo and will soon be through MSN and Blinkx.

The BBC used the unveiling of the new figures to also announce updates to the iPlayer.

New features include the 10 most popular programmes that are being streamed, as well as "Recently Added" and "Last Chance" content items, all of which will be updated every 10 minutes.