Guardian reports that BBC iPlayer will launch in eleven European countries, coming later this year to United States. The subscription-based service that streams some of the finest BBC programming launched its iPad app today in Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, Ireland, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and Switzerland. In those markets, BBC iPlayer will require a monthly fee of 7 Euros. The app provides on-demand access to BBC’s popular news and documentaries, in addition to both archive and most recent shows such as Doctor Who and Top Gear. Initially, BBC’s catalogue will include about 1,500 hours of content, with a hundred hours added each week.

In the US, managing director Luke Bradley-Jones told the publication, will go head to head with the likes of Hulu and Netflix subscriptions and the low monthly fee of eight bucks should help BBC compete with those content providers on their own turf. You can download the app free on App Store in select markets, but note the system won’t let you stream content unless you access it from one of the supported countries. Another goodie for international viewers: Content can be streamed over 3G cellular networks and individual episodes can be downloaded for offline viewing. Interestingly, the team worked closely with Apple on the offline feature, Smith explains:

When we were doing our user testing, the use case was picking six shows before going on a long journey, and leaving them to download to the iPad overnight. The way the device works, though, is it hibernates and stops you from doing that: you wake up the next morning and only half a show has downloaded. We have managed to override that functionality, and Apple are comfortable with us doing that.

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