Your guide to the BBC News Pop-up Player

What is the BBC News (pop-up) Player?

The BBC News (pop-up) Player is a Watch or Listen icon which launches a player in a separate internet window and requires Real Player or Window Media Player to work.

Please bear in mind that almost all of BBC News and Sport AV content doesn't use this format anymore.

BBC News and Sport now use an Embedded Media Player to display nearly all of its video and audio. This uses Flash software and plays directly in a text story or index.

For more information about the embedded player, go to our special section:

However certain clips and archived content will remain available in old pop-up (Real and Windows) format for the time being.

There is also a version of the News Pop-up Player available to international users. This is funded by advertising around the news clips and is an extension of the narrowband service, which continues to be available without advertising.

Why are there two types of BBC Player on the site?

Since March 2008, BBC News and Sport have been making a transition from the old pop-up (Real and Windows) player to a new embedded player.

Video and audio clips are now encoded in the new embedded player, though some clips and archived content will continue to be available in the pop-up player format.

Live streaming of video is also now available in a UK-only embedded format, but live audio - as well as certain other content - may appear in the old pop-up player for the time being.

For more information about the embedded player, go to our special section:

How do I get the service?

The old pop-up player is available to BBC News Online users who have a narrowband (dial-up modem) or broadband connection.

It supports both the Real Player format and the Windows Media Player format (see Is there a minimum specification to access the service? below).

You launch the player by clicking on any "Watch" icon. The first time you use this service you will be presented with a choice of watching in Real or Windows, narrowband or broadband. You can change these options at any time by using the "Preferences" link in the News Player.

For international users, the first time you use this service you will be presented with a choice of watching either:

  • High quality broadband video funded by advertising. If you choose this option, some of the video you view will be accompanied by advertisements.
  • Narrowband video. This service is not funded by advertising and none of the video is accompanied by advertisements.

You can change these options at any time by using the "Preferences" link in the News Player.

There are "Watch" icons on the main sections of the website. Video and audio is also promoted from various pages on the news website including story pages and special sections.

To get the full overview of video and audio available on the News website you can click on the video and audio page in the left hand side navigation of the News website

How do I navigate around the service?

When you launch a piece of video or audio a pop-up player window will appear. The video or audio will then start to play automatically (though it may take a few seconds to connect.)

For international users, if you have selected the broadband option, an advertisement may begin to play before the news video. You may also see an advertisement below the player window. If you have selected the narrowband option, the news video will begin to play.

With any single piece of video or audio playing in the play back window there will be up to three pieces of related video or audio. This is media directly related to the first piece of video or audio that has been selected.

There are also up to three recommended pieces of video or audio for each video or audio story. These may not be directly related to the video or audio selected but are reports or items that we think you will not want to miss.

How do I watch video or listen to audio?

Having clicked from the News website, the video or audio you want to watch will load in the pop-up window. It will start to play automatically.

You can start, pause or stop the video or audio by using the player control buttons immediately below the video screen.

NB: for international users, the player control buttons are not available when an advertisement is playing.

Full Screen makes the video fill the whole of your computer screen. Press "escape" to return to normal viewing size.

To watch the video in full screen using Windows Media Player, right click on the video window, go to "zoom" and select "full screen". Press "escape" to return to normal viewing size.


Is there a minimum specification to access the service?

The minimum browser requirements needed to access this BBC service are:

  • Firefox 1.5 and above, Microsoft Internet Explorer 6 and above, or Opera 7 and above. Other browsers which support embedded media plugins should work with the BBC News Player.

You will need to have one of the following media players installed:

How do I change whether I use Windows Media Player or Real Player?

If you have both Windows Media Player 9 (and above) and Real Player 9 installed on your PC then you can choose which one you would like to set as your default player for BBC content.

To do this click on the "Preferences" link in the top right hand corner of the pop-up News Player.

From here you use the check boxes and the OK button to make your choice.

You can also click this link to choose whether you would like to watch the video in high quality (256k and above) or standard quality (below 256k.)

When I click on the link, the BBC News Player does not launch

You should check that any popup blocking mechanisms you have installed on your browser are not set to block popups from pages.

When I click on the link, the BBC News Player launches but no video or audio plays

You should confirm that you have one of the media player versions listed above and that you have chosen to access News Player with it (you can confirm/modify your preference via the "Preferences" link at the top right of the News Player window).

Media player pluggins are sometimes not available if you have installed or upgraded your browser since installing your chosen media player. In this instance reinstalling the latest version of your preferred media player and restarting your computer may help.

Alternatively, you may wish to seek technical support from your media player software vendor.

My video and audio does not play smoothly

This usually happens because network congestion prevents the BBC's servers delivering data to your computer quickly enough.

Your network may be being used by another application running on your computer. If you share your network with other computers in your home or office, another computer may be using your network.

If another application or computer is doing something bandwith-intensive - such as downloading large files or using Voice-over-IP applications - while you are watching video, your video stream is more likely to play less smoothly.

If you do not believe your connection is being used by other applications or other computers, check your media player has the correct bandwidth settings. See the following help pages for more advice.

The News Player does not seem to work on a Mac

If you are using an Apple Mac, first make sure your system is up to date by choosing System Preferences from the Apple menu, then Software Update from the System Preferences window.

Windows Media Player 9 is only available for PowerPC based Macs. If you would like to view Windows Media streams on an Intel Mac you will need the Windows Media Components for QuickTime, available for free at:

Some of the BBC's older clips do not work on a Mac; we are fixing them.

How can I find the programme I want?

There are two ways:

From within the Audio and Video tab of the Search on

From a programme's own website e.g.

Rights issues may prevent specific programmes from being made available. Again, subject to rights clearance, the programmes are also available live when they are first broadcast on television.

I am trying to watch a programme live, but can only see a link to the previous programme

You need to refresh or reload the programme's website or News Player just before the programme goes on air. If you do this, the Live Video link should appear.

Why do I see different video when I launch the programme?

In order to ensure the whole programme can be viewed, the automated playout system starts a few seconds before the start of the programme due to be broadcast.

Let us know what you think

If you would like to comment or have suggestions about this BBC service then you can contact us via the link below.

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