The BBC will close its digital download service BBC Store after just 18 months, as the Corporation accepted that it had failed to compete with streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime.
The service, which offered people the chance to buy and download digital copies of major BBC series or single episodes once they left iPlayer, failed to attract customers alongside the rise of on demand TV subscription services.
BBC Store will close for good on 1st November 2017. Programmes that users have purchased will no longer be available, although the BBC will fully refund customers.
A BBC spokesman said, “Since the appetite for BBC shows on SVOD [streaming video on demand] and other third party platforms is growing in the UK and abroad, it doesn’t make sense for us to invest further in BBC Store where demand has not been as strong as we’d hoped in a rapidly changing market”.
BBC Worldwide – the BBC’s commercial arm – is under increasing pressure to find new sources of funding outside the traditional licence fee model. However, it has accepted that the BBC Store model failed to provide that revenue, with viewers increasingly opting for subscription services such as Netflix or Amazon over ‘download and keep’ alternatives.
The message to users on the BBC Store homepage announcing the closure
Hit BBC shows such as Doctor Who and Sherlock are already easily available on platforms like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video. In the face of this, the demand for digital downloads has diminished.
The fact that programmes bought on the BBC Store platform will not be available after the service closes in November also underlines the uncertainty of ‘owning’ a series that requires an online service to view.
The closure of BBC Store follows ITV and the BBC’s launch of their own streaming service ‘BritBox’ in the USA, allowing customers abroad to subscribe and watch big British hits on demand.
However, despite BBC Store’s closure, RadioTimes.com understands that there is currently no plan to launch a BBC streaming service for users in the UK. Instead, the BBC will continue to license its shows to other subscriber services, and sell series through platforms such as iTunes and Google Play.
BBC Store customers are being contacted with options to claim either a refund for the total value of their previous purchases or an Amazon Video voucher for the value of their purchases plus 10 per cent, which they will be able to spend on the Amazon website.
Users will still be able to watch programmes they have bought via BBC Store until 1st November.