The BBC’s commercial arm today confirmed that it would close down the service, which went live just eighteen months ago, as viewers increasingly opt for third-party subscription video-on-demand offerings provided by the likes of Netflix and Amazon.
Customers who have used the BBC Store to purchase content will be offered a refund, or an Amazon voucher worth 10% more than the amount they spent on BBC Store.
Viewers will still be able to watch their purchased content through BBC Store until November 1, after which time the service will go dark.
“Since the appetite for BBC shows on VOD 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,” said a spokesperson for BBC Worldwide.
The BBC, which is under increasing pressure to generate cash outside the licence fee, already licenses its content to major download platforms like iTunes, Google Play and Amazon Video via its commercial arm.
BBC Worldwide also publishes hundreds of titles a year and licenses shows and series to popular subscription services like Netflix and Amazon.
These agreements mean the bulk of the content available on the BBC Store will still be accessible to viewers, while rarer archive material will continue to be surfaced through the iPlayer – which already offers a range of old documentaries and hard-to-find BBC content for free.
BBC Worldwide launched the download-to-own BBC Store in November 2015 promising access to the “most comprehensive collection of BBC programmes ever collected”.
The store initially launched with 7,000 hours of content organised by genre, series, and collections, and its catalogue includes new programmes that have recently been on BBC TV or on the iPlayer, popular shows from recent years and previously unavailable content from the BBC archive.
The UK service was a joint effort between the BBC’s commercial and public service arms and is accessible both through a standalone website, via iOS and Android apps, and on Chromecast.
Since Store went live, BBC Worldwide has pursued other digital opportunities, most notably Britbox – its recently-launched US SVOD offering. The joint venture with ITV aims to offer a ‘best of British’ streaming service for an American audience.
DTVE understands that BBC Worldwide is not exploring a similar SVOD service for the UK market – that could sit along side its free iPlayer service – in the wake of BBC Store’s closure.