BBC Store closes after failing to beat online competition
James R | On 25, May 2017
The BBC is closing its digital video service BBC Store, after the site failed to compete with a crowded online marketplace.
The pay-per-view shop, which only launched a matter of months ago, was designed to give BBC viewers a place to buy and keep their favourite shows from the corporation, from Doctor Who and Poldark to classics from the archives. The problem all along, though, was that there were already many places to do that. Buying and owning titles can be done on a wide range of streaming platforms, from iTunes and Amazon Video to Google Play and TalkTalk TV Store. The latter, formerly called blinkbox, was sold off by Tesco a few years ago, due to financial difficulties.
The biggest killer, however, has been the rise of subscription VOD (SVOD), as consumers increasingly opt to sign up to services such Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, which provide multiple TV series for a smaller monthly fee. Indeed, many BBC shows are available on both Prime Video and Netflix, with the BBC saying at the time of the Store’s launch that it would not remove titles to make them exclusively available from the Beeb’s own platform.
“Since the appetite for BBC shows on SVOD 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,” a spokesperson told the RadioTimes.
The decision will be a blow to BBC Worldwide, the BBC’s commercial arm, which was banking on the digital store to provide a new revenue source outside of the traditional licence fee. Indeed, the BBC and ITV recently joined together to launch their own subscription streaming service in the USA, called Britbox. (There is still no plan to launch something similar in the UK, with ITV instead launching ITV Hub+, a subscription-based, ad-free form of its own catch-up platform.)
The BBC emailed BBC Store customers today to announce the news.
“Sadly, we have taken the difficult decision to close BBC Store on 1st November 2017,” the email read. “From today, we are no longer making programmes available to buy on BBC Store.”
For those who have already purchased shows, or series passes, episodes will still appear in their “My Programmes” section. The whole site will remain live until 1st November 2017, when BBC Store will officially shut its doors. At that point, programmes will no longer be available.
However, the BBC is offering direct refunds to all customers for their purchases, or is offering Amazon Video vouchers equivalent to the amount spent plus added compensation, so that they can purchase or rent other video content through Amazon’s pay-per-view platform. These vouchers will be valid for 12 months.
“The BBC will continue to find new ways of making BBC archive content available,” the Beeb added. “And do remember that programmes on BBC iPlayer are now available to watch for up to 30 days after broadcast, alongside a range of complete series and fascinating collections.”