The Store is a joint effort between the BBC’s commercial and public service arms, and is accessible both through the BBC’s iPlayer catch-up service and from a standalone website – with BBC Store mobile apps due to follow.
At a launch event in London yesterday, Marcus Arthur, managing director of BBC Worldwide & ANZ, said that the BBC Store launches with 7,000 hours of content, with roughly 50 to 70 hours of additional content to be added a week from the iPlayer and more from the BBC Television Archive.
“This is the most comprehensive collection of BBC content anywhere, ever,” said Arthur. “We’re launching it with 7,000 hours of content and we will add about 50% more content in the coming year – so about half again. We’ll be well through 10,000 hours once we’ve been in one year of operation.”
The Store will offer new programmes that have recently been on BBC TV or on the iPlayer, popular shows from past years and previously unavailable content from the archive.
Arthur said that the purpose of the BBC Store was to offer “an updated way of getting DVD content, without disks” and allows the BBC to open up its archive. He added that it will grow the “overall marketplace” for video-on-demand.
Asked whether the BBC planned to launch the BBC Store internationally, Arthur said that the download-to-own model would be UK-only.
“This is a download-to-own service, rather than subscription VOD; this is a UK-only service. We have no plans to take this overseas. As [BBC director general] Tony Hall said, we have a plan to do a subscription service in the US, which is different from this.”
At launch, the Store will include content spanning comedy, entertainment, drama, factual, children’s and music and arts programming – as well as a number of curated BBC Store collections like ‘Great Adaptations’, ‘Conspiracy Thrillers’ and ‘Dark Laughs’.
Current popular shows that will be available on the Store include Doctor Who, Sherlock, Top Gear and David Attenborough’s natural history programmes, as well as recent successes like Poldark and The Fall.
Other series that will be available include Absolutely Fabulous, Only Fools and Horses, Dad’s Army, The Great British Bake Off, Wolf Hall, Later With… Jools Holland, and Louis Theroux documentaries.
Content on the Store available to buy for the first time includes David Frost’s The Frost Interviews and a number of plays from dramatist Dennis Potter, such as Alice and Follow The Yellow Brick Road.
“There’s been less than 10% of the BBC’s archive ever available to buy and own. For 30 years we’ve published VHS tapes then DVDs then Blu-ray, so for only 10% of that ever to be commercially available gives you an idea of the size of the challenge if you’re looking to open up the rest of it,” said Arthur, explaining the importance of curating the download-to-own offering.
Prices for the store will be similar to other download-to-own services, starting at £1.89 (US$2.91) for a single episode and £7.99 for a six-part series – with content available in both SD and HD.
Once a viewer has bought a programme they will be able to access it from a ‘My Programmes’ section of the BBC Store site, where they will be able to stream it or download to view offline. Bought content will also appear in a new ‘My Purchases’ section on the iPlayer.