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BBC Close Their Store Without Explaining Why

I got an email from the BBC today, telling me that the BBC Store is closing in November. Oddly, they don’t explain why. This Engadget article says it’s because “people prefer streaming.”

At least, that’s what the headline says. The article actually says the decision comes “following poor sales and tough competition from streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Video.”

Which is plausible enough, I suppose. Though I doubt that most people could explain the difference between a streaming service and one in which you have to download the file first. And in any case, Netflix and I think Amazon also allow you to download now.

In fact my guess would be more that people prefer subscriptions. Amazon and Netflix are compelling because once your monthly fee is paid you can always watch anything they have. With the Store you had to buy specific titles, and there’s always that hesitation about paying before you watch something.

I only ever used it to watch a couple of episodes of something I had left too late to see on iPlayer. specifically, one episode of Undercover. Apparently I spent £1.89, and I’ll be getting a £2.50 Amazon voucher to make up for it. Whee, an investment.

So I guess I was part of the poor sales.

On the other hand, there is the opinion of some — and it would be of many in Britain, I imagine — that BBC programmes should just be available. We shouldn’t have to pay for them again. “We’re not just listeners and viewers, it belongs to us,” as a great man once sang.

Maybe that’s the solution to the arguments over funding: treat the licence fee as a subscription charge. Increase it, make it optional, but include access to the BBC’s entire back catalogue.

But the Engadget article goes on to say:

If the rumours are true, BritBox — the BBC- and ITV-owned streaming service that launched in the US earlier this year — could be expanded to host more of the BBC’s back catalogue and eventually launch in the UK.

BBC and ITV? Together? Well I never.

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