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.

BBC Close Their Store Without Explaining Why

Classy

I just watched the last episode of Class, BBC 3’s web-only1 Doctor Who spinoff.

It is really, really good. If you haven’t seen it you should stop reading this now and go and watch. Really. I’ll still be here when you get back.

Eight episodes with special guest appearances at the start and (spoilers) the end, about five young people in the famous Coal Hill School. Famous from the very first episode of Who, of course, right up to the 50th and beyond. It’s now an academy, not surprisingly. And it seems that it is — or always has been — something of a nexus in space and time.

I’ll not say much more, as it would be hard not to get spoilery. But I will tell a little anecdote of how I watched it.

I saw episode 6 first. Why? Because I was careless, and iPlayer has stupid defaults. I went to the site and searched and found the programme, and started watching the first episode it presented me with. Because that would be the first episode, obviously, right?

Wrong. The rationale is sound: iPlayer is a catch-up service; and the episode you’re most likely to want to catch up on is the current one. So the episode I saw first was 6, “Detained”, which must have been current at the time.

Thing is, I don’t think there can have been a “Previously…” at the start — though there was later — or I think I’d have noticed. I was just impressed with how it started straight in, giving touches of backstory in moments of dialogue, so that by the time the five teenagers were locked in the detention classroom and the plot began to unfold, I was really impressed with this in medias res beginning and compact storytelling.

Well, of course, after that I realised my mistake and went back to the beginning. And when I got to 6 again it did have a “Previously…” But if you didn’t start at the beginning, it was probably the best one to start at.

Is it great? Maybe. It’s certainly got the potential to be so. It’s better than early Torchwood, maybe not quite as good as the best of The Sarah Jane Adventures. Well worth watching, and I hope there will be more serieseseseses.


  1. Well, that’s a tautology now, of course []
Classy

Kippers for Tea

I usually post before elections. This time I didn’t get round to it.

The results of the European parliament elections were horrendous, of course. But one slightly good thing may come out of it all.

IMHO the single biggest contribution to UKIP’s success is the fact that Nigel Farage was never off the BBC in the last few months. More appearances on Question Time than anyone else, for example. Constantly consulted on the radio about anything even vaguely connected to Europe or immigration (or anything else, it seemed).

In short, it’s the fact that the BBC treated them like a mainstream party that has caused — or at least helped — them to almost become one.

I see a close parallel with the way they give climate-change deniers equal time with climatologists whenever there’s an environment story; the intent being balance, but the effect being to give undue weight to the views of a tiny minority.

Here, though, they went far beyond that point, to where I feel they were guilty of violating their mandated requirement to show balance.

So the potential good outcome: at least people of the right can no longer say that the BBC has a left-wing, pro-Europe bias.1


  1. Not that that was ever a very fair point; you just have to look at the BBC’s [political editor, Nick Robinson](http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/correspondents/nickrobinson/), for a counterexample. []
Kippers for Tea