The BBC Trust has greenlit plans to launch a new online shop selling BBC programmes to download and keep.
Dubbed BBC Store, viewers will be able to buy new programmes and a selection of content from the BBC archives, on a download-to-own basis. BBC Worldwide, the BBC’s commercial arm, will establish and run the service.
The BBC was quick to distinguish BBC Store from BBC iPlayer, which will remain a free catch-up service funded by the licence fee.
Suzanna Taverne, lead trustee on the assessment, said: “The BBC needs to respond to significant changes in the way audiences now buy programmes. The creation of BBC Store will enable it to do so, and to release a greater selection of classic shows from the BBC archive.
“In considering BBC Store, the Trust conducted a robust assessment and sought the advice of external parties.
“It concluded that BBC Store is a worthwhile commercial service that supplements what the BBC makes available through the licence fee and promises to bring value not only to audiences but also to the wider creative industries.”
The Trust approved the new commercial service after an analysis of public value, commercial efficiency, the potential reputational impact on the BBC, and compliance with competition and state aid rules.
TV shows won’t be sold through the BBC iPlayer, it will include links to the BBC Store and other commercial outlets retailing BBC content – a crucial issue for other retailers who fear a BBC monopoly on sales of its own shows.
The BBC Trust decision on BBC Store said iPlayer will need an extended search functionality that includes both public service and commercially available BBC content, and a seamless purchasing experience using pop-up windows and a single BBC account account all of its services.
BBC Store shoppers will also be able to watch programmes purchased from BBC Store via iPlayer, instead of needing a new application, with their purchases available in the cloud for viewing on multiple devices.