BBC Store will allow users 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. BBC Store is distinct from BBC iPlayer, which will remain a free catch-up service funded by the licence fee.
As a commercial service, Trust approval of BBC Store was based on an analysis of public value, commercial efficiency, the potential reputational impact on the BBC, and compliance with competition and state aid rules. As part of its assessment, the Trust secured independent economic and state aid advice.
While the proposal is for a commercial service, it involves changes to BBC iPlayer, one of the UK public services. As a result, in addition to the commercial service approval, the Trust carried out a separate assessment to establish whether the proposed changes to BBC iPlayer that arose as a result of BBC Store were significant and required a Public Value Test – the regulatory process for any proposed new BBC service. The Trust sought advice from Ofcom as part of this process. Ofcom identified some areas of potential impact from the changes to iPlayer. As suggested by them, the Trust conducted further analysis in each of these areas and concluded that the proposed changes did not trigger the requirement for a Public Value Test.
Suzanna Taverne, lead trustee on the assessment, said the BBC needed 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.”
Tim Davie, CEO of BBC Worldwide, revealed late late January that a trial of the global iPlayer app, testing in 16 countries, would not be extended to any new markets, with the service being integrated into BBC.com over time. He also confirmed that BBC Worldwide was to be the commercial operator of BBC Store, on behalf of the BBC.
For international audiences, Davie added that the annual subscription offer for BBC Global iPlayer had come to an end, signalling the start of plans to incorporate the BBC’s long-form video player into bbc.com over time.