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Auntie sh!tcans BBC Store after 18 months

Customers offered Amazon vouchers or a full refund

The Beeb is to shut its online paid-for streaming service BBC Store from November, just 18 months after it launched.

The online facility failed to get off the ground against stiff competition from Netflix and Amazon. Its closure comes as Old Auntie is under increasing pressure to generate cash outside the Licence Fee.

Customers who have bought and downloaded copies of major BBC series such as Doctor Who or Pride and Prejudice are being offered the choice of an Amazon voucher worth 10 per cent more than the value of their online library or a cash refund of the equivalent value.

In a letter to customers seen by The Register, the Beeb said: "Sadly, we have taken the difficult decision to close BBC Store on 1st November 2017. From today, we are no longer making programmes available to buy on BBC Store."

However, customers who purchased a series pass will be able to access their remaining episodes until November.

A spokesperson for BBC Worldwide told us: "Since the appetite for BBC shows on VOD and other third-party platforms is growing in the UK and abroad, it doesn't make sense for us to invest further in BBC Store where demand has not been as strong as we'd hoped in a rapidly changing market."

The organisation will continue to sell shows on iTunes and other platforms, while BBC iPlayer will continue to surface archive content.

As of this month, the Beeb has made it necessary to log in to access iPlayer under new TV licensing laws introduced last year, demanding that people have a licence to watch or download BBC programmes on demand.

The introduction of a login is part of plans to make services "more personal and relevant to you" under the project name MyBBC, launch director Andrew Scott said in an online blog.

Nicholas Prettejohn, trustee and chair of the BBC Trust's Value for Money Committee, told MPs last year that MyBBC is an "existential" question for the BBC.

"If you look at all retail, media and consumer companies they are all seeking to do what MyBBC is trying to do... to bring a more direct personalised relationship with the customer."

The £75m "agile" MyBBC IT project had been criticised by the National Audit Office for evading scrutiny because managers could make up the benefits as they went along.

Asked which project kept him awake at night, Prettejohn said: "If I had to pick out one it would have to be MyBBC... because [it is of] such fundamental strategic importance to the future." ®

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