My biggest fear with buying digital only copies of films and television shows is if the provider goes away – whether it’s due to bankruptcy, change of direction – whatever. As I’ve been sticking with the iTunes ecosystem for the majority of the time, I trust Apple to do the right thing and ensure I am able to download and watch my movies regardless of whatever happens to the movie or TV studio that supplied them with the content. So far so good.
But, alas, the poor old BBC has announced that it’ll be shutting down its all digital BBC Store from 1st November 2017. I’ve used BBC Store a number of times over the past 18 months, amassing a few titles here and there. It was relatively cheap, and they often had many titles on sale. My biggest complaint with the BBC Store, however, is actually watching the titles on my TV. What a pain in the arse that was. The BBC iPlayer baked into my LG TV, Apple TV, plus the games consoles I used to have, never supported BBC Store titles. And there was no native BBC Store app for them either. Thus I had to buy a Google Chromecast to be able to cast the content from my mobile phone to it. No problem watching the content on my phone or tablet, but it’s not ideal – and this is why I think the BBC has failed – it felt as if it didn’t put enough resources into developing the BBC iPlayer integration or BBC Store apps across multiple platforms.
(Ironically, as the mega corporate AT&T is set to buy Time Warner, Inc. and take over HBO – AT&T’s boss has been semi-joking that he wants to provide 20 minute mobile friendly episodes of Game of Thrones – this sort of thing horrifies me – I’m all about choice, but the important thing is that television is television and should be viewed as (and on) such)
Another problem with BBC Store is that many of BBC’s titles are available on the likes of Netflix and Amazon Prime. The BBC has said that it wasn’t able to compete with these services, but I still say they just did not put enough effort or resources into making the content available across platforms as easily as Netflix or Amazon Prime (which, BTW, should be coming to Apple TV next month if rumours are true).
Ultimately it’s a slap in the face for digital TV and movie consumption. But I also ask: is TV and film going the same way as music? Do people actually prefer to pay a monthly subscription fee to consume as much content as possible, rather than simply buy a title outright? While the BBC is refunding those of us for the content we’ve paid for (plus, very ironically, a £20 Amazon voucher for similar digital content), it doesn’t make it easy for us to be able to repurchase the content elsewhere. With content providers bemoaning that piracy is ruining the entertainment industry – it forgets very easily that if more effort was made to make the content available quickly and cheaply, and across as many platforms as possible, their rhetoric might be a bit more believable!