BBC Launches Digital Store for ‘Sherlock’ and ‘Doctor Who’ in U.K.

LONDON — Want to buy the latest episode of “Doctor Who” hours after the TV transmission, some exclusive “Top Gear” footage or a forgotten but culturally significant Dennis Potter play from the 1960s?

Look no further, then, than the BBC Store, which goes live Wednesday and features more than 7,000 hours of content from the BBC archive.

The long heralded, download-to-own service, run by BBC Worldwide, marks another milestone in the digital revolution the Corp is embracing. Titles, be it “Sherlock” or “Shakespeare,” can be accessed via bbcstore.com or the BBC iPlayer on mobiles, tablets and computers. A BBC Store app will be launched shortly making the service available as a direct portal on smart TVs.

For TV junkies or casual viewers, the BBC store offers a vast array of fare from the present day and stretching back more than half a century. “Muffin The Mule,” one of the BBC’s first children’s TV shows, is believed to be the oldest piece of content that can be bought on the BBC Store.

The “Doctor Who” collection embraces 50 years of the time traveller’s adventures. Comedy fans have classics like “Blackadder” and the complete “Fawlty Towers” including some episodes considered too politically incorrect to show on broadcast TV. Influential drama such as the original “House of Cards” and “Cathy Come Home” will also be available. A collection of Dennis Potter rarities like “A Beast With Two Backs” and “Traitor” are on sale for the first time .

“We want BBC Store to do for digital ownership with BBC iPlayer did for catch-up,” said Marcus Arthur, managing director of BBC Worldwide U.K. and ANZ. “BBC Store makes digital ownership really easy for audiences and means that we can begin opening up the incredible BBC television archive.”

Within a year Arthur predicted the hours of content available on BBC Store would grow to 10,000 hours. Users pay from £1.89 for a single episode to an average price of £7.99 for a six-part series.

The U.K.-only service comes as DVD sales continue to slide and competition for screen eyeballs gets even more intense. Worldwide said it would still sell its content to VOD services like Netflix. The outfit declined to reveal revenue forecasts for BBC Store but said it would help drive Worldwide’s revenues in the next five years.

Worldwide is planning to bow a subscription U.S. VOD service next year but details remain sketchy.

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