Sherlock and Doctor Who downloads to be sold by BBC in new iTunes-style service

The BBC said the Store was a 'natural progression in a digital age'

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The Independent Culture

The BBC will sell downloads of hit shows including Sherlock and Doctor Who directly for the first time through a new commercial web service set to launch this Autumn.

The BBC Store, launched through BBC Worldwide, will claw back some of the £650m costs which the BBC has agreed to incur by taking on free licence fees for the over-75s.

The BBC Store will sell permanent downloads of hit programmes and series within hours of their television broadcast.

The first time consumers can buy digital programmes direct from the BBC, the Store will provide competition for Apple’s iTunes, which charges viewers around £4 to buy episode downloads of hit shows like Sherlock.

The Store, currently undergoing Beta testing, will offer an initial catalogue of around 10,000 hours of content to purchasers in the UK. Shows from the BBC archives, some of which have never had a commercial release before, will be available to buy.

BBC Worldwide, the corporation’s commercial wing tasked with returning revenues to the licence-fee payer, will take a 70% cut of sales, with the rest going to independent production companies which have supplied the content.

BBC sources said the Store was expected to make a modest initial contribution to Worldwide's revenues with the launch catalogue building up to 10,000 hours of programming.

Users of the iPlayer will be given a choice to “search, buy or watch” programmes. The BBC Store will be accessed through a separate portal.

The 30-day window, in which viewers can stream or download BBC programmes for free on the iPlayer, will not be affected by the commercial service.

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Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock in the hit BBC drama (BBC)

The BBC said the Store was a “natural progression in a digital age” for people who currently bought DVDs.

The BBC Trust approved the launch of the Store, describing it as 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 store is expected to offer 6,000 hours of recent programmes and 4,000 hours of archive content when it launches. It will run as dedicated website and then be integrated into the iPlayer.

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