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Acorn TV vs. BritBox
One of the most common questions we're hearing lately is whether a British TV lover should get BritBox or Acorn TV. Now, before we get into the differences, I want to be very clear about one thing. I recommend them both. If your budget allows and you have time to watch programs from both, then definitely sign up for both. There's little to no overlap in terms of what they offer, and they both have somewhere around 250 titles at any given time.
A Compromise on the Acorn vs. BritBox Debate
If subscribing to both Acorn TV and BritBox is too much in terms of time or money, the second best option would be to sign up for one, keep it for a few months, then switch for a few months. In my experience, only about 10% of the programming changes each month on either service, so you're not going to miss much going back and forth like that. Just keep a close eye on the “Leaving Soon” programs and you should be fine.
The only real hassle is just the fact that you have to remember to go in and cancel/re-sign up somewhat frequently. We've created a guide on how to do that quickly and easily, though (without the need to call on the phone or talk to any humans). Check it out HERE.
But if I MUST Choose Between Acorn & BritBox?
A lot of people just want to know: Which is better, Acorn TV or BritBox? Unfortunately, there's no single answer that will be right for everyone. To help you figure out which is best for YOU, let's take an in-depth look Acorn TV vs. BritBox.
As most people know, Acorn TV has been around quite a bit longer than BritBox. They've had years to work out the bugs and improve customer experience – and believe me, there were issues in the beginning. It didn't always stream well, billing between the catalog site and the TV site was a bit wonky, and I sent quite a few emails to customer service that never received a reply. Those days are over, though, and Acorn TV is a pretty solid product now.
Acorn used to have a wonderful, simple app – but they recently changed it and there have been tons of complaints. It's flashier, but much more of a pain to navigate.
If you have an Amazon Prime Membership, you can buy your Acorn TV subscription directly from Amazon instead, and use the Amazon app to stream shows. This can be very convenient if you wish to stop and start, as Amazon makes it quite easy to cancel channels. You can sign up here for the free trial (billed at $4.99/month afterwards). A lot of people also find the streaming to be a bit smoother at Acorn on Amazon, especially if your internet isn't the fastest.
In terms of programming, Acorn TV currently has slightly less than BritBox, at 263 offerings (as of March 2018). Not all of Acorn TV's programming is British, and you'll generally see a handful of shows from Canada, Australia, Ireland, Scandinavia, etc. Not all are in English.
Still, the majority of Acorn TV's programming is British. They offer a number of the really big, popular recent shows like Doc Martin, Poirot, Miss Marple (RLJ Entertainment, owner of Acorn TV, also owns much of the corporation that owns the Christie rights), and Midsomer Murders. If you enjoy those and want to stay current as the new seasons come out, Acorn TV is the service to have. Update: BritBox has also secured the rights to air Midsomer Murders and Poirot.
I've often felt like Acorn TV is pretty weak on comedy, but they do have all three seasons of Detectorists. Where they really excel, however, is in the mystery category. Aside from the ones mentioned above, they also have (as of March 2018) Hamish MacBeth, Loch Ness, Agatha Raisin, Rebus, Murdoch Mysteries, Pie in the Sky, Foyle's War, George Gently, and Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries.
One thing I've noticed with Acorn is that it does seem to have slightly more cross-over with Netflix – though in many cases, Acorn gets the content faster and holds exclusivity on new seasons for quite a while. At the time of writing, Netflix also offers Doc Martin (S1-6), Midsomer Murders, Poirot, Rake, The Code, Miss Fisher's, Foyle's War, The Delivery Man, Deep Water, Detectorists, Jack Taylor, Republic of Doyle, Black Books, Jamaica Inn, and quite a few others I've seen on Acorn TV. If your household already subscribes to Netflix, you should take a careful look to see what you want on Acorn that isn't on Netflix.
In early 2017, BritBox came along to give us more wonderful British programming and complicate the lives of those who now have to make a choice between two great services. I've been using BritBox since it became available – first through my browser, and later on Roku.
While Acorn excels at offering recent, well-known shows, BritBox has a little bit of everything. For the mystery lovers, there are classics like Jonathan Creek, A Touch of Frost, Cadfael, and Rosemary and Thyme, along with current shows like Vera (the new series, anyway) and New Blood. Comedy lovers will find classics like Keeping Up Appearances, As Time Goes By, Are You Being Served?, and Blackadder alongside recent hits like Upstart Crow and Absolutely Fabulous.
If you follow one of the major British soaps (Emmerdale, EastEnders, or Coronation Street), you'll be very pleased to know that BritBox offers next-day viewing for these, along with a few other shows that aren't on quite so frequently (like the new series of Vera earlier this year). BritBox is also the place to be if you're a Classic Doctor Who fan.
I've found far less overlap between BritBox and other services, but as with anything, that could change.
So What Should I Choose, Acorn TV or BritBox
Like we said in the beginning, it really depends on your situation, and no matter what we recommend, it's very possible your decision will boil down to one or two shows that one service has and the other doesn't. If you're into Emmerdale or EastEnders, for example, BritBox is definitely the service for you. Still, here are some general guidelines to help you decide.
Note: All stated program availability is based on what was current in March 2018. Please check the programming links I've provided above to see what's currently on offer if you're reading this much later.
You Should Get Acorn TV If…
- If you're newer to British TV and you want a great introduction to many of the most popular, current shows that are loved stateside
- If you're a die-hard Doc Martin, Midsomer Murders, or Agatha Christie fan (especially if you don't have Netflix, which also carries Midsomer Murders and Doc Martin)
- If the slightly lower price matters, definitely go for Acorn TV – plenty of great content here at a slightly lower price
- If you enjoy the occasional Canadian or Australian show in the mix, go with Acorn TV
Sign up for Acorn TV here.
You Should Get BritBox If…
- If you've had Acorn TV for years and you've watched much of the programming they offer
- If you've watched a lot of British television on Netflix/Amazon/PBS/Acorn and you want to see fresh shows that often can't even be found on Region 1 DVDs (Some shows are only released on Region 2 DVDs, meaning you have to have a region-free DVD player to play them. Learn more about that by clicking here.)
- If you appreciate older British shows from the 70s, 80s, and 90s – BritBox has a great selection of classics like Keeping Up Appearances, Hetty Wainthropp Investigates, Fawlty Towers, and Are You Being Served?
- If you love British soaps – BritBox has next-day availability for Emmerdale, Coronation Street, and EastEnders (along with a few other shows with next-day availability)
- If you enjoy a lot of lifestyle content like Countryfile, Coast, Escape to the Country, Fantasy Homes by the Sea, Flog It, and The Hairy Bikers
Sign up for BritBox here.
If All Else Fails…
If you still can't make up your mind, remember you can get a free trial of both Acorn TV and BritBox. If and when you decide you want to cancel one or the other, here are the instructions. It's all very easy, and you don't even have to talk to a human to do it.
Your Thoughts on the Acorn TV vs. BritBox debate?
Please feel free to add your advice and opinions in the comments. Have we overlooked any major decision-making factors? Which service have you enjoyed more?