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At least once or twice each week, someone asks us which of the streaming services have the most British TV shows. We typically recommend that US and Canada-based readers should subscribe to both BritBox and Acorn TV, but of course that doesn't cover all the shows and services.
To give a more comprehensive answer, we decided to take a closer look at all the major streaming services with a significant amount of British TV content. This post is specific to the US, but a lot of it will still be active to our Canadian readers. We'd like to apologise in advance to our Australian and Canadian readers, as we don't know much about the streaming services there, and we rarely get press updates from the local stations and services.
Please note: These British show counts change constantly, and many of the services don't separate out their British content – so it's not always possible to be 100% accurate. Take these numbers as a rough guide only.
The Big Ones: The Top Streaming Services for British TV Content
Before we go any further, I want to remind everyone that while numbers make it easy to compare services on paper, they don't necessarily tell you which one is best for you. The programming is a bit different for each, and some programmes are exclusive to one service or another.
If you're a die-hard Death in Paradise fan, for example, BritBox is the only one that's going to satisfy that need (short of buying the episodes/seasons outright on a service like Amazon or iTunes). Similarly, The Crown is made by Netflix, so the odds of that being included in any other subscription are pretty much nonexistent, at least for now.
If you're curious to compare the two major British TV services, check out: The BritBox vs. Acorn TV debate.
Total British TV Shows: 369 as of March 9th
Monthly Price: $6.99 as of March 2020
- See also: The Best Shows on BritBox
At last count in early March 2020, BritBox had 369 British TV shows and docuseries on offer. Some of the most popular include Death in Paradise, Vera, Midsomer Murders, Keeping Up Appearances, Shetland, Father Brown, Cold Feet, As Time Goes By, Gavin & Stacey, EastEnders, and Classic Doctor Who.
BritBox sticks to just British programming, including a few British shows made elsewhere, like Living the Dream or The Bletchley Circle: San Francisco. If you enjoy having some Australian or Canadian shows mixed in with your British TV, this isn't really the place to get that.
Total British TV Shows: 326 as of March 9th
Monthly Price: $5.99 as of March 2020
- See also: The Best Shows on Acorn TV
The older of the two major British TV streaming services, Acorn TV has slightly less total content than BritBox – but they also have a slightly lower price monthly price tag, so it balances out. Some of the more popular shows on Acorn TV include The Good Karma Hospital, Agatha Raisin, Midsomer Murders, Miss Fisher Mysteries (AU), Doc Martin, Line of Duty, Murdoch Mysteries (CAN), No Offence, Detectorists, and Queens of Mystery.
As you can see from the list above, Acorn TV offers primarily British programming, but also a healthy dose of programming from Australia, Canada, and other countries. One recent favourite, Balthazar, is a French import.
Amazon Prime Video
Total British TV Shows: approximately 500 as of March 9th
Monthly Price: $12.99/month or $119 per year for Amazon Prime (March 2020) or $8.99/month for Prime Video only (March 2020)
First off, the surprising news. Yes, Prime Video has more British TV programming than either of the British-specific services. That's ONLY counting the shows that are free with Prime membership, and it doesn't include British movies. We've not yet attempted to tackle that beast.
We can't be 100% sure we've rounded up ALL the British shows on Prime Video. In fact, we've almost definitely missed some. It's a much harder service to navigate, as there's no special gated section just for British (or Australian, Canadian, etc) content.
A lot of people are also really confused (and even angry!) about the fact that Amazon offers a mix of third-party subscriptions, “free with Prime” programming, rental content, and “available for purchase” content. If you don't know the system really well, it can definitely be confusing.
The real question is this: Should you get Prime Video instead of one of the British-specific services?
Our thought? Probably not. It's great to have in the mix, and it's even a pre-requisite if you want to watch Acorn TV or other subscriptions through Amazon – but in terms of programming, the content you get with Prime Video is often a bit dated. Many of the shows are older, and they usually don't offer the latest season (with a few exceptions like Fleabag, White Dragon, and Informer).
Total British TV Shows: Around 200 as of November 2019
Monthly Price: Starts at around $9/month, varies based on your selected options
- See also: 230+ British TV Shows on Netflix Right Now
- See also: 90+ British Movies on Netflix Right Now
Of the four streaming services offering substantial British TV libraries to their subscribers, Netflix is probably the weakest of the bunch. If you add up both the movies and the shows, they do have almost as much content as British TV giants Acorn TV and BritBox – but there are two big drawbacks.
- Netflix has been losing tons of BBC content lately – especially after BritBox launched in the UK and they (BritBox is a joint venture between the BBC and ITV) decided they wanted a lot of their content back.
- Netflix costs more than the specialised services.
Many of us keep it in our monthly mix anyway (BritBox + Acorn + Prime Video + Netflix is STILL cheaper than old cable plans), but of the big 4, it has the least to offer the average British TV fan. The main exception would be for those who are really attached to a Netflix-produced show like The Crown.
A Bit of British TV: Services with Slightly Less British TV
Total British TV Shows: Around 100 as of March 9th
Monthly Price: $5.99/month & up (March 2020)
- See also: 90+ British TV Shows on Hulu
Hulu‘s selection of British TV shows isn't enormous, but they do have some good ones you won't find anywhere else. They're particularly strong on comedy, with shows like Friday Night Dinner, Spaced, Miranda, Gameface, This Way Up, and Shameless are among their offerings.
Total British TV Shows: Approximately 25-40 at any given time
Monthly Price: $5.99/month as of March 2020
PBS Masterpiece (the Amazon Video channel from PBS) doesn't have the MOST British TV, but they are the exclusive premiere outlet for some of the best programmes, particularly in the realm of period dramas and period mysteries. Shows like Grantchester, Endeavour, Vienna Blood, Beecham House, Sanditon, and The Durrells have appeared there first.
PBS Masterpiece also offers quite a bit of international content via Walter Presents.
Total British TV Shows: Around 20 at any given time
Monthly Price: $6.99/month as of March 2020 ($4.99/month if you pay annually)
- See also: British TV Shows on Sundance Now
If all you want is British TV, you may not find Sundance Now to be a great value. That said, it's worth pointing out that many of the British shows they DO have are really high-value, current programmes – things like Liar, McMafia, The Split, and A Discovery of Witches.
In addition to British TV shows, Sundance Now is also really heavy on international TV in general (tons of Scandi noir) and independent or artsy films.
Total British TV Shows: Approximately 100 British TV shows, movies still undetermined
Monthly Price: Free with ads
- See also: 100+ Free British TV Shows on Tubi
While Tubi doesn't have an enormous trove of scripted British TV content, they do have a few less common programmes (like Eternal Law, set in the gorgeous city of York), along with TONS of non-fiction/docu series type shows. I particularly love the home renovation/house hunting shows they have on offer, given that British housing inventory is often so historic and varied. Restoration Man is a must-see, as is Restoration Home (with actress Caroline Quentin) and pretty much everything with Charlie Luxton.
If you hate the adverts and you also have Amazon's Prime Video, definitely check Amazon for anything you find on Tubi. There's a lot of duplication between the two.
Just a Little Bit of British TV: Services that Dabble in British Television
Total British TV Shows: 28 as of March 2020
Monthly Price: $4.99/month (as of March 2020)
- See also: British TV Shows & Movies on Topic
Topic is a new streaming service, and while they don't have a ton of British TV content, they have enough to make it worth the occasional month of membership. They also have a variety of shows from countries as diverse as Israel, Brazil, Finland, Morocco, and Somalia.
Total British TV Shows: A handful
Monthly Price: $10.99/month (as of March 2020)
Showtime isn't a great outlet for British TV, but they do have a few things likely to be of interest to British TV fans – some shows that are British, and others that just feature Brits. If you opt for a trial, check out The Tudors, Episodes, Secret Diary of a Call Girl, Who is America? (starring Brit Sacha Baron Cohen), and The Affair.
Total British TV Shows: A few
Monthly Price: $9.99/month (as of March 2020)
Cinemax is definitely not a British TV fan's dream service, but they ARE the only (US) place to watch C.B. Strike, the detective series based on JK Rowling's Cormoran Strike novels (short of buying the episodes). They also have Rellik, which is definitely worth a watch if you're doing the trial or a one-month membership to binge the things you like.
Total British TV Shows: Perhaps 10-20 at any given time
Monthly Price: $14.99/month (as of March 2020)
For most British TV fans HBO is more of a “sometimes” service. They have some legitimately wonderful British programmes (and US/UK co-productions), but it's one of the more expensive streaming services (though still cheaper than movie tickets for 2 in most major urban areas).
What do they have that makes it occasionally worth it? At the moment, we'd recommend His Dark Materials, Gentleman Jack, Catherine the Great, Chernobyl, Game of Thrones, The Undoing (May 2020), Gunpowder, and Years and Years.
Total British TV Shows: A dozen or so
Monthly Price: $8.99/month (as of March 2020)
Starz is primarily a movie channel, but they do have a few good British TV shows in the mix. For some it's all about Outlander. Aside from that, they also have The White Princess, The White Queen, and Da Vinci's Demons. They also have a couple of American series with British leads – American Gods (remember Ian McShane?), Dublin Murders, and Black Sails.
What's Your Favourite British TV Streaming Service?
Regardless of the actual TV show count, many of us have a favourite service for the type of programming, the ease of using the interface, or even just a single original show that nobody else has. What's your favourite service for streaming British TV shows?
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