Britbox vs Acorn: Reviewed

*This post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.

Acorn TV and BritBox are two lesser-known streaming services, unless of course you’re an Anglophile. If that’s the case, you’re probably well-versed in these two services, which are like Netflix or Hulu for people who love British dramas and documentaries. If you love mysteries like Poirot, classic comedy like Black Adder, or documentaries on the royal family, these services are definitely for you. But which one is best? In the battle of BritBox vs Acorn, the winner will all depend on what kind of viewer you are.

BritBox vs Acorn: What Are They?

BritBox and Acorn are streaming services that specialize in series and documentaries produced in the United Kingdom. They’re loaded up with Agatha Christie-based mysteries, police procedurals, and soapy dramas. They’re not exactly the same, though; each caters to a slightly different audience of American Anglophiles.
Acorn TV focuses on UK-based content but also offers shows from Canada, Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand. BritBox, on the other hand, only carries content from flagship UK stations BBC and ITV. This means their libraries vary widely, and the right one for you will depend on the type of content you’re looking for. One thing is for sure, though: if you love British television you’ll want to subscribe to at least one of these services.


Their Background and History

Acorn TV was introduced in 2013, making it older than Britbox by a few years. It’s owned by RLJ Entertainment, Inc., whose subsidiary group Acorn Media Group has been distributing UK-based content in the United States for over two decades. That means they’re well-versed in the kinds of things American audiences crave.

BritBox, meanwhile, is a joint venture between BBC and ITV and was introduced in 2017. It takes the wide array of programming on these channels that doesn’t make it to the cable channel BBC America and puts it all in one place for American audiences to enjoy.

How They Compare

In this unbiased article we will compare and contrast BritBox vs Acorn using factors including pricing, the quality of content, how much content each service offers, the devices each supports, and the overall user experience.


Pricing and Cost $$


Content Quality ****

BritBox does a few things better than Acorn TV in the content department. First and foremost, its shows are more current. Its “NOW” feature provides the latest episodes of shows aired on BBC and ITV, so if you love being caught up with all of your British favorites as soon as they air, this is the service for you. This is especially great for ex-pat users who want to chat about the latest episodes with friends back home. BritBox even offers livestreams for certain major events, like the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.

BritBox generally excels in the “big name” series from across the pond. If you’re looking for the latest EastEnders, crime thrillers like Silent Witness, or even an extensive back catalogue of Doctor Who, you’ll find them here. It’s also great for classic British comedy like Fawlty Towers and the original UK-based The Office. It also packs plenty of younger-skewing content, like the UK’s latest lifestyle shows and LGTBQ-focused series.

Content Quantity ****

BritBox currently has in the neighborhood of 200 different series available for streaming; this number fluctuates from month to month as more shows are added and others are removed. It’s not as much content as Netflix has, but it will still offer a few thousand hours of dedicated viewing to Anglophiles. In terms of BritBox vs Acorn though, the two are about on the same level when it comes the amount of content on offer.


User Interface and Experience *****

BritBox’s user interface is refined and easy to navigate. It doesn’t look like Netflix’s interface, but it operates in a very similar way. When you’re looking at TV dramas, for example, you’ll see rows of series broken down into subcategories for easier navigation. This makes it easy to find shows similar to your favorites once you’ve finished a full series.


Device Support ****

BritBox is available on streaming devices like Google Chromecast, Roku, and Apple TV. It is also supported on all laptops, iPhones, iPads, and Android devices. If you use an Amazon Fire device or gaming console as your main media center, you can subscribe to the BritBox channel on Amazon Prime Video and access BritBox content through that app on your Playstation or Xbox. There is not, however, a dedicated BritBox app for these devices.


Regional Availabilty ****

BritBox is available throughout the United States and Canada, although pricing and programming varies by country. If you don’t live in one of these two countries however, you will have to use a Virtual Protected Network, or VPN, to connect to a US or Canadian server.

Additional Features ***

When it comes to extra features, BritBox is pretty barebones. It offers closed captions but lacks the features users of services like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video have come to expect, like downloading content to watch offline. There is also only one profile available per account on BritBox, so you’ll have to share if multiple people in your household want to use the service.

The best additional feature BritBox has is one we’ve already covered: the “NOW” section that provides the latest episodes of popular shows alongside the occasional livestream.


Pricing and Cost $


Content Quality ****

Acorn TV has a few things that BritBox doesn’t. It offers content not only from the UK but also from Ireland, New Zealand, and Australia. Mysteries, dramas, comedies, documentaries, and even feature films are available. You’ll find famous shows like Black Books and Doc Martin, and even Acorn TV’s Emmy-nominated series Poirot. That’s right, Acorn TV is in the original content business. In that regard, Acorn is currently winning the head-to-head of BritBox vs Acorn, but BritBox is beginning to catch up.

If you love British crime dramas above all else, Acorn TV has a small edge over BritBox. They’ve been around for a bit longer and built up more of a library, plus they offer US premieres of popular shows like Midsomar Murders and The Dectectorists.

Content Quantity ****

When pitting BritBox vs Acorn, the quantity of content comes out roughly the same on the TV front. However, Acorn also offers feature films and documentaries, boosting the number of titles up to around 250, which is more than what BritBox offers. Whether that means there are more quality offerings on Acorn TV is up for debate though; after all, Netflix has tons of content, but a lot of it is filler.

User Interface and Experience ***

This is where Acorn TV comes up a little short. The user interface isn’t unpleasant to use, but it requires more browsing than most users will be used to. Acorn TV eschews the refined approach of BritBox in favor of a simple grid. Selecting a show or movie will show you a short synopsis and the occasional trailer, depending on the title. You’ll find none of the subheaders of BritBox and Netflix on Acorn TV, making it a little harder to find shows similar to ones you know you like.

Device Support ****

Acorn TV is available for the same devices as BritBox, including ChromeCast, Apple TV, Roku, iPhone, iPad and Android devices. It also has a dedicated app for Amazon Fire devices, so you won’t have to use your Amazon Prime Video app to watch it if you have one of those. This means, however, that if a gaming console is your central media hub you won’t have any way to use an Acorn TV app.


Regional Availabilty ****

Acorn TV is available in the United States, but unlike BritBox it is not offered in Canada. It is, however, widely available in Latin America: Argentina, Chile, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, and more can all subscribe to Acorn TV. If you’re in Canada or another region where it’s unavailable, you can always use a VPN to access content.

Additional Features **

Acorn TV suffers from a lack of features users have come to expect from streaming services. With no ability to download content for on-the-go watching and only one profile available per account, users are somewhat limited in how they use it. Like with BritBox, however, Acorn does have closed captions available. It’s not a deal-breaker by any means, but when when pitting BritBox vs Acorn in this category, we have to give an edge to BritBox and its “NOW” feature.


In the battle of BritBox vs Acorn, it’s tough to decide on a true winner. Which one you choose will all depend on what sort of content you’re looking for. Acorn TV will be a great choice for those who are looking for more old-school picks and premium-quality original content. BritBox is the perfect service for those who want to be able to watch the latest episodes of current shows, or the entire back-catalogue of Doctor Who.

BritBox has its “NOW” feature for current programs and a nicer user interface. Acorn has more content overall and is cheaper by the month than its rival. It’s also the only one of the two with an Emmy-nominated original program.

Overall, your pick will come down to whether you want more content and more classics, or access to the latest popular shows. If you can’t decide, there’s good news: both of these services offer one-week free trials, so you can sample them before making your decision. If you still can’t decide, you’re in further luck! Both of these services combined are still less expensive than a monthly subscription to Netflix.

Recent Posts