Skip to main content

BritBox vs Acorn TV — which streaming service is better for you?

BritBox vs Acorn TV. BBC's Line of Duty (pictured) is available on both streaming services.
Steve Arnott from BBC's Line of Duty, available to stream on both Acorn TV and BritBox. (Image credit: BBC/World Productions/Ed Miller)

BritBox vs Acorn TV, which is better? That's the latest fight in the ever-growing number of streaming services, and we're going to help you pick the one that's right for you.

It feels like viewers need to make more and more decisions about streaming services every day. One day you're trying to decide what the best streaming device is, the next you're wondering whether you need Disney Plus as well as every other service out there. Now there's even a fight on to be the best place to watch British TV!

Acorn TV has existed as a standalone service in the US since 2013, but BritBox’s launch back in 2016 meant there were two contenders to be the definitive home of British TV.

We’ve put together a guide on everything you need to know about these two streaming services to help you decide whether Acorn TV or BritBox is the right one for you, whether you're in the US or UK.

BritBox vs Acorn TV: Overview

Neither of these services is going to change your mind about your Disney+ or Netflix subscription, but that’s not why they exist. You're much better off thinking of both BritBox and Acorn TV as supplements to your normal streaming habits.

BritBox is a joint venture between ITV and the BBC and is billed as the home of British entertainment, bringing more complete box sets of old and new shows to viewers than any other streaming service on the market. 

BritBox has already gained over one million subscribers in the US, and has a steadily growing userbase in the UK which has already reached 500,000 people.

Meanwhile, Acorn TV is a targeted service aimed at bringing new shows from around the world to fans of detectives, police dramas, and thrillers. 

Acorn TV reached its one million subscriber milestone back in 2019, which is equally impressive given it has a smaller amount of content available!

BritBox vs Acorn TV. Acorn TV's UI.

Acorn TV's interface as it appears in your web browser. (Image credit: acorn.tv)

BritBox vs Acorn TV: Prices and Free Trials

An Acorn TV subscription costs $5.99 / £4.99 / but you can also get an annual subscription for $59.99 / £49.99. In both the UK and the US, the annual subscription will save you the equivalent of two months’ monthly subscription.

Acorn TV’s free trial period lasts for just seven days in the US, but UK viewers get a 30 day period to try the service without paying a penny.

How much does BritBox cost? A BritBox monthly subscription costs $6.99 / £5.99, with annual subscription options available for $69.99 / £59.99. Again, that’s 12 months’ access for the price of ten.

BritBox’s free trial lasts for seven days, regardless of which region you're watching in. 

It’s worth noting that UK readers can get six months’ worth of BritBox access for free if they’re a BT broadband customer, or if they pay for their mobiles with EE. Head to BT.com or EE.co.uk for all the details.

Overall, both BritBox and Acorn TV are priced very similarly to other competitors. Acorn TV wins as the cheaper service, but there's only one dollar difference between the two.

BritBox vs Acorn TV: Availability

Acorn TV and BritBox, like many streaming services these days, are both available in different areas, and on different platforms.

BritBox is currently available in Australia, Canada, US and the UK, with plans to bring the service to South Africa soon. Subscribers outside of the UK can use their subscription in any region. 

You can watch BritBox on: Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV devices, Chromecast, YouView set-top boxes, select smart TVs, iOS and Android mobiles and tablets, Roku devices, and in your browser.

Acorn TV is available in many more regions right now, including the US, Canada, the UK, parts of Southern America, the Nordics, Australia, New Zealand and Mexico.

You can currently watch Acorn TV in your browser (their website recommends Chrome, specifically),  Apple TV, Roku and Fire TV devices, Chromecast, and on iOS and Android mobiles and tablets. 

Finally, you can find both Acorn TV and BritBox available to add to an Amazon Prime subscription as Prime Video channels in both the US and the UK.

BritBox vs Acorn TV: Content

Please note: content mentioned may not be available in all regions. 

At a glance, Acorn TV has a smaller library of content when compared to BritBox. As we've already mentioned, it's targeting a specific market, so most of its highlights are from within the crime and mystery genres. 

Some of the service's most popular shows include Keeping Faith, Whitstable Pearl, Line of Duty, Jack Irish, and Bloodlands.

Acorn TV also features a small range of documentaries, most of which focus on British history, nature, or culture.

It’s worth noting that the UK Acorn TV content library is smaller than the US offering. Whether this is due to the service only launching in 2020 in the UK or due to competition with other, more prominent services, the selection is limited for potential UK subscribers. UK Vviewers will also find series like Line of Duty, Deadwater Fell, and Keeping Faith are already available on free alternatives like BBC iPlayer and ITV Hub, too.

By comparison, BritBox has a much larger and broader content library. Enduring comedy faves like Gavin & Stacey, Sherlock, The Inbetweeners, and Fawlty Towers stand alongside new dramas like Grace, The Beast Must Die, and The Pembrokeshire Murders. BritBox is also the exclusive home of Line of Duty Season 6 in the US!

Fans of reality TV and soaps will also be well-served by the box sets of Love Island UK, The Only Way is Essex, Strictly Come Dancing, Coronation Street, EastEnders, and Emmerdale. BritBox has also begun branching out into producing original documentaries, including Secrets of the Krays and Hollywood Bulldogs.

Finally, both offer a range of films. Neither service will outperform the likes of Netflix or Amazon Prime Video in this space, though, as they’re both mostly related to the shows available on the platform. BBC iPlayer and ITV Hub will also continue to host shows, for free, and that content will migrate onto BritBox at a later date.

Acorn TV's films are perhaps more obscure and more likely to be documentaries or TV specials, but BritBox does boast some British flicks like The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Society, Attack the Block, Sexy Beast, and both Inbetweeners movies among its ranks (in the UK).

BritBox vs Acorn TV: User Interface and Features

Both BritBox and Acorn TV opt for very simple, easy-to-use interfaces that are very similar and easy to navigate in your browser.

Both curate their content into helpful categories with navigation bars, and both showcase their recommendations in helpful carousels, too. Viewers can quite happily jump between TV shows and movies, A-Zs, and genre-specific lists with relative ease. 

The actual video player is essentially the same on each service, too, minus slight variations. For example, Acorn TV offers the choice of streaming quality whereas BritBox doesn't yet, but BritBox has the option to skip ahead or backward by 10 seconds which is not available on Acorn TV. 

Neither has the info-dense overlay you find on Amazon Prime, nor does either platform have the multitude of options available on Netflix, but you'll find closed captions and the option to watch in full-screen on a computer easily enough.

The big win in utility is Acorn TV’s picture-in-picture player, though. This will pop out a small player and pin it to your desktop as an overlay, allowing you to crack on with other tasks on a computer. 

However, BritBox users can opt to download their favourite shows on iOS and Android mobiles and tablets, which Acorn TV users cannot do.

BritBox vs Acorn TV. BritBox's UI.

BritBox as it appears in your browser. (Image credit: britbox.com)

So, which one should I get: BritBox vs Acorn TV? 

Both services are available to watch in a range of ways, both are similarly priced, and both offer fairly standard user experiences. This means there’s really only one way to decide which service is right for you: What’s on BritBox, and what’s on Acorn TV?

Although Acorn TV might have some hidden gems to offer to crime drama and thriller fans, the platform looks a little lean in comparison to its ITV and BBC-backed competitor, BritBox. 

BritBox is going to cater to a far broader audience, and it offers a wider range of content for fans of British shows.

If the list of Acorn Originals intrigues you, or if you fancy taking a look at some international exclusives, give Acorn TV a trial run and see whether you enjoy what's available. If you only want to pay for one more streaming service, the better choice is still BritBox.