Acorn TV review

Acorn TV highlights 

What is Acorn TV?

Acorn TV brings the best of British TV directly to your fingertips. The niche streaming service is a property of AMC Networks and originally debuted in the early 1990s as a distributor of British TV to fans in the United States. Today, Acorn TV is popular for its catalog full of licensed British and European-centric content, but, like Netflix, it also produces original content exclusive to its service. 

Fans of British-made TV will find value in Acorn TV for its number of titles, but there are a few disadvantages to consider. For instance, there’s no option to download content for offline viewing, and its streaming quality is limited to 720p. But since Acorn TV serves as a niche service, it’s intended to complement other subscriptions much in the same way as ESPN+ and Sundance Now. Together with its three other streaming services, AMC Networks expects to reach seven million subscribers by 2024. 

Acorn TV plans 

How much is Acorn TV? It comes with a one-size-fits-all plan, similar to HBO NOW ($14.99/mo.) and Starz ($8.99/mo.), but it’s far cheaper as it costs the same as the basic Hulu plan that comes with ads. Here are the main standout features of Acorn TV. 

 Acorn TV Cost
Monthly price$4.99
Free trial length7 days
Number of titles250+
Number of simultaneous streams4
Ad-freeYes
Streaming quality720p
Offline viewingNo

Acorn TV add-ons 

Acorn TV doesn’t come with add-ons or extras like channels and upgrades, but there are a few ways that you can start a subscription. Outside of subscribing to Acorn TV directly through the app, if you’re an Amazon Prime member, you have the option of signing up for an Acorn TV subscription in the form of an add-on. It should be noted that the Acorn TV app is not linked with your Amazon Prime membership. So, you won’t be able to pause in the middle of Midsomer Murders on the Acorn TV app and pick up where you left off with the Acorn TV add-on via Amazon Prime Video. If you don’t have an Amazon Prime membership and don’t plan to invest in one, you need not worry. The Acorn TV Fire TV app is available in the Amazon app store without a Prime membership. 

Acorn TV also supports an add-on exclusive to fourth-generation Apple TVs (tvOS models). To add the channel, all you need to do is search for Acorn TV in the App Store. If you’re already a member, just sign in with your email and password and you’re all set. Non-members will need to navigate to iTunes to sign up for a free trial or purchase a subscription. The Acorn TV app is also available in Roku’s Channel Store. Just download, confirm your information and you’re all set to start watching. 

What to watch on Acorn TV 

The Acorn TV catalog doesn’t come with the largest library of TV shows and movies. Much of its content is curated, so the service offers some of the most popular comedies, dramas and mysteries from Australia, Britain, Canada, France, Italy, Ireland and New Zealand. The majority of Acorn TV’s licensed shows and films come from the popular networks — BBC One, BBC Four, CBC, Channel 4 and ITV. The British streaming service categorizes its content library into numerous categories, such as Based on True Events, Comedy, Drama, Feature Film, Gritty Crime Dramas, Must-See Miniseries, Mystery, New & Featured and Soothing Documentary Series. 

There’s a wealth of binge-worthy shows available in Acorn TV’s library. These include A Place to Call Home, Doc Martin, Foyle’s War, Line of Duty, Murdoch Mysteries, No Offence, The Good Karma Hospital, Trial & Retribution and Wire in the Blood and more. 

You’ll notice fewer movies than shows within Acorn’s Feature Film category. Nevertheless, there are select titles like Alexandria: The Greatest City, Midsomer Murders, Mind Games, Mr. Morgan’s Last Love, The Man Who Lost His Head, and The Way Back

Acorn TV really shines in producing original content. Acorn Originals are exclusive to its streaming platform, so the only way to watch is with a subscription. There are a ton of great shows like Detectorists, Girlfriends, Keeping Faith, London Kills, Mystery Queens of Mystery, Road, Pitching In and The Level. Acorn TV’s library also contains shows you’ll find nowhere else like Code of a Killer, Harry, Jericho of Scotland Yard, Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, Sword Of Honour and The Hour.

Acorn TV vs. BritBox

Let’s take a quick look at Acorn TV’s biggest competitor — BritBox. This rival service costs a buck more than Acorn TV ($6.99/mo.) Even though BritBox, a comparable streaming service helmed by BBC and ITV, offers a lot of the same content, there are a few key differences. For instance, BritBox releases daily episodes of Good Morning Britain, whereas Acorn TV has more original content. You’ll also be able to watch on up to five screens with BritBox to Acorn TV’s four — both of which are more abundant than most streaming services. You probably won’t notice much of a difference when it comes down to picture quality either. The highest streaming quality for Acorn TV and BritBox is 720p resolution. By comparison, you can watch most Hulu shows and movies in 1080p (and up to 4K with original content). 

User experience 

The Acorn TV interface is simple to navigate and easy on the eyes. Its dark navy backdrop is smartly accented with a red icon with a white typeface. From the menu bar, you can access the help center, browse content, check the schedule for upcoming episodes or use the search bar if you know exactly what you’re looking for. The sorting tool is especially useful for sifting through hundreds of shows and movies. There’s also a store, but you won’t find anything like merchandise. But you can sign up for a free trial or purchase a membership for yourself or as a gift for another fellow Brit-TV lover. 

Whether you’re watching Acorn TV on your smartphone, smart TV, tablet or web browser, you’ll find that it’s generally consistent across all devices. You’ll also be able to share your subscription, but more on that below. 

Device compatibility 

Acorn TV is supported by several devices, including game consoles, smartphones, tablets and web browsers. If you have the app downloaded to a few devices, you can switch between them as you please. Here’s a complete list of all the devices you can use to stream Acorn TV’s app. 

Acorn TV features you’ll love

Acorn TV provides a lot when it comes to its content library, but you won’t find many of the same features that you enjoy with Netflix, like 4K streaming quality and offline viewing. That said, there are a few highlights that help it stand out from other niche services. 

Watch with other members of your household

Acorn TV lets you stream simultaneously on up to four screens, which means that you can share with three other members of your household. This is particularly useful for those who enjoy watching at their own pace. 

Enjoy your favorite shows and movies without any breaks

Watch and binge any movie or series without commercial interruption. Acorn TV is completely ad-free, which means when the action reaches its peak, there won’t be any breaks to ruin the mood. 

Easy-to-use closed captioning

Personalize and adjust the captions with ease from the playback screen. One of the best parts of this feature is its simplicity. Are you having difficulty reading the captions? Simply change the color, font or size of the text to ensure you won’t miss a thing. It should be noted that the closed captioning tool on Roku’s most basic Roku 1 model is no longer functional. That said, you’ll still be able to enjoy closed captioning on all of Roku’s other devices. 

The takeaway 

If you’re someone seeking a telly service that brings you the best content from across the pond, Acorn TV provides an impressive catalog of licensed and original British and European content. As a niche streaming service, you won’t have access to news or sports but rather, in addition to shows, you’ll get documentaries, docu-series, foreign-language films and miniseries. 

Thinking about signing up? Acorn TV lets you try out its service for a week with its free trial period so you can see if it’s right for you. Curious about other niche streaming services? There are plenty out there that also offer free trials. That way, you can test out a few others like CBS All Access ($5.99/mo.), Disney+ ($6.99/mo.) and ESPN+ ($4.99/mo.) and compare them with your Acorn TV experience. 

Zack Kulm

Zack Kulm is a writer and contributor of soda.com. He covers a variety of topics from entertainment and gaming technologies to pop culture commentary. Kulm received a degree in English from Penn State University and Film Studies from Pittsburgh Filmmakers Institute. He also produces award-winning documentaries.