Frankly, if you’re a fan of British TV, you probably already know about Acorn TV, a relatively small on-demand video streaming service specializing in dramas and whodunnits from across the Pond. If you’re not, I’m not sure what landed you on this page, but stick around, because you might just have found your new favorite genre.
In a hurry? Just sign up with Acorn TV through Sling TV. For just $6/mo, you’ll be able to watch on pretty much any device with no contracts or start-up fees.
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Are you into mysteries with lots of twists and turns? Shows or movies from the UK, Australia, or Ireland (with maybe a few Canadian or New Zealand sprinkled in)? Did you catch Benedict Cumberbatch in Sherlock and wonder where you could watch more like that? Or maybe you just really dig the accents?
If you find yourself intrigued, grab a cup of tea and some biscuits (we Americans call them cookies) and settle in to read more.
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What Is Acorn TV
Acorn Media Group has been distributing British TV in the US since the mid-1990s, back in the dark ages of VHS. Changing with the times, they went through a DVD/Blu-ray period before launching Acorn TV as a stand-alone service in 2013, offering exclusive UK content to American audiences.
More recently, they’ve branched out beyond England to Australia, Ireland, Canada, New Zealand, Spain, and Mexico. They even offer a Spanish-language service.
Acorn is a service that knows what it is and isn’t trying to be anything else. This is refreshing given some ratings-chasing channel drift going on elsewhere (BBC America comes to mind). Think Masterpiece Theater (or any of the other Masterpiece series) on PBS. Or Mystery! and that’s the kind of stuff you’ll find here.
Other subscription services that specialize in British and international content are Britbox, PBS Masterpiece, BBC Select, BFI Player Classics, Criterion Collection, and Sundance Now. Some services offer a wide range of content but include notable selections of UK TV or film: AMC+, Discovery+, HBO Max, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Video.
More on all of this further down.
Popular Shows on Acorn TV
Some of these are imported and others are Acron TV Originals.
- Agatha Raisin
- The Brokenwood Mysteries
- Dead Still
- Deadwater Fell
- Doc Martin
- Doctor Finlay
- Foyle’s War
- Jack Taylor
- Keeping Faith
- Line of Duty
- Loch Ness
- The Madame Blanc Mysteries
- Midsomer Murders
- Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries
- Murdoch Mysteries
- My Life Is Murder
- The Palace
- A Place to Call Home
- Queens of Mystery
- Striking Out
- The Syndicate: All or Nothing
- Under the Vines
- Wild at Heart.
How to Stream Acorn TV
There are three ways to start watching Acorn TV. First, you can sign up directly through Acorn TV’s website. Second, you can subscribe via a streaming platform such as Roku, Apple TV, or Amazon Fire TV. Third, you can supplement your Sling TV, YouTube TV, or Amazon Prime Video subscription with an Acorn TV add-on.
Content is the same on all three. We’ll look at the third option in the context of those other services in the next section, but first, let’s look at the Acorn TV stand-alone account.
The only difference between subscribing directly through Acorn TV’s website and a streaming platform is that you have to manage your account details and billing wherever you originally signed up.
If you aren’t sure or forget which platform you used to start your membership, you can always go to your Account Status page at Acorn.tv, and the Billing Information section will have a note if your account is billed through a third party.
Either way, though, your viewing history and show progress will be synced across devices and platforms, and you can use your Acorn TV username/password to log in via the Acorn TV app on other devices or your browser via acorn.tv.
The standalone version of Acorn TV is $5.99/mo. If you pay by the year, you get a discount: $59.99 ($5.00/mo). It comes with a 7-day free trial.
Live TV Streaming Services
Subscribing to Acorn TV through one of these streaming services has the benefit of consolidating your billing and integrating Acorn TV in with your live channels and other streaming services.
On the downside, you won’t be able to sync your watchlist or show progress across platforms, or even log in using the same credentials. This is largely made-up for by the fact that the live TV streaming services offer apps that work across pretty much all devices — in fact, more than the Acorn TV app runs on.
You also get a price break if you pay yearly, an option not usually available from your streaming service.
Sling TV’s secret weapon is its 40 or so a la carte premium channels, which run the gamut from your standard Showtime and Starz to more exotic offerings such as Magnolia Selects (no relation to the Discovery-run DIY channel with the Gaineses), True Royalty, and Monsters & Nightmares.
Most are under $10/mo, many are under $5. In addition to Acorn TV, Brit-fans may like BBC America, AMC, Sundance, and BBC World News, which are also available. Acorn TV is $6/mo.
YouTube TV has over 100 channels for $72.99/mo. You cannot get Acorn TV by itself as you can with Sling TV. But you can add Acorn TV to the base plan. It offers several other UK-heavy channels, as well. Options include AMC+, HBO Max (lots of BBC collaborations), and Sundance Now.
Amazon Prime Video
Amazon is estimated by some to have the most British titles of any streaming service. Prime Video starts at $8.99/mo alone, or just get an Amazon Prime membership (which includes Prime Video) for $14.99/mo and enjoy the free shipping.
They have Acorn TV among their Channels add-ons, plus exclusive services Best of British TV and PBS Masterpiece, which are chock full of British programming goodness.
Streaming Devices for Acorn TV
The standalone Acorn TV allows you to stream on most devices:
- Amazon Fire TV
- Android Mobile
- Android TV
- Apple TV
- Fetch TV (AU)
- iOS Devices
- Netgem (UK)
- Samsung Smart TVs
- Web browser.
- Amazon Fire TV
- Android Mobile
- Android TV
- Apple TV
- iOS Devices
- LG Smart TVs
- Samsung Smart TVs
- VIZIO Smartcast TVs
- Web browser
Acorn TV Alternatives
If you love film or TV from the UK, there’s no shortage of places to get it, if you know where to look. AMC Networks purchased Acorn TV a few years back and has a finger in the pie of several major British streaming services.
Check out these Anglo-treasure troves.
- Britbox: AMC is a US partner to this BBC-ITV collaboration. Over 250 British titles for $6.99/mo, together with Acorn TV these two are considered the streaming services for Anglophiles. Britbox has more titles as well as more range (including comedies such as the classics Fawlty Towers and Blackadder), but Acorn has more depth in the mystery genre.
- BFI Player Classics: This British Film Institute-curated collection of classic English films features a number of hard-to-find titles, such as The Ladykillers (1955), Peeping Tom, and The Third Man.
- BBC Select: Available only on Apple TV or Amazon Prime Video, this service specifically features BBC-produced documentaries on all subjects.
- The Criterion Channel: It has spent the last four decades restoring and preserving the best films of all kinds from around the globe, including some exclusive British all-time critical darlings. They have their own stand-alone streaming service. A sampling of UK Criterion films: Bonjour Tristesse, Don’t Look Now, Career Girls, and The Card.
- AMC+: AMC+ is AMC Networks’ on-demand video subscription service. It has content from all of AMC’s brands: AMC, BBC America, IFC, Sundance, Shudder, WEtv, and Allblk. Or you could check out the individual services from IFC (IFC Films Unlimited), and Sundance (Sundance Now). Featured UK titles include AMC+ Originals The North Water and Gangs of London plus Sundance Now Exclusives The Drowning and Innocent. AMC+ is available for $7/mo with a base Sling TV subscription.
- Discovery+: Discovery managed to secure an exclusive contract with BBC Earth for their amazing nature documentaries, such as the Planet Earth and Blue Planet series, Life Story, and A Perfect Planet.
- HBO Max: HBO frequently collaborates with BBC Studios, and is a major importer of high-quality programming from around the world, including Britain. Can’t miss programs include It’s a Sin, I May Destroy You, and Dunkirk. You can get HBO Max with Hulu for $14.99/mo.
- PBS: The original purveyor of British TV to Americans, you can access their fantastic library of British classics for a $5/mo membership to your local station. It is also included with all DIRECTV STREAM plans.
- Hulu: Hulu overlaps with some of the other services (Absolutely Fabulous, Blackadder, the newer production of Upstairs Downstairs), and also has its own UK Originals such as Harlots and Becoming Bond.
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So even if the only British detective you’ve heard of is Sherlock Holmes and Kenneth Branagh with the French accent in the recent murder mystery movies (that’s Hercule Poirot, and he’s actually Belgian), take a look.
And if you’re a long-time Miss Marple admirer, what are you waiting for? Anglophiles of the world, unite! Sign up for Acorn TV today!
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