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Acorn TV: The Best British TV Streaming

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As more and more people are turning their computers into the centre piece of their home entertainment systems there has been a corresponding increase in the number of companies supplying either content or hardware. The Blu-ray player I just purchased not only plays discs, but wirelessly connects to the Internet allowing direct access to Netflix. For the nominal fee of $7.99 (CDN) per month I can watch a wider variety of television programs and movies than I would ever be offered by my local cable company, for a fraction of the price. True, not everything on the market is available nor are the majority of the programs current, but having to deal with commercials and being able to watch the shows whenever I want compensates for any deficiencies in content.Acorn-web-tv-horiz-red-892217

However, what if you’re interests lie beyond what Netflix has to offer? What if you’ve grown spoiled watching the higher quality programming that only ever seems to show up on PBS or is only available on DVD or Blu-ray?. Well, Acorn Media, the supplier of great DVD sets featuring the best of British, Canadian, Australian and American programming, has started their own network, “Acorn TV: The Best British TV Streaming.”

Currently Acorn TV runs 24 hours a day, seven days a week, offering 18 separate series a week with a new series being rotated in every week. Each series runs for thirty days giving you plenty of time to watch however many episodes it may involve. For example until June 30 2013 you can watch the complete Doc Martin Special Collection which includes all five seasons of the television show and the movies featuring characters from the show. As this set lists for $124.99 (US) that’s quite the deal.

Like most of these services Acorn offers everybody a free thirty day trial, but the $2.99 monthly/$29.99(US) yearly price for the service is quite a bargain. Of course if you want to watch the service on something other than your computer monitor it will cost you a little bit more if you don’t already have one of four streaming players the service is currently offered on. The best deal is a combined offer featuring your first year of Acorn TV and the Roku streaming player for $79.99(US). Roku doesn’t only offer Acorn TV, it will give you access to a multitude of streaming channels ranging from sports to music. Of course you’ll have to pay for each additional channel, but compared to what cable companies charge and the ability to watch what you want when you want it, this is still a much better deal than any provider of regular TV can offer.

As of now you can also watch Acorn TV on your iPhone or iPad, as long as they’re equipped with the Safari browser, Apple TV ( but you also need either an iPhone or an iPad to make the connection), the Barnes & Noble Nook device with an Acorn TV application downloadable from the Barnes & Noble web site, or a Google TV Box equipped with Google’s Chrome Browser.

Now the technical details are out the way, we can turn to the quality of the programming on offer. First of all, you should know while the current format seems rather limited, there are plans in the works to not only increase the amount of content available by five – making 90 different series available at once – they also plan on dropping the thirty day time limit for each program. However, it’s not mentioned anywhere if they plan on continuing to add additional shows on a regular basis. Of course, if you have any experience with the quality of programming offered by Acorn Media, you know chances are you’ll want to watch the majority of what’s on offer. In addition, since many of their packages are complete series, one program can be the equivalent of ten DVDs worth of episodes with each being a minimum of an hour in length. Even my basic math skills tell me that adds up to a heck of a lot of viewing hours.

With quantity covered, what about quality? Judging by what’s on offer for the current thirty day period not only will there be something for just about everybody, you can be guaranteed no matter what you watch will be feature some of today’s finest actors. This month alone features programming ranging from classics seen on past episodes of PBS’s Masterpiece Theatre to items from the current and yet to be released Acorn catalogue. For example you can watch PBS’s 1993 adaptation of Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City starring Laura Linney and Olympia Dukakis, all 17 episodes of The Ruth Rendell Mysteries Collection with individual segments featuring actors like Colin Firth, the newest instalment of perennial favourite Midsummer Murders: Set 22 and the not yet released on DVD, Falcon, staring Martin Csokas.

Currently the only drawback I can see with Acorn TV is its limited availability. However, it’s still a relatively new service, and they say they are looking into ways of increasing access. If you already have one of the streaming devices mentioned above and you like British television, adding the Acorn TV channel to your system is a no brainer. The cost makes it probably the best bargain going right now. If you need any more incentive, they are also offering free shipping to anywhere in the continental United States if you decide you want to own a DVD copy of the show you’ve been watching. Three dollars a month is not very much to pay for checking out between 18 and 22 different television programs.

If you enjoy the best television has to offer in drama, comedy, documentaries and history than you can’t help but appreciate Acorn TV. It’s the specialty channel to end all specialty channels and you don’t have to pay a cable company for installation or for a bunch of stations you’ll never watch in order to enjoy it. Even watching it on my 17 inch laptop’s monitor and listening to the audio through headphones has made it obvious this service isn’t like anything else out there. Netflix and the others may offer a few British television shows, but none of them come close to being able to match Acorn TV for variety and quality.

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About Richard Marcus

Richard Marcus is the author of two books commissioned by Ulysses Press, "What Will Happen In Eragon IV?" (2009) and "The Unofficial Heroes Of Olympus Companion". Aside from Blogcritics his work has appeared around the world in publications like the German edition of Rolling Stone Magazine and the multilingual web site He has been writing for since 2005 and has published around 1900 articles at the site.
  • mmcrosbie

    The only thing I miss watching movies and TV shows online is the remote control. How can that problem be solved? (Of course, the exercise getting up out of my seat won’t kill, me, LOL).

    • DD

      Roku and similar devices have a remote control “of sorts”. The Roku remote doesn’t have numbers on it. Just directional buttons to move between their version of “channels”. It also has speed buttons to rewind, fast forward, or pause. I really love it! I’d had mine for almost two years now and I couldn’t be happier.

      • Marilyn Crosbie

        Thanks for your suggestion. I had a long discussion with a local computer tech on the phone and he suggested that since I have a Tablet I could download a free app and use my tablet as a remote control, as I am currently short of money. He also suggested the Apple TV, but I have a PC and am not sure if that would work on my monitor, which is an Acer. I will try out the app on my tablet, which I downloaded from Google play for free. It’s not ideal, but with a little pen, I don’t have to smudge up my tablet with my fingers.

        • A.Cunningham

          I have my computer hooked up to my TV and use a wireless keyboard. You can hook it up either wirelessly through a router or with an HDMI cable.

    • Rufino

      I think a smart tv will solve your problem.

      • Marilyn Crosbie

        Probably, but no money for that right now.

        • Christal

          I watch mine with my roku player which offers a remote.

  • JCL

    Now $4.99 a month after the 30 day trial

  • Julian Makii

    I think live streaming though Acorn TV is pretty good but If you want to watch British TV channels and shows online then blade stream box is pretty effective option I suggest.

  • Elena Robisch

    I have been trying to cancel my membership with Acorn for two weeks. The website continues to malfunction. Acorn keeps sending me emails to proceed to their website to cancel. This website is one of the worst for customer support. How do I get this done? They refuse to answer to me or do it for me.

    • Oconno13

      Two weeks? ha…good luck! I have been trying to get them to cancel my subscription for four months. Every month they tell me it’s canceled and the next month I get billed. I finally had to cancel my credit card in order to get them to stop billing me! Good luck! Absolutely terrible customer service.

  • Sandra Rumley

    I also tried to cancel. There was no place online to do that & their website is catalog only. It took several months to finally get them to stop charging. The FCC really should look into their cancellation practices.

  • Alexis

    Glad I read this as was just about to sign up but won’t now as I can’t stand these places that make it so difficult to cancel ! Been there done that too many times

  • Shottlebop

    I signed up for a free trial…my membership information said my trial ended X/XX/9999. I thought it was a glitch, but I now think it’s intentional to convert free trials into paid. That’s what happened with me. So I ended up paying, but I canceled within the first month. But then they kept charging. Eventually, I was able to cancel and get a refund, but this is clearly a company policy and not a mistake as they pretend it is when you call. Recently, I signed up for one month and made sure automatic billing was turned off. My membership details included my cancellation date, but once again, they kept charging. It’s been two week and I’ve called twice and been assured both times that it’s cancelled and my refund is being processed. I’m amazed that they are able to keep getting away with this, but that’s the American way.

  • Victimoflaud

    I’ve been a member for over 2 years. It started out great. But lately they’ve outsourced the subtitles or something. I’ve complained several times and didn’t even get the courtesy of a reply. It’s time to out them online. If you sign up and you want some examples, try Inspector Morse (mystery series) episode “Who Killed Harry Field” where Vodafon (the company name) is sub’d “voted on” not once but twice, the Chancellor is “Chance or” every time the name is used, and there are numerous other mistakes that actually affect the meaning of the phrases. If I were deaf and had to rely on subtitles, it would be impossible to follow the story without reading lips.

    Another prime example is “The Grand” (drama series), literally all of them. The Inspector Morse ones seem to just get worse over time, but The Grand starts out bad and stays that way. It’s like the people aren’t native English speakers, aren’t British and aren’t even Americans at least, or even International people with a college education in how to speak British English with a special focus on idioms. It’s obvious that they only have access to the audio, not the video as you can see when things referred to on screen are misspelled or you get the inevitable “[INAUDIBLE]” designation on something perfectly obvious to someone watching. It is also clear that there is zero editing involved when you consider that “circumspec” shouldn’t ever be spelled that way and when someone says “supercilious bunch” and it’s sub’d as “they’re a silly bunch.” The sounds for the word “they’re” are not even present.

    Could it be that expensive to have the writers or script copyists or even some functionaries who are actually British do the subtitling? They’re obviously wasting whatever money they’re throwing away on this. People with disabilities should get together and protest it. I’m in full support, but I’m not a deaf person myself. I actually went out and looked to see if there’s a law against being a jerk about making horrible subtitles. Looks like bad publicity is the only way to go.