Acorn TV Review 2020

You like British dramas? Acorn TV is for you—fish and chips optional
Overall Rating 3.5 out of 5
British dramas and mysteries galore
Simple and easy-to-use interface
Wonderful acting
Plenty of original shows

Most of us are still adjusting to all of the changes in the world due to the pandemic. We might work from home, don’t visit friends and family as often, and avoid going to the movie theater at all costs. In this current climate, hunkered down at home, it can be extremely hard to find things to do other than knitting, sewing, or crochet.

With apologies to those who love crochet, there must be other options. One recent discovery is Acorn TV, a streaming media app that caters to a specific audience. You like British dramas and mysteries, and that’s about it. You are not interested in science fiction, sports, or even situation comedies, news, or movies. Your favorite type of show is probably something along the lines of Death in Paradise, a murder mystery show.

Welcome to the club. I’m a fan of twisty dramas, procedural crime shows, and mysteries myself. I’ve watched the entire season of a BBC show called The Mallorca Files and I’m thinking of rewatching it. One thing that impresses me so much about BBC shows in general is that they don’t rely on shock and awe as much as American television. You have to pay attention, and some of the shows seem more like books come to life.

That’s the good news. Acorn TV provides a boatload of new shows to wile away the time during the pandemic, many of them quite compelling. My favorite show on the streaming media app is called The Nest. I was hooked right away.

The bad news? The app is a bit limited in terms of how it works. There are no recommendations and suggestions. (So if you find a show you like, you can’t see similar options.) You have to dig around even for basic information like the rating and when the series debuted. It’s not a huge issue if your goal is to watch the entire season of a British drama and you know what you like, but we’re a long, long way from Netflix here.

The app is also a bit behind in other ways. The resolution runs at only 720p, there are no user profiles, parental controls, or family plans. You know what you want (British dramas and mysteries), and this app plays them for you, that’s really about it.

Pros

  • Low cost
  • Suits a specific audience

Cons

  • Interface is a bit behind
  • Shows run in 720p resolution
Megaphone icon
Don't be so dramatic
Acorn TV has almost all dramas and mysteries. That is either perfect for you or not so great.

What are the specs?

Acorn TV’s limited specs don’t seem to matter to viewers who like what they see

The theme of this review is that Acorn TV is a good app for people who like British dramas and mysteries. That’s perhaps a bit too basic as a way to describe it (e.g., there are shows from other locations like Australia and the Oceanic countries). The crowd who likes these shows might not care about all of the extra features you will find with Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, and might not even notice anything is missing. Yet, on paper, the specs are notable for how outdated they are:

Acorn TV specs
SpecificationDetails
Minimum Internet speed to use it1.6 Mbps
Download for laterNo
HD quality720p
User profilesNone
Parental controlsNone
RecommendationsNone
Family planNone
Simultaneous streamsFour
Total originalsNA
Total shows and movies320+
Live showsNone
SportsNone
Free trial lengthSeven days
Ad-supportedNo
Learn moreView Plans

How much does Acorn cost?

The price is reasonable, although the shows are limited

At $5.99, the Acorn TV app is certainly worth considering. It’s about the same price as Apple TV+ and a few other apps that focus on original shows. If you pay for the annual membership, the app gives you two months free, which is a nice bonus.

That said, with around 320 shows in total, it’s not a great value. Netflix has several thousand shows and movies and, for the streaming-only plan, costs about twice as much. As you’ll see, the only real reason to consider Acorn TV is if you like British shows.

Acorn TV package details
PlanMonthly priceDetails
Monthly$5.99/mo. View Plan
Yearly$59.99/yr. View Plan

*Data effective 10/7/2020. Price and channel inclusion vary according to location.

Which devices are compatible with Acorn TV?

Acorn TV works with most streaming devices and smart televisions

We tested Acorn TV on three different devices and it worked fine, although there was one small glitch. We used a HiSense H8F smart television that runs Android TV, we used an NVIDIA Shield TV, and we tested using the Google Chrome browser.

In all cases, the app worked fine, but the browser version would stutter slightly once in a while. This can be caused by many factors, some unrelated to the app itself. Usually, it’s a memory issue where the browser window stalls out a bit.

Acorn TV provides a good list of compatible devices. In general, it pops up on most smartphones and tablets, streaming devices, and smart televisions. Our only strange discovery is that Google search results often don’t flag a specific show as being on Acorn TV. When you search for The Nest, for example, it lists Sling TV as the provider.

What are Acorn TV’s most unique features?

The short answer is that the app doesn’t focus on unique features

Acorn TV isn’t trying anything new here, and my guess is the audience for these shows is not looking for the latest watch party modes or 8K streaming. Instead, these are shows with a good storyline and, in some cases, excellent acting.

One feature I did like about the Acorn TV app is how quickly you can fast forward. You don’t see any thumbnails or fancy effects. It just jumps ahead and that’s it.

You won’t find anything too techie. To use the app after you install it, you have to login with your email and password. You can’t sync to an existing account on your laptop or phone as you can with almost every other streaming app we’ve tested. As I mentioned, there are no parental controls, no profiles, no TV show suggestions. You are stuck with basic features like a watch list. The interface is not that cluttered so it is easy to find the latest shows and also the ones that are coming up soon on the app.

What about the Acorn TV content?

Many of the shows are well done and interesting

Acorn TV produces several original shows like Foyle’s War, Mayday, Lost Kingdoms of Africa, and The Politician’s Wife. A show called The Sounds is interesting because it’s not a police procedural or an action show. It’s a drama about marriage. In a way, that’s refreshing because the major network shows tend to be way too similar.

I’m also impressed by the quality of the shows, even if they are streamed in only 720p. Most of the acting is good, the plots are twisty, and the music draws you in.

Here’s just one example:

In the show I keep mentioning called The Nest, the main actor Sophie Rundle turns in a stellar performance, one that is equal parts jaded, confused, and yet highly emotional. She wants to have a child and goes to great lengths to find a surrogate mother.

I won’t spoil the plot, but you can probably guess how that all turns out. You might not call this innovative, but it was a pleasant surprise, especially compared to some of the shows on the Quibi app I watched recently, that the acting is consistently engaging.

How does the Acorn TV quality compare?

Furthering the theme of basic streaming, the quality is just okay

From a technical standpoint, most shows on the Acorn TV are just okay. They look fine, and you may not even notice they are not 1080p or 4K like almost every other streaming media app these days. They sound fine. You won’t be blown away by any surround-sound audio filling your living room, and that’s not really the point.

You can hear the dialogue easily. Most of the shows are bent on hooking you into the plot so the reason to keep watching is to find out who did some dastardly deed and not because a spaceship seems to fly overhead and blast the aliens into burnt toast.

Recap: Is Acorn TV worth it?

If you fancy British dramas, this is your app

For anyone who loves British dramas and mysteries, Acorn TV is a good option. I would say it is second only to BritBox in that regard, which is a better app with a more diverse roster of shows. The acting is good, the plots are well-written. You will find a few British dramas on Hulu and even on Netflix, but not nearly as many.

It’s one of the easiest decisions to make when it comes to streaming media. If you like these types of shows, the $5.99 fee is a no-brainer. Acorn TV adds new shows on a routine basis, and the quality is good. Obviously Netflix and Hulu and many others are better apps with more shows and movies, but they also cost far more per month.

What do you think?

Do you have Acorn TV? What’s your experience with it been? Or do you like a different streaming service better? Drop us a comment below!