BritBox: One-minute review
BritBox is competing in a very crowded streaming market in Australia, but it tries to stand apart from the rest of the bunch by being a specialist platform catering to a very specific taste. As the name suggests, all you get on BritBox is British TV – arguably the best of British TV – with a plethora of sitcoms, police procedurals and documentaries to choose from.
Unlike services like Netflix and Amazon Prime, however, the BritBox library is comparatively limited, and new content isn’t added as regularly as we see on most other streaming platforms. When something does drop, though, it’s usually worth your time to watch (or binge, as the case may be). All the Line Of Duty episodes to exclusives like Stonehouse and Sister Boniface Mysteries, plus plenty of old classics like Fawlty Towers and Absolutely Fabulous – there really is a lot to choose from... if you really want to watch British TV. However, it's biggest drawcard – aka the entire Doctor Who catalogue – has just been pulled from the Australian BritBox library.
If that specialist programming is right up your alley, then BritBox is worth the subscription price, especially since the platform has come a long way since its launch in November 2020. Back then, you could access the app only on select TVs, but that has now been remedied, and there's a bunch of exclusives that are really quite good. The number of BritBox Originals are also increasing, with A Spy Among Friends, Karen Pirie and The Confessions of Frannie Langton joining Irving Welsh's Crime.
Great exclusives aside, other shows turn up on BritBox after significant delays. For example, the final season of Endeavour is yet to be added to the library, and the latest series of Vera and Father Brown were also added long after they'd aired on free-to-air channels in Australia.
Using BritBox is super easy. The desktop interface works a charm, and streaming on your phone is fine too. There were teething problems when casting – casting would fail after practically every episode of a show you'd be watching – but that seems to have been sorted as well.
Whether you’re watching on the desktop app or streaming on your phone or compatible telly, the experience is quite smooth, with one feature in particular on Android TV platforms that really has us quite happy. BritBox is the only streaming platform to offer the easiest way to edit your Continue Watching list – on desktop you just hover over a tile and click on the X, and on a telly (Android TV at least) you just long press the OK button on your remote right from the homepage to get a verification for removal of a tile. No other streaming platform makes it this easy.
That said, there's no way to skip credits (opening or closing), but if that's not a deal breaker, then there's always something to discover on BritBox. Importantly, for the niche library it offers, it does a decent enough job to rate well in our books.
BritBox review: Subscription price
- 7-day free trial
- AU$8.99/month or AU$89.99/year
Upon signing up for BritBox, you get an initial seven-day free trial to get a taste of the service. If you’re not happy with it for any reason, you can cancel any time before the week-long trial ends.
If you don’t cancel, you will be charged AU$8.99 a month. That’s the only pricing tier available for BritBox, but this gets you up to four simultaneous streams in Australia (unlike the US and Canada where the subscription comes with five simultaneous streams). Note that there’s not a lot of 4K content available, with the maximum resolution topping out at 1080p for the most part.
You can also choose to pay annually, which will set you back AU$89.99 for 12 months, saving you AU$17.89 on the total monthly cost. In other words, you're paying for about 10 months for a 12-month subscription.
A gift subscription is also available, but this is for a full year only and will cost the same AU$89.99 annual price.
Considering BritBox is now one of the few streaming platforms to still offer a free trial, and you get multiple streams for not a lot of money, there is bang for buck here in comparison to the bigger streaming services. That said, you will really need to be a fan of British telly to make good use of BritBox.
BritBox review: Content
- Niche content
- BBC and ITV programs
- Growing exclusive and original content
BritBox is essentially an online portal for British TV boxsets and original programming, bringing all sorts of modern and legacy content from UK’s biggest broadcasters – BBC and ITV. It’s in no way a Netflix killer, but it could be a potential disruptor if it continues to add to its library regularly... which it does, although not in as high a frequency as the more popular platforms.
Since launch, BritBox's main draw has been legacy content – there are thousands of hours of great telly in the form of Gavin & Stacey, Miss Marple, Fawlty Towers, The Office, Black Adder and Red Dwarf. Want to get more serious? The entirety of the original Sherlock Holmes series is on BritBox. If you want more modern police procedurals (that the British admittedly do rather well), then there’s DCI Banks, Bancroft, Endeavour (the final series is yet to debut on BritBox though), Inspector Morse, Spooks and more.
One big temptation on BritBox has been the entire Doctor Who series – all seasons plus specials – being made available after a little delay. However, as of April 2023, they've all disappeared.
Still, we don't that diminishes BritBox's value in the streaming market. Several new shows are being added to the library, including plenty that are exclusive only to BritBox in Australia – The Confessions of Frannie Langton, Sister Boniface Mysteries (now in season 2), Line of Duty, Pembrokeshire Murders, Professor T (now streaming season 2), Stonehouse, Ripley, The Suspect and Luther, just to name a few.
If you’re a fan of period dramas, there’s plenty to keep you occupied – from Jane Austin's stories (Northanger Abbey, Mansfield Park) to Charles Dickens (Oliver Twist, David Copperfield), Poldark to Cranford, even Victoria.
You'll also find plenty of laughs with Jimmy Carr and his panel on 8 Out Of 10 Cats and on Would I Lie To You?, alongside classic comedy series like Yes Minister, Black Books, Black Adder and more. However, only limited seasons of the comedy panel shows are on BritBox, and there’s a whole plethora of those that are missing too. Admittedly several of the shows mentioned above have aired on free-to-air TV in Australia (particularly on ABC), but they’re only available for a limited time on iview. Moreover, there are several comedy series on BritBox that are exclusive.
Until November 2021, there was no original content on BritBox, but that’s now changed with Trainspotting-creator Irvine Welsh’s new TV series, Crime. It took a long while for more original content to be added, but with A Spy Among Friends and, more recently, Stonehouse joining the ranks, BritBox is definitely keen on new content for its customers.
The lack of too many original productions aside, there weren't any exclusives on BritBox for the first couple of years. That has also changed and there's a bunch of great exclusives that more than make up for a month of paid subscription – Ridley, Magpie Murders, The Suspect are just a few of those.
Shows that aren't exclusive to BritBox, however, tend to be added after a very significant delay. As we've already mentioned, the latest seasons of some popular shows like Vera and Father Brown had already aired elsewhere before being added to BritBox. If that's not a deal breaker, then you will find this platform worthwhile.
One thing to note is that BritBox has a strong focus on TV shows, but you will find the occasional made-for-TV movie in the library.
And although BritBox doesn't specify which of its shows is in 4K, it's possible to watch in this high resolution on select devices – namely, Samsung smart TVs and Telstra TV boxes.
BritBox review: Interface
- Works well
- Clean interface
- Continue Watching list's edit feature is excellent
Anyone who’s used a streaming service before will find the BritBox application, whether on desktop, phone or TV (where available) very easy to use. It’s that familiar Netflix-style setup that others have adopted, although BritBox isn’t as full-featured. For example, there’s no option to skip intros of each episode, so if you’re bingeing, you’re watching the opening credits each time. And while the desktop application provides plenty of information on shows’ cast and crew, year of production, etc, that’s oddly missing from the TV app.
At launch, the BritBox app didn’t remember the spot where you left off watching a particular episode or TV movie so you could resume when you logged in next. That’s thankfully changed and your place is marked across all devices you’ve logged into.
The other important thing that's missing from BritBox is the ability to set up individual profiles. You are allowed to have up to five simultaneous streams but there’s no way to separate them out with a profile for yourself and anyone else using the account. So no matter who in the family is watching what, it all gets added to the one homepage. Perhaps profiles will be rolled out in the near future, but we’ve got no word on that yet.
Another feature that BritBox lacked at launch was trailers, which were available in the US and Canada only. This too has been remedied and now most of the new content being added comes with a trailer.
Closed captions are available and you can choose from three different font sizes.
What BritBox does supremely well is let you edit your Continue Watching list very easily indeed. We'd go so far as to say it's the best feature of the platform and wish other platforms would adopt something similar. On desktop, just hover over a tile and click on the X, and if you happen to be watching on an Android TV set, then you'll see the instruction to "long press" to remove a tile. It's right there on the homepage itself, making it the easiest way to edit a Continue Watching list of any of the streaming services available in Australia. We've not been able to verify whether this feature has been rolled out to all TV platforms yet, but if it's on Android TV, we're quite hopeful it will also be available on Google TV (Sony sets).
BritBox review: Device compatibility
- Available on most smart TVs
- Cast via AirPlay and Chromecast
- No offline viewing
This is another area that BritBox has come a long way in since launch. There was a time when there were only limited smart TVs that had the app available (Android TV, for example, was missing), but now pretty much any telly you get now will have the app – Google TV, Android TV, Samsung, LG, Hisense... you're covered.
If you still can't find it on your TV, most streaming devices are supported – Apple TV, Fetch, Fire TV Sticks, Roku devices, Telstra and even Google Chromecasts. Note that you will need to download BritBox for some of these devices from the Apps section.
You can, of course, cast using AirPlay or Chromecast, but we found that to be a bit hit and miss during our initial testing of the service. Our test Android TV has Chromecast built-in and while connecting has never been an issue, we found that after one episode ends, it was quite difficult to get the next one to play. Exiting the app never fixed it, trying to disconnect casting didn’t usually work and we found ourselves restarting the TV quite often. Since December 2021, however, this has become less of a problem but we find ourselves in no need for casting any longer.
Should I subscribe to BritBox?
You love British TV
BritBox admittedly caters to a very specific audience, but we have to admit that the Brits do comedy and police procedurals really well. That’s not all, though – there’s quite a lot of excellent British TV to enjoy on BritBox and a substantial amount of new content has been added since our initial review went live.
You’re tired of Netflix
If you feel you’ve run out of quality shows on other mainstream streaming services like Netflix, then there’s plenty to keep you stuck to your couch on BritBox. Admittedly the library is still limited but, as we mentioned earlier, it does seem to be growing at a slow and steady pace and there are plenty of highly recommended shows to watch here.
You want to revisit some classics
Whether it’s A Bit Of Laurie And Fry or you want to explore the natural world with Sir David Attenborough, BritBox has plenty of the classics. And across most genres – old documentaries, police dramas, costume dramas and comedy.
Don’t subscribe if…
You want a service with a large library
BritBox is not a Netflix killer, it’s always going to have a much smaller library than any other mainstream platform like Disney Plus or Prime Video. So if you’re a frequent binger, chances are high you might run out of things to watch on BritBox rather soon in comparison.
You want more variety
As the name itself suggests, the only productions on BritBox are from the BBC and ITV. If you’re not a huge fan of British TV, you’re not going to enjoy BritBox very much.
You’ve already signed up for multiple streaming services
If you already subscribe to a few other streaming services, you might want to think about whether BritBox adds any value to your entertainment. A lot of the shows on BritBox have or will air on free-to-air channels in Australia, and does reduce the value of an additional subscription.
[First reviewed December 2021]