Android TV: BritBox Works, But Is It Worth $6.99 Per Month?

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For those who prefer to make use of cord-cutting services, a new one launched this week in the form of BritBox. This is a service which has been brought to the US through a collaboration between the BBC and ITV. These are two of the biggest TV content providers in the UK and are responsible for a number of popular programs. To give a few examples, the BBC offers up the likes of Sherlock, Dr Who, The Great British Bake Off, The Office, The Apprentice, and more. While you can thank ITV for the likes of Downton Abbey, Victoria, The X Factor, I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here, Midsomer Murders, The Bill, Coronation Street, Emmerdale, and more. So needless to say, if do enjoy regular doses of British TV, then the BBC and ITV are certainly the type of channels you will want to have access to.

Which is exactly what BritBox currently offers. The service works in much the same way as most other similar services, as you do have to sign up to a no-commitment monthly charge. In this case, a monthly charge of $6.99. For that price, you are given access to a fairly large back catalog of British shows which you can stream at any time. However, a number of the more recent and more high-profile shows – like for instance, Sherlock and Dr Who – are not actually available as part of the service. So if that is the sort of current and modern content that you are looking for, then this might not be the service for you. At least, not yet. It does stand to reason that as time goes on, more content will be added. Although there has been no confirmation yet as to whether shows like Sherlock and Dr Who will become available at all.

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There is also a slight issue with compatibility. BritBox is available to consumers in the US though the service's website. It is also available in Android app form for mobiles and tablets. The same Android app listing does also show support for Android TV, although the support is not platform-wide. From what it seems to show, the app is currently only properly compatible with TV sets that are powered by Android TV and not any of the Android TV box-like devices currently available. In other words, if you own the NVIDIA SHIELD, the Nexus Player, the Mi Box, or the Razer Forge TV, then you will not be able to download the app and install it from the Google Play Store. While if you own a LeEco Super4 X-series TV, a SHARP Android TV set, or a Sony Android TV set, then you should have no issues with directly downloading the app from the desktop version of the Google Play Store and running it on your device. Of course, for those who are fine with sideloading apps manually, it does seem there are no issues with sideloading a copy of the BritBox APK to your Android TV console or box. Once sideloaded, the app works in an identical fashion. Although there are the same issues with the Google Play Store-installed version – while the app installs fine, it does not show up on the leanback launcher naturally. So you will need to either create a shortcut for the app on the home screen, or head through to Settings > Apps > BritBox to open the app each time. Of course, you can just download and install one of many third-parting assistance app, like for instance, Sideload Launcher.

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So is BritBox worth downloading on Android TV? Well, that will depend on how much of an interest you have in British content. The app itself is a little on the clunky side and the general navigation on Android TV is not as fluid as it should be. So the UI does feel a little slow in responding at times. There is also the issue that regardless of whether you sideload the app or install it directly from the Google Play Store, you do have to go through some additional measures to have the app actually show up on the leanback launcher. Likewise, while the catalog is fairly decent, it does not offer up much of the content that US customers will actually be looking for. It is much better to think of this service as one which will provide US viewers with access to shows that they might be less familiar with. Then there is the price. While $6.99 is not a bad price, it is a price which creeps a little too close to Netflix, and for the range of content you are getting, this is not really a comparable level of service for the cost. If the price had been lower (under the $5 marker for instance), this would be a much more attractive service, especially when taking into consideration the absence of the most well-known UK TV shows. If you do want to try the service out, then BritBox does currently offer a free seven-day trial period. Although, you do have to provide credit card details when you first sign up – before you have even tested the service out.

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Editor-in-Chief

John has been writing about and reviewing tech products since 2014 after making the transition from writing about and reviewing airlines. With a background in Psychology, John has a particular interest in the science and future of the industry. Besides adopting the Managing Editor role at AH John also covers much of the news surrounding audio and visual tech, including cord-cutting, the state of Pay-TV, and Android TV. Contact him at [email protected]

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