The BritBox video streaming service officially launched in South Africa on Friday, 6 August.
BritBox offers a variety of British series and movies, primarily those broadcast by the UK’s four main public service broadcasters — BBC, ITV, Channel 4, and Channel 5.
This includes classic British comedy shows like Fawlty Towers, Mr Bean, Black Adder, and Only Fools & Horses, in addition to crime dramas and murder mysteries such as Professor T, Line of Duty, and A Confession.
South Africans can take Britbox for a spin on a free 7-day trial, after which a monthly plan is priced at R99.99 or an annual plan at R999.99.
BritBox has apps available for Android and Apple smartphones and tablets, Samsung and LG smart TVs, and media boxes like the Apple TV. You can also stream via the BritBox website.
MyBroadband was provided with an annual plan to give the service a try.
With our account already created, we signed in and tested BritBox on the web using the Chrome browser.
The overall Britbox interface was sleek and uncluttered, making for seamless and fast navigation.
The tiles used for each title were large and included the name of the show or movie.
These were neatly categorised into single horizontal rows, which can be scrolled through by clicking on a button to the right, similar to Netflix.
General categories included BritBox Favourites, Exclusive To BritBox, and Recently Added, while there were also themed options such as Iconic Detectives, Lost in Austen, and Cosy Winter Watching.
Hovering over a tile with the cursor provided the option to play, add to watchlist, or get more details.
The images below show how the titles were presented in the different categories on the home page.
The individual title pages included a banner of the show or movie and a short description thereof at the top and buttons to play the title now or add to watchlist.
Beneath this, a grid layout of episodes was shown, headed by tabs to select specific seasons (in the case of a series).
An Additional Information section provided details such as the years in which the title was originally broadcast, the number of seasons, and the genre.
There was also a More Like This section with shows and movies similar to the selection.
Playing an episode or movie was a fast and uninterrupted experience on three different Internet connections — a Supersonic fibre package, Rain 5G Premium, and a Cell C mobile data contract SIM.
While certain titles would initially start at a lower resolution, they would adjust to a higher quality in less than a minute.
The playback window is similar to Netflix, with a play/pause button in the middle, flanked by 10-second rewind and fast-forward buttons, and previous and next buttons.
There is a volume slider, subtitle options, and a full-screen/restore toggle at the bottom right.
After watching a title, it showed up in a new “Continue Watching” category on the home page.
While navigating the web platform, a tab at the top provided quick access to the home page, Explore, Watchlist, Browse All, search, help, and Account pages.
Selecting Explore invokes a drop-down menu with genres of movies and shows to choose from, including Drama, Crime, Comedy, Documentaries and Lifestyle, and Entertainment.
The Watchlist is used to store all the movies and TV shows you would like to watch, while Browse All provides the full list of movies and TV shows, arranged alphabetically.
We counted 141 titles in the South African library at the time of writing.
This is a rather modest tally compared to Netflix and Showmax, but it should be emphasised that these are still early days for the service.
The table below summarises more details about BritBox, including streaming quality, number of allowed devices, and recommended Internet speeds.
|Maximum streaming quality||1080p, 4K only on Samsung Smart TV|
|Supported devices||Smartphone, tablet, computer, smart TV|
|Number of profiles||1|
|Number of devices for streaming||Unlimited|
|Offline downloads||Only on Apple TV|
|Library size||141 titles|
|Recommended bandwidth speed||TV — 3Mbps
Web — 3Mbps
Mobile apps — 1.5Mbps
HD quality — 6.5Mbps
|Price||R99.99 per month / R999.99 per year|