I grew up on British TV shows long before former Minister Jonathan Moyo came and ruined ZBC with his local content and jingles push. We had this black and white Peacock TV that had the perfect picture quality and each day before heading out to herd the goats I would get a healthy dose of British cartoons. At night too we would gather around the Samsung 51cm colour screen and get another good helping of British comedy and movies late into the night.Being an Anglophile I was delighted to learn that Britbox was coming to South Africa.
Unlike Netflix which is dominated by U.S content, Britbox is a collaboration between British corporations ITV and BBC. It has iconic and classic TV shows from both production houses that are not available on either ITV Hub or the BBC’s iPlayer. The kind of content that warms my heart.
Britbox allows you to stream up to five simultaneous streams. The accountant in me reasoned there was a cost-saving opportunity right there. The service goes for R99.99 or about US$7 per month. You can potentially have five people sharing that cost and that amounts to just US$1.40 per person. So my friends and I decided to sign up right away. Turns out there are some hoops you have to just through to get this done.
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The sign up process
To sign up for Britbox you need the following:
- A VPN with a South African server. I wanted to be billed in Rands because generally it tends to be cheaper in my experience. You can use a US or UK VPN to be billed in either of these countries respectively. The truth though is that using addresses from these countries can be a headache too so I would go with a South African VPN
- A BancABC prepaid Visa card. Do not ask me why, just learn to follow instructions. You cannot use other prepaid cards from the other banks here.
- An active SmartDNS service from SmartDNS Proxy or a service of your choice. If you do decide to go with another option be sure to ask them if they support Britbox before signing up. My back up SmartDNS provider, SmartyDNS says they do but they don’t.
- A valid South African address. With millions of us in South Africa I am sure you can borrow a valid address.
To sign up follow these steps:
- Turn off SmartDNS Proxy because by default it sends you to the U.S version of Britbox we want to be sent to Britibox ZA.
- Connect to the South African VPN address
- Visit Britbox and sign up for their free trial.
- You will be asked to enter a valid South African address and optionally you can also enter your South African phone number. The phone number is optional so you can skip it but you can also use a friend or relative’s phone.
- When asked for a payment method enter you prepaid BancABC Visa details. Again follow instructions and stop asking why.
- You will be given a 7 day trial. Money will only be deducted if you don’t cancel in six days.
Once you have signed up you can disconnect from VPN and then turn on SmartDNS again. Just like Netflix, Britbox doesn’t care if you are watching from a different location from that you entered during sign up. The catalogue you get is determined by your apparent geo-location.
No Android TV app
Britbox has apps for most phones, tablets, smart TVs and streaming sticks including Roku, LG, Samsung, Firestick, Xbox and such but unfortunately, they don’t have an application for Android TV. That’s a bit disappointing, to be honest as it means I have to cast from my phone using Google Cast. The trouble with Google Chromecast is that it uses inefficient bandwidth-hungry codecs which sometimes results in inconsistent picture quality on my connection.
If you use Android TV like me you need to be aware of this. Hopefully, they will release an Android TV app soon but do not hold your breath. The principal companies behind the app took years to release their own Android TV apps they seem to favour other platforms instead.
To get casting to work you need to set up static routing as outlined in my earlier Netflix guide. This will mean you blocking Google DNS servers 22.214.171.124 and 126.96.36.199. One thing to note is that OpenWrt 21 was released a few days after I wrote that guide. It comes with inbuild SSL support so some steps no longer apply. I will be writing an updated guide some time this week.
You should read
- Britbox is coming to South Africa, all Zimbabweans can do is enviously look on
- eVOD no longer accepts Zimbabwe numbers, here is how you can still sign up