Watching German television online

The subject came up during one of my lessons: Is it possible to watch German television online?

I definitely recommend to immerse yourself fully with anything German (listening to online radio shows, checking out German language YouTube clips, reading German language newspapers and magazines) so watching German TV would be a huge benefit for any student regardless of their skill level.

In actual fact, even if you are a complete beginner it would be helpful regardless of whether or not you understand the entire program: There will always be certain words and phrases that are being repeated and that will stick in your memory.

The good news is that it is indeed possible to view German TV programs online and from what I can tell (living in Ireland) there do not appear to be any restrictions in viewing those from a foreign internet connection.

Both of the main public TV channels have their online players if you missed a show:

The ZDF is the most easily accessible one. Just click on this link and all the programs are showing up for the previous week. Some (all?) of their programs also have German subtitles (“Untertitel”) available. Just click on the link underneath the screen that show an ear with hearing aid. This really beneficial if your German is not yet up to scratch to catch it all without this aid.

The ARD as well as all the regional channels associated with it also have their own player. Once you access this website you will see a heading that says “Sendung verpasst?”. Click on this and it gives you the option to sort the shows by “Sendedatum” (date) and by name (“Sendungen A-Z”). Once you choose which show you want to watch you then also have to click the camera icon. It takes a bit getting used to but once done, you should be flying.

The private stations I checked only appear to show clips of their shows and are often introduced by commercials but if you really can’t wait for the next season of I’M A CELEBRITY feel free to view clips of the German equivalent and marvel at how stiffly the presenters are trying to be funny. Ant and Dec they sure ain’t.

15 thoughts on “Watching German television online

  1. Hi Gilian, unfortunately I only have a theoretical answer to your question but no practical solution yet. In theory you need to hide your computer’s IP address so that the ProSieben website believes that you are based in Germany even when you’re elsewhere. That generally works with the help of proxy servers. The trouble is that I haven’t found an easily available free proxy server yet that does it properly for Germany. Should I find one I’ll update the comments here.

    • German TV as a general rule is not shown with English subtitles but at the most with German subtitles for the hard of hearing so watching German TV with English subs may be a bit of a Mission Impossible. Best is probably to sets of German DVDs of movies or TV shows that occasionally may have English subs.

  2. Hi
    Found this post when searching for German tv with subtitles.
    Without subs though, I found a great site with most Deutscher Tvs and some French and others too.
    (I`m watching it in Brazil, so I think it shoulb be wachable in most of the world)
    Viel Spass!

  3. Thank you so much for this tip. I am learning German and been watching Lindenstrasse on itunes, but I really wanted to find something with subtitles. Vielen Dank!

    • Difficult through the official channels: Dr House is shown on RTL but their player doesn’t seem to show US series like that ( only homegrown programs. You could buy the DVDs from Individual German clips are on YouTube but not entire episodes. There are some unofficial streaming sites that seem to carry the eps ( Did a quick check and the Streamcloud links work for me but they also come with some seriously dodgy advertisements so use them at your own risk!

    • Short answer: No point. 🙂

      Long answer:

      The subject about watching German telly came up at a lesson with some advanced students which is why I wrote this blog post about it.

      It’s always important to watch level appropriate shows so if you are just beginning you really won’t get much out of it. At your level it’s probably best to head over to YouTube and watch some kiddies’ shows (e.g. Peppa Wutz = Peppa Pig) to get some exposure to spoken German.

      Also: Some of the stations do over the chance to watch the programs with subtitles (Untertitel) for the hearing impaired…. or the German learners. That could still be an option for you still just to get exposure to the German culture and maybe catch the odd phrase or two.

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