German TV Options for North Americans

Watching German-Language Television in the US and Canada

When I wrote about the loss of most of NEXTV’s German channels in November 2015, I promised to review the quality and channel lineup of the German TV Company. You’ll find that review below – but I also cover some other options for watching German-language television from North America.

German TV Company

A screen shot of the German TV Company website. They offer both online and set-top box TV viewing.

Since my blog post in late 2015 there have been some new developments: (1) NEXTV has now restored some of its lost German channels, but the number of channels available is still far less than before the 2015 cuts. (2) German TV Company is a worthy replacement, and has even added a few more channels to what was already the largest German-language channel lineup I know of. (3) A new online service, Deutsches Fernsehen (“German television”), is now available, and it offers a wide range of channels in German for computer/mobile device viewing – currently for free! (4) In a later post I’ll also discuss the VPN (Virtual Private Network) option that some people like to use for foreign streamed TV viewing.

NEXTV | German TV Company | Deutsches Fernsehen

NEXTV Update
This Toronto-based video streaming service again is offering the two German public TV broadcasters ARD (Das Erste) and ZDF in real time. NEXTV now also carries some regional “third-channel” broadcasters (HR, NDR, SWR, WDR) and a few local TV stations (Düsseldorf, München, Zurich), but far fewer than before. The truth is that NEXTV is still a pale shadow of its former self, now offering only 30 TV channels (many being small local cable channels) in German, with fewer choices than before the autumn 2015 cuts. It no longer offers time-shifted versions of ARD and ZDF, and can’t compete with the recorded broadcast options of its competitors. For some reason the ProSieben Sat.1 Welt channel on NEXTV is not only distorted (squeezed horizontally) but also in poor-quality SD. Most of the other channels are in HD. Using a low-cost Roku receiver hooked up to your TV, it’s a lot like watching real German television on a normal TV screen at home in Germany. Continue reading

Are NEXTV’s German Channels Gone Forever, or Not?

It’s been over five years since I first wrote about NEXTV and “Watching German TV in the USA and Canada”. The great thing about Toronto-based NEXTV was that it allowed you to watch virtually the full range of German public and commercial TV channels on your regular TV – no computer needed. NEXTV’s high-quality streaming video could be fed through a Roku device connected to a TV set (via an HDMI cable for HD), making it difficult to tell it wasn’t real television. It was almost like being in Germany.

“Was” – past tense. Suddenly in early November, without any warning, it was all gone. Well, all except a limited offering of channels similar to that also offered by Dish via satellite, although at a lower price. No more ARD, ZDF, RBB, RTL, WDR, and the many other “real” German channels that were available until they simply vanished.

2016 UPDATE: Some of NEXTV’s German channels have returned, but we’re still missing a lot of what was once part of NEXTV’s channel lineup. For the details see my new blog post: German TV Options for North Americans.

I first found out what had happened when I received a desperate email from a man who wanted to know if I knew what had happened, and if I knew of any good alternatives. After checking to see if the channels were indeed gone (they were), I knew there were few if any good alternatives. Continue reading


One of my favorite German-made TV shows is “Tatort”. In general, I am not a TV kind of person. Most of the time I would just prefer to read a book while my husband zaps through the channels. But Sunday nights at 8:15 (which is when prime-time shows come on here), you will often find me on the couch watching the familiar opening credits roll, which amazingly enough, have not changed since the show began on November 29, 1970. “Tatort” (English: crime scene) is a crime show with an interesting concept. The show is filmed in larger German cities and each city has its own set of criminal investigators. For instance, you know when you are watching the Ludwigshafen (my favorite because it is close to home — Mannheim) episodes because the detectives are Lena Odenthal and Mario Kopper. The Ludwigshafen episodes are always filmed by SWR (Südwestrundfunk), which makes them even more local. Austria and Switzerland also has have their own detectives and the episodes are filmed by local channels. Continue reading