Wie kann mann fersehen?
September 19, 2007 10:26 AM   Subscribe

I really want to watch German-language television to improve my German. How can I do that in the US?

When I lived in Germany, I watched a lot of TV in order to hear a lot more German. I would just leave it on in the background when I was home. I found it really helpful - I could pick up on the way actual Germans spoke German, it really improved my understanding, and I learned a lot of vocabulary, etc.

Now, I'm working on my German so more, and I'd really like to be able to find some German tv to watch/listen to. I rent movies, I listen to CDs, I talk to people, but it's just not the same as TV.

I have DirecTV, and they seem to have no German-language options. I can't find anything over the air in Chicago. Googling "watch German TV" leads me to all kinds of options, but I'm not sure if many of them are legitimate. Is my only option the Internet? Are any of these legitimate? Can I watch the same German TV I would be able to see today in Germany, or is it just crap that's in the archives? What services are worth paying for? Should I try to find someone who will Slingbox me German TV?

Any help or other ideas are greatly appreciated.
posted by jcwagner to Society & Culture (14 answers total) 22 users marked this as a favorite
Public Channels, like the ARD and the ZDF, have huge archives online with Vodcasts, and offer a lot of programs in streams [most often RealMedia].

The ARD-one is here.

General advice: Google for 'Mediathek'.
posted by ijsbrand at 10:38 AM on September 19, 2007

You can use Onlinetvrecorder to record and download almost all German TV. They have 40 different stations and it's free and legal, but you need an encoder/plug-in (also free) to watch the videos.
posted by snownoid at 11:07 AM on September 19, 2007 [1 favorite]

BeeLineTV has about 6 German channels. I use if for the exact same thing as you are looking to do, and it works zehr gut!
posted by horsemuth at 11:12 AM on September 19, 2007

Mr. bluesky43 has German tv programs via satellite but he says they are crap. JC- Are you familiar with the detective show about the fat detective who lives with his Mom? they used to play that show but no longer. He is looking for something else so these suggestions are really helpful!
posted by bluesky43 at 11:41 AM on September 19, 2007

arte has some videos of online. Youtube is also a good candidate for tv snippets (it's #1 in germany, too).
posted by donut at 12:09 PM on September 19, 2007

As ijsbrand has said, the public channels offer quite huge online archives and massive amounts of podcasts. Maybe you want to try the ARD Podcast Mixer. I especially recommend the Tagesschau Podcast. In addition to that there is of course also always DW-TV/Radio [www.dw-world.de -> offering video/audio on demand, for example the Langsam gesprochene Nachrichten, (video)podcasts as well as live streaming].
Above-mentioned onlinetvrecorder.com might also be useful. However, the service has lately changed for bad, i.e. you have to click on banners to gain and accumulate GWPs (Good Will Points) needed in order to use all functions. Moreover, last year some German TV stations won injunctions against onlinetvrecorder. Thus it is not exactly clear, whether or not the service is legal. Nevertheless it is enjoying immense popularity here in Germany. And although i am not an attorney or something, I guess that the aforementioned material offered by the public channels is legal, as it is available to everyone with an internet access. Taking everything into account, you should not pay for anything, as there is such an abundance of hq-material on the net.
posted by pu9iad at 12:29 PM on September 19, 2007

I use wwitv, which has a bunch of streaming tv stations sorted by country.
posted by flod logic at 12:56 PM on September 19, 2007 [1 favorite]

there was a channel called german tv (it's a DW thing) on air in a bunch of major markets (nyc being one of them) but they basically recycled the worst of the ARD & ZDF offerings (Volksmusik, anyone?) and people somehow didn't feel like paying for that. could it be that it's generally younger folks who move around? this about.com article has the story.

what you could do is walk into most goethe institut places, they have libraries with german films, offer classes and most often have some sort of live tv feed up there (at least the nyc and la places did when I visited them). they also get most major newspapers and since they're mostly bored and geeky librarians (sorry, jess) in there, they'd probably decend on you like flies on a hotcake, trying to help out with any question you might have.

also, I am reasonably certain that in this case it's man and not mann in your title. the exception would be if you were talking about males exclusively but it would be a pun. (just sayin' because you wanted to improve...)
posted by krautland at 1:13 PM on September 19, 2007

I forgot: DIE ZEIT, probably the best paper in germany, reads out a lot of articles and puts mp3's on their website. they claim to have 30GB of audio.
posted by krautland at 1:15 PM on September 19, 2007

DW-TV used to be on Minneapolis cable from time to time, often on an upper channel of basic service and not widely advertised or promoted. I can't find it on the digital service.

It was mostly news and documentaries, less than half in German (programs were rebroadcast in English, French, Spanish).

I'm liking the online options other folks have mentioned.
posted by gimonca at 2:58 PM on September 19, 2007

I actually found that Netflix was a great way to do this. I have been attempting to learn Italian, so I did a search on Netflix for Italian under their foreign films section and have rented nearly a dozen good films in Italian with english subtitles. Should work for German as well.
posted by wile e at 4:30 PM on September 19, 2007

bluesky43: Are you familiar with the detective show about the fat detective who lives with his Mom?

Sounds like "Der Bulle von Tölz", starring Ottfried Fischer. From my quick research online, it looks like they're still making new episodes.

He's in a couple of other detective series. "Der Pfundskerl" appears to be out of production (although I still see episodes on ORF from time-to-time).

It looks like they're still making new episodes of "Pfarrer Braun".

Both of those are similar to Bulle, but Bulle is the best of the three, imo.
posted by syzygy at 4:09 AM on September 20, 2007

if you liked arrested development, you'll dig kir royal. old but very very good.
posted by krautland at 9:20 PM on September 23, 2007

An addition the my comment about the franko-german tv channel arte.
According to this news article (in german), arte will offer streaming services for some of their shows as of 10/1/2007. The article also contains links for similar services by ARD and ZDF.
posted by donut at 5:35 AM on September 27, 2007

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