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How to watch German TV online in the USA (2024)


Germany has many popular TV channels, including ZDF, ARD Dritte, and ARD Das Erste. However, due to broadcasting rights, these channels, along with other German streaming services, are only available to watch in Germany.

But whether you’re traveling to the US or you live outside Germany, and you’d like to stream German TV, there’s an easy way to bypass all restrictions so you can watch from anywhere. All you need to do is use a reliable VPN to connect to a server in Germany. Your device will then be issued with a German IP address, which will allow you to unblock the content you want.

To make this simpler, we’ve put together a guide on how to do this, and we’ve recommended some tried-and-tested solutions that will be able to unblock German TV with ease. So keep reading to find out all you need to know.

How to watch German TV with a VPN

german-tv-supporting
  1. Pick a VPN with a fleet of German servers. We recommend NordVPN, now 67% OFF!
  2. Download and install the software.
  3. Connect to a server in Germany.
  4. Head to the website or app for the German TV channel you want to access.
  5. Sign in or set up an account and enjoy streaming your favorite German TV from the US!

Why use a VPN to stream German TV

Germany has some of the most popular TV shows and channels around. But unfortunately, they are almost all geo-blocked to Germany, which means the content isn’t available to watch outside the country. This is because German TV companies must comply with licensing agreements, copyright laws, and broadcasting rights.

If you try to watch geo-blocked content, such as ZDF, from the US or anywhere else outside Germany, you’ll be met with an error message like this one, which translates to: For legal reasons, this contribution can only be shown in Germany.

German TV streaming error

But the good news is that there’s an easy way to bypass regional restrictions on all German TV, so you can watch it from the US or anywhere else. All you need to do is download a privacy-focused VPN and use it to connect to a server in Germany. This will spoof your true location, which will enable you to unblock all German content, so you can stream it without restrictions from wherever you are.

Top 3 best VPNs to watch German TV

It’s not difficult to use a VPN to unblock German TV from the US. However, the only aspect that could be tricky is finding a VPN that’s strong enough to unblock the content you want. This is because, although almost all providers claim they are strong enough to bypass region restrictions, the majority of them will be identified and blocked by the streaming service you’re trying to access.

To help you avoid this pitfall, we’ve tested out dozens of VPNs and rounded it down to five providers that can consistently unblock a range of German TV channels from outside the country. We also ensured that we only recommended solutions that offer military-grade security, fast speeds, and good value for money.

1. NordVPN – best VPN for unblocking German TV from the US

NordVPN banner
Servers and countries:6100+ servers in 61 countries
Streaming services:Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, Disney+, and more
Compatible with:Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, Android TV, Amazon Fire TV
Current deal:Get NordVPN, now up to 67% OFF + gift!

No matter what German TV channels or streaming services you want to watch, NordVPN is the best solution for the job. It has a strong fleet of over 6100 secure global servers, including over 240 in Germany. This means it can unblock pretty much any German TV channel you could want, including ZDF, Das Erste, and German Netflix.

Its unbreakable security makes it the most secure VPN we’ve ever tested. And it uses its own NordLynx protocol to deliver lightning-quick speeds.

Prices start from $3.39 per month. And use one of our exclusive NordVPN coupons to get money off.

Read our NordVPN review for more information.

2. Surfshark – fastest speeds for streaming geo-blocked content

Surfshark banner
Servers and countries:
3200+ servers in 100 countries
Streaming services:
Netflix, Disney+, Amazon Prime Video, and more
Compatible with:
Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, Linux, Amazon Fire TV
Current deal:
Get 79% OFF Surfshark + 2 months FREE

Anyone who wants to stream German TV on as many devices as they like without having to deal with buffering should consider Surfshark. It has more than 3200 international servers, including several in Germany. Therefore, it can easily unblock German TV channels, including ZDF, RLT, and Das Erste.

Surfshark delivers the fastest speeds we’ve experienced on a VPN. And it offers strong security features to protect your data.

Plans start from just $2.29 per month. And we’ve got some exclusive Surfshark coupon codes to help you bag a bargain.

See our comprehensive Surshark VPN review to learn more.

3. Atlas VPN – cheap option with capable security

Atlas VPN banner
Servers and countries:1000+ servers in 42 countries
Streaming services:Netflix, BBC iPlayer, YouTube
Compatible with:Windows, macOS, Android, iOS
Coupons:Atlas VPN coupon 86% OFF

If your budget requires you to choose a low-cost solution that doesn’t skimp on the essentials, Atlas VPN could be just what you need. Despite the fact that it only has 1000 international servers, it has dedicated servers in Germany. In testing, it gave us access to each German platform we tried to access.

Even though it’s not expensive, Atlas VPN delivers strong security, as well as fast speeds. And it even has a basic free version.

Subscriptions start at $1.64 per month. And make sure you use one of our exclusive Atlas VPN coupons for an even better price.

To learn more, see our in-depth Atlas VPN review.

How we rated the best VPNs for German TV

  • The ability to unblock German TV. Naturally, the first test we performed was to make sure each VPN in our list could consistently unblock a range of German TV channels and streaming services.
  • The ability to unblock other region-restricted content. If you ever want access to more content, it’s important to have a VPN that can unblock geo-restricted platforms from all over the world.
  • Quality and quantity of servers. It’s essential for a VPN to have a fleet of secure servers across the world.
  • Fast speeds for streaming. There’s nothing more annoying than buffering. So we tested each VPN to ensure it delivered a smooth streaming experience.
  • Strong security features. Of course, security is a huge benefit of any VPN. So we checked for next-gen AES-256 encryption, security features, and no-logs policies.
  • Value for money. Whenever you sign up for a long-term subscription, price is important. So, we’ve included a range of price points to help you find a solution that suits your budget.

German TV channels you can watch with a VPN

By using a VPN, you can access any of the most popular German TV channels from anywhere in the world:

  • ZDF
  • Das Erste
  • RTL
  • Sat.1
  • Vox
  • ProSieben
  • Kabel Eins
  • ZDFneo
  • NDR Fernsehen

You can also watch German versions of international streaming services, such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Disney+.

How to watch German TV in your country

No matter where you are in the world, you’ll be able to watch all the German TV content you like, provided you have a strong VPN that can bypass regional restrictions.

Here, we’ve provided specific instructions to help you bypass German geo-blocks so you can watch the shows you want from wherever you are.

How to watch German TV in the USA

Currently, there are no US streaming services or cable TV packages that show ZDF or other German TV channels. This means you’ll need to use a VPN to unblock the content instead. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Find a VPN with plenty of servers in Germany. We recommend NordVPN for this.
  2. Download and install the software.
  3. Connect to a server in Germany.
  4. Head to the German website or app you want to access and either sign in or set up an account.
  5. Sit back, relax, and start streaming!

How to watch German TV in the UK

Although some German TV channels, including ZDF, are broadcast in a few countries across Europe, they’re not available in the UK. Therefore, you’ll need a VPN that can bypass these region restrictions. Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Select a VPN with plenty of servers in Germany. We suggest NordVPN for this.
  2. Download and install the software.
  3. Connect to a server in Germany.
  4. Launch the German website or app you want to watch and either log in or create an account.
  5. Start searching for your favorite shows and start streaming!

How to watch German TV abroad

Although there are a few countries where you can access some German TV, the vast majority of German TV content is only available in Germany. Therefore, if you’re traveling abroad, you must use a VPN to connect to a German server to unblock the content. Just follow these simple steps to get up and running in no time:

  1. Choose a VPN with plenty of servers in Germany. Our favorite option for this is NordVPN.
  2. Download and install the software.
  3. Connect to a server in Germany.
  4. Open the website or app you want to stream and either sign in or register for a subscription.
  5. Grab a snack and enjoy streaming!

Watch German TV on your devices

You can use pretty much any smart device to stream German TV from the US, or anywhere else, for that matter. But, although the process is simple, the steps may vary slightly for each device.

To help you out, here are a couple of quick step-by-step guides to help you stream German TV on your smart device.

Watch German TV on your smart device

As you may have already discovered, the vast majority of streaming sticks, including Apple TV, Kodi, and Roku, don’t support VPN apps. But you don’t need to lose hope because you can still unblock location-restricted content on any streaming stick or smart TV by connecting your VPN to your wifi router. Just follow these steps:

  1. Choose a VPN with a fleet of German servers. NordVPN is the best choice for this.
  2. Download and install the software and connect it to your wifi router.
  3. Connect to a server in Germany.
  4. Insert your streaming stick into your smart TV via the HDMI port.
  5. Turn on your TV and select a German TV app from your streaming stick’s home screen.
  6. Sign in or create an account.
  7. Find the show you want to watch and start binge-watching!

However, it’s worth noting that Amazon Fire Sticks support VPNs. This means you can download a VPN app directly onto your Fire Stick instead.

Watch German TV on Roku

As we’ve already mentioned, Roku doesn't support VPN apps. But you can still use it to watch German TV from anywhere by connecting your VPN directly to your wifi router. Here’s how:

  1. Choose a VPN with a range of German servers. NordVPN is our number-one choice for this.
  2. Download and install the software and connect it to your wifi router.
  3. Connect to a server in Germany.
  4. Insert your streaming stick into your smart TV using the HDMI port.
  5. Switch on your TV and select any German TV app from the Roku home screen.
  6. Log in or register for an account.
  7. Enjoy watching all the German TV you want!

How to watch German television online for free

Most of the main German TV channels, including ZDF, ARD, and RTL, are free to air. So you won’t need to sign up for a paid subscription to stream them. However, if you’re attempting to watch from outside Germany, you will need a reliable VPN to bypass all regional restrictions.

And, although almost all free VPNs will claim to be strong enough to bypass geo-blocks, most of them have poor-quality servers that will end up being identified as VPN traffic and blocked by the streaming service you’re attempting to access.

If you want to access German content from outside the country without paying a cent, we’d suggest using a freemium provider instead, which is a basic version of a paid-for solution. Atlas VPN has a freemium that comes with reasonable security.

German TV library

However, if you only want to use a VPN while you’re traveling or to binge-watch a particular show, you might be able to use a free trial of a paid VPN. All of the providers we’ve suggested in this guide come with 30-day money-back guarantees.

Once the trial has run out, here’s how much a subscription will cost you:

  • NordVPN – With over 240 servers in Germany and unbeatable security, NordVPN is our favorite choice for unblocking German TV. Prices start from just $3.39 a month.
  • Surfshark – If you want the fastest speeds around and exceptional value for money, look no further than Surfshark. Subscriptions start from just $2.29 a month.
  • Atlas VPN – If you’re on a tight budget, but you don’t want to skimp on security, we’d recommend Atlas VPN. Paid plans start from $1.64 per month.

German TV streaming apps

Germany has plenty of popular streaming services that are filled with incredible content. Here’s our pick of the most popular streaming apps in Germany, a selection of the most popular shows, and how much they’ll cost to subscribe to:

Streaming servicePopular TV shows available in GermanyPrice per month in US dollars
NetflixBabylon Berlin, Queer Eye Germany, Dogs of Berlin, Nailed it: GermanFrom $6.99
RTL+Die Bachelorette, The Allegation, Sisi, WRONG - UnzensiertFrom $10.55
ZDFmediathekÓfærð, Paradise Highway, The Fall, The Tourist, The BridgeFree
Amazon Prime VideoYou are Wanted, Beat, All or Nothing, Babylon BerlinFrom $8.99
ARD MediathekOktoberfest: Beer and Blood, Snöänglar, Twin, The Net - Promised LandFree

Conclusion

Germany has some of the best TV channels, including ZDF, ARD, and RTL. But unfortunately, they’re not available to watch outside of Germany because all German TV is subject to strict licensing agreements, copyright laws, and broadcasting rights.

But you can watch German TV from anywhere in the world by using a privacy-focused VPN, such as NordVPN, to connect to a server in Germany. This will then spoof your location so that you can bypass all region restrictions and watch German TV from wherever you are.

Better still, a VPN is a vital security tool because it encrypts your traffic, making it impossible for anyone to track or hack your data. And once you’ve watched all the German TV you want, you can use your VPN to access geo-blocked content from anywhere else in the world.


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FAQs

Comments

Karen
prefix 4 months ago
RTL+ is cracking down on VPN use, I signed up for NordVPN last year, as TVnow.de switched to RTL+ and was not allowing to watch most shows outside of Germany. Now I'm not even able to watch anything with the VPN anymore. This really sucks.
Cybernews Team
prefix 3 months ago
Hi there! RTL+ is indeed blocking VPN use and NordVPN might no longer be able to bypass the restrictions in some instances. We suggest that you try using the NordVPN extension instead of the app, as it has been reported to be more successful in opening streaming sites. Hope this helps!
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