What better way to get to know Spain than by watching Spanish television? Local television channels will help open a window to Spanish culture, Spanish languageand lifestyle in general. But if you fancy watching TV shows from home, you’ll be happy to know that you can easily access them through your TV or the Internet in Spain.
Spain also has a wide range of easily accessible regional, national and international radio stations. This useful guide provides all the information you need about television and radio in Spain, including the following:
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Watching television in Spain
Fortunately, you don’t need a license to watch Spanish television. Accessing local and international channels is relatively easy to organize. Barcelona and Madrid They were the first two Spanish cities to experiment with television in 1948. It was eight years later, in 1956, when TVE, the first channel proper, began regular programming throughout the country. In 1990 the first private channels began to appear and in the 2000s analog television began to migrate to digital television. Finally, analogue television services were officially discontinued in 2010 and since then all national and regional terrestrial channels have been digital.
Before the switch from analogue to digital, a UK television would not work in Spain. The United Kingdom used PAL-1 analog encoding, while Spain used PAL-BG, so transmission was problematic. However, both countries now use DVB-T digital systems, so problems are unlikely. But if you have an old analog television that you want to bring to Spain, you will also need a digital terrestrial television (DTT) receiver that converts digital channels. You can buy them in Spanish television stores or in places like Carrefour or Alcampo for about €30-40.
Digital television in Spain
If you want to expand your viewing options, there are several subscription-based platforms you can choose from that offer various packages. The cost of these packages varies depending on the channels included and the provider. For example, some providers may offer free satellite TV if you sign up for their Internet package. The main satellite TV providers and installers in Spain are:
However, to get additional English channels, such as the BBC, Channel 4 or Sky TV, you will need a Sky receiver and card.
Cable television in Spain
To access an even wider range of programs, you can subscribe to a monthly cable service using one of the following providers:
Many properties in Spain are already connected to cable service, but if your home is not, you can always set up a connection when you sign up for a new service. Prices can vary, but the average is around €300 per year.
National and regional television channels.
There are 34 national Spanish-language television channels, including HD channels. Five of the channels are publicly owned by RTVE (La 1, La 2, Clan, 24 Horas and Teledeporte) and the rest are private. There are also numerous regional television channels in each of the autonomous communities of Spain. Curiously, although television consumption initially increased after the 2008 financial crisishas been declining in recent years, as Spaniards are turning their attention to other types of media such as smartphones, laptops and tablets.
The most popular television channels in Spain
According figures 2019, national television networks dominate the ranking in Spain. Telecinco is the most watched television network in Spain; with more than 14% of the total audience share that year. The channel is best known for broadcasting reality shows, soap operas, general entertainment and what is known as ‘trash TV’ (trash TV).
The second most popular channel is Antena 3 with 11.7% of the total audience share in 2019. This private channel, launched in 1990, broadcasts programs focused on news, magazines, cinema, drama and sitcoms. The third most watched Spanish television channel, with a 9.4% share, is La 1, which offers debate programs, documentaries, sports and entertainment shows.
Interestingly, regional television only seems to be popular in Catalonia, where it recorded an audience share of over 18% in 2019. However, in other regions such as Castilla y León, the audience share was only 0.3%.
English TV channels
Fortunately for expats, there is a greater opportunity to watch English-language television in Spain since the switch to digital television. Many Spanish channels now show television series imported from the United Kingdom and the United States, as well as films from around the world; These are often dubbed into Spanish.
Thanks to digital television, however, you now have the option to watch movies and series in their original language at the touch of a button. Normally you can change the language using the language or audio button on the remote control of the digital decoder or on the television itself if it has a built-in digital tuner. You also have the option to select Spanish subtitles if you want to review your Spanish language skills..
This option is not only being discovered by more and more Spaniards who appreciate having an extra tool to help them improve their English, but it also allows English-speaking expatriates to discover a whole range of viewing possibilities without having to resort to the satellite or cable television. That said, these formats obviously offer expats many more options.
The main satellite for English-speaking television is Astra 2. Therefore, to have access to all foreign channels in Spain, expats usually need to install a satellite dish on Astra 2. It is advisable to contact a company of trusted satellites that can install it. the right equipment for you.
Before arranging a satellite installation, it is important to note that some homeowners may require approval prior to antenna installation. And if you are installing a satellite dish and it is larger than 1.9 meters in diameter, you may need planning permission from your local council (city hall). However, this varies between cities and should be checked before proceeding with any installation.
Once the satellite dish is installed you will not have to pay any additional charge since DTT is free. You can also enjoy services such as free satellite, which allows you to watch more than 140 free UK television channels in Spain. This service also offers subscription-free access to catch-up and on-demand services such as BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub and Demand 5.
Online streaming services
Fortunately for expats, there are plenty of ways to get your fix of foreign movies and TV shows online when you live in Spain.
Some of the most popular online streaming services are:
- DAZN– This online streaming platform offers a large number of live and on-demand sporting events on a subscription basis.
- Disney+– The latest addition to the international streaming market has a host of movies and TV shows from Disney’s back catalogue, including The Simpsons and Star Wars.
- Netflix– This global smash hit features an impressive library of movies and TV shows that can be accessed for a monthly membership fee
- Amazon Prime Video– You can watch a wide range of movies (and some with subtitles in other languages) by paying a membership fee.
- DIRECTV– You can enjoy hundreds of live TV channels and on-demand titles, including kids TV channels, news, sports, and more.
Get a VPN in Spain
Around the world, an increasing number of expats are using a virtual private network (VPN) to ensure their privacy and security online. In addition to helping you browse with more anonymity, these VPNs can also help you unblock online content. This allows you to access your favorite sites from home and elsewhere, including some streaming platforms. VPNs available in Spain include:
Radio stations in Spain
National radio in Spain is divided between public and commercial radio. Currently there are six national public radio services, which are broadcast by Radio Nacional de España (RNE), the national public radio of Spain. These include the following:
- National Radio– General service with primarily speech-based programs
- Classic: plays classical music and concerts
- Radio 3– broadcasts pop and rock music primarily for a youth audience
- Radio 4: a regional service that broadcasts in the Catalan language
- radius 5 (All News): a 24-hour news channel
- Foreign Radio of Spain: an international external broadcaster
There are also numerous commercial channels that broadcast throughout Spain, of which the following stand out: popular:
- COPE Chain– Mainly features news, talk and sports with a religious appeal.
- enRadio– a private national radio station featuring music and news
- Chain 100– Adult contemporary radio station, comparable to BBC Radio 2.
- Rock FM: plays classic rock
- MegaStar FM: Plays a mix of pop/dance music, comparable to Radio Disney.
There are also a dozen foreign language radio stations available in several languages, including German, Dutch, Russian, Catalan and Scandinavian.
English radio stations
Fortunately, there is now a large selection of English radio stations broadcasting in areas of Spain where most expats live. Some of these have been broadcasting for almost 50 years and have a loyal following among expats looking to catch up on the latest news and opinions within their local communities; as well as enjoy a variety of music.
Currently there are 25 radio stations in English that broadcast throughout Spain, of which the following stand out in particular:
Online radio stations
When it comes to listening to your favorite radio show, the Internet is usually the easiest way to find it. A quick Google search will return some useful results, including Univision, Radio United Statesand Streema, which gives you access to more than 13,000 radio stations from around the world. Additionally, if you subscribe to satellite television you will probably also have access to radio channels.