All You Need to Know About Spanish Television

Spanish television guide

Spanish television doesn’t rank among the world’s best, but it certainly isn’t the worst, so depending on your standards you will be disappointed or pleasantly surprised.

Either way, you will probably own a television in Spain and unless you contract an alternative, be watching Spanish television. This blog post tells you what to expect.

TV licence

Given that Spanish television isn’t particularly good, you’ll be pleased to discover that there’s no TV licence in Spain. Unless you contract satellite or internet TV, watching the television comes totally free.

The downside to this comes in the advertising. With the exception of two channels (La 1 and La 2), all have commercial breaks. These can (and do) last for up to seven minutes at a time and often interrupt a film or series mid-sentence.

TV channels

Like most countries, Spanish television comes with lots and lots of channels. There are at least 20 free-to-view national channels as well as several regional and countless local ones. The main channels are:

  • La 1 and La 2, run by the state Televisión Española (TVE). Neither channel carries advertising, although there are sponsors. TVE also broadcasts round-the-clock news on 24h and sport on Tdp.
  • A3 and La Sexta, owned by Atresmedia who also broadcast on Neox, Nova and Mega.
  • Cuatro and Telecinco, part of the Mediaset group who also own FDF, Energy and Divinity channels.
  • Ten, an independent channel.
  • Dedicated children’s channels include Boing, Clan and Disneychannel.
  • You’ll find film channels such as Paramount and shopping channels in your free-to-view package.

Top tip – if your children are at Spanish school, let them watch Spanish television so they can keep with what their friends are viewing and join in the playground conversation.

What’s on Spanish television

Depending on the channel, expect to find reality shows, many of which you’ll recognise such as Master Chef, Survivors and The Voice.

Spanish television also broadcasts foreign reality shows – for example, the Kardashians and Bear Grylls’ The Island.

Game shows and chat shows are popular – political debate takes centre stage on at least two channels on Saturday nights. Most channels show a film in the afternoon and evening at weekends. Documentary and more cultural programmes tend to be confined to La 2.

Series such as The Simpsons and Modern Family are hugely popular – Neox specialises in these.

Top tip – few football matches are broadcast on free-to-view channels. If you’re a football fan, you need to subscribe to a TV package or visit your local bar on match days!

Original version television

Apart from Spanish programmes, you can watch anything in its original version on Spanish television. More often than not, the original version is English.

If Spanish is the only option you can watch it with subtitles to help your comprehension until you’re fluent enough.

To watch programmes in their original version you need to choose the option on your television. This is usually found in ‘Tools’ and then ‘Language’.

Non-Spanish TV

Many expats in Spain cannot be without television broadcast from their home country. If this is your case, you have several options. These include:

  • Satellite television – Freesat and Sky TV are the main providers.
  • Internet streaming – common devices include FILMON and Android TV Boxes, and require a fast internet connection.
  • TV Routers – these allow you to watch geo-blocked programmes (e.g. watching BBC from outside the UK) in Spain.

In areas popular with expats in Spain, specialist companies offer advice on the best option for you and set up connection and services. Ask around for recommendations.

Top tip – before installing a satellite to watch TV, check that your community of owners allows it. If they do, find out the maximum permitted size.