TV in Spain, Satellite and more

30 March 2021

Spain Television, Sky TV, British TV in Spain

Information on general TV in Spain, English language television in Spain, including foreign language, satellite/Sky TV, digital, online TV and other options for expatriates living in Spain.

Some installers can get the card for you, but don't ask where they got it from or how.

North Americans: 
Don’t bother bringing your North American (NTSC) televisions unless they’re one of those super-ultimate all-world viewable TVs that can view a PAL signal (same goes for your PS2, DVD players, etc.). DVDs from parts of the world outside of continental Europe will have regional encoding as well, so they might be a waste of space as you’ll find it difficult to find places to watch them.

As for English-language television programming broadcasts…

On regular TV, there aren’t any for the most part. Some modern televisions have the capability of handling two audio channels, however, and now some movies and foreign programs can be heard in their original language by switching the audio channels. It’s a little bit complicated but at least it’s something. If your TV does it you’ll find a “mode” button that will change audio channels. At least this is all free in Spain, up to and including about 10 channels.

Otherwise, everything is dubbed. On some channels in Catalunya you’ll find the Spanish shows are dubbed into Catalan.

Other options to consider:

British Terrestrial Television in Spain

In recent months most British Terrestrial Television has become FREE to view. This means NO subscription for the following channels:
All ITV channels, ITV1, 2, 3, 4 & All BBC channels, BBC1, 2, 3 ,4

To receive these channels it is NOT necessary to have a Sky digital receiver, nor a card, nor pay any subscription. This is a real case of “free TV” without the asterisk!

So far, the only way to get British Terrestrial Television in Spain is from Astra 2. Generally speaking, you will need to get a professional to install your satellite dish correctly. And for those DIY fans who are not phased by modern sat-com technology, this satellite can be found at 28.2ºE of South. But then you already knew that, didn’t you?

Channel 4 Channel 5 and SKY 3

To watch these three channels you WILL need a Sky digital receiver (or similar), and a card. But still there is no need to pay any subscription. In Spain, Pace 430N / 440N / 445N receivers have had good reports.

One of the problems in Spain is the weak signal strength, which means that if you intend to watch British Terrestrial Television in Spain you will have to choose your receiving equipment carefully. Some areas give better reception than others.  What you will need to check are the following:-

  • The dish size
  • The LNB (low noise blockdown converter) Actually, it means the bit in the middle that actually receives the signal that bounces off the dish.
  • The receiver.

Dish size
Weaker signal means you need a larger dish. A Prime Focus dish gives better reception from a weak signal than an Offset Focus dish. In the Alicante, Torrevieja areas, for instance,  a 1.4m Prime Focus dish should be OK. If you want an Offset Focus dish, then you should get something a bit bigger, such as 1.5m. But generally speaking, from Valencia to Murcia, and in Madrid, 1.8 m dish is recommended if you have the room for it. In the Costa Del Sol, a smaller dish will give reasonable results. 1.2m Prime Focus should be OK here. But again, bigger equals better, if you can. 1.4m Prime Focus or 1.5m Offset for this area.

The best LNB for Spain is the Invacom TWIN. But get expert advice.

The Receiver
The first thing to note is that A BRITISH DIGITAL FREE VIEW RECEIVER WILL NOT WORK IN SPAIN! You need a good quality receiver made to Spanish specs. BBC & ITV channels now only require a European Free to Air Digital Receiver. These can be purchased from most electro-domestic(os) stores in Spain. They generally cost around 95 €, although I have seen them in Carrefour priced as little as 65 €.

You will not be able to watch Channel 4 / 5 and SKY 3 with these receivers; although these TV channels are Free to Air. You will need a SKY Digital Decoder, with a Free View Card. If you want to watch pay channels you will need to obtain a Package Viewing Card.

One final point, before giving you web links for further information: Our experience is that these channels tend to drop out, anything from late evening (around 22.30 till 01.00) and returning in the early morning, (around 06.00).

Available channels

BBC Prime

BBC Prime is available on a number of satellites. Not just Astra 2.
Intelsat 904 – Katelco Plus
Hellas Sat 2
Eurobird 2 Orbit Network
Astra 3A Kabel Deutschland
Astra 1KR UPC Direct, Canal Digitaal Satelliet
Eutelsat W2 Toal TV
Hotbird 6, 7A, 8 TPS, Cyfra +, SKY Italia
Eutelsat W3A Diti Turk
Thor 2 Canal Digital
Atlantic Bird 2 Orbit Network
Hispasat 1C TV Cabo

Watch TV Online in Spain

Once you're in Spain you'll have a heck of a time trying to download your favourite TV shows from iTunes or watching TV on apps like Joost because of IP address filtering (they know you're in Spain which is outside of their license boundaries). But there are at least 33 ways to watch TV online in Spain (okay, some may not work for the above mentioned reasons, but some definitely do). Check out Mashable's article about the 33 ways to watch TV online. But here are the highlights (Youtube goes without saying...):

  • Babelgum
  • Zattoo - very promising; highlighting European television content and available in Spain.
  • SurfTheChannel - links to all kinds of stuff that may or may not be legally available.

BBC is supposed to be putting a lot of their video content on YouTube. I haven't heard if this is actually happening yet or what. If you find out then let us know in the comments at the bottom of the page here. There's also SlingBox, which is a box that you hookup to your friend/family's TV connection back home and it "slings" the programming to your computer. Cool huh? There's been some discussion of this on this forum post.

Another take on Satellite and Sky TV in Spain

The following information is from Spain Expat's old TV in Spain article and may be outdated. Much of it may still be useful. USA: SkyDigital has plenty of USA programming, but getting real USA TV from the American Forces Network is a lost cause, unless you know anyone in the US Armed Forces who has a decoder. Sky TV in Spain The great advantage to having Sky TV in Spain is being able to get BBC1, BBC2, ITV1, ITV2, C4 and C5. Terrestrial Spanish television might net you American CNN International, but we all know we want the BBC for news. There appear to be three ways to get Sky TV in Spain.

  1. Buy a Sky TV Digibox through a local installer here in Spain. Some installers can get the card for you, but don't ask where they got it from or how. Ask what the repair procedures are before you make the purchase. See for further information and new and used Sky digiboxes for sale, based out of the Costa Blanca.
  2. Buy a Sky TV Digibox through a friend. The biggest problem here is that you will have to return it to them for repairs if something goes wrong. Your UK based friend will need to buy a Sky Digibox and get the card. Sky sends the cards separately via post upon receipt of a subscription form. Subscription prices vary currently between 13£/month for a few channels to 36£/month for all movie and sports channels. Of course, see the Sky TV website for more information on exactly what their currect package offerings are.
  3. The last option is to buy a Sky TV digibox yourself while you're still in the UK. This way you have the opportunity to take advantage of their subsidies. Sky is always offering subsidies for new signups, but the catch is that you'll have to keep your digibox plugged into a UK based phone line for 12 months before you can disconnect it (and bring it to Spain). After the 12 months, the subsidy contract is fulfilled and you're free to keep it disconnected, otherwise when they run checks throughout their system and find that you're not connected you're liable to be cut off from Sky TV service. You run the additional risk of having to pay out the subsidy costs that you originally took advantage of as well.
Try the Spain Expat Facebook page or comment below (you'll need to be signed in)

Comments on TV in Spain, Satellite and more

Add a comment

Sign-up to post a comment

Continue reading in Technology in Spain