Something I like to do when learning Spanish is search for words and phrases used in television programs aired on RTVE, which is basically Spain's state-owned public broadcasting service. The reason I like to do this is because many of their programs have transcripts that can be searched using the very simple CTRL+F. In this way, if I want to see, first hand, how a particular word or phrase is used in a real-life (or sometimes fictional) setting, I don't have to watch the entire program; I can just watch the portion that contains the word or phrase of interest. I'm able to easily find the programs I want by using an advanced Google search like this:

I then add the Spanish word for "transcription" in the search bar, and then apply a video filter to the search:

Though it is true not every program is viewable for those who live in the United States, many of the programs are available. The first result that was returned to me is just such a program. When I click on the link to the program, I am taken to a screen that looks like this:

Notice how the transcript is on the right of the viewing area. Notice also how "sí su" is highlighted. A CTRL+F search took me straight to the phrase I was looking for without even having to type it all out. Now all I have to do is click on the transcript section where the highlighted phrase is and I will be taken straight to that point in the program. It's been a really helpful way for me to try to improve my listening skills in Spanish and I would now like to do the same with German, but I haven't easily found anything similar to Spain's RTVE, which I believe has set up their program viewing in a way that is also helpful to the hearing impaired.

Do any of you know of a way in which I could do a similar search for words and phrases in German television programs or films?

Does Germany have anything like Spain's RTVE?

  • 2
    While I'm pretty sure they're not searchable, ORF has a separate list of programs with subtitles (UT), if you just want to watch something. May 1, 2020 at 7:48

2 Answers 2


I think you should widen your perspective from TV programmes to broadcasting in general, and include especially radio. Why? Here is the answer:

You may listen to programmes of Deutschlandfunk (German public radio), and you will find transcripts of many of their programmes (like interviews, features, etc.) on their website. Also on the website you find a button to listen to the respective programme, so the parallel use of audio and transcript is easy to do.

Here is a current example (of 1st May 2020):



  • Don't mind the perhaps very special topic. I just picked the first transcript-and-audio page of Deutschlandfunk I came across today.
  • Ups... after listening to it the first 5 minutes, I must say: this is a very good programme! Quite interesting perspective on the Judas story. :-)
  • On checking the searchability (in Firefox: Ctrl f opens the search window for page content) I see that in the aformentioned transcript there is a problem with Umlaut: Letter ä, ö, ü are rendered with the wrong character, and so if you search for "Täter" (which is there in the audio), you would not find it. But I suppose that this is a glitch in the current transcript and not a recurring mistake in these Deutschlandfunk transcripts in general.
  • While both you and Frank from Frankfurt posted excellent answers here (I mean, really, Frank even added screen shots!), I have to give the green check mark to you simply because I think your suggestion will be more accessible to most people who stumble upon this thread. But danke schön to you both. Apart from ARD, ARTE.DE, and DW, all of these viewing resources are new to me.
    – Lisa
    May 11, 2020 at 8:02

I'm not aware of anything remotely as easy to use as RTVE.es, but finding German videos and associated subtitles is not so difficult.

There is a relatively popular program that will help you to find content from most/all publicly-financed German, Austrian and Swiss TV channels.

The program is called MediathekView. The installer expects you to have the open-source VLC media player installed. You may also want to install ffmpeg ("cross-platform solution to record, convert and stream audio and video"). There are quite a few settings for customization. Unfortunately the user interface is exclusively in German.

If you want that content without subtitles is not displayed, you will have to open the filter dialog (Ansicht -> Filterdialog anzeigen) and set the relevant checkbox (Nur Filme mit Untertitel anzeigen):

enter image description here

At this opportunity, you may decide to exclude some channels, e.g., arte.fr (French) or most regional channels (much overlapping content):

  • ARD: One of the two main public channels in Germany. (ARD is cooperatively managed by the public regional channels.)
  • ZDF: Second main public channel in Germany.
  • ORF: Main channel for Austria.
  • SRF: Main channel Switzerland.
  • 3sat: Swiss-German
  • arte.de / arte.fr: Franco-German (same content but with different dubbing or voice overlay)
  • DW: (Deutsche Welle) German international-broadcasting channel
  • Kika / zdf tivi: German channels for children
  • Phoenix: German political debates (plus documentaries,...)
  • The other channels are regional (BR: Bavaria, HR: Hesse, MDR: Saxony-Anhalt, Thuringia, Saxony,...)

Once you have found a film, click on the download icon and make sure that you also download the subtitles (checkbox Untertitel speichern "Filmname.xxx"):

enter image description here

Watch the film with VLC or any other video player that supports subtitles.


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.