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While in France, I got to watch a lot of cool TV: sports, documentaries, talk shows, etc. through my smart TV and SFR internet provider. I know that certain programming is geographically limited, but is there a way for me to watch French (internet) TV from my internet connection in the US? I miss watching the European cycling classics, as well as some old French TV series.

  • This is more of a former expat question than a current expat question. Perhaps belongs on one of the other sites? – ouflak Jan 9 '17 at 15:54
  • @ouflak I asked a similar thing on Meta a year ago, maybe could you add some thoughts there? – Dan Getz Jan 11 '17 at 1:10
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    @outflak I am not sure I see where the problem lies. I could ask the exact same question and explain I am a homesick French expat. If the question itself is OK, there is no point in asking the OP to lie about the reasons why s/he is asking it (which is basically what such a rule would achieve). – Gala Jan 12 '17 at 8:38
  • @Gala exactly. I didn't even realize the OP was not originally from France. Even then, repatriation is a traditionally overlooked part of the expat experience... Worth answering – qoba Jan 12 '17 at 15:28
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The answer will be different for different kinds of content.

  • YouTube has a ton of good stuff. It can be a good place to start, especially for old TV series.

  • TV channels' own websites or apps have some content available, usually in the catch-up window (or "replay" as it's called in France) i.e. for a limited time following original broadcast. If there's a program you particularly like, you may be able to watch it everytime this way. These sites almost never carry movies.

  • iTunes and Google Play will carry some movies, though not usually a lot. Netflix used to carry French classics and arthouse movies online, but last time I checked they didn't have any of that available anymore.

  • Sports, particularly live or close-to-live sports, are the hardest to come by. The rights to broadcast them in the US are typically sold to a US broadcaster such as a cable sports channel or a pay per view operator. Whereas you can get other forms of content online, for sports, based on what you like to watch you may have to pay a cable or satellite TV subscription and maybe an additional package on top of that. It depends on the sport, so you should research your own...

  • There's TV5 Monde which is part of some "international" cable packages but it's a very limited selection of content.

  • Finally I've heard some people use torrent sites and VPNs to get around restrictions. I'm not that motivated to watch TV, so haven't tried...

Chances are you'll be watching a lot of content that's only available online so I'd advise a setup that lets you watch on your TV from the internet. Personally I use a Chromecast for this.

  • (+1) Another option is Molotov.tv, streaming all the major French TV channels in one place. It's only available in France though so it would need to be combined with a VPN (haven't tested it either). – Gala Jan 9 '17 at 10:13
  • Molotov relies on an app... – Rui F Ribeiro Jan 12 '17 at 0:21
  • @RuiFRibeiro Yes. So? – Gala Jan 12 '17 at 8:33
  • malware concerns for starters. It also seems to ask an account – Rui F Ribeiro Jan 12 '17 at 10:00
  • @RuiFRibeiro Okay, sure, but that seems to be coming out of nowhere, the question does not include any requirement of this kind and the solution you prefer also offers many apps. You might not realise it, but Molotov is a (relatively) well-known startup with big investors behind it that received quite a bit of press and many good reviews, not some random pirate streaming website or scrappy operation trying to make a buck by selling personal data. Technically, installing software is inherently less restrictive but I see no specific reason to be concerned about malware in this case. – Gala Jan 12 '17 at 15:12
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I rely on Film On to see most of my European channels. SD watching is free, you pay for HD quality.

The site is http://www.filmon.com for browser streaming, and they have got a pretty good and free app for multiple platforms, from iOS, Android, LG TV, OS/X, Windows, Roku, xbox, Apple TV. Pretty amazing. app

They are pretty organised, and have groups of popular channels of different nationalities. They also have some groups based on interests.

For French TV, they have got Arte, BFM, France 3, RTS, M6, TV5, and France 2.

SD quality is normally enough for my needs.

I also when abroad have the option of doing a VPN for my country, and watching TV either with my account or my parents account using the software TV of the cable package we are paying.

Needless to say, Film On is more convenient to use, and faster without needing a VPN.

Film On for iPhone and iPad

  • (+1) RTS is Swiss, not French (Arte and TV5 are both international initiative but with significant French contribution). – Gala Jan 12 '17 at 8:36

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