Television and Satellite TV

Find out what TV and radio entertainment is available in English in the Netherlands...

The Netherlands switched to an all-digital broadcasting system in 2006. More than 84 per cent of households use some form of digital broadcast device, although the extensive cable network still allows for analogue distribution. The three main television standards in use in the Netherlands are Cable (DVB-C), Terrestrial (DVB-T/DVB-H), and Satellite (DVB-S). IPTV services are also available.

Most other countries in the world have either switched over, are switching over, or plan to switch over from analogue TV broadcasting to digital TV broadcasting. Before the advent of digital broadcasting, the main three standards were:

  • NTSC: the USA, Canada, Japan
  • PAL: most of Western Europe, Australasia and South Africa
  • SECAM: France, Africa and Eastern Europe

Today, the main digital standards are:

  • DVB-T: most of the world, including Europe, southern Africa, Australia and southern Asia
  • ATSC: the USA, Canada, Mexico and South Korea
  • ISDB-T: most of South America
  • DTMB: China

The systems are not compatible, so a television produced for one system will generally not work on another. However the switch from analogue to digital means that (for instance) a TV bought in France will work in the Netherlands.

Digital set-top boxes are available for people still using analogue TVs. However, these only work within one set of standards, so an analogue set brought into another region may still not work with a set-top box.

All new TV sets now sold in the Netherlands are digital and conform to HD standards. Some TV sets are also compatible for 3D movies.

Connecting a TV service

More than 98 per cent of all TV broadcasts in the Netherlands are delivered via cable. Most private homes choose a TV package that is bundled with Internet and phone services.

  • AanbiederCheck is an online comparison service that provides an overview of the available TV services and bundles (partly in English)

TV Licence

There is no licence fee to watch TV in the Netherlands although public channels are limited and many households opt for cable.

Digital TV Broadcasts in the Netherlands

The Netherlands was the second country in Europe to stop analogue broadcasting in favour of digital.

Public television

Dutch public television, supported by the government, operates three national channels (all in Dutch):

There are also 14 regional public TV stations (also in Dutch)

Commercial television

There are several nationwide channels operated by commercial broadcasters.

  • The RTL Group operates four national channels (all in Dutch

SBS Broadcasting offers three national channels (all in Dutch):

Cable TV and English language

There are several hundred channels available from a handful of cable providers. In general Dutch TV is not dubbed except in the case of programs for small children who are not yet able to read subtitles. This means that most programs screened are in English, with Dutch subtitles.

In most areas, on the standard cable system, the following English language stations are available: BBC1, BBC2, BBC World, Discovery Channel, CNN, CNBC and National Geographic.

The following commercial channels broadcast localised versions of their programmes:

Cable Television Providers

Cable television (kabel televisie) is available in most areas in the Netherlands (except in rural areas) and more than 90 percent of the population is equipped through cable. Each area has its own provider so it is most likely that any new home will be receiving cable TV. It will only be necessary to provide the new personal details for the contract and bills. The estate agent can help to arrange this.

Cable companies also offer Internet and telephone via cable. Packages are generally priced upwards of 40 euro per month. All cable provider websites listed here are in Dutch:

Satellite Television Providers

Relatively few people access television through digital satellite, which provides the usual Dutch channels. Satellite television can be watched with a card and decoder, for a small fee. The card cannot be exported outside of the country. Note that in rented accommodation the landlord's permission is needed to install a satellite dish. Also, check with the local town hall for any restrictions on the placement of the dish.


  • For information on FM radio stations or to listen online visit