Much of the world hasn’t had the chance to experience Russian television.
And that’s kind of a bummer because it can be incredibly entertaining.
Perhaps this is because not many people outside of Russian-speaking countries know how to access Russian television, or else they believe that all Russian TV is military news or heavily censored. This isn’t entirely correct.
The truth is, comedy shows are fairly popular right now in major Russian cities, as well as dramas and variety shows. Television is an extremely popular entertainment medium in Russia.
Fortunately, as a Russian learner, you can use Russian television shows via your Roku to take your listening and comprehension skills to another level. You don’t even have to do much!
And what’s better than curling up with popcorn and a cocktail for a night of binge-watching television shows?
There aren’t very many Russian channels currently available for the Roku system, but we’ve found and reviewed a few of the best ones available.
Check out the entertaining Russian channels below, and add them to your Roku to get a dose of listening practice and cultural insight!
How Can Watching Shows and Films on Roku Help Me Learn Russian?
- Listening to Russian, whether scripted or not, can help you get used to the speed at which Russian is spoken. Knowing vocabulary and grammar isn’t all there is to learning a new language. True fluency involves listening to how Russian is spoken and the speed at which words are pronounced. Watching television shows can definitely help your ability to truly listen to Russian.
- Many Russian channels on Roku have Russian subtitles, so you can work on understanding Cyrillic script and connecting different written words to spoken words. Watching television shows with subtitles can help you read, listen to and comprehend Russian. How helpful is that? And you barely have to do any work to get in some light practice!
- Speaking of subtitles, when you combine Roku watching with intensive practice on FluentU, you’ll be covering all your Russian learning bases and ensuring that you’re making the most of your viewing. FluentU takes real-world videos—like movie trailers, music videos, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language lessons. Unlike a lot of Russian television, FluentU Russian videos come with optional bilingual Russian-English subtitles, so you can control your learning and always have the support and information on hand you need.
You can coordinate the subject matter of your learning on FluentU to line up with your Roku viewing, and switch between the two to allow yourself both fun, exciting study and more relaxing downtime periods.
- With Roku, you can enjoy some entertainment during your downtime and still improve your Russian language skills. Breaking up your study plan with some relaxing passive Russian learning is a great way to avoid getting burnt out on learning Russian.
5 Russian Channels on Roku to Amp Up Your Listening Skills
Flickstream TV Russian is a live streaming broadcast channel that plays various new and old Russian films. Since there’s no itinerary guide for this channel and films are selected to play seemingly at random, this app is sort of like a game of Russian Roulette. (Haha, get it?!) You don’t know what you’re going to get, but that’s half the fun! You’ll also find movies from other countries will play periodically with Russian dubs.
A majority of the films from Flickstream TV Russian aren’t available with English subtitles, but some of them have Russian subtitles. Intermediate and advanced learners would benefit the most from this channel.
This channel is 100% free with minimal commercials.
According to the description, Divan TV “is the first and number one interactive service to enjoy Russian and Ukrainian Channels and Movies all over the world.” There are over a hundred Russian and Ukrainian channels available through Divan TV and most of the navigation is in English, so newbies can find content with ease.
This app is also free with periodic commercials. Most of the commercials are in Russian, so they can further improve your listening skills! Some channels on Divan TV have Russian subtitles while others don’t.
One channel you could try watching is Soyuz TV, an Orthodox Christian network in Russian. Even if you’re not a Christian, this channel can provide cultural insight into one of Russia’s biggest religions.
Or try NTV, a free-to-air channel similar to the American PBS. Here, you’ll find mostly talk and variety shows.
This channel can’t be found in Roku’s Channel store, but it’s compatible with Roku. They also provide an English and Russian language support line to help you install Roku channels not found in the store if you’re unfamiliar with the process.
eTVnet has a ton of popular Russian news broadcasts, films and television shows, most of which are only available with Russian subtitles. If you want to watch new original Russian films, this channel definitely has quite a variety of more current Russian cinema.
eTVnet costs anywhere from $20 to $40 per month to use, depending on the type of plan you get. They do have a few free shows and films you can watch before buying, though.
Try out “Дочь” (“Daughter”), a psychological drama thriller about a serial killer and a battle of morals.
Since most of these Russian Roku stations are full of television shows and films, why not toss in one actually designed to teach you Russian? This channel from Innovative Languages has a ton of useful videos to watch that aim to teach you basic Russian vocabulary words, phrases, pronunciation, Cyrillic reading skills and grammar. While this channel isn’t the most “entertaining” channel available in Russian, it’s definitely one to try out if you prefer practicing your Russian using video lessons and courses.
Innovative Language’s Russian Roku channel is like having a Russian tutor available with a click of your remote. Enjoy dozens of video- and photo-based lessons in your free time when you don’t feel like watching a show. Beginners will benefit the most from this channel, as most of the lessons are designed for newbies.
Most of the content available is free. However, you can get more content and a variety of perks—like PDF lesson notes, access to a learner community and more—if you subscribe on their website.
Coilbook Russia is a children’s development channel brimming with colorful cartoons, educational shows and content that both children and adults can enjoy. This channel is perfect for newbies, as the content presented and Russian spoken is simple and easy to follow. It’s also ideal for those who are learning Russian with a child or are trying to teach a child Russian while also providing them with additional educational material.
This channel is essentially various children’s animated shows made by the same production company. There’s no television guide available and no subtitles at this time.
Ready to binge-watch some Russian television on your Roku?
If you can, put on Russian subtitles to take your Russian reading to the next level!
And One More Thing…
If you’re excited to watch Russian TV, then you’re going to love FluentU!
FluentU takes real-world videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized Russian language learning lessons.
FluentU takes all kinds of real-world videos and turns them into language learning experiences, as you can see here:
Didn’t catch something? Go back and listen again. Missed a word? FluentU makes native Russian videos approachable through interactive captions. Tap or click on any word to see a definition, in-context usage examples, audio pronunciation, helpful images and more.
Access a complete interactive transcript of every video under the Dialogue tab. Easily review words and phrases with audio under Vocab.
Don’t stop there, though. Use FluentU’s quizzes to actively practice all the vocabulary in any video. Swipe left or right to see more examples of the word you’re on.
And FluentU always keeps track of vocabulary that you’re learning. It uses that vocab to give you a 100% personalized experience by recommending videos and examples.
Em Casalena is a published author, freelance writer and music columnist. They write about a lot of stuff, from music to films to language.
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn Russian with real-world videos.