Watching TV online is as easy as clicking a button.
Learning Russian, on the other hand, isn’t as simple as a single click.
But wait—if you fuse the two, could that make learning Russian easier and clicking a button harder?
Well, the difficulty of clicking a button won’t actually be harder (unless your finger spasms), but watching TV online will definitely make learning Russian easier (and more fun).
After all, using music and videos is a great way to learn Russian. Learning videos will definitely improve your Russian, but sometimes you can’t help but want something a little less overtly educational.
Since it’s such a great way to both entertain and educate yourself, check out this selection of five sites that’ll let you livestream Russian television.
How to Get the Most out of Watching Russian TV Online
Try a wide variety of different shows and channels. From sports to science, there are lots of options out there. Choosing the right shows and channels is an easy way to ensure you’ll want to watch. Instead of Russian learning being a chore, it becomes a fun way to unwind.
Squeeze a little viewing in whenever and wherever. These websites broadcast all the time and are often compatible with various devices. Because of this, you can tune in whenever and wherever. While plot lines in some shows may be hard to follow, even watching for a few minutes here and there will improve your listening and vocabulary. Think of all the minutes you’ve wasted waiting in line that could be spent improving your Russian!
Learn clips in-depth with FluentU.
Plus, the videos are all naturally entertaining since they come from the shows, movies and channels that native Russian-speakers enjoy on the regular. You can watch documentary footage, television show clips, funny commericals and more all while learning the Russian language!
Take a quick look at what FluentU has on offer for yourself:
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 information to give you a 100% personalized experience by recommending videos and examples.
Start using FluentU on the website, or better yet, download the FluentU app from the iTunes store.
Use channels and shows to target certain sets of vocabulary words. As noted earlier, shows and channels are diverse. If you’re looking to learn fashion terms, for instance, tune into a fashion channel. Just starting out and want to learn basic vocabulary? Try a children’s channel.
Note your favorite shows and watch them often. While watching the channels below, if you see a show you really like, jot down the name and research it a little bit. Look for air times and try to tune in for each airing, or simply find more episodes online. Again, enjoyment is key, so finding a show you truly like will help keep you practicing your Russian.
Follow your favorite TV channels and shows on social media. Many Russian shows and programs have social media accounts including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and the popular Russian social-networking site VK. This is a great way to get additional language practice. Follow on the platform(s) of your choice and you’ll see their posts when you’re casually browsing. This can induce easy Russian learning even when you weren’t planning on studying!
5 Rad Websites for Watching Russian TV Online
1. Moskva TV
Moskva TV allows you to live stream several Russian TV channels directly through their website.
There are channels available for every taste. You choose the channel from the bar on the left side of the screen. While no subtitles are available, there are channels that any level of language learner can enjoy.
Popular channels like Russia 1 and Kino are a nice way to learn more about Russian culture in addition to practicing your language. They provide the sort of language immersion experience you’d get if you went to Russia. These channels are best for advanced speakers since the language is geared towards native speakers and there are fewer context clues.
There are several channels about sports (with a heavy leaning towards soccer), such as NTV Football, Sport 1 and Nash Football. These are appropriate for learners of any level who are sports fans. The benefit of these channels is that you’ll see what’s happening, so if you don’t pick up what the commentators are saying, you’ll still have no trouble following. The more often you watch, the more you’ll start to connect the words the commentators say with what you see on the screen.
There are also many channels that Americans will already be familiar with such as Cartoon Network, Discovery Channel and MTV. While these channels are completely in Russian, they’re still a great choice for any level of language learner. You won’t catch every word, but you’ll understand more and more each time. For instance, cartoons are aimed at children, so they’re slower and provide more visual cues, making them perfect for beginners.
Russian TV Company is a paid service that offers over 200 channels from Russia and neighboring countries with a strong Russian influence. You can watch from your computer or TV. Watching from your TV currently requires a box which you can purchase (they ship to the United States). Thankfully, it’s also compatible with Android and will soon be compatible with Roku and iPhone.
There are several package options. A box to stream through your TV costs about $120 USD. A month-to-month subscription costs about $17; however, you can get a better rate if you buy a bigger package. For instance, you can get a basic one-year subscription and all the equipment you need to stream through your TV for about $260 total. A premium annual subscription with the equipment is about $360.
With so many channels, there are fantastic options for any level of language learner. Again, children’s programming and sports are great even for beginning learners, while intermediate and advanced learners might prefer news, movies and TV series.
What’s more, there’s an option to delay transmission. This means you can set it up so that you watch morning shows in the morning and evening shows in the evening. Not only will this provide you with a clearer idea of the roles these shows play in Russia, but they’ll also make you feel like you’re immersed in the culture.
While the cost may seem prohibitive to some, it’s worth it for the avid Russian TV viewer. It offers more channels than other online services. Plus, unlike many other streaming services, you can stream to your TV which offers you some flexibility.
Streema provides content from over 90 Russian channels directly to your computer or mobile device. While most of this content consists of livestreams viewable on the Streema website itself, some is content from the networks’ websites.
Streema offers an array of channels and programming like the other websites in this list. This diversity will make it easy for any level of language learner to select an appropriate channel.
For instance, beginning students might try the children’s channel Barbariki TV, which uses a lot of visuals for easy following. You might even keep a dictionary open to look up any words you can’t understand from context, since there’s less dialogue and it’s usually relatively slow.
Intermediate and advanced students will benefit from Russia 24, which provides news coverage that will keep you abreast of Russian and international news while keeping your language skills in top form.
Streema also provides some helpful features such as descriptions of channels and where they’re based. This way, you can choose the content you want and/or target a specific region.
FreeInterTV.com is dedicated to livestreaming channels from around the world directly through the website. To access Russian livestreams, simply select the location from the pull-down in the search terms. Conveniently enough, you can also enter what category (i.e. news, sports, entertainment, etc.) of programming you’re interested in to narrow your results more.
There are a number of beginner-friendly children and music channels, such as kid’s network Yeralash and music channel Russian Music Box. Advanced speakers have many options including movie channels, news channels, entertainment channels and more. For instance, you might try checking out the news from Vesti TV.
Russian Translation Pros may seem like the odd man out on this list. After all, it’s not dedicated to live streaming. Instead, it’s a business that provides translation services. But secretly, they’re also livestreaming gold.
They offer external links to 20 Russian channels that you can stream live. These channels are neatly organized by theme, so you can easily select what sort of programming you want to watch.
With plenty of great online options for your Russian TV viewing, you can sit back and enjoy the learning process.
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn Russian with real-world videos.