free tv switzerland

How to Watch TV for Free in Switzerland

October 16, 2023 - Ralf Beyeler

Find useful tips for watching TV in Switzerland without paying for a TV plan or streaming subscription in this guide.

NetFlix, YouTube, streaming and social media platforms now provide heavy competition for conventional television. If you find yourself only watching TV occasionally, there is probably no need to pay for a TV plan. Check out these saving tips on how to watch many TV channels or at least access specific broadcasts for free.

1. Free TV streaming plans

Zattoo, and Teleboy each offer a free TV streaming plan. You can use these to watch well over 100 channels in real time free of charge.

Many of the available channels – particularly the most popular channels – can be viewed in HD quality. For niche channels, image resolution varies broadly between service providers. Consider signing up for the free plans from all three service providers. This will greatly up your chances of finding the channels you enjoy in HD.

Compared to paid TV plans, the free plans offer fewer time-shifting options. You generally cannot replay shows at all, and the TV recorders have very low capacities.

2. Broadcaster websites and apps

You can watch many shows directly on TV broadcaster’s websites. For example, you can find SRF shows under the SRF Play tab. Most major channels have media libraries from which you can stream broadcasts.

Many channels and media groups also broadcast their shows over apps for phones, tablets and Apple TV. The downside of these broadcasts is that they normally include large amounts of advertising.

3. YouTube

Many TV channels make whole shows available on YouTube. That means you can watch shows on Google’s streaming service for free without having to pay for a TV plan. Many newer television sets even have a YouTube button on remote controls, or at least include a YouTube app, so that you can stream shows off YouTube directly.

4. Use good old antenna TV

Using antennas to watch Swiss television was possible and popular for decades. But public Swiss TV stations suspended this service in 2019. In German-speaking Switzerland, only Hohenkasten in the canton of St. Gallen still broadcasts SRF2 and SRF2 over the air. Around half-a-dozen stations in French-speaking Switzerland still transmit RTS channels this way. If you live near one of these stations, you can still watch Swiss TV using an antenna.

If you live near the border, you can catch some TV stations from neighboring countries using an antenna. There are major gaps in coverage. For example, there are only a few places in Basel and north-western Switzerland where you can tune in to German TV stations. In Schaffhausen, on the other hand, you are much more likely to pick up German channels. The number of channels available on-air is largely limited to public channels like ARD and ZDF.

5. Cancel your cable connection

Cable connections transmit TV and radio signals which you can watch or listen to using an eligible TV or radio. If you never watch TV, you can save money by terminating the cable TV connection. Cable network operators generally do not let you share a cable connection with a neighbor. That means you cannot simply siphon off your neighbor’s cable TV if you do want to pay for your own connection.

Many renters pay for cable TV connections without even knowing it. The reason for this is that many landlords simply add the fees for cable connections to the supplemental charges you pay along with your rent. To find out whether you are paying for a cable connection you do not use, take a close look at your rental contract or ask the property managers. In Switzerland you as a renter have the right to suspend a cable connection if you do not need it. Simply write to your landlord or property managers informing them that you do not need the cable connection and would like them to deactivate it.

Important: If you use your cable connection for your home Internet, it needs to be active, regardless of whether or not you use the included TV services. Do not suspend your cable connection if you use it for Internet. Depending on the cable network operator, you may have to pay the basic cable connection fee on top of what you pay for your Internet plan. Many service providers – including UPC and Quickline – do not charge the basic cable fee if you use one of their paid Internet plans.

6. Share TV subscriptions from friends

Many TV streaming plans can be accessed on any device using the login information. If you only rarely watch TV, you can save money by getting your family and friends to share their TV subscriptions with you.

Important: Some TV plans only let you stream on one device at the same time. You should also understand that the person lending you their login information can see which channels you have watched, and vice versa.

If you only want to watch a football match or a specific series, there is the option of visiting a friend or family member who has access to the channel you want to watch.

Sharing a TV subscription is not free in the strict sense of the word. Someone else pays for the plan, but lets you use it for free.

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Expert Ralf Beyeler
Ralf Beyeler is the telecom expert at and also covers other areas of personal finance.
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