If you want to watch content from public media libraries, you often have to hurry before it disappears again. Some offers and tools help to watch broadcasts later as well.
"Depublication" – that’s what ARD, ZDF and Deutschlandradio call what many fee payers don’t understand: Audios and videos from public broadcasters often disappear from the net again after a few days or weeks. Broadcasters have been legally required to do so, but they would prefer to do away with the so-called "seven-day rule" and similar time restrictions.
What to do? If you have a TV, you can choose the classic option and record programs yourself, with modern devices via USB stick or on a hard drive. The picture quality is then better than in the media libraries.
The public broadcasters have now also developed a whole range of apps for iOS and Android devices. Apps can also be used to access content from media libraries. Here, the same provisions often apply as in the media libraries, for example, the "Tatort" is usually available for 30 days. If you want, you can still find ways to listen to or watch broadcast content even after depublication. However, this sometimes requires a little technical knowledge.
The question often arises as to whether it is permitted to download content that is offered, for example, as a video stream. In principle, users are allowed to download content within the framework of the regulations on private copying. Prerequisite, however: the source is not "obviously illegal". Also "effective technical protection measures" as with a copy-protected Stream may not be bypassed thereby.
Providers can restrict downloading in their terms and conditions, but must conclude an effective contract with the user to do so. This is usually not the case with freely accessible offers without registration. Attention: It is not allowed to offer the content publicly again elsewhere. More on the topic.
1. Subscribing to broadcasts as podcasts
Some content from public broadcasters is offered as a podcast. Podcasts can be subscribed to using iTunes or mobile apps such as Soundcloud, for example: Unlike media libraries, new shows are downloaded directly and can be listened to or watched even months or years later. There is an extensive range of podcasts in the radio sector, but selected television programs (from Die Sendung mit der Maus to Neo Magazin Royale) are also available as podcasts.
If you want to save programs on your computer, you can use the free Mediathekview software. It can be used to access the content of German-language public service media libraries – from Arte to WDR. Once installed, the program queries a list of all currently available TV shows in the media libraries. With one click, the content can then be saved on the computer.
In some cases, this is done in real time. This means, for example, that it takes 43 minutes to download a 43-minute documentary. For most shows, however, it’s faster. In addition, recurring programs can be subscribed to. As soon as a new episode is available, the program downloads it. If you have some computer knowledge and a modern router, you can connect a hard disk or a USB stick to the router and share it in the local network. The programs downloaded via Mediathekview are stored on it and can be played on modern TVs via the network.
3. Special search engines and blogs
With Mediathekview, however, it is not really convenient to search for content and discover interesting broadcasts. Overview pages do this better. With Vavideo, the advanced search is very practical, because there you can filter by channel, show length and date. You can create lists for favorites and subscribe to programs there. The site itself does not display the videos, but usually redirects to the broadcasters’ media libraries.
While Vavideo is limited mainly to the public broadcasters, mediathekensuche shows.de also offers the content of private broadcasters. Here, too, there are extensive functions for filtering, subscribing and creating lists – after creating a user account.
If you are looking for selected film and TV recommendations instead of a large program database, Mediasteak is the right place to go. The Potsdam blog’s team of six writers scans broadcaster listings and other sources for high-quality content and curates the compilation on the website.
4. Online video recorder
Instead of programming recordings on your own TV set, you can also log on to websites such as Save-TV, Onlinetvrecorder and other services. There scheduled recordings can be programmed via a web interface. Shortly after the broadcast in the regular program, users can then download the programs as a video file to their computer.
Save-TV, for example, lists around 40, mainly German-language channels, but only the content of public broadcasters can be accessed in HD quality. There is also an "all-catch function", with which the complete program of all channels can be recorded.
Online video recorders are usually subject to a fee. With Save-TV, however, you don’t even get DVD or HD quality in the most basic paid plan. Those who want this, and also want to take advantage of the automatic removal of TV commercials, sometimes have to dig deep into their pockets. Watch out: Many online video recorders have a subscription model that renews for several months or a year after a free trial period.
Claus Hesseling is a freelance journalist for business and consumer affairs on television and radio (WDR, NDR) and a media trainer specializing in online journalism.