Television and Movies

Italy has one of the most advanced dubbing industry in the world. Subtitles are very rare and usually only available in Italian on some channel and for some very specific programs for people with auditory issues. Most TV channels and movie theaters have programming only in Italian, but there are a few exceptions. Let us go over the option.


Television can be received via the air (Digitale Terrestre) or via satellite. Over the air requires an antenna, which is usually already present. In the case of large condominiums, this service is provided by the association.  ‘Over the air’ channels are divided into three categories: unencrypted, encrypted and radio. For the encrypted channels, one needs a device and a subscription to the service.

Subscription Channel

The most common is Sky, a British company related to FOX and which only offers programs in Italian. It is not possible to subscribe to program in other languages outside of Italy. Sky broadcasts most soccer games including the Italian ‘Serie A’ league, Champion League and Europe League.  I said most because now some of the game are provided by DAZN, another British company, and they are only available on the Internet. Formula 1 racing is only available on Sky. DAZN shows NBA, NFL and MLB games. Another provider is Mediaset (Berluconi) which has free channels, but also premium one which mostly broadcast movies.

Free Channels

There are dozens of free channels and they are provided by a government own company (RAI), by a large private one (Mediaset) and by a large number of smaller one. As far as we know, the only English option is the 8:00 PM news on RAI 1, which is subtitled in English. To see the subtitle one must have a TV that is enable for Televideo a special technology that provides digital pages on the TV looking like bulletin boards from the 80s.

RAI television is funded by an addition to the electric bill of anyone who owns a television (and the assumption is that you do).


Radio channel are all in Italian and offer news, commentary and mostly music. If you want to listen to your home radio station, just use one of the many Internet programs.  We use MyTunerRadio and find it very easy to use.

English Options

With a smart TV, meaning a TV that connects to the Internet and the necessary connectivity, one can connect to Al Jazeera (Qatar), DW (Germany), EuroNews, BBC (U.K.), etc. all providing news in English. YouTube will provide access to CNN, CNBC and FOX, but not on a live feed, but rather through delayed broadcasting some of which is official and other that is pirated.

Amazon and Netflix

NetFlix is available and it has most of the US programming, plus movies in Italian. The same for Amazon Prime, though the programming available in Italy is more limited. Keep in mind that you can purchase NetFlix and pay for in the US and watch it in Italy. For Amazon, it is a lot cheaper to subscribe to Prime in Italy rather than in the US, and you get free shipping.

Viewing the US versions of Amazon Prime and Netflix from Italy requires the use of a VPN (Virtual Private Network) such as ExpressVPN (there are many other options available). Using Amazon Prime you can then get access to all the standard Amazon US content such as HBO and Showtime and Masterpiece Channel (all for a fee). And of course Amazon Prime in the US costs over $100 per year. The fee for Netflix is the same in Italy as in the US. There is a small amount of Netflix content that is US-only. You can view that with a VPN.

Both Amazon and Netflix are not technically allowed to provide US content to folks outside the US. However, because they like your money, they typically turn a blind eye towards VPN access. However, from time to time these providers, and others, will attempt to block established VPN proxies, Having a nimble VPN provider who can offer more choice and reactive deployment of new servers is a good idea.

Other Options

There are US companies that provide TV over the internet. Sling TV, YouTube TV, Hulu with Live TV, PlayStation Vue and others let you watch TV without having to subscribe to cable TV, but there is a catch. Most block and traffic from and to outside the US, so you will need a VPN connection or some solution to hide your IP address.

While you may be tempted to go this route, you will soon realize that the time difference makes a difference and watching the Super Bowl at 2:00 AM is not fun. Also, provider in the US continually try to block traffic from overseas, so you will have to constantly adjust.   We used an AppleTV in Italy, other have used a Google TV with success, but then eventually you will want to disconnect from the US and be more connected with Europe.

Movie Theaters

In large cities, there are offerings in English. In Ascoli Piceno we are very lucky because we have a movie in its original language with Italian subtitles almost every Wednesday afternoon. Something good about going to the movie theater is that it is a lot cheaper than the US, but the popcorn may not be completely up to par.