Television in the Netherlands

Television in the Netherlands was officially introduced in 1951. In the 1930s there were already experiments though. In the Netherlands, the television market is divided between a number of commercial networks, such as RTL Nederland, and a system of public broadcasters sharing three channels, NPO 1, NPO 2, and NPO 3. Imported programmes (except those for children), as well as news interviews with responses in a foreign language, are almost always shown in their original language, with subtitles.[1]


In the Netherlands, television can be watched analog or digital (the latter with the option of HDTV or 3D). Over 2013, 78.3% of Dutch viewers received television digitally.[2] Analogue television is only available via some cable operators and some fiber to the home providers, since the Dutch government ended analogue reception via airwaves in 2006. Dutch largest cable company Ziggo began to phase out the analogue signal in 2018.[3][4] Watching digital television is possible through a variety of ways, the most common being:

Which television channels can be received is heavily dependent on the operator and in most cases also the channel package that is paid for. However, there is a small selection of channels that every operator must carry. Since 2014, these are the following channels:[5]

Public channels

The Netherlands has three nationwide channels for publicly funded television (NPO). These channels can only make a fixed maximum amount of money from commercials. These commercials never interrupt broadcasts, and are only shown in between shows. The broadcasting organisations that use these channels are basically representative of the Dutch society. Every broadcasting company has members and the number of members gives them a status that is connected to the number of hours of broadcasting. If you are planning to 'go public' on Dutch television you need to have 50.000 members and something new to add to the existing broadcasting conglomerate. Granting or refusal of entry is decided politically on the guidance of public opinion.

In 2005 there was a sharp political debate over government plans to cut funding to public broadcasters and to abolish statutory broadcaster NPS.


The three national television channels are:


The five digital television channels that are provided by the Nederlandse Publieke Omroep organisation, are:


There is also an international public channel:

  • BVN, shared with Belgium's publicly funded Flemish television channel VRT. It shows the best of Dutch and Flemish public television, specifically for Dutch and Flemish viewers abroad.


Most regions and provinces have their own television channel as well. These also receive government funding:

Commercial channels

RTL Nederland

Talpa Network

Viacom International Media Networks Europe

Sony Pictures Television


AMC Networks International

NBCUniversal International Networks

Fox Networks Group Benelux

Discovery Networks Benelux

The Walt Disney Company

BBC Studios

Turner Broadcasting System Europe

Stingray Digital


RadioCorp BV


The following (international) commercial channels broadcast localized versions of their programs:

Foreign domestic channels

While there are many localised versions of international channels meant for the Dutch market, many television providers also broadcast 'domestic television' networks as part of the basic subscription package. Other 'domestic' channels may be received as part of extended packages. Many basic subscriptions include:


United Kingdom






In the Netherlands customers can receive high-definition television channels by cable or satellite. There is no terrestrial HD service available at the moment. Although KPN is switching its digital terrestrial television platform to the DVB-T2 HEVC standard, making HD possibile in the future.[7] The first trials with high-definition television in the Netherlands began in 2006 with the broadcast of the 2006 World Cup in HD. After the trial the larger cable companies continued a HD service with a small number of channels such as National Geographic Channel HD, Discovery HD Showcase, History HD, Film1 HD and Sport1 HD. The demand for HD was low because no Dutch network had made the move to HD, already broadcasting in widescreen and the quality of the standard-definition PAL signal was good enough for most people.

Since the 2006 trials none of the main Dutch networks made the move to HD. This changed in the summer of 2008 when from 1 June 2008 until 24 August 2008, the Netherlands Public Broadcasting (NPO) organisations made their primary channel, Nederland 1 temporary available in HD. This made it possible to broadcast Euro 2008, the 2008 Tour de France, and the 2008 Summer Olympics in HD and additionally allowed them to test their systems before the scheduled launch of their permanent HD service in early 2009. The NPO planned to launch their permanent HD service with HD versions of their three channels Nederland 1, Nederland 2, and Nederland 3. Most of the programming in the early stages consisted of upscaled material from their SD channels as in time more programs will became available in HD.[8] Technicolor Netherlands, the company responsible for the technical realisation of the broadcasts of the NPOs television and radio channels, began the summer 2008 test broadcast of Nederland 1 1 HD in 720p/50 as the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) recommends. During the test period an additional 1080i/25 version of the channel was made available to the cable companies because of quality complaints from viewers. In 2009 the NPO decided to adopt the 1080i/25 HD standard.[9]

The main commercial broadcasting organizations in the Netherlands the SBS Broadcasting Group (NET 5, SBS 6, Veronica) and the channels of RTL Nederland folowed in HD via cable and satellite, using the same HD standard as the NPO.

Defunct or rebranded channels

Television in other languages

To serve those who have another native language than Dutch, there are few television channels in the Netherlands broadcasting in one of the regional languages of The Netherlands. Those broadcasting in English usually target an international audience as well. Most of these channels broadcast through the internet only or have a very limited broadcasting area, with Omrop Fryslân as most notable exception. These channels are:

  • Omrop Fryslân (Frisian), public access regional broadcaster in the province of Friesland
  • (Frisian), web-only channel for Friesland
  • Radio Netherlands Worldwide (English), produces vodcasts on their website in English
  • ThreeNL (English), reruns of Dutch public access programmes either English subtitled or dubbed
  • AFTV (English), available in The Hague and online, targeting Africans in The Netherlands
  • NOS TV (Papiamento), available on Bonaire and online; local Bonaire TV station.
  • RTV-7 (Papiamento, English), available on Ziggo, XS4ALL and KPN. Rebroadcast of Antillian TV Channels in the Netherlands


See also


  1. "Television, Satellite & Radio Stations in the Netherlands".
  2. Stichting Kijkonderzoek. "Television in the Netherlands, 2013" (PDF). Stichting KijkOnderzoek. Retrieved 7 April 2014.
  3. "Ziggo maakt tv-aanbod volledig digitaal" [Ziggo makes TV-offer fully digital] (in Dutch). VodafoneZiggo. 8 March 2018.
  4. Julian Huijbregts (8 March 2018). "Ziggo begint in april met uitschakelen van analoog tv-signaal" [Ziggo to start shutting down analogue TV signal in April]. Tweakers (in Dutch).
  5. Rijksoverheid (5 November 2013). "Tv kijker kan rekenen op minimaal 30 digitale zenders".
  6. Jarco Kriek (July 24, 2012). "Ziggo heeft exclusieve primeur RTL Telekids" (in Dutch). Totaal TV.
  7. Jarco Kriek and Jan-Hein Visser (25 June 2018). "Omschakeling Digitenne DVB-T2 en HD begint op 1 oktober in het noorden". (in Dutch). Retrieved 11 August 2018.
  8. Paulo Lopes (2008-05-19). "Nederland 1, 2 en 3 in 2009 deels in HDTV". Marketingfacts (in Dutch). Retrieved 2009-10-21.
  9. Eric van Ballegoie (23 June 2009). "Publieke Omroep HD in 1080i formaat". Hardware.Info (in Dutch). Retrieved 11 August 2018.
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