Did you know that you could watch most of your favorite Finnish television programming right here from the United States or anywhere that has internet? Well, you can! This time of year, Finnish broadcasting companies are live streaming the season’s festive celebrations like Itsenäisyyspäivää (Finnish Independence), Joulu (Christmas), and Uudenvuodenaatto (New Year’s Eve) in real-time.
In 2019, we were fortunate to go to Finland twice. The first trip was in the summer of course, but our second visit was in December when we arrived in Helsinki on Finnish Independence Day (December 6th). After we got settled in our apartment, we decided to take a walk to our favorite ‘kahvila’, Kappelli, located at the end of the Esplanadi, near the Havis Amanda fountain. This being our first Itsenäisyyspäivä, we were amazed at how well Finns were dressed for the evening, and when I say evening it was only about 4 pm and the sun had set nearly two hours prior. Anyway, the mood was different than how we celebrate Independence in the U.S. but no less proud. We have never been to the Oscars, but if I had to capture the setting in Helsinki that night, it felt like something big was occurring, like the Oscars. After dinner, we settled into a local brewpub and we found out why; Linnanjuhlat, or The Castle BallI. Every year in the evening, the Presidential Independence Day reception is held for approximately 2000 invited guests at the Presidential Palace. This event is broadcast on national television and has been a perennial favorite of Finns to watch. So that is what we did with about 100 or so others in a Finnish Brewpub that night. There were dignitaries, celebrities, and performers, all in full dress. It was when we returned and having recently switched to internet TV, we thought, “is there a service provider that broadcasts television out of Finland?” Our answer came just a few days later as A was tinkering in the Apple App Store and found a familiar Finnish word, YLE, on an app. He decided to download it, explore, and translate. Within moments, we were watching a live news broadcast out of Helsinki, and a few days later, New Year’s Eve (Uudenvuodenaatto) in Finland.
If you have ever been to Finland and watched television, you more than likely watched one of the YLE channels. There are 5 of them. YLE means Yleisradio Oy and literally means General Broadcast Ltd, and is translated to English as Finnish Broadcasting Company. According to Wikipedia, YLE is Finland's national public broadcasting company, founded in 1926. It is a joint-stock company that is 99.98% owned by the Finnish state and employs around 3,200 people in Finland. YLE shares many of its organizational characteristics with its UK counterpart, the BBC, on which it was largely modeled. More recently, YLE has begun streaming its programming via the internet through its YLE AREENA App. It was this app that A first downloaded.
So that is how we got here, and trust me, after some more research on the subject, there are many other easier ways to get to Finnish television. Credit to expat-finland.com as they have a great section on accessing Finnish Television.
How do you watch Finnish channels like YLE, MTV, or Ruutu? It's actually pretty easy if you have the right setup.
INTERNET IS A MUST
All the main Finnish broadcasters provide 'netti-tv,’ or internet TV (streaming) services for their channels. They are completely free, although registration may be required, and quite simple to use even if your Finnish is limited.
- YLE Areena: All YLE channels are at areena.yle.fi/tv or the YLE App
- MTV channels are at mtv.fi or the MTV App
- Ruutu: Nelonen channels are at ruutu.fi or the Ruutu App
- TV5 & Sister channels are at discoveryplus.fi
There are also Finnish Newspapers with Video:
- Ilta-Sanomat: is.fi > IS TV
- Iltalehti iltalehti.fi > IL-TV
OUR SET UP
At ACME Finns, we utilize Apple TV boxes and a couple of the Finnish Television Apps that are available from the Apple Store, namely YLE AREENA, MTV, Ruutu. This setup also allows us to easily transition to YouTube via the App (more on YouTube later). If you speak Finnish, these apps are simple to use. For those of us who are still learning (see our article on Duolingo in the technology section), navigating the app can be a challenge, but also an opportunity. It will surely help you learn new words, as will watching and hearing spoken Finnish. If you’re like me and need to see the words, turning on Finnish subtitles is a great way to grasp a better understanding of the language.
Not all of the programming listed in the various apps are available outside of Finland. This is mainly due to international copyright laws. If you see the symbol (general prohibition sign over a globe) like the one shown in the middle of the picture to the right, then that show is only available in Finland.
WANT MORE? Finnish Subscription TV is available and some of the formats will be familiar to you if you already stream U.S. television. See the following sites for details of program catalogs and system requirements:
- Netflix: Netflix.fi (14€/mo.) Netflix has a wide selection of movies and TV episodes.
- HBO Nordic: fi.hbonordic.com (10€/mo.) Most of the HBO series as well as other programming streamed to your computer, tablet, or smartphone. This can also be mirrored on your smart TV/Apple TV.
Viihde means Entertainment! Watch films, series, and sports on your smart TV device, tablet, or smartphone. With Elisa's app, you can also record directly from your TV and store remotely, then watch on your phone, tablet, computer, or TV. This is a paid service.
Well, there you have it, access to Finnish television just in time to watch Joulu and Uudenvuodenaatto programming. We will be watching!