Streaming: German series in the USA, and where to watch them.
Only a few years ago, German television was a strictly regional affair. The native dramas were mostly conventional procedurals made up of standalone episodes – the TV equivalent of comfort food. Certainly nothing that would inspire binge-watching in the manner of “Breaking Bad”. Few German-language series traveled beyond the borders of Germany, Austria and Switzerland – with that market of 100 million people, why would TV networks or producers have needed to think internationally, or change anything at all?
Fast-forward to 2020, and it’s a very different story, getting livelier by the minute. The competition for audiences and prestige from international series combined with the arrival of streaming services hungry for original content has transformed the German television industry. With a mandate to innovate, writers and showrunners are discarding the old formulas and discovering a new creative reach. Just like in the US, the new opportunities are luring big-name acting and directing talent to the TV medium like never before. Audiences are the clear winner with the debut of ambitious and sophisticated serials like Dark, Deutschland 83 and Babylon Berlin, to name just a few of the shows that are both critics’ darlings and a hit with viewers.
In this dossier, we highlight German serials that you can stream in the US and clue you in on where to watch them. Caution: these series are addictive! If you’re not careful, you’ll catch some serious binge fever!
A New Genre
“Streaming TV Is not just a new way to watch. It's a new genre.”
- James Poniewozik / NY Times
Streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon Video or Hulu allow unrestricted access to a large number of German films and television programs in subtitled versions in the United States. Providers give subscribers of these services unlimited access to new movies and series that would seldom have made it into US theatrical distribution, standard cable networks or traditional commercial broadcasting networks. The internet is becoming more and more the standard method by which television is consumed.
These new distribution channels have not only changed the user behavior dramatically (linear television gives way to the “binge” behavior) but also the quality and formats of the productions created under these new parameters. International streaming services and German production companies as well as regional broadcasters have understood the sea change and are currently generating a lot of attention to German television with series that appeal to global audiences through intelligent and original writing, diverse themes, talented lineups and opulent productions. Conversely, this development means decidedly more high-quality productions developed in Germany, which, in turn, enriches the domestic market and promotes German talents.