How To Watch ZDF Outside Germany (Updated 2023)

How To Watch ZDF Outside Germany (Updated 2024)

ZDF (Zweites Deutsches Fernsehen) is one of the most popular TV channels in Germany. It offers content ranging from movies, shows, news items, sports, music for children and adults, etc. Additionally, you will find on-demand live streaming options available on ZDF Live. There, local and international content is available, and you can stream them on multiple devices at once.

Unfortunately, ZDF has one drawback: it is generally unavailable outside Germany. Some shows are available if you are in Austria or Switzerland. However, most content is blocked from users who aren’t residents of Germany. So if you have to relocate or even travel outside the country temporarily, you will be blocked from your favorite content on the platform. 

Not to worry, there is a way to get around this challenge. Read on to learn how to watch ZDF outside Germany regardless of the restrictions.

How To Watch ZDF Outside Germany

Before we go to the precise steps to watch ZDF outside Germany, you may be wondering how ZDF blocks non-German users. The answer is simple: using their IP (Internet Protocol) addresses. ZDF monitors IP addresses that access its online content. Once it detects any that doesn’t seem to originate from Germany, it blocks it.

Fortunately, this means that if you can acquire a German IP address, you can access ZDF. In that case, your actual location will not matter. One trusted way we recommend for doing this is by using a VPN.

A VPN (Virtual Private Network) is software that helps users spoof their location. It masks your original IP address and gives you one compatible with any location you want. Hence, you just need to use a VPN to get a German IP address in this situation. That way, you can access content on ZDF unhindered.

The step-by-step process is as follows:

  • Select a VPN provider of choice. We have a list below that narrows down your options.
  • Pay for the subscription plan of your chosen provider.
  • Select a server in your preferred location. (In this case, Germany.)
  • Head back to ZDF Live. You will have unrestricted access.

Top Recommended VPNs for Access ZDF outside Germany

Here’s a compelling list of the best VPN services for unblocking ZDF from any location outside Germany.

Overall Best in Our Tests


Overall score: 9.8

  • Super-fast servers
  • AES 256-bit encryption
  • Supports private protocol, Lightway
  • Money-back guarantee

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At the very top of our list is everyone’s favorite, ExpressVPN. This provider has earned the top spot due to its impressive service delivery, impeccable server strength, and unrivaled unblocking abilities. It comes highly recommended, and you can trust it to unblock ZDF regardless of your location.

This provider has more than 3000 servers in 160 locations and 90 countries. This impressive list also includes Germany. You will find ExpressVPN servers stationed in Frankfurt and Nuremberg. Connecting to any of these two options is by just a click.

Its basic features include lightning-fast connectivity and a speedy network. Even in faraway United States, you can stream content from ZDF buffer-free. You can download and use ExpressVPN services on different devices, including Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android devices. A 24-hour customer care system takes care of any challenges you may face.

ExpressVPN similarly has advanced features. These include VPN split tunneling, a Network kill switch, and a private DNS feature. This service uses the best-in-class AES 256-bit encryption model to secure your traffic. This leaves you virtually impenetrable from internet attacks. The service neither logs nor retains records of your activities on its platform. That way, there is no risk of your internet data falling into the wrong hands.

Accessing ZDF outside Germany using ExpressVPN is the surest way to revive unimpeached streaming while avoiding internet dangers.

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Cheapest Option


Overall score: 9.6

  • Incredibly fast servers
  • Great security features
  • Verified no-logs policy
  • Unblocks streaming platforms

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Coming a close second is another industry leader NordVPN. This Panama-based VPN service has many things going for it. If you seek an easy-to-use yet affordable VPN service to unblock ZDF outside Germany, NordVPN is an excellent choice.

This provider has about 5500 servers, with quite a number in Germany. If you want to acquire a German IP address, you just need to connect to any of its German servers. You can then use this new IP address to access sites like ZDF, stream shows, and movies from multiple channels without any worries. Unlike the practice with many, NordVPN has no bandwidth or data limits. You can stream to your heart’s content without the fear of exceeding your allowed bandwidth.

Obtaining a new IP address using a VPN isn’t exactly condoned in some locations. Hence, you need a VPN provider that will give you an IP address that is undetectable. NordVPN is such a provider. Its obfuscated servers and dedicated IP addresses make it harder for outsiders to know that you are using a VPN.

You can use this service for 30 days risk-free while making up your mind. Within this window, you can use the NordVPN-provided IP address to access ZDF content like Heute, Heute journal, Die Helen Fischer show, and Familie Braun. You can also get a refund if you want.

Best offer: $2.99/month (Save 71% + 3 months extra!)

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Best for connecting multiple devices


Overall score: 9.5

  • Allows unlimited simultaneous connections
  • Integrates Stealth mode
  • Multihop feature available
  • 3,000+ servers

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Another VPN service we recommend for accessing ZDF from any location is Surfshark. This service is relatively new to the VPN space. However, it is already a fans’ favorite. There are many things to love about Surfshark. More importantly, it is perfectly capable of unblocking ZDF contents outside Germany.

This provider’s server count recently exceeded the 3000 mark. Several of these servers are stationed in German cities. Users have often remarked on Surfshark’s amazing speed. It is the preferred VPN service for those who do a lot of online streaming. Hence, if you need to keep up with the latest episodes of Der Bergdoktor, Markus Lanz, or Bettys Diagnose on ZDF Live while outside Germany, Surfshark makes that possible.

One particular area Surfshark shines in is in the provision of security. On the service, you will find the regular AES 256-bit encryption standard available on the other VPN services. However, Surfshark offers you more. It has CleanWeb for fighting malicious ads and malware, a Kill Switch, private DNS and leak protection, a Camouflage mode, and much more. You will not have to worry about security while accessing ZDF using Surfshark.

There is no limit to the number of simultaneous devices you can connect to one Surfshark account. In addition, the provider has apps for the major device types and affordable VPN pricing as an added incentive.

Best offer: $2.49/month (Save 85% + 2 months for free)

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A solid veteran


Overall score: 8.5

  • Free service trial
  • Strong security features
  • 256-bit AES encryption
  • $2.79/month (save 75%)

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HMA is a mid-level VPN service that is excellent for watching ZDF content from any location. This provider is affordable without compromising quality. It has all the features you need for a seamless ZDF experience. Let’s consider a few of those.

Firstly, HMA has over 1030 servers in multiple locations. Then it boasts of no less than two dozen servers in Germany. This is more than enough servers you need to get a German IP address. Moreover, the servers afford you the means to easily stream ZDF Live content.

This provider has superb unblocking abilities. Its IP masking abilities prevent third parties from detecting your VPN use. Hence, with this service, you can unblock other restricted content on Hulu, Amazon Prime, BBC iPlayer, etc. While you stream or download content, you will have no issues with lags or buffering. Your internet speed will be top-notch even when watching ZDF content in HD.

To keep you secure while you access content on ZDF, this provider uses the AES 256-bit encryption technology. It supports excellent protocols like the OpenVPN and IPSec/IKEv2 security protocols. A solid no-log policy wraps up its security features.

As mentioned, this service is super affordable. In addition, you can make use of the 30-day money-back guarantee window to test out the service.

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Offers the best money-back guarantee


Overall score: 8.8

  • 45-day money-back guarantee
  • 7,000+ reliable servers
  • Strict no-log policy
  • Tough security features

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With over 15 years in the industry, CyberGhost is the oldest service provider on this list. However, if you think that that would impact its services, then you are mistaken. Currently, only a few providers can match the quality of services CyberGhost renders. Thus, you can trust it to unblock ZDF outside Germany.

Of CyberGhost’s 7900+ servers, 1043 are located in Germany. This gives you an almost inexhaustible list of options to choose from. This also means that there are few chances of lags as you watch content on ZDF outside Germany. If you have any problems with one German server, you could simply switch to another within seconds.

CyberGhost also shines in the security front. It uses the military-grade AES 256-bit encryption standard to secure your network. This ensures that third parties, including snoops and even government agencies, cannot access your data on the service. In addition, this provider maintains a strong no-log policy. It does not share your details with third parties even when requested.

You can connect 7 devices simultaneously to one CyberGhost account. Thus, you can watch ZDF documentaries like ZDFzeit, ZDF-history, and talk shows like Markus Lanz on different devices simultaneously. In addition, this provider’s subscription plans are affordable. You also get a 45-day money-back window to request a refund after your initial subscription.

Best offer: $1.9/month (Save 84%)

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Factors to Consider When Choosing a VPN for ZDF

VPN providers fare well in some areas and not so well in others. So when looking to choose one, what should be uppermost in your mind?

1. German Servers

To access ZDF outside Germany, you’ll need a German IP address. For that, you need a VPN provider that has servers in Germany. The more servers the provider has, the better for you. This is because the number of servers affects the speed of the service.

2. Speed and Bandwidth

You will need a strong internet connection to access ZDF Live. Unfortunately, VPN services are notorious for slowing down the internet speed. You can get frustrated watching Bad Banks or Familie Braun on ZDF Live if your internet connection is slow. Thus, you may want to test how speedy each VPN service is before committing.

3. Security and Privacy Features

You want to be safe while accessing ZDF from any remote location. Thankfully, VPNs primarily ramp up your security. However, go the extra mile to check each provider’s security features. Some of the factors to check include the provider’s encryption model, logging and privacy policies, the presence of obfuscation technology, etc.

4. Cost

The costs of VPN services vary from one provider to the next. You should only settle for a service you can comfortably pay for. Check for perks like money-back guarantees, free trial windows, etc.

Is a Free VPN Provider a Good Option to Watch ZDF Outside Germany?

The providers on this list all offer paid plans. However, some services promise users access to ZDF outside Germany at no cost. Going along with such offers is a terrible idea. Here are some reasons for that.

Firstly, these free providers typically do not live up to their promises. Thus, even when you take up their offers, you will be unable to unblock and watch ZDF content outside Germany.

However, even when they are able to unblock ZDF, the services you get will be subpar. This is because most free providers have bandwidth limits. Imagine streaming your favorite show on ZDF and getting cut off for exceeding your limit? That is commonplace with these free providers.

Furthermore, these services could expose you to security risks. For example, you could inadvertently introduce malware to your device by taking advantage of these offers.

You are best served when you subscribe to a paid service. If you intend to leave Germany for only a short while, you could take advantage of a money-back offer.


ZDF is a wonderful German channel offering content to residents in Germany. You can stream content on ZDF Live to have an on-demand feel of your favorite shows and moves. Unfortunately, you cannot access ZDF or ZDF Live outside of Germany. This guided review shows you how to overcome this challenge using a VPN. Enjoy!

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