Home entertainment: a quick guide to streaming services, VPNs and audiobooks

Around a third of the global population is under lockdown or subject to other restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic. So, what will you do with all your extra hours at home?

Home entertainment: a quick guide to streaming services, VPNs and audiobooks

Here, The Local offers a guide to some of your leading options for streaming services and audio books – as well as VPNs that can unblock regionally-restricted content and protect your privacy.

Streaming services

Amazon Prime Video

Home to popular series such as The Grand Tour, The Man in the High Castle and Mozart in the Jungle. New films are added every month and you can watch on up to three devices at a time. Amazon has around 150 million Prime subscribers, who get Prime Video included.


This niche provider specialising in factual series was founded by Discovery Channel creator John Hendricks. Available worldwide, it covers science, technology, history, nature and more. Kids’ programmes offer education on everything from space probes to tsunamis. CuriosityStream has grown rapidly to pass 13 million subscribers.

HBO Nordic

HBO has a long-standing reputation for high quality production with recent successes including the Golden Globe-winner Chernobyl and Westworld. If you want something lighter, its comedy offerings include all ten seasons of Larry David’s Curb Your Enthusiasm. HBO Nordic has been offering streaming across Scandinavia since 2012.


The name has become synonymous with streaming. Netflix has 167 million subscribers – but its global market share has fallen amid growing competition. The choice of TV shows and films is vast and Netflix Original productions such as Stranger Things and Ozark have enjoyed great success.

SF Anytime and SF Kids

Available across Scandinavia, SF Anytime offers a wide range of international content – and the chance to discover some Swedish classics. Signing up to SF Kids allows you to find old favourites to introduce your children to – or let them search the latest releases for themselves.

Virtual private networks (VPN)

Know the series you want to watch or the game you want to play but have found it’s not available in your region? Or maybe you just want online privacy and to protect your digital identity? The answer in both cases is a VPN. Here are five leading providers:


CyberGhost pledges to keep you anonymous online and ensure your entire connection cannot be tracked. One subscription can be used on up to seven devices and apps are available for Windows, macOS, iOS, Android and more.


You can protect an unlimited number of devices with ZenMate, which offers at least 74 global server locations. It offers apps for all your devices. It has attracted more than 40 million users in 160 countries since 2013.


ExpressVPN has servers at 160 locations in 94 countries and invites you to join up to “say goodbye to geo-blocks”. A single subscription comes with apps for all devices and a 30-day money-back guarantee.


This VPN promises “next-generation encryption” and a choice of more than 5,900 servers in 59 countries. NordVPN is compatible with all popular platforms and allows you to secure up to six devices with one account.


SurfShark is not shy of baring its teeth and claims to be “eating other VPN deals alive”. Subscribers can use this VPN on unlimited devices and are able to search Netflix libraries from 15 countries.



Nextory offers audiobooks and ebooks for individuals and families – with subscription packages for between one and four users. Features of the app include the ability to create reading lists, reading diaries and individual child profiles. 


Storytel offers a range of subscription choices for individuals and families. All of them offer unlimited access and the chance to listen and read via mobiles and tablets. Storytel will also give you book recommendations.


Audible, part of Amazon, offers a vast choice of non-fiction and fiction across many genres; more than 200,000 titles in all. Audible Original Podcasts include documentaries and comedies. Paid membership includes one audiobook per month.

Google Audiobooks

You can now buy a wide range of audiobooks on Google Play, as well as ebooks. You can make purchases without a subscription and get personal recommendations once you've finished a book.



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Switzerland proposes reforms to popular streaming services

Swiss authorities have forecast regulations for the streaming industry which may have significant impacts for viewers and media sources generally in Switzerland.

Switzerland proposes reforms to popular streaming services
A Netflix app close up. Photo: MARTIN BUREAU / AFP

Led by international platforms such as Netflix, streaming has exploded in popularity in recent years. The growth has however caught Swiss authorities off guard, with streaming services still not regulated to the same extent as television, radio and film content. 

The Federal Media Commission has laid out a set of proposed regulations on streaming services in Switzerland which would focus on extending the regulations to that which cover traditional media. 

READ: How media diversity is shrinking in Switzerland

READ: Artists fight to keep public broadcasting licence fee

As yet, the proposal has not been adopted by the Swiss government. 

With additional money to be paid by streaming services towards Swiss productions as well as boosting the percentage of Swiss content on streaming platforms, there is the potential that costs for streaming services in Switzerland could increase. 

The proposal wants to bring streaming providers up to European Union standards, which would include a minimum of 30 percent local content as well as requiring four percent of profits to be invested towards producing Swiss films. 

The proposal also called for the Swiss state broadcaster SSR to receive stable funding as well as the prioritisation of information, education and cultural programs. 

Journalism ‘must be protected’ 

The report, released on Monday, also included proposals to increase funding for news and media organisations while also tackling the risks of fake news and information bubbles that people can become locked into through the use of social media. 

The report called for additional support to be provided in an independent and guaranteed fashion from government to media sources in order to ensure “democratically relevant” journalism into the future. 

The report said the plan could be funded through additional taxation on television and streaming platforms as well as tax incentives and deductions for donations to media platforms. 

The authors also called for more research to be done into how to improve algorithms so that social media users and people on streaming platforms such as YouTube would be exposed to a more diverse array of information. 


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