There’s plenty of content on the CBS website, and it’s all available free of charge. You don’t even need to have a cable TV subscription to catch up on all your favorite CBS shows.
But here’s the catch– the network’s streaming service only works if you’re located in the US. If you try to login from another country, all you’ll see is a “content not available in your area” message.
Read on to find out how to override the network’s restrictive geo-blocker so that you can watch NCIS, Big Bang Theory, Criminal Minds, 60 Minutes and all your other favorite CBS programs from outside the United States.
What is a geo-block?
A geo-block is a simple location-based filter that uses your IP address to determine your whereabouts. If you connect from inside the permitted area specified by the filter, you’ll know that you’re accessing geo-blocked content. But if your IP address indicates that you’re attempting to connect from inside a prohibited zone, you’ll get an error message every time you try to load the page.
Why does CBS use a geo-blocker?
It all boils down to money. Geo-blocks enable CBS and other content producers to charge higher licensing fees for their shows and movies.
Last summer CBS was able to negotiate a very profitable international licensing deal for Star Trek. But without geo-block technology, the deal may not have been as lucrative.
If anyone in the world could watch Star Trek and other CBS shows on the CBS website, foreign distributors would probably not have to pay as much to broadcast the show locally.
Is there any way to get around CBS’s geographical restrictions?
In order to jump over a geo-block, you need a Virtual Private Network (VPN) provider. VPN services conceal your computer’s IP address information, making it nearly impossible for computers on the web to track your location.
After reviewing many different VPNs services here at AddonHQ, we’ve decided to use a VPN provider called IPVanish. Read on to see it in action.
How to use IPVanish to watch CBS
IPVanish has a huge network of subscribers and over 500 servers in 60 different countries, which is part of the reason why the company can afford to offer low monthly fees.
Once you’ve got an account, getting the free software is a simple matter of logging in and downloading the software from the IPVanish website.
Here’s what the IPVanish software looks like on Mac OS:
The circle on the top right of the screen allows you to turn your VPN tunnel on or off. The menu on the bottom allows you to select one of IPVanish’s VPN servers.
Because I’m currently located overseas, I get this screen every time I try to watch a CBS video when I’m not logged into IPVanish:
But if connect to IPVanish through one of the company’s many stateside VPN servers, I’m able to load any video on the CBS site.
IPVanish’s software is so simple that a kid could figure it out in 5 minutes. Literally all you have to do is pick a server and click connect. Once you’re logged in you can easily access any type of geo-blocked content, regardless of your physical location.
Is it legal?
VPN technology and geo-blocking policies are so new that the current law doesn’t provide a clear answer to the above question, according to Bloomberg BNA.
The United States Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) does state that gaining unauthorized access to “protected” computers is a crime. But here’s the big question: is a computer that’s walled off behind geo-restrictions really protected– or is it simply just a pain in the neck to access?
Mitch Stoltz– a Senior staff attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation– thinks that IP address blocks aren’t “protections” at all because they’re way too easy to override. Of course, lawyers working for the content creators disagree.
Around the web, most industry experts seem to agree that future legal decisions will support rather than undermine VPN service use.
Many people are already using VPNs to stay safe, secure and anonymous on th web. In the future, even more people are likely to sign up. That’s why some have said that Netflix and other content providers that try to geo-block their content are doomed to fail.
Disclaimer: Addonhq.com contains general information about legal matters. The information is not advice, and should not be treated as such.
The main reasons why we use IPVanish
There are lots of different VPN services to choose from, but my colleagues and I decided to go with IPVanish. Here’s why.
- Fast servers. Subpar VPN services pipe content through cheap servers, resulting in lagging and other annoying problems. But if you use IPVanish, you’ll never run into any performance related issues.
- Low monthly fees. The IPVanish VPN network is huge and the company has tons of subscribers, which is why it can afford to charge less.
- Total privacy. Because IPVanish doesn’t collect logs, it’s impossible for anyone to track you once you’re logged in.
- Trustworthy leadership. Unlike the controversial VPN provider known as Hola, IPVanish does not sell its customers’ bandwidth to hackers.
- Cross-platform compatibility. If I want to listen to Pandora abroad, I just open up my IPVanish app and login to a US VPN server via my phone. The company’s app is available on both iOS and Android.
- No bandwidth throttling. Some VPN services discriminate against gamers and file sharers. But all of IPVanish’s users get equal access to the servers.
IPVanish: one of the highest rated VPN services on the web
We aren’t the only tech blog that likes IPVanish. Gizmodo, Business Insider, CNET, Fast Company and Slashdot have given the company positive reviews as well.
When Lifehacker asked its readers to vote for their favorite VPN provider, IPVanish was one of the most popular choices.
Note: AddonHQ readers will also receive 25% off their first month’s payment on any plan.