Updated: January 1st, 2018
On October 1, 2017, CBC published an article about its content delivery policy. Customers can watch news programs and current events, such as The National, outside of the country. However, most other content is restricted to people within Canada. This includes sports, dramas and most other forms of entertainment.
Despite their policy, it is still possible to view CBC content if you are outside of the country.
Go through the following steps right now to get CBC outside Canada:
How to Watch CBC in USA
in more detail:
It never ceases to amaze me how many Americans have never made over the border to our near neighbors to the north. Many of our big cities are just a few hours away from Canada and yet so many of us still happily wallow in Canadian stereotypes without every summoning up the curiosity to go see for ourselves.
I broke that mold a few years back, inspired by an episode of ‘How I Met Your Mother’ which painted such a comic, caricatured version of the place, I decided I had to go and see what it was really like. It was, in a word, beautiful. The scenery was stunning, the cities are clean, calm, and orderly, and the people are amazing. Although I am stereotyping a little bit on that last one, because it’s based mostly on my current girlfriend who I met on that first trip, and went back to see many times subsequently.
Without boring you about our relationship, she now lives with me in NYC, and whilst everyone loves NYC, she still gets homesick quite a bit. I don’t blame her. So I decided to try and help her out, but hooking us up to her favorite Canadian TV channel, CBC. It has a bit of everything; news, sport, shows.
The Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Network reports that CBC generates nearly $18 billion in revenue a year, making it one of the largest broadcasters in the world. They earn their revenue by showcasing exceptional content, so it is understandable that people would want to access it while traveling outside of Canada.
But it didn’t prove to be as easy as I thought because it simply isn’t available in the USA. In the end, I had to turn to a VPN to show me how to watch CBC in USA locations. It worked like a charm, so let me explain how it’s done.
Why is CBC not Available in outside Canada?
Firstly, why is CBC not available in the USA? Well it all comes down to the issue of rights. As with all broadcasters, CBC buys the rights to the shows it broadcasts from the producers. These are sold by country, and being a Canadian Broadcaster, they only buy the rights to screen the shows in Canada.
These rights can be very expensive. In 2011, some U.S. networks had to pay over $27 billion for the rights to most new NFL content. The cost of content rights tends to be lower in Canada, especially for less premium content. However, it can still cost $25,000 for an episode of a show or an interview.
Networks don’t usually want to spend a lot of money to purchase rights to show this content outside of Canada, because they have so few viewers from other countries, even if their content is syndicated online. Therefore, they place strong restrictions on their content.
The 2008 Summer Olympics were a classic example. CBC purchased the rights from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to show the Olympics in Canada. Networks in the United States, such as NBC purchased similar rights.
"We as the Canadian rights holder are privy to certain digital rights," explains Bob Kerr, director of business development at CBC, "but we have to make sure we don't leak into the States."
Enforcing licensing guidelines is the biggest reason CBC doesn’t allow people outside of Canada to access their content. However, there are other reasons as well. One problem is dealing with compliance issues in other countries.
While Canada has built a culture opposed to government censorship, some countries take a less liberal stance. These countries have enacted strict laws against certain types of content, which may be perfectly legal in Canada. The jurisdictional issues can be blurry, but the network could be held liable for content that was illegally shared in other countries. CBC avoids liability for streaming this content by barring people outside of Canada from accessing it.
Some of their shows will also be sold to US networks, although many may be on obscure Cable Channels at 3am. This nevertheless means that CBC cannot broadcast those shows in the USA, or indeed anywhere else.
They therefore use a technology known as geo-blocking to stop users outside Canada from watching shows on the CBC Player which streams videos online. This same restriction holds true on the flip-side, with other highly popular online services being blocked in Canada, like Sling TV and ESPN.
How is CBC Blocking Access outside Canada?
This geo-blocking is a pretty simple technology. The CBC website takes a look at your IP address when you visit their site. This is a piece of data that every internet user sends to every website they visit. It includes information on where you are located, so if it says you are not in Canada, CBC won’t let you watch shows on their site. Simple.
Bob Kerr states that CBC and other networks have used geo-blocking to restrict access to Canadian viewers for years. However, there are practical limitations with mobile devices. Kerr states that the companies that issue licensing rights for their content have agreed not to enforce these rules against CBC and other broadcasters if people access their content through mobile devices. They technically could impose a penalty, but are reasonable about not doing so, since there is no technological solution so far.
However, few people bother to access TV shows or other forms of entertainment through mobile devices. Therefore, mobile users are rarely a consideration for rights holders or CBC in the first place. CBC is able to identify the location of most of its users with a strong degree of accuracy.
The only way to get around it is to fool the CBC site that you are in fact in Canada when you aren’t. And the best way to do that is with a VPN, which reroutes your internet traffic via an external server. It is the IP Address of this server which the CBC website sees, so if you link up with a server in Canada, CBC will think you are in Canada, and so you can watch their shows.
It is as easy as that, and if you carry on reading, I will show you precisely how to set one up and solve the issue of how to watch CBC online in USA.
Is it Legal to Use a VPN to get CBC Outside Canada
The legal code never evolves quickly enough to keep up with the changing pace of technology. The Copyright Act of Canada was passed in 1922 and was amended three times since. Even the most recent law doesn’t adequately address the changes that Internet has created in recent years.
Therefore, it is difficult to discuss the legality of VPNs with absolute certainty. However, most lawyers agree that using a VPN to access CBC outside of Canada doesn’t seem to violate any laws in either Canada or the United States.
David Fewer, a law professor at the University of Ottawa and the head of the Canadian Internet Policy & Public Interest Clinic told The Globe and Mail that even the best arguments against using VPNs to disguise IP addresses and access geoblocked content “are not very good at all.”
Fewer said that using a VPN doesn’t seem to break any digital encryption or digital locks. They merely cloak a user’s IP address, so the user doesn’t seem to be in violation of copyright laws.
A potentially stronger argument could be made against CBC as the broadcaster, since they are the ones responsible for ensuring their content isn’t accessed outside Canada. However, even then the laws become murky. They could argue that the content is syndicated to the server that the IP address is hosted on.
Regardless of the liability on CBC’s part, Fewer and his colleagues feel that it is very unlikely that Canadians would face legal ramifications for using a VPN to solve the problem of how to watch CBC online in USA locations at any time.
However, it is still important to understand the laws of the jurisdiction that you are visiting. Some countries have fully banned VPN devices, including:
- The United Arab Emirates
It is difficult to enforce the bans in these countries, since they have so many Internet users. However, it probably isn’t worth taking the risk to watch CBC. If you are traveling to a country that has much friendlier laws on using VPNs, such as most of mainland Europe, the United States or the United Kingdom, then you probably don’t have anything to worry about.
Of course, some publishers are raising concerns about the use of VPNs. Mary Ann Turcke, the CEO of Bell Media, states that Canadians using VPN hurt jobs and the economy. However, many people disagree with her sentiment and feel she is simply trying to protect her company’s bottom line.
How to Use a VPN to Watch CBC outside Canada
Step 1: Sign up for VPN
First you will need to sign up for a VPN. I recommend ExpressVPN for this, and will use it to show you how to do things here. SO visit the ExpressVPN website by clicking on of the links on this page.
Once there, make your choice from their range of package and click on your chosen one. You will then have to follow some simple steps to complete payment. Don’t fret, if you are not completely satisfied with the service, ExpressVPN offer a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Once you have completed the payment process, you will have to click on a link in an email to activate your account.
Step 2: Download & Install VPN
Then you will need to download and install the software. This is also pretty easy. Just click on the correct operating system from their menu, and follow the onscreen instruction to download and then install it.
Step 3: Connect to Canada-based Server on VPN
Once you have installed the software you will be presented with the very user-friendly interface. All you now need to do is choose your server. There are a lot on offer, but to watch CBC you will need to choose one of the ones in Canada.
Click on your choice and wait a few seconds for the connection to be made. Below is a snapshot of the ExpressVPN software connecting:
And that’s it. You should now be free to visit the CBC website and stream as many shows as you like. Its an easy process and it couldn’t have made my girlfriend happier. It doesn’t bring all the other good things about Canada to NYC, but it does allow her to escape back there for a few hours… and apparently Hockey isn’t the same without Canadian commentary. Never been a fan myself, but if she says so.
Do let me know if you have any comments or questions about this process using the comments box below.
And if you aren’t convinced by ExpressVPN (and I can’t think why you wouldn’t be) there are others to choose from. Below is my pick of the top 5 VPN if you want to know how to watch CBC in USA cities.