How to Access CBS On Time Warner Cable Using a Proxy Service

CBS runs a website,, to remind customers what they are missing.

CBS runs a website,, to remind customers what they are missing.

While Time Warner Cable and CBS continue to bicker over the fee that TWC pays the nation's most popular network to carry its programming, TWC customers are blocked from viewing the nation's most popular network both on their TVs via cable as well as on their computers at But there's a simple solution: Don't let CBS know you're a TWC customer.

All you need is a proxy service — an Internet connection that routes your traffic through a server to obscure its origin. At least then you can watch on your computer.

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Proxies aren't just for watching "NCIS" and the "Big Bang Theory." They allow people who live under far-greater Internet restrictions — say, in China — to access blocked sites such as Facebook and Twitter. It's also a way for you to obscure your identity from hackers or possible government snoops.

How to set up a proxy service

There are many proxy services that offer access for free. But that's generally for basic Web access. Streaming video is data-intensive and something companies may charge an upgrade fee for.

Among proxy services, Hide My Ass is fairly popular, complete with a hat-and-sunglasses-wearing donkey mascot. HMA is a small download that's a cinch to set up on PCs and Macs. All you do is click to install and click one button to turn on the proxy. (Setting it up on iOS and Android devices is trickier and requires manual configuration.)

HMA's paid service, Pro VPN, costs $11.52 per month, although it's currently on sale for $9.99 (less if you sign up for six or 12 months). VPN also encrypts your Internet connection when you're on inherently insecure public Wi-Fi networks.

MORE: Can You Hide Anything from the NSA?

A proxy service not only gets you past the CBS censor, which blocks you based on your ISP, but also past geographic restrictions based on your country, such as the blocking of BBC iPlayer video outside of the U.K. or Hulu outside the United States. In the HMA app, just pick a proxy server in one of those countries, and you're in.

Is using a proxy legal?

There is no (U.S.) law against using a proxy server. But using it to access content that the owner restricts does violate the service's terms of use. "Unless we give you permission, you agree not to access the Services using any interface other than ours. We may deny permission to link to the Services for any reason in our sole discretion," the CBS Interactive terms of use state under "Acceptable Use."
"So — they have the right to say 'you can't watch our stuff' for any reason. That's pretty clear," said Jeremy Toeman, CEO of digital TV guide service Dijit Media and digital TV industry veteran.

"Downton Abbey" and "Doctor Who" fans from abroad, take note: The BBC is even clearer. "You may not access, view and/or listen to certain parts of BBC Content (such as video or live television services) using BBC Online Services if you are outside the UK," its terms of use state.

All that said, there are no actual criminal penalties for violating a company's terms of use. And a major corporation trying to sue one person for violation of its terms probably wouldn't work or be worth the trouble. Furthermore, you are anonymous since you're using a proxy to access website. 

Follow Sean Captain @seancaptain. Follow us @tomsguide, on Facebook and on Google+.

Sean Captain is a freelance technology and science writer, editor and photographer. At Tom's Guide, he has reviewed cameras, including most of Sony's Alpha A6000-series mirrorless cameras, as well as other photography-related content. He has also written for Fast Company, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and Wired. 

  • knightmike
    So is TWC blocking or is blocking TWC internet subscribers?
  • ram1009
    Has the world already forgotten about "off air" antennas? CBS is spewed into the ether FOR FREE!! All you need to receive all of CBS programming is a digital TV and a very basic off air antenna. Paying money to be able to view any off air signal as part of a cable or satellite package s the height of folly. All that's necessary to watch off air programming is to select the TV antenna input with the remote. How could it be any simpler?
  • lp231
    People still watch TV?!
  • Hando567
    Shame on both of these companies, while they are busy acting like little children the customers of both parties are the ones who actually suffer. I wish there was another option for broadband in my area, would drop them in a heartbeat.
  • abbadon_34
    I don't see how to you be breaking a company's Terms of Service if you never agree to them.
  • knightmike
    I don't see the option to download HMA. It even says on their site, "No software required.
    All you need is a web browser to use our free proxy, no third-party software is required to be downloaded."
  • Borisblade7
    You can get CBS for FREE in HD over the air. Who cares if the cable company has it or not. They dont even give you the HD CBS unless you pay more on top of what you are already paying to get a crappier version of a free channel. TLDR version: Only idiots pay for CBS or care if the cable company has it.
  • mortonww
    Or buy an antenna from Wal-Mart?
  • bryonhowley
    It seems like this comes up at least once a year. If it is not CBS it is another station. Personally TWC just needs to tell CBS to go Fxxx Off we will not carry your stations any more. See how fast they change there minds.
  • everygamer
    I can understand if TWC is not offering CBS network TV programming, that has to do with a paid contract between the two parties.

    What I am not certain about is CBS blocking TWC customers access to Those customers may be within rights to sue CBS for discrimination of some sort. Internet sites such as I don't believe are covered by contracts between cable/internet providers and CBS, its a public facing site that is likely available on the internet regardless of contracts. CBS blocking TWC customers because they didn't like how negotiations with TWC over TV content seems somewhat underhanded and in some respects unrelated, and I think makes CBS look worse than a failed contract negotiation between a TV content provider and a TV content distributor.