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How YouTube TV Ended Up At the Center of Locast’s Anti-Trust Complaint Against ABC, NBC, CBS, & FOX

Jason Gurwin

Back in July, ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox filed a lawsuit against Locast, a nonprofit streaming service founded by former Dish Network Corp. lobbyist, David Goodfriend and funded in part by AT&T Inc. The networks claimed that the service was violating copyright law by retransmitting signals of their local TV stations without permission. The networks also claimed that should Locast gain popularity, it could cut into the revenue stream broadcasters receive from pay TV distributors.

Today, Locast fired back with a countersuit accusing the networks of collusion. According to the the complaint the streaming service is alleging that the broadcasters have “colluded” and are working to undermine and shut down Locast by “threatening business retaliation” against any potential partners. At the the center of their claims, was a surprising name, Live TV Streaming Service, YouTube TV.

In the complaint, Locast claims “In a meeting between representatives of SFCNY (Sports Fans Coalition of New York, who owns Locast) and senior executives at YouTubeTV in April 2019, the executives indicated that they had been told that if YouTubeTV provides access to Locast, then YouTubeTV will be punished by the Big 4 broadcasters in negotiating carriage agreements for other non-broadcast programming channels.”

What Locast is alleging is that YouTube TV claims that if they worked with Locast, they potentially could lose carriage of cable networks like Bravo (NBCU), FS1 (Fox), ESPN (ABC), and Showtime (CBS) during their next negotiation. Whether this was directly said or merely hinted, is not particularly clear. Given that YouTube TV already has wide carriage of local channels on multi-year agreements, the benefit of integrating Locast at this point isn’t exactly clear. Long term though, if YouTube TV could drop local channels and integrate Locast, they could reduce the price of the service by potentially $10-15.

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