Locast Expands to Columbus, OH to Reach 34 Markets, 2.8 Million Registered Users
Locast, the non-profit streaming service, that offers local channels over the internet, added its 34th market: Columbus, Ohio. This includes the cities of Bucyrus, Chillicothe, Marion, Mt. Vernon, Washington Court House and Zanesville.
They also announced that they now have 2.8 million registered users in total, up 500,000 in 2021.
Locast delivers 45 local TV channels in the Columbus designated market area (DMA), including WCMH NBC 4, WSYX ABC 6, WBNS CBS 10, WTTE FOX 28, PBS, PBS Kids, as well as DABL, Telemundo, Antenna, CourtTV, Movies, MeTV, TrueCrime, CW, Circle, BOUNCE, Quest, LAFF, COMET, HSN, GRIT, Charge!, and more.
Locast is accessible to viewers 20 counties in the Columbus DMA including Coshocton, Crawford, Delaware, Fairfield, Fayette, Franklin, Guernsey, Hardin, Hocking, Knox, Licking, Madison, Marion, Morgan, Morrow, Perry, Pickaway, Pike, Ross, and Union.
While the service is technically free, it is more or less unusable unless you donate $5.50 monthly for access to your channels. Without a donation, your stream stops every 15 minutes.
They recently launched a program called Locast Cares that will give those who cannot donate financially, one-year free access.
“Our mission is clear: to increase accessibility and availability of free over-the-air broadcasts via the internet,” said consumer advocate David Goodfriend, chairman, and founder of the nonprofit Locast. “The fast pace of our growth shows that for millions of Americans, reliable, affordable, and accessible local broadcast programming has been out of reach until now.”
Locast is now available in 33 markets reaching nearly half of the U.S. population. In 2020, Locast launched service in Puerto Rico, as well as cities in Florida, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Indiana, among others.
The 34 markets carrying the service are:
- Los Angeles
- New York
- Puerto Rico
- Rapid City
- San Francisco
- Sioux City
- Sioux Falls
- Tampa Bay
- Washington DC
- West Palm Beach
Since July 2019, Locast has been battling ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox, which claim the service is in violation of copyright laws. In their lawsuit, the networks argue that when Locast retransmits their signals, it strips out vital information, including Nielsen codes that are used to measure ratings. In addition, the networks also claim that if Locast is truly a nonprofit, and not helping AT&T and Dish, then there is no reason to require registration or gather its own consumer data — both of which Locast currently does.
In a countersuit filed, Locast accused ABC, NBC, Fox, and CBS of collusion. Locast claimed the networks interfered in a potential partnership with YouTube TV by disallowing it to provide access or Google would be “punished by the big four broadcasters.” The broadcasters — which own cable channels such as ESPN, Bravo, Fox News, and Showtime — could band together and pressure Google as well as other pay-TV operators by refusing to sell their cable channels, Locast suggested.
Locast says that a trial may occur in the second half of the year.
Locast is a live TV streaming service offering access to local TV affiliates in 36 markets. The service has been suspended because of a legal fight with broadcasters. Whether or not it returns, viewers have other options to watch local channels for free.
While the service could be used for free, users who didn’t pay for the membership tier would get a prompt to donate every 15 minutes. After the prompt, users were kicked back to the home screen and booted off the channel they were watching.
Locast could be viewed within Sling TV on select devices.