Locast, the non-profit streaming service, that offers local channels in 26 markets – announced that they added 1 million new registered users in 2020. With the additions, they now have 2.3 million registered users in total. With the service you can watch local affiliates of ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX, The CW, PBS, and others.
“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.”
Goodfriend added, “Local TV was supposed to be free and widely available. Unfortunately, either because they can’t get an over-the-air signal or can’t afford to pay for cable, satellite, or pay-TV streaming services, millions of Americans have been shut out from that promise – until now. Locast is helping to fulfill the promise of ubiquitous, free local TV by providing free local TV channels to phones, tablets, laptops or streaming media devices.”
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.
Locast is available in 26 markets reaching nearly half of the U.S. population. In 2020, Locast launched in Puerto Rico, Florida, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Indianapolis markets, among others.
The 26 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.