Locast Has Ended

Locast Has Died (At Least for Now)

September 7, 2021

Pour one out, friends. Locast is officially dead. Like DirecTV, it may rise again, but for the time being, its time has appeared to have run out. After several broadcast giants sued and successfully won a judgment against the company, it ultimately decided to suspend operations. We'll talk this week about how this happened, and what alternatives you may have going forward.

Streamer's Spotlight: Locast Loses Long Fight to Offer Free Broadcast TV

Initially launched in 2018, Locast is a non-profit streaming service focused on delivering free over-the-air TV channels. To whit, Locast isn't the first to try to make free broadcast TV easier to access. Some may

, which had the same idea. The problem with Aereo, however, is that it charged a subscription fee to access the broadcasts, and did not pay for retransmission fees to the networks. At least at first, Locast did no such thing. However, the company slowly introduced some donation-generating schemes that ultimately led to the situation it's in today.

1. So, What Happened to Locast?

In 2019, the parent companies representing ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox sued Locast under three key arguments:

  • The [copyrighty liability] exemption is intended for local retransmissions, whereas Locast's use of the internet gives it global reach

  • The service in fact operates for commercial advantage and cannot prove otherwise

  • That the donations it requests are in fact charges to obtain uninterrupted service

The judge in the case, Louis Stanton, ultimately found in favor of the media companies on the last two points. In his judgment, he explained, "Expansion is nowhere mentioned" in the copyright exemption law for, "and it is therefore excluded from the short, tightly-crafted grant of exemptions." Stanton also explained that "because a donation is required to avoid service interruptions, it is, therefore "not merely a recurring gift to a charitable cause."

Therein lies the problem that Locast created for itself which it did not initially have when it started. First, it started interrupting broadcasts in order to ask for donations. Apparently, that strategy worked well enough for it to rake in enough revenue to expand. And that expansion with excess revenue from donations collected through that scheme did not fit into the copyright exemption rules for non-profit retransmission of broadcasts.

2. Can't Locast Just Stop Interruptions?

Sure. And initially, that's what it did. The first action Locast took after this judgment came out against it was to suspend the programmatic interruptions to ask for donations. However, it quickly followed this by suspending all of its operations, everywhere. This was quite likely a dramatic action that followed legal advice from its defense team.

3. Will Locast Be Back?

I wouldn't count Locast out just yet. This is a huge setback, but the company is likely exploring its options. It's good to keep in mind that, based on the judgment, interrupting broadcasts to collect donations and then using those donations to expand was the core problem.

  4. Are There Locast Alternatives?

There are, but they aren't nearly as convenient as Locast was. If you still want to get access to local broadcast networks, your first best option is to use an

. You will get most, if not all of the same channels you could get through Locast.

Unfortunately, there's no really great option beyond that to get OTA channels all in one place. That was the real benefit of Locast, which is why its loss is an affront to access for TV viewers in the US. Your next best option is live TV streaming services, like


, which carry a large number of these.

This Week's Streaming Guide

1. New Netflix Show 'On the Verge' Could be a Hit

"Four women a chef, a single mom, an heiress and a job seeker dig into love and work, with a generous side of midlife crises, in pre-pandemic LA". Streaming on Netflix TODAY (Sept. 7). -

2. America Ninja Warrior Goes to the Kids

Can kids be American Ninja Warriors? Why not! Watch America Ninja Warrior Junior this Thursday (Sept. 9) on Peacock. -

3. Yes, Peacock's 'Frogger' Game Show Is Based on the Game

Watch hapless contestants try to hop their way across dangers to win prizes in this new Peacock game show available this Thursday (Sept. 9). -

4. Learn How the Taliban Returned in a Vice Special Report

Vice explores how the Taliban re-rose to power in a Showtime special report, Return of the Taliban. Stream on Showtime this Friday (Sept. 10) at 8 PM EST. -

News and Industry Developments

1. Locast Shutting Down After Losing Court Battle

The TV networks that sued are currently doing a victory lap. -

2. FuboTV Is Adding a Gaming Experience

These free-to-play games can be played with a TV remote.

3. Additional Sports Channels Coming to YouTube TV

The company is adding more options to its Sports add-on package. -

4. Sling TV Launches Exclusive Barstool Sports Channel

The channel will feature exclusive content from big names like Dave Portnoy, Dion Sanders, Big Cat, and more. -

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