Locast streaming service promises free streaming of over-the-air channels


The Portland area is the 31st market for the service first launched in 2018

A new streaming video service?

Yawn.

Well, if you’ve ever found yourself shelling out money for a cable or satellite service just to get a clear signal from your local TV stations, then this service may actually be worth your time to check out.

Locast, a digital rebroadcaster promising free streaming of local over-the-air TV channels, recently launched in the Portland-Vancouver area. Image courtesy Locast.org
Locast, a digital rebroadcaster promising free streaming of local over-the-air TV channels, recently launched in the Portland-Vancouver area. Image courtesy Locast.org

Locast, is a streaming video service that provides free (well, mostly. More on that in a moment) access to local over-the-air broadcast channels.

Locast, a digital rebroadcaster promising free streaming of local over-the-air TV channels, recently launched in the Portland-Vancouver area. Image courtesy Locast.org
Locast, a digital rebroadcaster promising free streaming of local over-the-air TV channels, recently launched in the Portland-Vancouver area. Image courtesy Locast.org

Launched in 2018, the service recently made the Portland-metro area, including Clark, Cowlitz, and Skamania counties, its 31st major market and now boasts 2.5 million registered users, including a million new subscribers last year alone.

So how does it work?

Under the Copyright Act of 1976, nonprofit translator services are allowed to rebroadcast local stations without receiving a copyright license from the broadcaster. Locast accomplishes this by not charging a fee to use their service, although they are allowed to seek donations.

Therein lies seemingly the only catch of the service:

Signing up is free, but your broadcast will be interrupted on occasion with a pop-up requesting a donation, which can be as little as $5 a month, up to $25 a month, or annual donations of $60 or $100 a year.

The company says those donations are just to cover the cost of operations, including setting up servers to pull in the broadcast signals and send them out to your computer, phone, tablet, or streaming device.

Currently, Locast has access to all 39 over-the-air broadcast channels in the Portland market, including ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, The CW, and more, along with niche channels such as Comet, WeTV, and Cozi, many of which feature classic shows like Bonanza, Matlock, Knight Rider, and others.

“For those who cannot afford pay TV or cannot receive an over-the-air signal, Locast is often their only link to local broadcast news, emergency information, weather, sports, and entertainment,” the company said in a statement announcing the local launch. “As a nonprofit, Locast performs a critical public service by increasing access to local broadcast channels – on the go, over the internet, on any device.”

The company was founded by David Goodfriend, a Washington, D.C.-based attorney and consumer advocate who fought the NFL and other sports leagues over blackout rules that often keep fans in local markets from watching games on television.

Goodfriend’s Sports Fan Coalition won a victory in 2014 when the Federal Communications Commission ruled to overturn the 40-year-old blackout rule, increasing consumer access to sports broadcasts in their local market.

Advertisement
Advertisement