When local content on the internet didn’t happen

Back in 2014, the big tech news was a company called Aereo. They had a simple idea: skirt a very specific FCC rule and create a streaming live TV service. By using one antenna for each subscriber, they thought they could get away with not paying content providers.

You see, if you redistribute copyrighted programs, you have to pay for them if the copyright owner asks you to. This is the basis of pretty much every pay-TV company, ever. There are a series of rules that govern this, but it boils down to this: if you want to provide a channel to your subscribers, you have to ask. And if you ask and the answer is “pay me first” then you have to pay them first.

Aereo didn’t do that. They thought their unique spin on technology would let them slide by. They were wrong. Aereo’s world came crashing down in 2014 and we were there to witness it. Back then we didn’t realize that the FCC’s lack of action, sending everything to the Supreme Court, was a trend that would last 5 years at least. But then we were so naive back then.

5 years later…

There are now much better options for getting local channels on your phone or streaming device. They’re all perfectly legal and they all make a lot more sense than Aereo’s cockamamie plan.

AirTV

One of the best is AirTV. This black box captures your antenna signal and streams it on the internet to up to two locations at the same time. Because it’s not going out to an unlimited number of people, it’s perfectly legal. It’s also a one-time purchase that really pays for itself. You can watch your home TV from literally anywhere on the planet with internet service.

DIRECTV NOW and Sling

Live-TV streaming services were still on the drawing board back in 2014, but today they’re mature. You can get not only local channels but national ones, for a very reasonable price. DIRECTV NOW and Sling are the two top competitors and chances are one of them will be a good fit for you.

Locast

You might not have heard of Locast, but it’s an interesting idea that seems to be gaining steam. If you’re in one of the supported areas, you can stream every single channel on your phone. It’s only open to about 15 cities now and you have to physically be in the same market.

What sets Locast apart is that they don’t ask for money. It’s purely non-profit and it’s attracted attention from major companies like AT&T. It’s a good solution for people with line-of-sight issues. You don’t need an antenna, just a good streaming package. It’s basically everything Aereo tried to be, but since they’re not charging it’s not a problem. You can make voluntary donations but it seems to work just fine without them.