Locast adds Minneapolis/St. Paul

It’s been a while since I wrote about Locast. It’s a free service that streams local channels to viewers in 21 cities. Actually, that number is now 22, since they just announce service to Minneapolis/St. Paul. Here’s the total list for you, as of summer 2020:

  • Atlanta, GA
  • Baltimore, MD
  • Boston, MA
  • Chicago, IL
  • Dallas, TX
  • Denver, CO
  • Houston, TX
  • Los Angeles, CA
  • Miami, FL
  • Minneapolis/St. Paul, MI
  • New York, NY
  • Philadelphia, PA
  • Phoenix, AZ
  • Puerto Rico
  • Rapid City, SD
  • San Francisco, CA
  • Seattle, WA
  • Sioux City, IA
  • Sioux Falls, SD
  • Tampa Bay, FL
  • Washington, DC
  • West Palm Beach, FL

What Locast is

Locast is a service that streams your local channels to a phone or streaming box, 100% for free. You do have to watch nag commercials asking you to donate on occasion but otherwise it’s free. The organization is supported by donations from viewers and also by DISH and AT&T who contribute so Locast can be used on Genie and Hopper systems.

Is Locast legal?

Well, for the moment it’s not illegal. Although there are challenges from station owners, for the moment the courts are content to say that Locast operates as a “repeater.” Repeaters are non-profit companies that simply extend a signal. They’re allowed by broadcast law.

Broadcasters say that the investment by AT&T and DISH takes away their competitive edge in negotiations. I’m not really able to judge that. But, if that were true, I’d say that broadcasters themselves have been trying to increase their rates far beyond anything fair for a long time.

Is Locast better than an antenna?

It isn’t, because you have the option of occasional nag screens or ponying up a few bucks a month for a donation. With an antenna, there’s nothing more to buy, ever. Put up the antenna and you can watch live TV for free as it was intended. But, as a way to occasionally get live TV on your phone, it’s not only better than nothing, it’s actually pretty good.

Locast’s one weakness for now is that it’s really only in those 22 cities. That covers about 40% of the US population, but it doesn’t do a lot for viewers in pretty big cities like Seattle, Miami, Detroit (where Solid Signal is based), New Orleans, Memphis, Salt Lake City, or dozens of other places you’ve heard of.

How can I use Locast?

If you have DIRECTV or DISH, the process is simple. Here’s a guide I wrote for DIRECTV viewers, and here’s a similar one I found at DISH.com for the Hopper. If you want to use it on your phone, tablet or streaming device, search for Locast at your App Store or Play Store of choice. The app is free and easy to install. There’s an activation process, and it will need to see your location. It’s just as easy as that.

Ready to step up to an antenna?

Locast is great. I’m a big supporter. But as I said there’s a way to get free local TV and not ever have to pay another cent. Get a TV antenna from Solid Signal and you’ll be in total control. You won’t have to worry if Locast serves your area. You won’t have to worry about potential lawsuits. You’ll get free live TV 24/7. It’s your right, and it’s all waiting for you.

About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 9,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.