It’s been a little while since I blogged about Locast. After all, it’s not something we can sell at Solid Signal. Why? Because it’s free. The company provides antenna-based streaming for absolutely zero dollars. You’re free to make a voluntary $5 a month donation and they’d like it if you did. But you sure don’t have to.
Locast just opened up their 34th market: Columbus, Ohio. That means folks in the Buckeye state have a better selection of entertainment than they did just a little while ago. At least that’s true if you’re in Coshocton, Crawford, Delaware, Fairfield, Fayette, Franklin, Guernsey, Hardin, Hocking, Knox, Licking, Madison, Marion, Morgan, Morrow, Perry, Pickaway, Pike, Ross, or Union County. You’ll get your network affiliates plus a great selection of other channels as well. It’s worth checking out Locast.org if you live in that area.
Locast’s own web site says they now serve over 53% of the population including many major cities. Here’a a list, provided by Locast:
- Los Angeles
- New York
- Puerto Rico
- Rapid City
- San Francisco
- Sioux City
- Sioux Falls
- Tampa Bay
- Tri-Cities TN
- Washington DC
- West Palm Beach
Using an antenna or using Locast
I have to admit that I still think using an antenna is a better choice for many folks. That’s not just true because the company I work for sells antennas. An antenna is the ultimate form of freedom. Put one up, scan for channels, and there’s nothing more to pay and nothing more to do. In most areas, you’ll get dozens of free channels on every TV in your house. It’s great for emergencies, sure, but it’s also a great way to beat those “nothing on streaming” blues. Put on live TV and see where the wave takes you.
But, I also understand that not everyone can have the antenna they need. Maybe you live in an apartment and you need a large antenna. Maybe you’re just not able to go up on a roof or there’s some other reason an antenna won’t work for you. If you can’t get free TV from an antenna, Locast is a great option.
Locast is good for broadcasters and I don’t know why they can’t see that
Unfortunately, several broadcast networks are suing Locast as I write this. They claim that Locast is illegally profiting from their broadcasts. I’m not a lawyer and I don’t know if that’s true. But I do know this. When you want a local channel on regular pay-TV, a lot of the commercials you see are put in by the pay-TV provider. They aren’t the commercials that the broadcaster put there. This “local insertion” is very common and it’s been going on for decades. Insertion has changed the economy around broadcasting.
Local broadcaster are pushing hard to get anything that will let them preserve their commercials. They want, more than anything, for you to watch the commercials they air. A local TV station has two sources of revenue: commercials and the fees paid by satellite and cable companies. Commercials are a direct sell. Those fees require lawyers and contracts.
When you watch Locast you’re watching the same broadcast you’d get if you used an antenna. That means you’re seeing those original commercials. Why wouldn’t broadcasters want that? I guess there’s another side to this that I don’t see.