You may not have heard about Locast yet, but if you’re in one of the cities where the streaming service is working, you might want to find out more about it.
What is Locast?
Locast is a free streaming service provided by a nonprofit, Sports Fan Coalition. Founded in 2009, the organization advocates for sports fans by making sports more accessible for a wide audience. The New York branch of the organization developed Locast to allow New York residents to have access to news, weather, and sports, content that they say is meant to be seen by the public and should be offered for free.
Currently, Locast is running on donations. Anyone can donate on the website to help cover the cost of equipment, bandwidth, and operation expenses for the organization.
To use the service, you’ll need to verify that you live within one of the select cities. After selecting your city, you’ll be able to sign up and log in to watch local broadcast stations in your area with any internet device.
Where it Works
Currently, Locast is available in the following cities:
- New York
Geo-fencing technology ensures that only those living within the designated market area can have access to the channels for that location.
We’ll keep you updated as Locast launches in more cities (Baltimore and Miami are next up on the list!)
What You Can Watch
Locast allows local audiences to watch 15 stations including ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox, and PBS. Unlike most of the big names in paid streaming services, the plan is not to increase the number of channels offered, but to focus on keeping the existing channels available to a wide audience in each area.
The Future of Locast
As the organization continues raising money, they plan to expand to new designated market areas across the country. This is great news for cord cutters, especially sports fans, who still want access to local news, weather, and sports without paying for unnecessary channels.
It’s also important to remember another audience as the service expands to new areas. Many households aren’t able to get access to broadcast TV for a variety of reasons. Those in rural areas, for example, may not be able to get a signal with an antenna. This free service could bring news and entertainment to those households.
Is This Legal?
That’s the big question that comes up when people hear about the service Locast is offering.
Because SFC is a nonprofit, they say that they’re an exception to FCC rules about airing live, local broadcast TV. The condition is that the organization cannot receive any “direct or indirect commercial advantage” from the service. For now, that means that you can use Locast for free. In the future, there may be a fee but that money could only be used to cover the costs of providing the service to the public.
So far, there hasn’t been any word on legal action being taken against the organization.
Locast just launched in January 2018, so we’ll be keeping an eye on how broadcasters will respond to this growing project.
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