If you use Locast to stream your local channels for free, you need to start the search for an alternative way to find your local NBC, ABC, FOX and CBS affiliates — at least for now.
The donation-based streaming service announced on Thursday, Sept. 2, 2021, that it was immediately suspending operations.
Team Clark is here to both explain what is going on with Locast and help you find some alternatives for watching local channels without breaking the bank.
Why Locast Is Suspending Operations
If you’ve just been minding your own business and streaming local news, you may be wondering what the heck is going on with Locast and why you can no longer use the service.
The streaming service has been fighting a legal battle for more than two years, contending its right to stream broadcast signals. A court ruling earlier this week that it has led to the decision to halt operations indefinitely.
Here are the issues at hand:
- Locast was sued by national media companies for copyright infractions. A group of companies that own local-market affiliates for NBC, CBS, ABC and FOX across the country sued Locast for what it deemed to be improper use of their broadcasts. Locast unsuccessfully contended that it was protected as a nonprofit that was seeking donations in exchange for its service.
- A New York Judge’s decision may have forever changed things for Locast. On Tuesday, Judge Louis Stanton of the Southern District of New York ruled in favor of the plaintiffs in this case, saying that Locast no longer could solicit donations for its service. Locast complied and stopped taking donations Wednesday.
So not only is the legality of Locast’s entire business model in question, the company has lost its source of funding (user donations).
All of this led to Locast’s decision to halt its local channel streaming operation, which was accessible by up to 55% of the United States population.
If you try to access Locast via a streaming device like Roku, you’re now likely to see the following message before being returned to your device’s home screen:
What Locast Is Saying in the Fallout of the Court’s Decision
Locast has been vocal in its dissent to the court’s decision.
It’s has been in regular contact with its users since the court ruling on Tuesday, August 31. That included a message on Wednesday evening announcing that Locast would no longer solicit donations from users.
On Thursday morning, Locast issued the following statement to users via email:
“As a non-profit, Locast was designed from the very beginning to operate in accordance with the strict letter of the law, but in response to the court’s recent rulings, with which we respectfully disagree, we are hereby suspending operations, effective immediately. Thank you.”
What Locast Users Can Do To Watch Local Channels in the Meantime
While waiting to see if Locast will be able to return to operation at some point in the future, many streamers are now in search of a new way to see their local channels.
Team Clark has a guide for accessing your local channels without cable (you may want to ignore any Locast advice in there at this time).
The cheapest solutions include:
- Purchasing an antenna. These will be a one-time cost to pick up the over-the-air transmission of your local channels. The cost of these generally correlates with how far they need to reach to receive the signal. If you live in a rural area far from the TV broadcast towers, this could be expensive.
- Try some other freebie services. Amazon Fire News is a free local news alternative for streamers who have an Amazon Fire TV streaming product. NewsON is another app your could download for local news. It’s important to note that these services usually offer only news programming. That means you may not be able to watch your favorite network shows with this method.
Alternatively, you could go the paid streaming route to receive your local channels.
YouTube TV, which has a base price of $65 per month, is one of Team Clark’s top streaming picks that offers local channels from all four major broadcast networks as part of the base package.