If you’re looking for a way to stream local channels through your DIRECTV or DISH box, you’ll want to check out this blog’s coverage of Locast. DIRECTV doesn’t have a system to integrate local channels from an antenna, so this is a critical way to protect against channel blackouts. It’s also a great way to get local channels if an antenna doesn’t do it for you.
The folks at Locast now have four local markets in Florida, and adding Orlando gives access to four million customers. They’ve provided a partial list of channels that includes:
- WESH NBC 2
- WOFL FOX 35
- WFTV ABC 9
- WKMG CBS 6
- PBS Kid
- The Florida Channel
- Azteca America
- Estrella TV
- The CW
- BOUNCE, Movies!
- My Network TV
- LAFF, Mystery
- True Crime
All in all we’re looking at 70 channels all available for free (the Locast people do like donations) through an app on your phone, computer, or DIRECTV or DISH receiver.
Folks in the Charlotte, North Carolina areaare getting a Locast upgrade as well. The service is expected to cover 22 counties and 3.2 million people.
Charlotte viewers can watch 45 channels including:
- WCNC NBC 36
- WJZY FOX 46
- WSOC ABC 9
- WBTV CBS 3
- PBS Kids
- The CW
- True Crime
This is a big upgrade for people who want to watch live local TV but don’t have all the channels they want through their satellite receivers. It’s also a great option to complement an antenna because you can stream these channels anywhere in the area on your phone.
Why does this blog push Locast so much?
Solid Signal, the site that subsidizes this blog, sells antennas. We don’t sell Locast. (Well first of all it’s free so there’s that.) So you would think that we would be the biggest Locast haters there are. But it’s really quite the opposite.
We agree with AT&T and DISH that Locast is an important part of the TV ecosystem. I’ve read that AT&T has made a one-time contribution to Locast financially. Content providers have claimed it’s so that AT&T and DISH get leverage when there are channel blackouts. The facts don’t seem to support this. Representatives from Locast say that the vast majority of their new subscribers come from cord-cutters, not temporary blackouts. All I know is it’s not my department.
Personally I think that if Locast gets people interested in over-the-air TV, that’s a good thing even if they don’t buy an antenna. Because, I think that Locast is a bit of a “gateway” device. If you get Locast and you enjoy it, you’re more likely to dig deep into antenna culture. And that’s good for everyone.
All about those dollars
Over-the-air stations rely on two things for income. Remember, they’re businesses and need income to function. The first is carriage fees from satellite and cable companies. That’s one of the reasons these fee fights get so contentious. When a large part of your income is due to the money you get from a pay-TV company, you’re going to want to ask for me. When you’re a pay-TV company dealing with thousands of broadcasters, you don’t want to grant all of them a big raise.
The other form of income is from advertising sales. In most cases, local commercials are replaced by the pay-TV company and the average person won’t see the commercials that are used in the original broadcast. The people who pay for the commercials know it too, and they won’t pay for ads that people don’t see.
When you watch Locast you’re watching the actual feed from the broadcaster (although you do get some commercials asking you to donate to Locast sometimes.) That means more money in the broadcaster’s pocket, and less need to ask the pay-TV company for more money. It’s a win for everyone.
This article has been edited to reflect fact-checks that took place after the article was written. There is no record that DISH made any financial contribution to Locast.