Locast or antenna… which is better?

Let’s set some ground rules here. Actually, let’s set one. You need a source of free local TV. This world is too uncertain to go around not knowing what’s going on in your own backyard. The internet is great, but you have a better chance of knowing what’s going on in Sri Lanka than knowing if your local church is having a picnic this weekend. And while cable and satellite are great, they usually offer just a fraction of the channels you can get locally.

The case for Locast

Locast is a streaming service available on phones and streaming devices. It’s free, and in the markets where it’s supported, you’ll get great television service pretty much anywhere. Signup is easy and using it is as easy as downloading an app.

But, Locast isn’t available everywhere. As I write this, it’s in about 25 cities. They may expand to more, but chances are that really rural areas won’t get Locast anytime soon. And if you’re technically in one market but closer to another, you might not get the channels you want.

Locast is legal, at the moment, but I tend to think that’s because we’ve been too busy in the last 12 months to worry about that. I do think that you’ll see legal challenges to Locast from local broadcasters.

Finally, Locast will nag you if you don’t give them $5 or $10 a month. You can ignore or dismiss those nags, but they won’t go away.

The case for antennas

A TV antenna is the gift that can keep on giving for generations. Seriously. A lot of people are using TV antennas older than they are. TV antennas are simple, and they work. Every TV is required to support them. No new technology is going to make them obsolete.

With a TV antenna you can get all the signals you can pull in off the air. If you’re halfway between Boston and Hartford, you can probably get both signals. That could mean 150 different program sources, all free, 24/7.

In most places, you can get an indoor antenna and get a lot of channels that way. But if you’re more than 35 miles from a city, or if you’re in a hilly area, you may need an outdoor antenna. You may need to go up on the roof and install it. And that can be no fun.

Not only that, you’ll need to run wire to every TV. Unless you get a separate device, you won’t get those channels on your phone or streaming box, either.

The best answer: both

Personally, I have both Locast AND an antenna. I use Locast when I’m looking for local news on the go. I use the antenna at home because I get more channels. It’s the perfect compromise and it doesn’t leave anything on the table.

You can get Locast by searching the web for it or look through your phones App Store or Play Store. As for an antenna, there’s only one place to get the best antennas. You’ll find the best selection of all the best brands when you shop at Solid Signal. If you’re not sure what you need, fill in this form and a real technician will review your needs and give you a list of everything. It’s that easy!

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 8,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.