When we first wrote about the local broadcast channel streaming service Locast in 2019, we were hopeful that its non-profit status would provide protection against the legal challenges it faced from broadcasters.
Unfortunately, things have not gone well for Locast this week. First, it was dealt a huge legal blow then the 'donation' option was removed before the service was suspended yesterday.
How can cord cutters watch local channels now that Locast has shut down?
Keep reading for some Locast alternatives...
Locast Alternative #1 - An Over-the-Air TV Antenna
The best alternative to Locast is an Over-the-Air TV antenna.
If you've tried one before and didn't get great results, don't be discouraged. It's worth trying again.
Before you do, take a bit of time to research the type of antenna you need, choose a reputable model that doesn't make wild promises, and ensure it's installed in an optimal location for reception.
If you need some professional help picking an antenna, quality manufacturers like Antennas Direct, Mohu, Winegard, and Antop offer searchable online databases and 1-800 help lines.
You can also check out antenna reviews and tips from Tyler The Antenna Man on YouTube or call in a professional antenna installer who'll ensure your setup is rock solid.
Going this route is the most cost effective over the long term, and gives you options like adding an OTA DVR for recording and/or streaming to mobile devices.
Locast Alternative #2 - When OTA Is Not An Option
Unfortunately, for those who are 70+ miles away from local broadcast towers, live in valleys, or are dealing with other obstructions, Locast was the most affordable alternative to watching local channels without a TV antenna.
While YouTube TV, Hulu + Live TV, fuboTV, and DirecTV Stream all offer cord cutters access to local channels, you'll pay at least $64.99/month for the privilege. And you won't get any of the super fun subchannels that way either.
At almost $800/year + tax, you can clearly see why it's worth making the one-time investment in an Over-The-Air setup if you're able.
Locast Alternative #3 - Lightweight Options
If you just need local news, apps like NewsOn, LocalNow, and VUit can help fill the gap.
A subscription to Paramount+ will get you CBS content and Peacock will get you NBC but each will cost you $9.99/month for access to a single channel.
If you're a fan of the neat subchannels that Locast provided, a handful are also available as channels on your favorite streaming platforms like Comet, Buzzr, and Bounce.
While final judgements in the Locast case aren't expected until later this winter, it seems unlikely that the service will return or that another will take its place which is unfortunate. Those who physically cannot recieve Over-the-Air TV signals deserve a free or low-cost alternative, but broadcasters don't seem to care.
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