Cord-cutters love Locast, a nonprofit service that enabled folks in markets around the country to stream local channels including ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC for free. Unsurprisingly, those four networks (plus parent companies Disney, NBCUniversal and Universal) were behind the lawsuit that jointly sued Locast into suspending its service on Thursday (Sept. 2).
In a statement on its site, Locast (opens in new tab) noted "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."
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This is an annoyance for all who didn't want to pay more for cable, especially Sling TV customers who only get Fox and NBC with Sling Blue. Sling had been offering, and promoting, its free Locast integration as recently as earlier this week — but now that's gone.
What to do now
One of the best HD antennas can help you pull in a decent stream, but your mileage may vary. Not all residences have great access to signals, as some TG staff have noted.
Sling is continuing to offer another way, with the AirTV 2 for streaming local channels (connected to an HD antenna) or the AirTV Anywhere (also requires antenna) for recording local broadcast networks. Sling offers package deals (opens in new tab) for both its AirTV devices and RCA HD Antenna starting at $49 when you pay for three months of Sling up front.
What went wrong with Locast
Locast, debuting in 2019, attempted to succeed where network-rebroadcaster Aereo failed. Its trick? Well, it thought that being a nonprofit would shield it. The service then would later pull a Wikipedia, often interrupting streams to ask for $5 donations to keep things afloat.
That matters because the United States District Court in the southern district of New York ruled with the networks because the donations weren't just used to support operating costs. The ruling reads "Since portions of its user payments fund Locast’s expansion, its charges exceed those 'necessary to defray the actual and reasonable costs of maintaining and operating the secondary transmission service,' which is the only exemption granted in Section 111 (a) (5)."
You can read more here (opens in new tab) in the official documents supplied by Eriq Gardner of The Hollywood Reporter, whose reporting on the story is here (opens in new tab).
The ruling came out on Monday, Aug. 31, two days before Locast suspended service.