Locast, the local TV station streaming service, is adding its third market, Houston, as of Aug. 20, according to the Sports Fans Coalition New York, the nonprofit behind the service. Locast launched Jan. 11 in New York without the knowledge or consent of, or compensation to, the 13 TV stations, including stations owned by the Big Four networks, whose signals it is delivering free to fixed and mobile broadband devices. It is relying on copyright law that allows a nonprofit to retransmit local TV station signals without getting a copyright license.
How does Locast think it can get away with retransmitting broadcast signals to smartphones and smart TVs without compensating broadcasters? By claiming to be a nonprofit. But I expect that a federal judge will see through that fiction and find that it is nothing more than a front for Dish and AT&T’s DirecTV.
The broadcasters aim to shut down the digital app service that has attracted tens of thousands of users and is threatening billions of dollars in retransmission contracts.
Locast, the free TV station streaming service, has gotten a big financial boost from AT&T, which said Thursday it was contributing a half a million dollars to the service’s nonprofit parent, the Sports Fans Coalition New York.
Locast, a startup that provides streaming access to local TV channels in a growing number of markets, continues to succeed where others, such as Aereo and Ivi, crashed and burned. It’s still early days, but Locast appears to have found a way to stream access to those channels without having to dodge the crushing legal hammer of powerful U.S. broadcasters.
Locast, the free over-the-air broadcast TV streaming service, said it has added iPad, Apple TV and Android TV to the devices/platforms on which it is now available. That is in addition to Apple iOS, Android, Roku and Hopper, as well as various browser platforms. Locast, which launched last year, does not have to get a TV station’s permission.
A smorgasbord of topics this week: (1) I don’t know it for a fact, but I know that it’s true that Charlie Ergen is the money behind Locast, the OTT service that is streaming local broadcast signals. (2) Retrans is also under attack from STELAR, the law that empowers satellite operators to import distant signals of network O&Os into areas where subscribers cannot receive local affiliates off air and is up for renewal. (3) With the emergence of the new Fox Corp. this week, a forecast finds that most of its broadcast fee growth will come from reverse comp. (4) A tip of the hat to FCC Comish Michael O’Rielly for taking on the Justice Department, which has been stepping on the FCC’s turf regarding local TV ownership rules.
Structured as a nonprofit, the start-up that streams over-the-air TV signals started by lawyer David Goodfriend aims to succeed where Aereo was litigated into oblivion. By giving away TV, Goodfriend is undercutting the licensing fees that major broadcasters charge the cable and satellite companies — a sum that will exceed $10 billion this year.
A nonprofit called Locast, available in seven major U.S. cities, beams popular networks to phones, TVs and computers. It’s like the online version of a TV antenna, free and easy to use. It’s like an app version of a $50 antenna you can get from Best Buy, and it’s free and easy to use.
Locast, which is providing free over-the-top access to New York TV station over-the-air signals, is extending its reach, a move that could finally draw a response from broadcasters, sports leagues or studios, who have yet to respond legally or otherwise.