Locast app arrives on Fire TV devices with free local broadcast streaming channels

Locast has just released their highly anticipated app to all Fire TV models. This is a completely free app that streams local broadcast channels, like NBC, ABC, CBS, and FOX to residents of the US cities that they support. The service gets away with streaming these channels for free and without paying these networks for streaming rights by taking advantage of a bit of a loophole in the law that allows any nonprofit, which Locast is, to retransmit over-the-air broadcast channels.

Locast is currently only available to residents of Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Houston, New York, Philadelphia, and Washington DC. That’s because the law they’re taking advantage of states that they must have a physical antenna in the location that they’re servicing. Just a month ago, that list didn’t include Baltimore and Washington DC, so the service is slowly expanding to cover more of the US.

There’s no doubt that the major US broadcast networks aren’t too happy with Locast. According to an article by The New York Times from last month, they haven’t been sued yet. That could be because they’re still a small service or because broadcasters are worried that a judge will rule that the service is legal, causing other similar services to emerge with new confidence that they won’t be sued out of existence.

If you live in one of the supported cities, give the service a try and enjoy it while you can. There are plenty of sketchy seeming streaming services that pop up all the time that seem too good to be true, but Locast seems to be the exception that is actually legal. Well, at least until broadcaster lobbyists get the loophole in the law changed.

Update

I’m not in a supported city, so I have never tried the service, but several people have chimed in with a few details about the service. You should be aware that if you don’t donate, your stream will be interrupted about every 15 minutes with a request to donate. If you dismiss the request, you will be sent to the program guide screen, instead of back to your stream, so you can imagine how that can quickly get annoying. People who have donated say that the donation interruption goes away, but it’s unclear for how long. Several people have commented that the donation nag returned a few days after donating, while others have said the donation nag has never returned after donating.

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34 comments
  1. Carter S. Johnson says:

    Great service after you donate, otherwise get used to being interrupted at every channel change and every 15 minutes of viewing for a donation appeal.

    • AFTVnews says:

      Thanks for the info. I didn’t know that, since I’m not in one of the supported cities. Is there a specific amount you need to donate to stop the request, or does any amount do?

      • clocks says:

        I heard $5 per month, which is why I have not bothered checking this out yet.

      • hdmkv says:

        Donated $1 and the nags stopped for a week, and they’re back again. Not sure paying $5/month guarantees nags will go away for good.

      • Carter S. Johnson says:

        I gave them $60 for the year and now get four more local stations that DirecTV Now doesn’t offer in my region. Not a bad deal and if they stick around I’d consider using some skinny bundles to replace DTV Now.

  2. Kevin W says:

    I’d love to try this although with the Firecast and Playstation Vue, my unified guide is working okay. I just wish I could edit the stations that the FireCast finds.

    • fred says:

      You can’t set favorites with locals on recast?

      • AFTVnews says:

        Channels can be marked as favorites from either the Settings > Live TV menu or from the channel guide screen by highlighting the channel listing and pressing the menu button on the remote.

    • AFTVnews says:

      You can hide channels and mark channels as favorites, which makes them appear at the top of the channel guide, from the Fire TV’s Settings > Live TV menu. If by edit you mean you want to rearrange channels or change their names, then you’re right, that can’t be done.

      • Kevin W says:

        Thanks. I did want to edit their names and hide a few so 50% isn’t half bad. Finally am able to hide those bad 480p subchannels. Not sure why it uses the local call letters for my CBS affiliate and not for the other channels but I don’t watch CBS much anyway. Except during football season.

  3. Manaurys says:

    If I could record my shows it be awesome

    • Matt D says:

      Check out an app called Fitzytv (www.fitzytv.com) to record your Locast – it’s available on FireTV

  4. Tom says:

    I’ve only been prompted for donations upon initial login, no interruptions while watching. The donations solicited are for one time or recurring at an amount you choose. Of course anyone can continue to watch for free, no donations necessary. I did have issues with remaining to be logged in from time to time, but that seems to be resolved with the latest update.

  5. Ian King says:

    I agree that recording, i.e., DVR functionality, is essential. It would be wonderful if the Amazon Recast could implement that recording capability as part of it’s functionality.

    • Ray says:

      I’m not sure I understand your post. The Recast IS, in essence, a DVR. That’s why it’s available with two sizes of hard drives, 500 GB and 1 TB. I bought mine to replace my TiVo, but the quality wasn’t as good. I wound up keeping it, splitting the antenna signal between my TiVo and the Recast so we could pipe local programs and our recorded shows into the bedroom.

      • Ian King says:

        Regarding what I meant by DVR capability for streaming video, I would like the Recast to have the capability to record ANY streaming video, and then have the ability to fast forward, or skip, any part of the recording, including commercials, during playback

        • AFTVnews says:

          Sorry, but that will never happen. Apart from it being explicitly against the terms of service of all streaming services, it’s illegal because the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) says you cannot circumvent copy protection. It’s legal to record OTA broadcast channels because of a Supreme Court ruling from the 80’s when VCRs were becoming popular. There’s the argument that anything streamed linearly (i.e., live and not on-demand) qualifies as a broadcast and so can then be recorded, but I’m sure any device that becomes popular that can easily record live streams from 3rd-party apps will get legally challenged.

          • Ian King says:

            I guess this copyright issue means that content owners future strategy is to move completely to streaming. Although it will take a few years, the result will be much higher pricing to watch any video programming, i.e., very high subscription prices or lots and lots of commercials. Ugh!!!

            Perhaps the only hope is that someone will challenge the present situation and perhaps the VCR ruling will be applied to streaming video as well.

  6. Fred says:

    If you are supplementing a cable/OTT sevice with locast, download an App called Fitzy tv to get them in the same guide

    • Frank Nitty says:

      I’ve heard a lot a/b FitzyTV. How has your experience been using it in combination w/ Locast as an EPG? I downloaded Fitzy yesterday but have yet to set up an account separately to activate the app.

  7. AlanG says:

    I see a benefit in finally being able to watch my local PBS station, although as pointed out sans DVR.

  8. hawkstead says:

    Elias,
    Keep up the good work.

    So I’m not ready to donate to Locast yet but I’ve been testing them off & on for a month in the Boston area. I get 10 channels. (I can’t believe you get so many channels with your antenna!!) Service seems fine but the pop ups every 15 mins are true.
    Locast is made by these guys:
    https://www.sportsfans.org/about
    They were started to kill sports “blackouts” and to represent the public when the public pays for stadiums but can’t watch the local public broadcast.

    If you want a DVR service, you can use a Fitzy account/app.
    https://www.amazon.com/FitzyTV-Streaming-TV-Cloud-DVR/dp/B07DFW52P3
    You’d need to pay for that service too,depending on GB’s needed. Fitzy is an awful name.

    Keep it up, Elias!

    • AFTVnews says:

      Thanks for the info and the support!

    • Kevin W says:

      Would anyone know why I can’t download the Fitzy app when I go to the Amazon site? It says Free Download but I can’t click on anything to add it to my account. I would like to check it out.

      • Frank Nitty says:

        I was able to download it just fine a couple of days ago. Make sure you use the email address that’s registered to your Fire TV device when you login to access Amazon’s site to download the app, and select which device that is so it receives the app.

  9. Mike says:

    Bummer, no LA feeds (yet).

    Do they block VPN use?

  10. Red says:

    I think that in part the nag is load management. If you do nothing at the nag it kicks back to the guide.

    It would be nice if you could bring up the guide or a partial guide while current channel is playing like FitzyTV UI. FitzyTV does not show all channels that Locast does, at least not the NYC market ones.

  11. Shawn says:

    I’m able to record local broadcasts on my cable box DVR. And the best part is that my cable company allows me to watch these broadcasts without prompting me for donations. It’s a great experience!

    • Shawn says:

      If you want to continue paying about $200 a month, then I can understand why they don’t need to ask for donations. I use an antenna and Firestick and don’t have any monthly fee except internet…and that’s only $39.99/mo.

  12. Robert Sass says:

    I paid the $5 expecting the nags to go away and they DID NOT. I can’t get antenna tv because I am too far from the towers. I would be happy to pay $5 a month but Locast doesn’t work for me.

  13. Chimer says:

    After paying the $5.50, I was still getting the donate ads. I cleared the cache on the Roku and the nag ads went away. I don’t know if it will work for you but it did for me.

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