Cable became a mainstay of most households just a few decades ago, but with the rise of streaming it seems to be on its way out. Still, there are shows and events you can only watch on live TV, and there are ways to get those channels for free if you don’t have cable or antenna. Don’t get carried away yet: The nonprofit service is only available in nine cities: New York, Philadelphia, Boston, Washington DC, Baltimore, Chicago, Houston, Dallas, and Denver.
Related: Before You Cut the Cord, Read How Streaming Services Can Add Up and Cost More Than Cable
Why tell you about it, then? Well, the non-profit organization giving you this technology for free is looking to expand into other markets across the United States, and you can vote for your city. At press time, Seattle leads the pack with the most votes.
Locast is an application that allows you to watch local broadcast channels. Locast streams live TV directly to your computer or streaming device, without buffering, at no cost to you. It’s one of the best options for live TV, and it’s looking to grow.
The advantages of Locast
Locast is downloadable to your streaming devices, like Roku and Amazon Fire TV Stick, accessible on your computer’s web browser via Locast.org, and available through your app store. It’s a convenient way to watch live TV at home or on the go, as long as there’s Wi-Fi. For all the reasons Netflix and Hulu are convenient, so is Locast.
Locast does not buffer or stall. As long as your Wi-Fi is reliable, your TV viewing should be too, along with your video and audio quality.
It works by translating traditional broadcast transmissions through antennas into digital streams that the app picks up. This is permitted because Locast is a non-profit organization and there is federal law that allows non-profit organizations to retransmit broadcaster signals. These antennas can access several transmission sources at the same time to amplify the signals, maintaining a constant and good quality. It’s perfect for game night and “The Bachelor” viewing parties, when you want that reliability the most.
Since Locast lets you access local broadcast channels, it can be easy to lose track of channel numbers, especially if you’re unfamiliar with local queues. Locast has you covered for that with a built-in TV guide, so you know what’s happening and when. The guide tells you what’s on different channels for today, as well as the next six days, making a whole week you can stay updated on. Basically, Locast gives you the quality TV you want, at no cost, and tries to help you find exactly what you’re looking for.
The limits of Locast
Locast antennas are present in only nine cities at the time of printing: Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, DC, Chicago, Denver, Dallas and Houston. If you are in these cities, fine – Locast will work for you. If you’re outside of these cities, you’re out of luck right now.
Of course, Locast tries to expand and accepts donations to help it break into more areas. When you donate, you can specify your city, which could help get you an antenna, and therefore the app, faster.
The other thing to keep in mind is that Locast doesn’t offer all the TV channels in the world on its app. It offers local broadcast channels, so you’ll definitely get things like CBS, ABC, NBC, and Fox. This gets you most major sporting events, like the Super Bowl and the World Series. What he doesn’t understand are channels like TBS, E! or ESPN.
Still, with most of the major channels available, for the casual live viewer, Locast provides more than enough. For those who want more live TV options, they can be found elsewhere – you just have to pay for them.
How to get Locast
If Locast interests you based on the information above and you live in a city where it is available, great! Here’s how you get the app and how you make it work:
- Get the app: you can get it for Apple devices (including Apple TV) herefrom the Google Play store hereand for Roku on the right here. Or just go to Locast.org.
- Open the app on your streaming device and create a connection – or create a connection on the website. You will need an email address for this, or you can log in with your Facebook account.
- Once connected, enter your city in the options and let Locast verify your location. This will require giving them permission to use location services, which should confirm that you are currently in the city where you claim to live.
- Once your location is verified on Roku, you will need to enter your activation code online via the instructions on your TV. For other devices, you will have access to the application.
- Explore the TV guide and start watching live TV, for free, right now.
A nice, simple setup for a simple concept – free TV streaming, streaming to your home like all your other favorite streaming platforms.
In the age of Netflix, where you only want to watch a few things at a time, Locast is absolutely perfect. Hopefully it continues to grow so that we can all enjoy free and reliable cable in the near future.
Watch New Yorkers’ reaction to Locast in the video below.