June 28, 2021
Locast has tacked on a few more features to its baseline guide as the free streamer of local TV channels continues to expand its US market reach and broaden its base of registered users.
Adding features that are more commonplace among paid OTT-TV services, Locast has updated its web guide updated its web guide, at locast.org, with Profiles and Favorites, which allow registered users to create up to seven user profiles as well as a favorites list for each profile.
Figure 1: Locast has spruced up the features of its web-based streaming TV guide.
Users can create and edit those features via Locast's web-based guide. Locast also lets viewers add and remove channels from their favorites list via the Locast mobile app, and to toggle between individual user profiles for Locast's app for Roku players and Roku TVs, Amazon Fire TV devices, Apple TV boxes and Android TV devices.
Locast is beefing up those features as the service continues to broaden its reach in the US. Following a recent launch in the Raleigh-Durham area, Locast's geo-fenced service now reaches 33 markets. Locast estimates it now covers 33% of the US population. Locast's market deployments typically include the installation of a digital antenna on the roof of a building with solid access to over-the-air signals, cabling to a server room, and payment of content delivery network fees to deliver its streams.
Locast says it now has about 2.7 million registered users, an increase of roughly 400,000 since it announced in January that its registered base had surpassed 2.3 million.
Update: On Tuesday (June 29), Locast announced its 34th US market deployment – Columbus, Ohio – and word that it now has more than 2.8 million registered users nationwide.
Locast, a nonprofit, free service, relies on monthly user donations to operate, but has not revealed what percentage of its registered base actually makes donations. Locast users who don't pay a voluntary donation (starting at $5 per month) see a brief ad every 15 minutes encouraging them to contribute.
But it appears that Locast does draw enough donations to keep the engine running. Last November, Locast founder and chairman David Goodfriend told Light Reading that the service, which debuted in January 2018, had reached operational sustainability despite the fact that only a "small portion" of registered users make voluntary contributions.
Locast operates under the Copyright Act of 1976, which allows nonprofit translator services to rebroadcast local stations without receiving a copyright license from a broadcaster. Major US broadcasters – ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC – are fighting that position with a lawsuit contending that Locast's service violates copyright law by retransmitting signals without authorization. Another non-profit group, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), has stepped in to help Locast cover its legal costs.
— Jeff Baumgartner, Senior Editor, Light Reading
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