Update 9/7/2021: Locast has now suspended operations and currently does not provide access to local live TV channels in any of the cities listed below. The shutting down of the service is part of a legal matter and it remains to be seen if Locast plans to resume operations again soon. This post will be updated if and when the service does become available once again. End of update:
Locast is currently available in 36 locations in the United States. Locast first launched in January 2018 in New York City, and since then, has been slowly adding new locations. If your city is not currently supported, it could be next. In the meantime, here’s an overview of where Locast’s free local live TV service is available.
If you live in one of the cities that Locast is already available in, then getting Locast is fairly simple. However, if you don’t currently live in a Locast supported area then that may change in the future. Locast advises that if your city is not supported you can donate “to help us bring Locast to your area.”
It should be noted that providing a donation to Locast does not in any way guarantee the service will come to a specific location. Locast says it uses donations to offset against the “considerable costs for equipment, bandwidth, and operational support.” The suggestion being that the more donations and support it gets, the easier it will be to expand in general. Therefore if you do make a donation to Locast, you should view it as a way to support the service’s overall expansion, and not one that will be allocated to your specific city.
Locast city list
Locast is currently available in 36 cities in the U.S. The most recent additions arrived in July 2021 when Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and Milwaukee, Wisconsin were added to the list. Locast is not one for announcing in advance when a new city is in the works, so the next one could be added at any time.
Full list of locations Locast is available in:
- Columbus, Ohio
- Los Angeles
- New York
- Puerto Rico
- Rapid City
- San Francisco
- Sioux City
- Sioux Falls
- Tampa Bay
- Tri-Cities (Tennessee, Kentucky & Virginia)
- Washington DC
- West Palm Beach
- Wilkes Barre-Scranton
Again, this is just the current list and the company does randomly add new locations. The list is up to date and will be updated each time a new city is added. If your city is not listed here, then Locast is currently not available in your area.
Is Locast really free?
Yes, Locast really is free to access. However, that’s not to say the experience is equal between those that pay and those that don’t. While Locast does not demand a payment to use the service, it does heavily rely on donations from its users. So much so that Locast often shows “donation request” messages while a user is watching live TV.
Many users have reported these messages can be a little overwhelming at times, resulting in a frustrating experience, considering the live stream is stopped each time the donation request message is shown. This is something users should be aware of when opting for the completely free route, as it is likely to impact on the viewing experience. Even after donating, Locast states it may take up to twenty-four hours for the donation request messages to stop displaying.
A point to note about donating, although there’s technically no Locast subscription, the donation system is set up very much like a subscription model. If you agree to make a donation through the website then you should be aware that the donations are recurring monthly (or annual) payments. For example, if you setup a $5 or $10 donation then you will likely be charged that amount each month unless you cancel the recurring payment. Locast does not currently offer a one-time donation option.
How do I sign up for Locast?
Signing up to Locast is as easy as signing up to any other. Arguably, it is even easier than signing up to other services as there is no requirement to set up a payment method after downloading the app and accessing for the first time.
To sign up to Locast, consumers will first need to make sure the service operates in their area. Secondly, that the service is compatible with their devices. As this is an internet-based streaming service, Locast does also require a stable and continuous internet connection – Locast does not offer offline playback or DVR.
As long as all of these requirements are met, signing up to Locast is just a matter of heading over to Locast.org and creating an account. An account creation require a user’s name, email address, and access to the device’s location to verify eligibility and determine which channels are accessible. Once an account is created, users will be able to access local live TV through any of the supported devices.
When logging in for the first time on a new device, users will have to log in using an activation code instead of the email and password used when creating an account. This applies to all devices and each time a user logs in after logging out again.
How can I watch Locast?
Although Locast is only available in a select number of cities, it is available on a wide selection of platforms and devices, including PCs, laptops, tablets, and mobile devices. The long list of supported devices makes Locast a good service to access at home or on the go.
Platforms Locast can currently be accessed on:
- Amazon Fire TV
- Android mobile
- Android TV
- Apple TV
- Dish Hopper
- iOS mobile
Can I use Locast with a VPN?
Technically, there’s nothing stopping someone from using Locast with a VPN. The service generates the channel list based on the location of the device and therefore, the location will most likely be determined by the VPN and not the device.
However, some things to be aware of when using a VPN. Firstly, the use of a VPN will lock users out of their actual local channels. Secondly, Locast is still very limited in terms of location support and the use of a VPN will most likely completely lock the user out of live TV access altogether – unless one of the very few cities is selected.
Is Locast being sued?
Yes, Locast is currently being sued by a variety of major broadcast networks including ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC. In return, Locast is counter-suing the same companies over antitrust collusion.
The major broadcast networks argue Locast is providing access to local TV channels illegally, considering it does not have permission to retransmit channels. Locast argues it does not need permission as it is a non-profit and is simply making it easier for consumers to gain access to the channels they have a legal right to access.
Whether Locast can continue to provide the service it currently offers is likely to depend on the outcome of the lawsuit.
Last updated: September 2021