Q. I am upset that I can no longer use Locast. It doesn’t make any sense to me. Is there anyway I can keep watching my local news on channel 9 here in the Washington, DC area without getting cable or satellite? — Marie, Arlington, Virginia.
Marie, as you know, Locast was a free streaming app that delivered local channel signals to roughly 36 markets, including Washington, D.C. However, the service last week lost a court ruling in a legal dispute with the broadcasting companies that own the local channels. Consequently, Locast was forced to suspend operations, and may never do business again.
However, there are four ways that you can continue watching local channel programming, including your local news, without Locast.
Click Amazon: Today’s Best-Selling TV Antennas!
1. TV Antenna
There are definitely some pros and cons to getting an indoor or outdoor antenna so allow me to offer a few here so you can determine whether this alternative will work for you.
Pro: Free Local Channels
Yes, your local channels (ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC, PBS, Univision, etc.) are available via a TV antenna, and they are free. Not only that, they can deliver a better HD picture over an antenna compared to cable or satellite. The latter tend to compress the signals of local (and all) channels, which tends to dilute the picture quality. The TV providers do this for several reasons, including creating more system room to deliver more channels. The signal your antenna receives directly from the local channel is purer (layman’s term, folks) and therefore a better one.
Pro: Antennas Are Not Expensive
The TV antenna, whether it’s indoor or outdoor, costs less than $100 with many indoor models well under $30. With local channels free, that’s a great deal for consumers looking to cut expenses. (Note: The outdoor antenna can normally pick up more channels than the indoor one. But indoor antennas are becoming more efficient every year with new models and new technology.)
Con: The Antenna May Not Work at Your Location
Before you run off to buy an antenna, you need to know that depending upon the location of your home, your antenna may not be able to pick up the signals of all your local channels. You may live too far away from the channel’s tower to get a decent signal, or you could have a major obstacle in the signal’s path, such as a high-rise office building or mountain.
Click Amazon: Today’s Best-Selling TV Antennas!
Pro: The Technology Is Improving
As noted earlier, in the last few years, the antenna companies have done a great job of beefing up their products, offering indoor antennas that can pick up signals as far away as 75 miles. Yes, indoor antennas. If you had a bad experience with an antenna several years ago, you might be pleasantly surprised at how far they have come.
2. Web sites
Many local stations offer their news programs live and for free at their web sites. (WUSA-TV, channel 9 in the Washington, D.C. market, is one that does.) While this doesn’t permit you to watch the station’s primetime lineup, you can keep up with its newscasts.
3. News On
If you have trouble with the web site, News On is a streaming app that also offers local newscasts, both live and on demand. You can learn more about it here at NewsOn.
Paramount+, which starts at $4.99 a month, offers a live feed of your local CBS channel as well as on demand programming from the network, and a large number of shows and movies from other sources. Note: The live CBS feed requires the Paramount $9.99 a month plan.
Marie, hope that helps. Happy viewing, and stay safe!
Need to buy something today? Please buy it using this Amazon.com link. This site receives a small portion of each purchase, which helps us continue to provide these articles.
Have a question about new TV technologies? Send it to The TV Answer Man at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your first name and hometown in your message.
— Phillip Swann
Here’s a handy tool to show you what to expect from an antenna in terms of which stations you’ll get. It’s a site called “Rabbit Ears” and all you have to do is type in your location in the search box, hit “search,” and then “Go.”
For the questioner’s locale of Washington D.C., for example, you’ll get these results:
But you can enter pretty much any U.S. location and it should bring back a predictor of what you can and can’t get. A lot depends on where you are, your antenna height and how far away from the transmitter you are. But it’s fairly reliable for the most part.
The signal search page itself is here:
“Not only that, they can deliver a better HD picture over an antenna compared to cable or satellite.”
Supposedly, with a digital signal, you either get the channel or you don’t. There’s no such thing as crappy reception. But I’ve noticed that a lot of the time the picture quality with my antenna is pretty ragged, like it actually is being compressed. Very rarely does it look like I’m watching off the stations monitor. What gives, TV Answerman?
Its sad the local broadcasting stations are so greedy they would not allow Locast to continue to broadcast. The benefits were great for the elderly citizens with limited income.
Its not the local stations, it the networks, the parents, the big boys. I wonder what the motivation of the judge was?
Just to clarify, the $4.99/mo Paramount+ plan does not include local CBS channels. You have to go for the premium $9.99/mo plan.
It is Unfortunate that Local Broadcasters do not offer ways to make their stations available to people who live in towns where mountains block antenna reception and they are not financially able to afford high cable or satellite prices.
Antenna wont work for me. I want sports broadcasts. What are MY options. No joy here. The ruling is a slap in the public face. We need to march on the court.
Why did Locast give up so easily? Did they really give up?