Locast Gives You No Frills Broadcast TV at No Cost

Originally published at: https://tidbits.com/2019/02/18/locast-gives-you-no-frills-broadcast-tv-at-no-cost/

Thinking about dropping cable TV? Cord cutters will want to check out Locast, a Web site and mobile app that lets you watch your local TV channels for free, provided you’re in one of the nine cities where it works.

Not sure if they’re getting your location through past cookie information. Instead, it’s easy to detect if a VPN is being used, as the local exit nodes are fairly well known. Any traffic coming from them can be assumed to be out of area. Then, even if they don’t force the user to turn on location services, they can still only accept access from non-VPN nodes in each area.

I did try Locast a couple of nights last week, just to see how it worked. Unfortunately, it keep stopping the broadcast after 5 to 10 minutes. If it was more stable and if it had an Apple TV app, I might be more interested going forward. (Our family’s summer house gets two over the air channels by antenna, barely - one PBS, one NBC - and there is no cable TV provider in town, and we have a giant hill and a ton of trees to the south of us, so satellite is also tough to use.)

Seems to me that this is a job for Plex. Once captured, maybe typical programs controls could be available. I know of Plex and am not a user.

I’ve been using EyeTV for more than 10 years to watch free-to-Air TV on Macs. In fact I haven’t bought a “real” TV in that time. I was hoping that an EyeTV app would be developed for the Apple TV like the iOS app but instead Elgato sold EyeTV to another company and nothing came of it. I now use a Homerun tuner and Channels app on AppleTV (Homerun has a reasonable iOS app).
I still use EyeTV on a Mac for recording some programs but, being 32 bit, it probably has limited shelf life!

Me too.You can also capture and edit whatever is playing on the screen using ScreenFlow. Not quite as convenient as the EyeTV, but handy.

Was thrilled when I first read about Locast… especially as they had a Roku app (2 video screens, of LCD TV and 2nd gen iPad Pro)… I DO have a very good location for broadcast (few miles away from both the Empire St. Bldg. and WTC in NYC, AND mostly face south to them! Was very bummed when in the first quarter of the Super Bowl, it hung (buffering). Played around for 5 mins to get it back up, but didn’t look to be coming back anytime soon so I went to my antenna. Still like the idea… only way I can see local channels on my tablet.

HomerunHD has a reasonable iOS app. Not sure if it works in NY/USA but you connect the Homerun hardware to your home network via ethernet cable and plug your TV aerial cable into it then over-the-air broadcasts are available to devices (incl Macs, iOS and tvOS) on your network.

Thanks for the tip… but I think I can count on one hand how much broadcast TV I watched last year. PLUS I now read that Locast interrupts every 15 minutes to have an ad/promo to get you to “donate” $5/mo to them (while not calling it a subscription) then dumps you back to the guide so you need to re-select what you HAD been watching… and as it’s all live, you will miss a chunk of time, from what they were talking about could be up to 20 seconds. Sounds like what happened to me watching the SB… the action stopped and it buffered maybe trying to deliver the ad.

Since folks here are having broadcast issues, I’ll mention: my testing of overall reliability consisted of pulling up a local Philly channel and leaving it to run in the background while I wrote up the story. Probably 30-60 minutes two or three times. I can’t speak to other cities, or if there’s some kind of memory leak if you watch for a long time—would not be a bit surprised if the Super Bowl issues were due to server load.

And now Locast is being sued. We’ll see if its non-profit approach is sufficient protection.