Locast, the free service that lets users stream feeds of ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC and other broadcast stations in a growing number of major U.S. markets, is stating it has surpassed 1 million registered users.
The service made the claim in an an emailed ad.
The company’s site, as well as the email, also state that the service (which launched last year with broadcast feeds from 13 stations in the New York City metro area) is now available in 17 urban markets, giving 41 million TV homes, or 36% of the U.S. market, the option to use the service.
Locast’s cities now include Sioux City, Iowa — which it added last week, in time for this week’s Iowa Democratic caucuses.
Its other markets are Atlanta, New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Houston, Seattle, Dallas, Boston, Denver, Baltimore, Washington, D.C., Phoenix, and Sioux Falls and Rapid City, South Dakota.
Locast’s email also pointed out that cable and satellite TV providers are raising rates this year.
Comcast, for instance, “is raising rates on its broadcast channel package 50%,” the promotion stated. “Why pay more when you can sign up to Locast in 17 cities and watch your local broadcast TV channels for free via the internet?”
Locast users can access streams through TiVo’s over-the-air set-top boxes, DirecTV, Apple iOS, AppleTV, Android, AndroidTV, Roku, Amazon Firestick, Hopper, and web browser platforms.
Locast is free, but requests donations of at least $5 a month.
Locast maintains that it is a public service operating under the copyright statute that allows nonprofit “translator” stations to rebroadcast local stations without a copyright license in order to boost reach in areas where a primary broadcaster isn’t reaching receivers with a strong enough signal.
“Locast.org operates just like a traditional broadcast translator service, except instead of using an over-the-air signal to boost a broadcaster’s reach, we stream the signal over the Internet to consumers located within select U.S. cities,” states the organization’s site.
The big broadcast companies don’t see it that way, however.
Broadcasters including CBS, ABC, NBC Universal and Fox sued Locast last July, claiming Locast is engaging in “wholesale infringement of the broadcast companies’ copyrights,” and seeking a shutdown of the service and damages.
The broadcasters’ suit contends that Locast is financially benefiting big pay-TV operators, including Dish TV and DirecTV, as well as itself.
Locast countersued in September, asserting that the broadcasters violated antitrust law by conspiring to transmit signals that are too weak to reach local television markets, effectively forcing people to pay fees for access.
In October, the broadcasters filed a motion asking that the court dismiss Locast’s antitrust claims.