Locast, a free streaming app for broadcast television, has launched in Detroit and says it now has more than 1.5 million users.
Locast will deliver 66 local TV channels in the Detroit designated market area including ABC 7, NBC 4, CBS 62, FOX 2, PBS and PBS Kids across nine counties: Lapeer, Livingston, Macomb, Monroe, Oakland, Sanilac, St. Clair, Washtenaw and Wayne.
With the addition of Detroit, Locast says it operates in 23 U.S. TV markets and serves more than 145 million viewers or 43% of the U.S. population.
“For the first time, more than 4.5 million residents in Michigan will be able to watch their local TV stations on their phones, tablets, laptops or streaming media devices,” said Locast Founder and Chairman David Goodfriend in a statement. “Local TV news is critical for receiving alerts about the 2020 elections, coronavirus safety information as well as staying informed about people in the community voicing their opinions. This makes Locast an important lifeline for Michiganders, especially for those who can’t get local TV channels from an off-air antenna or cannot afford a pay-TV subscription.”
The announcement follows other recent Locast market additions including Minneapolis-St. Paul, Miami, Ft. Lauderdale and West Palm Beach and Tampa Bay in Florida. Other Locast markets include major cities like New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago and Philadelphia along with much smaller markets like Sioux Falls and Rapid City in South Dakota.
Locast streams full-power broadcast channels in local markets to anyone with an internet connection located within the relevant Nielsen Designated Market Area (DMA). The company's operational costs do not include licensing fees paid to broadcasters. The organization relies on a statute within the Copyright Act that allows a non-profit organization to retransmit local broadcast signals.
Locast is a non-profit, but it asks its users for donations to help cover costs. Goodfriend said that Locast now brings in enough monthly contributions to cover its expenses like broadcast tower leases and the cost of paying software developers.