Locast claims 1.7M users as it expands to Indianapolis

Locast is a non-profit service that relies on a statute within the Copyright Act to retransmit local broadcast signals. (Pixabay)

Locast, a free streaming app for local broadcast television, said it now has more than 1.7 million users as it expands its footprint to 24 U.S. TV markets.

The latest market launch for Locast is Indianapolis, where the service will offer 42 local TV channels including WRTV6 ABC, WTHR13 NBC, WTTV4 CBS, FOX59, WISH and WFYI PBS.

“For the first time, more than 3 million residents in Indianapolis and surrounding cities 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. “When dealing with health, safety, or participation in our democracy through voting, Locast performs a critical public service by increasing access to local broadcast TV channels.”

The Indianapolis designated market area includes nearby cities like Bloomington, Kokomo and Muncie.

RELATED: Locast hits 1.4M users as it launches in two more Florida markets

The announcement follows other recent Locast market additions including Detroit, 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 is a non-profit service that relies on a statute within the Copyright Act to retransmit local broadcast signals. The company asks its users to contribute $5 per month – once they do, they’ll stop seeing donation requests every 15 minutes while they’re using the service.

Locast is facing a legal fight with ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC. They’ve accused the service of operating with its own commercial benefit in mind. Locast filed a countersuit against the broadcasters and accused them of colluding against it.

The National Associated of Broadcasters said Locast is “thinly disguised as a not-for-profit entity,” but it has more in common with predecessors like Aereo, a broadcast television streaming service that was shut down in 2014 by the Supreme Court, which found that it had infringed upon copyright laws.

"We’re confident the courts will see through the AT&T/DISH/Locast ruse and uphold the integrity of U.S. copyright laws that sustain the economic viability of local broadcasting,” said NAB in a statement issued last year.

Goodfriend said that timing around the litigation is up in the air due to the coronavirus pandemic, but he expects that by the end of this year or early next year, the case will go to trial. He said he’s optimistic about that happening, partly because he believes the judge will send it to a jury.