Locast.org, the free online TV station streaming service, has added Sioux Falls and Rapid City, both South Dakota, to its growing lineup of markets.
Rural broadband access is a big issue in Washington, but Locast.org suggests the deployment gap is broadcasting as well. "Serving Rural America has always been a goal of ours,” said David Goodfriend, chairman of Sports Fans Coalition New York and founder of Locast.org. “Like much of rural America, many households in South Dakota cannot receive an over-the-air signal and in some cases are more likely to have access to broadband than to broadcast."
Locast.org uses a copyright carveout for nonprofit TV station signal retransmitters to stream the signals without having to get permission from the stations or pay them. But the service can't make a profit to continue to fall under the exemption, though Locast asks for a donation to help cover the costs (a suggested $5 per month).
Goodfriend said the addition of the two South Dakota markets are thanks to "generous contributions from local businesses and residents."
Locast.org started in New York nad has been growing steadily, adding top 20 markets as well as the most recent rural expansion, without any pushback from broadcasters usually fiercely defensive about rights to their signals. currently, the stats according to Locast.org are that it is available in 11 cities representing 24% of the U.S. market and almost 27 million homes.
One theory is that with networks charging reverse comp while also striking deals to put their network programming on streaming services, arguably reducing its value to TV stations counting on the ads they place in their versions of the programming, some stations are OK with getting the extra eyeballs via Locast.org, which includes their local advertising. Another theory is that broadcast lawyers recognize that Locast.org is on solid legal footing with the carveout so long as it remains a nonprofit.