Another choice to watch local TV channels

Although still early in the game, year 2021 has been off to a good start and should be a year of healing. I've always been a geek with a "glass half full" mentality. My optimism for 2021 is based on "data" and "trends" found both in the real and digital worlds so my sixth sense can't be that off either!

While the digital world is engulfed in flames, figuratively, from the disclosure of security breaches at an alarming clip, I also continue to discover new digital-world gems. Like the "PressReader" service that our neighborhood libraries added to their digital service offerings recently, which I covered in the last issue, I'm going to introduce you to another beneficial service today.

In Cleveland and around the nation, people living within approximately a 30-mile radius of TV broadcasting towers can receive over-the-air transmissions of digital high-definition programs for free. One needs only rabbit ears, or the more modern equivalent that is a paper-thin indoor antenna, and a tuner device (techno babble: "ATSC" tuners to be exact). In my opinion, the "convenience" factor of not having to fiddle with outdoor/indoor antennas for optimal reception has been paramount to cable TV adoption over the decades.

The nonprofit organization "Locast" provides streaming, aka broadcasting over the internet, of the traditional network channels like NBC, ABC, FOX, CBS, PBS, CW, and WBNX. Locast channel offerings include the "sub-channels" that local affiliates fill with additional content of their choice. For example, Cleveland's local ABC affiliate "WEWS-TV" has aptly named their 5.3  subchannel "LAFF" and broadcasts older sitcoms.

I've been waiting over a year for this service to be available in Cleveland. Finally this past week, Cleveland became their 30th city!

My wife was still out of the house when President Biden addressed the nation last Thursday. Perfect timing for her to test the Locast app on her iPhone. Luckily, she also had our Chromebook with a bigger screen in the car so she turned on the hotspot function of her iPhone, connected the Chromebook to the hotspot via Wi-Fi, and streamed the President's speech via Locast service. When she came home, she said the Locast worked well over mobile data.

Locast, a nonprofit organization, relies on donations starting at $5/month to sustain their operations. If a limited discretionary budget makes it difficult to commit to a recurring donation, you can still enjoy their streaming service but with interruptions every 15 minutes and the need to push the "Watch Now" button after such interruption to continue watching the program.

To kick the tires yourself, point your favorite browser to from your internet-connected computer, or if you are using an internet-connected handheld device go to the "App Store" or "Play Store" (iPad/iPhone or Android-based tablet/smartphone respectively) and create an account to start enjoying the local channels over-the-internet. More choices on ways to receive local TV programming is good for consumers and even your wallet!

Tak Sato

Strategist and technologist with over 30 years of experience in the private sector. Holds Bachelor of Science in Computer Information Science and Executive MBA from Cleveland State University.

As Founder of the Center for Aging in the Digital World, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit empowering seniors with digital literacy, Tak connects the dots to help people utilize appropriate technology in their personal and professional lives while using digital literacy as a tool for seniors to avoid loneliness and social isolation

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Volume 13, Issue 6, Posted 10:26 AM, 03.16.2021