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LA & SF Expats -- Local OTA TV now available online

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For Americans who have connections to either the SF Bay Area or So. Cal regions, wanted to mention that a legitimate streaming service called Locast has recently expanded to serve the SF and LA regions. What that means is, for a $5 a month or more donation, you can watch live online OTA TV from either of those regions, including all the major OTA broadcast networks (ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC, PBS) and the various lesser channels that you'd normally receive thru a regular antenna...

 

Locast is a nonprofit entity that's been expanding gradually to markets across the U.S., but its recent additions of service for the LA and SF markets are its first ventures into the West Coast. Technically, you can actually test and watch any of the channels for free, but Locast needed some way to cover its operating expenses while still maintaining its nonprofit status. So the solution they devised was to accept automated monthly subscription "donations" of $5 or more, which avoids the user getting kicked off their network and having to restart the stream every 15 minutes or so.

 

Basically, to access Locast, you need to have either an Internet IP address or web browser geolocation reading that shows you in one of Locast's served market areas such as SF or LA. Then when you go to their website, or use their Amazon or Android apps, they recognize that you're in one of their legitimate market areas and thus entitled to view over-the-air broadcast TV content that in this case happens to be delivered online.

 

I've tested and used it, and it works quite well both via web browser and via their apps. The one downside is Locast has no built-in cloud DVR capability. However, there is a separate, 3rd party app/service called FitzyTV that allows anyone to combine all their authenticated U.S. TV sources (cable subscriptions, major network streaming video services, etc. including Locast), into a unified channel guide and player via their apps (no web interface). Fitzy also is free just to use their app's channel guide and player, but their optional cloud DVR service has modest monthly or annual subscription fees.

 

https://www.locast.org/

 

1938396790_Locast1.jpg.6f39d28b933633d68067d8e1007050fe.jpg

 

1001709847_Locast2.jpg.23eb1d8e1c92facfef3b965c3a6fc591.jpg

 

 

https://www.fitzytv.com/

 

116133619_Fitzy1.jpg.aecc4bd1dfa2e1af39848ee99a238d12.jpg

 

1865601843_Fitzy2.jpg.1526258d34a77837a534b0320a29249d.jpg

 

For anyone who's fond of technicalities and legalities, basically, Locast is taking advantage of a very clear and explicit provision in federal law that allows nonprofit organizations to re-broadcast over-the-air TV signals in individual broadcast market areas. They're kind of a successor to a very popular and pioneering streaming TV service in the U.S. called Aereo that was ultimately shut down by adverse court rulings, because, Aereo was a for-profit company and did not have the protection/permission in law afforded to Locast as a non-profit. And actually, to give some sense of their standing, AT&T just made a $500,000 donation to Locast in the past month. They've been operating for more than a year now, and haven't been sued by any of the networks.

 

https://about.att.com/story/2019/locast_donation.html

 

Quote

 

Locast retransmits ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX and other local over-the-air broadcast signals licensed to serve their communities streamed live via the Internet. Locast is now available to more than 32 million users in 13 cities – New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Dallas, Washington, Houston, Boston, Denver, Baltimore and Rapid City and Sioux Falls SD – representing nearly a third of all U.S. TV homes. AT&T added the Locast interactive app to its DIRECTV and U-verse receivers on May 30. 

Sports Fans Coalition NY (SFCNY) is a New York-based non-profit, fan-advocacy group formed in 2017. It launched the Locast service in New York City on Jan. 11, 2018, and has been expanding coverage by one city every other month over the past year and a half. ... Most recently, last week, Locast added Los Angeles and San Francisco. 

 

 

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BTW, I was playing with the FitzyTV app cloud DVR function today, and it has some nice features, including the ability to record all airing episodes in a series with just one click, and also to distinguish between recording all episodes or only all new episodes.

 

So you don't have to manually select to record a favorite show of yours each and every day or week it airs. Just click once for the series, and you'll get either all future episodes or all future new episodes recorded into your cloud DVR. BTW, the cloud DVR feature erases the issue of opposite time zones between here and the West Coast U.S., since you can watch when you want regardless of the live airing schedule.

 

In my case, I have a regular cable TV subscription in the U.S., a streaming TV subscription via Sling TV, and now a Locast subscription my hometown. All the channels from all of those services show up in the unified FitzyTV channel guide, and all of them are recordable to its cloud DVR feature.

 

And to avoid being unwieldy, the Fitzy TV channel guide also allows you to select Favorite channels and only see those in the guide, as opposed to all the channels available to you. You can't customize their order in the channel guide, but you can choose to see only the Favorite channels you've selected.

 

As for the Locast service that works with Fitzy TV, as the Locast home webpage map shows above, it's now available in 13 major U.S. cities, including (apart from L.A. & SF) Dallas and Houston in Texas, Denver, Chicago, and 5 major cities in the Northeast. So if you have an internet IP address for any of those cities, you can be watching their local over-the-air TV broadcast online via Locast.

Edited by TallGuyJohninBKK
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TG,

  Thanks for the info.  

 

Question: in the continental  US map in your above post that said 48 local channels in the SF area was that when you were logged into your locast account or not logged on?   

 

I tried Houston, San Francisco, and Chicago VPN connections using PureVPN....confirmed with whatismyipaddress the IP address was indeed showing for those cities and not some other city.  Also confirmed with ipleak.net that I had no DNS leakage.  But each time I got below map saying Locast was not available in my area.  I also cleared the locast cookie and tried again but still got the same result....the below map saying not available for me when trying several of the cities on the map.

 

Just wondering if your map snapshot was maybe when you were logged into your locast account which then gives a different map picture.

 

image.png.8feed4cd970362ee6ef50362a54ace44.png

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15 hours ago, Pib said:

TG,

  Thanks for the info.  

 

Question: in the continental  US map in your above post that said 48 local channels in the SF area was that when you were logged into your locast account or not logged on?   

 

I tried Houston, San Francisco, and Chicago VPN connections using PureVPN....confirmed with whatismyipaddress the IP address was indeed showing for those cities and not some other city.  Also confirmed with ipleak.net that I had no DNS leakage.  But each time I got below map saying Locast was not available in my area.  I also cleared the locast cookie and tried again but still got the same result....the below map saying not available for me when trying several of the cities on the map.

 

Just wondering if your map snapshot was maybe when you were logged into your locast account which then gives a different map picture.

 

 

Hey Pib.... Re your questions, the map on the Locast website that shows their cities only shows the number of channels for any particular city when their system recognizes you're located in that city, which actually is the DMA area that's used to determine broadcast TV market areas.

 

However, and this is probably what tripped you up, Locast's system uses your web browser's internal geolocation function to determine location -- not your internet (or VPN) IP address. Which actually is pretty good.... 

 

Because by using a browser extension like Location Guard for Chrome or Firefox, you can be anywhere you want!

 

The website mylocation.org has the standard mapping location feature for identifying location based on IP address... But down below that, it also has a function to show location based on browser geolocation. So that's a good way to confirm what location your browser is showing at any given time.

 

BTW, I should add, Locast works a bit differently in determining location when you're NOT using a web browser, but instead using their apps for other devices like Fire TVs, Android TVs, Rokus and similar, which don't have built-in geolocation, In those instances, Locast does appear to use IP geolocation.

 

PS -  It might also be good to install another extension that blocks WebRTC functionality in your browser, which also can leak location.  Though I'm not sure that's an issue that matters for Locast or not.

 

Edited by TallGuyJohninBKK
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On 7/3/2019 at 9:31 PM, TallGuyJohninBKK said:

Basically, to access Locast, you need to have either an Internet IP address or web browser geolocation reading that shows you in one of Locast's served market areas

 BTW, glad you raised that question, and gave me the opportunity to explain in more detail how Locast determines location.

 

I noticed in my original post I just left it as the user needing an appropriate "IP address or web browser geolocation" reading. Without explaining that the IP location part pertains to using Locast with their various apps, whereas the browser geolocation part pertains to using Locast via a web browser.

 

One of the nice things about Locast is they have a pretty full and broad selection of device apps available, apart from accessing it via web browser.

 

38012150_2019-07-1111_14_27.jpg.cb26e297ac61ba067541a13ab4d54b9c.jpg

 

PS - One other disclaimer... I don't have or use any Apple devices, so I can't speak to how Locast handles geolocation on them. But I have used it on the web, on Android and on Fire TV devices, and it works as described above.

 

FitzyTV, which I'm actually using more to access Locast than the Locast web or apps themselves, is more limited in terms of device compatibility, unfortunately. FitzyTV only has a Fire TV app and an Android app that works on regular Android devices and Android TV devices. Though they say they have an IOS app coming soon.

 

https://www.fitzytv.com/index.html#tabs4-4

 

FitzyTV has the advantage of being able to time shift viewing if you subscribe to their paid cloud DVR service, which I'm using and works really well. For $5 a month, FitzyTV will give you 25 hours of cloud DVR recording space, and includes the ability to select entire series and/or all shows or only new air shows. Watch a recorded show, delete it when you're done, and the recording space becomes available/free again.

 

With Locast alone, prime time U.S. ends up being in the morning here. But with Locast via FitzyTV's cloud DVR, prime time U.S. can be anytime you want it to be.

 

Also, when you use Fitzy TV as the app for viewing your Locast content, FitzyTV actually ends up including some other channels beyond those that are part of your local Locast channel lineup. So that's an advantage also.

 

And, if you have access/credentials to any other U.S. TV services like a cable TV subscription, any of the Live TV streaming services or anything that provides you what's called "TV Everywhere" credentials, you can add those into the FitzyTV app, and ALL of your content/channels show up together in FitzyTV's unified channel guide. With the ability to record any of them, if you use their cloud DVR service.

 

 

 

 

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1 hour ago, TallGuyJohninBKK said:

 

Hey Pib.... Re your questions, the map on the Locast website that shows their cities only shows the number of channels for any particular city when their system recognizes you're located in that city, which actually is the DMA area that's used to determine broadcast TV market areas.

 

However, and this is probably what tripped you up, Locast's system uses your web browser's internal geolocation function to determine location -- not your internet (or VPN) IP address. Which actually is pretty good.... 

 

Because by using a browser extension like Location Guard for Chrome or Firefox, you can be anywhere you want!

 

The website mylocation.org has the standard mapping location feature for identifying location based on IP address... But down below that, it also has a function to show location based on browser geolocation. So that's a good way to confirm what location your browser is showing at any given time.

 

BTW, I should add, Locast works a bit differently in determining location when you're NOT using a web browser, but instead using their apps for other devices like Fire TVs, Android TVs, Rokus and similar, which don't have built-in geolocation, In those instances, Locast does appear to use IP geolocation.

 

PS -  It might also be good to install another extension that blocks WebRTC functionality in your browser, which also can leak location.  Though I'm not sure that's an issue that matters for Locast or not.

 

Yea...I had also played with the GeoLocation in Chrome last night...just didn't mention it in my earlier post.  I realized last night when laying in bed that by me telling Chrome to block locast.org's request for my geolocation that may be reason locast blew me off...then locast just tells me it's not available in my location when trying via Houston, Chicago, and SF VPN connections.  

 

So, today I check my Chrome geolocation setting which is set to Ask First, removed the geolocation block set for locast.org and then retried a connection for Houston and SF....confirmed with whatismyaddress I was showing in those cities, and when locast asked to look at my geolocation I approved it.  Then instead of saying it's not available in my location is now said it's not available in my location (Montgomery) as in Alabama I guess. 

 

Recheck whatismyipaddress....shows I'm in Houston.  So I delete the Chrome setting allowing locast geolocation access and now try a SF VPN connection...confirm via whatismyaddress I'm in SF....then try locast again...it once again asked for access my geolocaiton...I approve that request....and once again locast comes up saying not available in my area (Montgomery).

 

For some reason locast  thinks I'm in Montgomery.  I'll play with it more over the coming days.

 

With SF VPN connection...where whatisIPmyaddress shows my VPN connection location.

image.png.d2de9d49c513ea9d0535411e50c190c8.png

 

But locast thinks I'm in Montgomery....happened with a SF or Houston VPN connection verified by whatismyipaddress.

 

image.png.5984a20b0e70696693b0bde539e70ba2.png

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25 minutes ago, Pib said:

Yea...I had also played with the GeoLocation in Chrome last night...just didn't mention it in my earlier post.  I realized last night when laying in bed that by me telling Chrome to block locast.org's request for my geolocation that may be reason locast blew me off...then locast just tells me it's not available in my location when trying via Houston, Chicago, and SF VPN connections.  

 

So, today I check my Chrome geolocation setting which is set to Ask First, removed the geolocation block set for locast.org and then retried a connection for Houston and SF....confirmed with whatismyaddress I was showing in those cities, and when locast asked to look at my geolocation I approved it.  Then instead of saying it's not available in my location is now said it's not available in my location (Montgomery) as in Alabama I guess. 

 

Recheck whatismyipaddress....shows I'm in Houston.  So I delete the Chrome setting allowing locast geolocation access and now try a SF VPN connection...confirm via whatismyaddress I'm in SF....then try locast again...it once again asked for access my geolocaiton...I approve that request....and once again locast comes up saying not available in my area (Montgomery).

 

For some reason locast  thinks I'm in Montgomery.  I'll play with it more over the coming days.

 

With SF VPN connection...where whatisIPmyaddress shows my VPN connection location.

 

 

But locast thinks I'm in Montgomery....happened with a SF or Houston VPN connection verified by whatismyipaddress.

 

 

 

Pib, maybe you didn't understand me above... When using a browser with Locast, it's NOT your internet IP address with or without a VPN that it reads for location. It's your BROWSER's geolocation info... totally separate from your IP address.

 

The Location Guard extensions allow you to set any location of your choice using its "Fixed Location" option in settings, where basically you drag and drop a pin on a map somewhere... and that then is what your browser reads as its geolocation info.

 

Looks like this:

267585041_2019-07-1113_20_34.jpg.bfb9976232157f50bb9946dc57ade44f.jpg

 

938883778_2019-07-1113_21_02.jpg.f26fb8aa913d73b1b4aaaed442203769.jpg

 

 

And then, this is the part of mylocation.org website where it allows you to check browser geolocation info... based on whatever you've set with Location Guard.

 

496666992_2019-07-1113_21_48.jpg.fbfc51edceda5ae0f476b6e0276c210d.jpg

 

When you do as I've advised above, your actual IP address location in the U.S., as long as it's a U.S. IP anywhere, is irrelevant for determining Locast location when using a web browser.

 

Likewise, the info you're getting from whatismyIPaddress.com is going to be irrelevant and meaningless for this topic.

 

Set the correct location using the Fixed Location function in Location Guard in Chrome or Firefox while using any U.S. IP address, and you're done as far as accessing the content via your web browser!

 

 

Edited by TallGuyJohninBKK

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No...I understand.  I just haven't tried the location guard extension you are talking about to spoof my geolocation location.   I've just used the basic geolocation setting in Chrome which allows you to either allow or block a website's request for your geolocation.    Whenever a site asks I almost always refuse which blocks geolocation being reported to the site.   

 

So, if locast is seeing my Thailand location even on a VPN connection then it must think Bangkok, SF, or Houston is really Montgomery.  Yea, I play with more....maybe give the location guard extension a try.

 

By the way, I made VPN connection to Houston and then used the mylocation website you gave for it to report my IP address location and browser geolocation....it showed Houston TX and Cleveland OH, respectively.   

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8 minutes ago, Pib said:

No...I understand.  I just haven't tried the location guard extension you are talking about to spoof my geolocation location.   I've just used the basic geolocation setting in Chrome which allows you to either allow or block a website's request for your geolocation.    Whenever a site asks I almost always refuse which blocks geolocation being reported to the site.   

 

So, if locast is seeing my Thailand location even on a VPN connection then it must think Bangkok, SF, or Houston is really Montgomery.  Yea, I play with more....maybe give the location guard extension a try.

 

By the way, I made VPN connection to Houston and then used the mylocation website you gave for it to report my IP address location and browser geolocation....it showed Houston TX and Cleveland OH, respectively.   

 

AFAIK, you can't do anything in the browser settings of Chrome itself, at least at the common user level, to CHANGE what it reads for browser geolocation. You can turn on or off access to that as you've been doing... but that doesn't help you in getting the specific TV market location you need. If Locast cannot read your location because you've blocked geoloc access, then of course it's not going to recognize you as being in an eligible location.

 

To get a particular desired location in browser geolocation, you need to use an extension like Location Guard that allows you to set a specific location of choice. A VPN IP alone isn't going to get the job done.

 

As for mylocation.org, you want to ignore the top part results which are based in IP address location, and look at and run the 2nd part down on the page for Browser Geolocation, and run that specific test. That will show you what your current settings are generating.

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When I run the mylocation to check my geo-location with a "Thai" IP address it shows my browser geo-location as dead center of the U.S. but shows my IP address location as Bangkok.   

 

I expect my basic Win 10 operating system settings for region and geolocation are confusing the the issue as I have my Win 10 Region setting set to the United States and my Win 10 Location set to "Off" which means MS and apps can't use my location for evil purposes. 

 

IP Address Location Reported as Bangkok which is correct.

image.png.cddb2aa7614c7405ba3cb29f29074dad.png

 

However the Browser Location being reported in middle of U.S.....in Kansas.

image.png.ae5f242d6e71d0669c2769b68ccaf6dc.png

 

Win 10 Location setting...used for geolocation purposes....set to off....apps cannot use.

image.png.499aeb5bafa7291863a05bf24579995d.png

 

Edited by Pib

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Just tried the Location Guard Chrome extension....set my geolocation to Houston with the extension.   Then made a VPN connection to Houston.   Didn't help....getting same results as reported earlier.

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3 hours ago, Pib said:

Just tried the Location Guard Chrome extension....set my geolocation to Houston with the extension.   Then made a VPN connection to Houston.   Didn't help....getting same results as reported earlier.

Correction...I didn't have the Fixed Location setup right in Location Guard.    With fixed location set to Houston and Location Guard told to use that Fixed Location setting I now get below when going to locast whether via VPN US IP address or local Thai IP address.  But I haven't signed up or anything....haven't tried playing any TV stations in the Houston area...don't know if I indeed need to have a VPN Houston IP connection or locast is just going to key on my geolocation that has been spoofed to indicate Houston. 

 

Maybe TG can answer that....that is, must have a US VPN IP location and geo location that matches up ot one of the locast cities....or locast just looks at a person's browser geolocation setting to ensure it matches one of their cities.

 

And several posts up where I was said/showed locast pegged my geolocaton as "Montgomery" like maybe in Alabama in my earlier attempt to get locast to work for me, well, no, turns out that was Montgomery County Kansas right in the middle of the US.

 

image.png.953923f7d51872627ba2fc381f661eb0.png

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58 minutes ago, Pib said:

 

Maybe TG can answer that....that is, must have a US VPN IP location and geo location that matches up ot one of the locast cities....or locast just looks at a person's browser geolocation setting to ensure it matches one of their cities.

 

And several posts up where I was said/showed locast pegged my geolocaton as "Montgomery" like maybe in Alabama in my earlier attempt to get locast to work for me, well, no, turns out that was Montgomery County Kansas right in the middle of the US.

 

image.png.953923f7d51872627ba2fc381f661eb0.png


The Locast web image above would seem to indicate you're good to go, in terms of accessing Locast via that web browser as configured.

 

Re your questions above, what I can tell you is having the Fixed Location turned on and set to a Locast eligible city/market area in an extension like Location Guard is the key to getting this service to work via a web browser.

 

It certainly will work with a U.S. VPN combined with Location Guard. But Locast using a web browser is going to take its location indicator from your Location Guard Fixed Location setting, not whatever location your U.S. VPN connection might indicate.

 

I don't know whether it will work with a Thai IP address (no VPN) combined with Location Guard. Don't think I've ever tried that, since I almost always am using a U.S. VPN connection via router wifi in any case.

 

FWIW, the selection of channels available via Locast in Houston is pretty small... 15 per your image above, compared to 48 for San Francisco and a similar or large number for Los Angeles. So as long as you're going to pick a spot on the map somewhere, why not pick a spot that gives you a broader arrange of channel choices.

 

PS - However, let me note again, all of the above pertains to using Locast via a PC web browser. On the other hand, if you wanted to use Locast or FitzyTV via any of their streaming device applications like for Fire TV, Android TV, Roku, etc., that's where your Internet IP address is going to be the determining factor in gaining access and what eligible city/market area you're connected to.

 

Speaking from personal experience, trying to get a stable and consistent VPN presence for a specific U.S. city can be a surprisingly tough thing to accomplish, for several reasons:

 

--1. Some VPN providers say their servers are for XXXX city, but when you use them, their actual geolocation turns out to be somewhere else, or at least, are recognized as being somewhere else by individual content providers and the geolocation services they use.

 

--2. With some VPN providers, they'll use more than one IP range for each server location, and those get assigned randomly with each connection. So with one connection to the XXXX server, you might get an IP address that corresponds to BBBB city, but upon your next connection, a different IP address/range that corresponds to CCCC city.

 

--3. As best as I can tell, there's no single authoritative source for geolocation determinations, but rather multiple sources, and they don't all have the same data/information. So your results may vary depending on what geolocation source the particular content provider you're dealing with is using for their system.

 

For example, one of my VPN providers has an LA server that most places recognize as an L.A. location, but Google for some inexplicable reason thinks that IP range belongs in the United Arab Emirates! So every time I do a Google search with that connection, it brings up the results with a bunch of Arabic text on my screen.... 

 

 

 

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Yea...the number of locast channels in the Houston area is on the low side.  I plan to use Houston as the fixed location in Location Guard for other reasons/websites in order to match-up with a certain address I have in Houston in case those websites try to check my actual geolocation even with a Houston VPN connection....and for some reason Chrome does not ask me whether I want to allow or block the website from accessing my browser geolocation.

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BTW, I should have added, just to be on the safe side....

 

As I mentioned above, in order to avoid every 15 minute restarts with Locast, you do have to give them a $5 a month or more "donation," which can be done via recurring Paypal subscription.

 

The one thing I'd suggest is, if someone is going to sign up for a subscription with Locast, that you ought to set up, resolve and activate your desired geolocation first. That way, when you are creating a particular user ID and then attaching a payment to that particular user ID and account, that you're doing so with the correct geolocation that you intend to use.

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