The Media Notepad: Locast shuts down after federal judge rules against it

Locast goes down for the count; Nexstar on a roll; Let’s Make A Profit?

It’s game over for Locast as last week, the non-profit streamer of local TV channels pulled the plug on the service after a federal judge declared it not to be one.

In the case brought by four major broadcast networks, they accused Locast of streaming their signals without consent – similar to what happened with Aereo a few years ago as the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of the broadcast networks, effectively ending the service. The only difference here is Locast was a non-profit and were asking users for donations ($5 as month) – in some cases, interrupting the programs they were watching if they didn’t give.

And that was the problem – the judge noted viewers were basically funding the service so they can expand into new markets. Federal judge Louis Stanton of the Southern District of New York noted Locast “made far more money from user charges than was necessary to defray its costs of maintaining and operating its service.” He added: “But under the statute, income made from charges to recipients can only be used to defray the actual and reasonable costs of maintaining and operating the service, not of expanding it into new markets.”

The Locast service let viewers stream broadcast signals on their laptop, tablet, or phone and through DirecTV or Dish (when it wasn’t raining) and it was especially helpful for those who were not able to use an antenna and couldn’t afford cable or satellite – especially those who live in certain apartments buildings or in mountainous areas.

Nevertheless, the ruling is a victory for broadcasters, who are now seeking a permanent injunction as they seek to project their precious retransmission consent cash. Don’t look for an appeal as the chances of the Supreme Court taking up this case are basically slim to none due to the Aereo decision.

Locast was available in more than 30 markets, including Chicago.

As Newsnation marked their first anniversary a week ago, Nexstar is making numerous aggressive moves – for one, they recently acquired political website The Hill for $130 million in order to complement their local news operations, and of course NewsNation.

“The accretive acquisition of The Hill’s independent, political digital media platform marks continued progress with Nexstar’s ‘content-first strategy’ and reflects our organization-wide commitment to deliver trusted, unbiased, fact-based journalism that engages and informs our audiences across all screens and devices,” said Nexstar president and COO Tom Carter in a statement (fits the “mission” quite well, basically.) The Hill is very well-read, with 48 million monthly users and 2.2 billion pageviews according to ComScore.

In addition to 1980s and 1990s sitcom-formatted Rewind TV, Nexstar also launched another digital channel on September 1 – SportsGrid, a new sports betting and wagering channel in nine markets including the digital subchannels of KRON San Francisco, WDVM Hagerstown, Md. (serving the Washington D.C. market) and WKRN Nashville. SportsGrid is a New York-based multimedia content and tech platform company specializing in sports gaming. The channel also streams on its website and whose audio is available on numerous streaming platforms. 

Nexstar plans to expand SportsGrid in other markets, especially when contracts for Scripps-owned Court TV expire in a couple of years. Scripps is in the process of moving their diginets under Ion’s wing, bought a year ago for $2.65 billion

Meanwhile, RewindTV took up residence on WGN channel 9.4, pushing Sinclair’s TBD to channel 9.5 while Court TV stays at 9.3 for now.

Let’s make a… profit? In a stern financial move, The Profit’s Marcus Lemonis and Nancy Glass (yes, that Nancy Glass from Inside Edition and American Journal fame) have acquired the intellectual property (or IP) of Let’s Make A Deal and those of Hatos-Hall Productions, a game show airing on CBS’ daytime lineup since 2009. With the new setup, current Fremantle is now licensing the show from the new partnership.

Both worked together on a podcast Marcus Lemnois hosts and the upcoming HGTV series The Renovator. Former Sony and Endemol Shine exec Sharon Hall is being brought on as a consultant – she is the daughter of Monty Hall, who hosted Deal most of its run. The deal (no pun intended) gives them an opportunity to expand the franchise beyond its daytime CBS home, including live and touring shows and partnerships.

“Let’s Make a Deal is so much more than a game show,” Lemonis said. “It is part of American history and our entertainment culture. I love that it gives people the opportunity to be creative, think strategically and make deals to win some really great prizes. I’m also very excited to be working alongside two powerful and successful women in entertainment. How could this not be a great deal for me?”

The assets include Split Second, another Hatos-Hall show. Syndicated by Viacom (now CBS Media Ventures) during the 1986-87 season, the program was originally sold to ABC-owned WLS-TV here in Chicago, but never made the air.

A current Chicago-area resident, Lemonis is CEO of Camping World and has hosted The Profit for the last eight seasons on CNBC, traveling the country to help and invest in small and struggling businesses. Several Chicago-area businesses have been featured over the years, including one based in far southwest suburban Morris, but decided not to invest after the owner bragged too much about his part-time radio job (which he was later fired from.) The series’ eighth season premiered August 10. 

Hosted by Monty Hall, Deal began its daytime run on NBC in 1963 and moved to ABC in 1968, immediately boosting the network. A weekly nighttime version started on ABC in 1971 and moved to syndication in September, becoming one of the top-rated syndicated shows of the 1970s and the most successful show distributed by Worldvision Enterprises until the launch of Judge Judy in 1996. Both versions ended on July 9, 1976 and September 1977, respectively.

Three short-lived revivals followed in 1980 (from Vancouver), 1984-86, and 1990-91, respectively. Returning to its original home of NBC, the 1990 version was mocked for landing a 3:30 a.m. time slot in Los Angeles on network-owned KNBC at start and the lackluster hosting skills of Bob Hilton as Hall returned as host in 1991. Two brief prime-time editions surfaced in primetime in 1996 (on Fox as Big Deal) and 2003 (on NBC), respectively.

Since 2009, Let’s Make A Deal has aired on CBS with Wayne Brady as host and expanded to an hour. Deal recently received a huge upgrade in Chicago as CBS-owned WBBM-TV recently moved the show from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., putting it in line with most other CBS affiliates who schedule the game show in the Central Time Zone. 


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