Since the trend of "cord-cutting" took off, one of the biggest issues for people has been getting local programming. This might include news, sports, and more. But, being able to get any sort of local content while relying on streaming services can be extremely difficult. Local broadcast channels tend to only be available through cable streaming, and that's the opposite of the point. But, Amazon has taken on the challenge, and announced that it is expanding that offering to more US cities.
Amazon launched its local news service in 2020. The initial launch of the local news portal, which was clearly a test of the service, was available in 12 US cities, but the company seems dedicated to the service. Earlier in the year, the portal was expanded to cover another 76 cities, bringing the total count to 88. Now, Amazon is adding another 158 cities, bringing the total to 259 US cities.
All of these cities can be accessed through the dedicated Amazon News app. The service is entirely free and does not require a subscription. The only requirement is the Amazon News app, which comes pre-installed on Fire TV devices, including televisions and Fire Sticks. All of the local content is available under the "Local News" tab within the app. The app should be able to detect your location and automatically show your local news. From there, you can add the local news stations from the market that you want in your portal.
Every metropolitan market that is covered will have different offerings available. For example, in Scottsbluff, NE, you are able to watch NBC Nebraska, the local NBC affiliate. However, in the Tampa Bay area, your only choice is Very Tampa Bay by WMOR, a network that mostly shows syndicated reruns and local news provided by another of the local stations. Most cities only offer a single station, and if you're lucky, there might be two. Hopefully, Amazon will not just focus on expanding cities, but will also add additional stations going forward. However, it is a smart move to expand the overall reach first, and then come back and use that coverage to encourage other networks to join the platform.
While there have been services in the past that have offered local programming, none have been able to succeed for various legal reasons. Aereo, which offered local broadcast television over the internet, was sued by the networks and suffered a Supreme Court loss, followed by a complete shut down. The company attempted to avoid copyright law by assigning a unique tuner and antenna to each user, which they believed would appease the networks. It did not.
Following in Aereo's failed footsteps, Locast ran a similar scheme. They were also sued by the networks, and the organization shut down its service, though it claimed it would be back. So far, they have not returned and there is no sign of a future plan of action. Locast attempted to get around the copyright issues differently from Aereo - they were a non-profit and did not charge for their service. This argument also didn't pan out.