Update: Locast has ceased operations. Old post archived here:
I have been a long time Plex user for years. Alongside my extensive movie collection, I also like to keep up on the local news and occasionally watch some sports or TV special. Previously I had successfully used a TV tuner with Plex, but after moving to a new home that got terrible reception, I had to look for other solutions. Thankfully, here in the US, Locast allows you to get local OTA TV over the internet. Here’s how to get it into Plex.
The way I had solved this previously was buying a HDHomeRun TV tuner and a basic antenna. Setting that up with Plex could not be more simple: Simple plug in an antenna and plug the tuner into your network, Plex auto-discovers it and populates the TV Guide.
But after moving to a dead spot in OTA reception, this wouldn’t work. And I know I’m not the only one with this problem – many people live in apartments where they can’t mount an antenna, or live too far from a broadcast source to reliably pick up a signal.
Locast is a non-profit whose mission is to modernize and digitize public broadcast TV in the United States. They do this currently in 22 markets – mostly large cities – and it is funded by a $5/monthly donation if you want to stream or watch for more than 15 minutes at a time. I think this is a service well worth supporting. In my market, that $5/month donation gets me 47 channels, including the local NPR affiliate, enough sports for my casual fan vibe, and every major local news network in HD.
Locast does not integrate with Plex directly. To get Locast streams into Plex requires another piece of software – locast2plex. This proxies the Locast stream and emulates a hardware TV tuner – just like connecting that physical HDHomeRun box I previously had.
SETTING IT UP
First off, sign up for a Locast account, select a market, and set up a monthly donation. A free account on Locast won’t work with locast2plex.
In my home server, everything runs in Docker. And conveniently, locast2plex comes as an easy to deploy Docker container as well.
Here’s my Docker Compose config:
version: '2' services: locast2plex: image: tgorg/locast2plex container_name: locast2plex ports: - "6077:6077" - "1900:1900/udp" restart: unless-stopped environment: - firstname.lastname@example.org - 'password=XXXXX' - external_addy=192.168.0.X - external_port=6077 - debug=yes
Fairly straight forward: the username and password are your Locast credentials. I ran into trouble with Docker parsing my password correctly because of special characters, and including the whole line in single quotes solved it.
The external address is the LAN IP address of your server machine.
COMBINING WITH PLEX
In your Plex server settings, you will need to go to the “Manage” section and look in “Live TV & DVR”. Here, add a new device.
Auto-discover didn’t work for me – I had to give it the IP and port manually. Then it connected and showed up as a regular DVR and my guide information began downloading:
This has been working great for me for the past month. If you’re not able to set up a physical OTA antenna & tuner, Locast provides a great, reliable service for getting local content into your Plex server.
If you’re not in a market covered by Locast, or would prefer not to pay a monthly fee, the equipment I used previously for use with Plex was: