Cable on Campus: MSOs Roll out Streaming Service

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In light of growing consumption of online video among college students, cable is eyeing the campus market with new IPTV and/or cross-platform video services, which in Comcast’ s case are free with room and board with no set-top required (one piece of on-premise equipment is needed). After months of trialing the service, the MSO officially launched its Xfinity On Campus Thurs, aiming to allow students to watch live TV and on demand content on their IP-enabled devices while on campus. The service will be available this fall at Bridgewater College, Drexel University, Emerson College, Lasell College and the University of Delaware. Several schools including MIT and the University of New Hampshire will also trial the program. The package features some 80 live cable channels including major broadcast nets, as well as VOD content. Students can purchase premium channels, including HBO, Showtime and Starz, as well as the Sports Entertainment Package, which includes nets like ESPN Goal Line. Comcast is adding its new cloud-based DVR feature to the mix as it expands into more markets. Off-campus access is part of the offering, allowing students to use their school credentials to authenticate and receive online programming as part of their subscription. Over the past few years, Northwestern U and other schools have turned off their on-campus TV service as more students turn to OTT services like Netflix and Hulu. Some schools even reportedly inked agreements with Netflix to put the company’s Open Connect caches within their campus networks to enable a better streaming experience. To prove that cable is still cool for school, other MSOs like Cox have rolled out campus-wide IPTV services. Cox currently offers Campus Connects, which lets students stream video across devices without compromising the school’s bandwidth. Among clients is Tulane University, which trialed Campus Connect last year and is now a full-time customer. The MSO is currently offering a 30-day free trial, which provides a limited lineup of news and information channels. While Verizon FiOS doesn’t have a formal campus offer, it provides a college-friendly package featuring stand-alone and month-to-month options, a spokesman said. Cable isn’t the only one looking at the campus market. Boston-based startup Philo (formerly Tivli) uses adaptive bitrate technology to stream video across campus network and has expanded to a dozen schools, allowing students to access live, streaming TV as well as DVR services.

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