Comcast today formally announced a new service that will let college students at seven universities stream live TV and video on-demand programming across their personal laptops, smartphones, and tablets while connected to campus Wi-Fi. Dubbed Xfinity On Campus, the service is included as part of each student's room and board fees — which means it's also only available to those residing in on-campus housing.
The whole effort is squarely aimed at millennials who are spending more and more time watching their favorite shows and movies away from a TV set. Comcast wants to get these younger college viewers — many of whom are perfectly content living in a world of Netflix, Hulu Plus, and shared HBO Go logins — hooked on cable in hopes that ultimately they'll become paying customers once they've graduated.
Get 'em while they're young
80 live channels are bundled in, and Comcast says it's checked off every major broadcast network along with favorites like AMC, FX, Comedy Central, and ESPN. Assuming they weren't already "borrowing" a family member's HBO Go credentials, students will also have the option of paying a bit extra for HBO, Showtime, and Starz.
The largest US cable provider has quietly been testing out Xfinity On Campus with schools including Emerson College and Drexel University for months. With its official launch, the service will expand beyond those two and be available at Bridgewater College, Lasell College and the University of Delaware this fall. Trials with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of New Hampshire, and other schools are set to be held in the fall as well.
80 live channels and more on demand
Most dorms are already outfitted with cable infrastructure, and Comcast's X1 cloud platform handles delivering live and on-demand programming to students over IP. It's not ready quite yet, but Comcast says students at participating schools will soon be able to use a cloud-based DVR and even temporarily download recorded shows to their devices for viewing away from campus. So aside from trying to secure its future customer base, the whole Xfinity On Demand project is also an interesting experiment in IP-based TV delivery.