ITS to launch online TV streaming

When students return to Yale next semester, they will have access to high-definition TV anywhere on campus — all through their laptops.

Yale undergraduates living on campus will be able to stream approximately 30 channels of high-definition live programming to their computers and TVs for free starting next semester, Director of ITS Network Services David Galassi said. He added that he expects students will be also able to record TV shows as well as stream content to TVs and mobile devices later in the spring. The offering represents the beginning of an 18-month pilot partnership with Tivli, a Harvard startup that began offering Internet-protocol television (IPTV) to Harvard in May 2011, and is expected to begin in January.

“Tivli offered to do a pilot with us, we thought it was a great opportunity to continue to offer the students the service they are used to while exploring this new and exciting service,” Galassi said.

While students will still be able to watch TV through the traditional cable wiring that exists in dorms, Galassi said IPTV represents the future of TV at Yale, as neither the two new residential colleges nor the new School of Management campus will be wired for traditional cable. Galassi added that students have been requesting a high-definition upgrade of Yale’s cable services — an upgrade that IPTV will bring without requiring any structural wiring changes. The IPTV service is currently on a trial run as Yale decides whether Tivli is the right provider, Galassi said.

Galassi said he suspects Yale will complete a registration process for undergraduates living on campus — the final step before IPTV setup is complete — in time for launch in January. The channel provider prohibits Yale from offering IPTV to students living off campus, Galossi said, adding that graduate students will be unable to use the service as the initial phase of the trial period will focus on undergraduates.

Yale College Council President John Gonzalez ’14 said students have few campus locations in which to gather to watch significant televised events, and the service will enable students to share experiences like the presidential election. He added that it would also allow for more informal diversions as well, such as watching “Monday Night Football” for a few moments in a Bass study room.

Gonzalez emphasized that he does not think the service will be disruptive in the classroom, as it is little different from YouTube videos or ESPN highlights that students can already watch on their laptops.

“It’s going to be really good for news and really good for sports — things that you have to see live,” Gonzalez said. “I don’t really think that people are going to be in the classroom and start watching ‘Days of Our Lives.’”

Comcast provides content for both the existing cable and IPTV, but there will be reduced channel offerings on IPTV. Galassi consulted with Gonzalez, among others, in helping to construct the channel offerings, adding that Yale has the flexibility to change the offerings as it sees fit. The costs of cable TV and IPTV are “comparable” for Yale, Galassi said, though Yale is paying more for the high-definition content as well as for offering HBO and its on-demand version, HBO GO. Galassi said ITS is ready to handle any additional demand that the service may induce, but he added that Harvard did not experience a problematic increase in network usage after IPTV was introduced.

Six of 12 students interviewed said they intend to use the new service.

Nicola Soekoe ’16 said she worries IPTV will hurt her work ethic, though she said she will certainly watch HBO.

“[IPTV] would be a really cool thing, but it might make me procrastinate more, just because I’d be able to watch all the shows all the time,” she said. “But it would be really nice and would add something extra to my Yale experience.”

Acshi Haggenmiller ’15 said he did not think he would use the service because he usually watches television through Netflix with the goal of viewing a specific show.

Dartmouth, Harvard and Brown are the only other Ivy League schools that currently offer IPTV.

Jasmine Horsey contributed reporting.

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