As classes began last week, University administrators announced that students would have access to 70 more channels of free television than they previously could access.
On Sept. 2, Information Technology Services officials said that Comcast Internet Protocol television would replace the old Comcast wired Cable TV and Philo Streaming television service. Officially launched last year at seven other universities, Comcast IPTV, also known as Xfinity On Campus, will allow Yalies to view more than 100 channels of content, including HBO programming. Under the Philo platform, students could only watch 36 channels. Marcien Jenckes, executive vice president of consumer services at Comcast Cable, said Xfinity On Campus was created last year to target college students, many of whom stream movies on a daily basis and multitask while watching television.
“Millennials and post-millennials are really driving some of the changes we see today in how television is consumed,” Jenckes said Tuesday in a conference call for members of the media. “They grew up in a DVR world where they want the show to be on the screen wherever they are.”
Available to all undergraduates and graduates living on campus, students have the option of personally upgrading their service to include additional content, such as professional sports packages. Executive Director of Video Services at Comcast Cable Jeremy Andreoli said that, contrary to the conception that college students do not watch television anymore, many are actually taking advantage of both the live television and on-demand options.
The service has now expanded to include a total of 30 schools including Emerson University, the University of Delaware and Dartmouth College. Jenckes noted that while Comcast would like to provide Xfinity On Campus to more schools, some do not yet have the technological capacity to handle the service.
“The expectation is that we will still continue to grow at a fairly rapid pace,” Andreoli said. “It’s certainly good for the university and the students and is certainly good for the programmers that we work with, because one of the problems they continue to talk to us about is how to get their content in front of the next generation of consumers.”
Before Yale subscribed to Xfinity On Campus, the University was served by Philo, a company founded by two Harvard graduates. Philo needed expensive hardware to be installed in order to use their service, but Xfinity on Campus requires no such installation, Yale ITS said in a statement.
Emerson University was one of the first schools to work with Comcast on Xfinity On Campus while it was still a pilot program. Emerson Director of Networking and Telecommunications Francis Frain said a survey on campus found most students on campus forgo televisions in favor of an internet service. While the service is still something students are growing accustomed to, an increasing number are adopting it each year, he said.
“What we’ve been finding over the past few years is that our students have the freedom to watch whatever they want,” said Associate Director of Resident Life and Housing at the University of Delaware Michele Kane.
Still, Yale students appear to be unaware of the new service. Of 13 students interviewed, none had used Xfinity on Campus at Yale.
Comcast is the largest broadcasting company in the world by revenue.