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Room and Board … and Streaming Too

21 Aug, 2014 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Comcast bows pilot ‘Xfinity On Campus’ program enabling college students to watch live TV and stream movies on connected devices — paid through room and board fees

College students wouldn’t be caught dead without their cell phone, laptop or tablet. They're also not inclined to be bundled cable subscribers while in school, while more likely to become cord-nevers upon graduation. As a result, Comcast Aug. 21 launched a pilot program that enables students to watch live TV and VOD movies and TV shows on their devices while on campus.

Instead of requiring a traditional bundled cable subscription with TV Everywhere functionality, Comcast’s “Xfinity On Campus” fees are included in room and board charges paid to the school. Students access programing with their school ID credentials.

The cloud-based program will be available this fall at Bridgewater College, Drexel University, Emerson College, Lasell College and the University of Delaware. In addition, several schools, including Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of New Hampshire, will be trialing the program with students this fall.

Xfinity On Campus will offer about 80 live cable channels, including every major broadcast network as well as channels AMC, Bravo, Comedy Central, ESPN, FX and MTV. Students can also access current-season TV shows and movies via Xfinity On Demand. When off campus, students can use their university credentials to authenticate and access online programming that’s part of their subscription via TV Everywhere websites and apps such as WatchESPN and FXNow.

“With this younger generation, more and more viewing is happening away from the traditional TV set and we have evolved our products and services to better engage them,” Marcien Jenckes, EVP of consumer services for Comcast Cable, said in a statement. “Whether it’s 'Game of Thrones,' 'Scandal' or 'The Daily Show,' Xfinity On Campus offers all the content they want — anytime, anywhere — on any device.”

Comcast said the program requires installation of single piece of equipment with the school’s IT department to facilitate Xfinity On Campus.

The No. 1 cabler cited data showing millennials are watching more TV on computers, tablets and smartphones than the living room TV. At the same time, 106 million Americans watch TV online today and that number is expected to grow to 145 million by 2017.

“Xfinity On Campus is a leap into the future,” Drexel CFO John Bielec said in a statement. “It’s a perfect fit for today’s student mobile lifestyle.”

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