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Cable Technology Feature Article

August 22, 2014

Eyeing 'Cord-Nevers,' Comcast Launches On-Campus TV

By Tara Seals, TMCnet Contributor

You know what they say: Little ones grow into big ones. That’s true for puppies, alligators and future consumers of telecom services.

Hoping to prove the principle, No. 1 U.S. cable MSO Comcast (News - Alert) has launched Xfinity On Campus, a service that lets college students watch live TV and on-demand content on their IP-enabled devices, including, laptops, tablets and smartphones while on campus. The hope of course is to snag new Xfinity customers before they’re even out of school and paying rent (and signing up for TV service).

The MSO is being fairly savvy about it, by hanging the offering on a multiscreen value proposition. It’s also working with the schools themselves to bill it, so that it’s included with room and board for students living in on-campus housing. This fall, it will be available at Bridgewater College, Drexel University, Emerson (News - Alert) 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 offers about 80 live cable channels including every major broadcast network as well as channels like AMC, Bravo, Comedy Central, ESPN (News - Alert), FX and MTV. While 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.

Kids can also upgrade to a selection of premium channels, including HBO, Showtime, STARZ, as well as the Sports Entertainment Package, which includes popular channels like ESPN Goal Line. And, Comcast said that it will roll out a cloud-based DVR service soon as an add-on.

“Xfinity on Campus lets students watch TV on their own terms,” said Marcien Jenckes, executive vice president of Consumer Services for Comcast Cable. “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. 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’s move here is a hybrid business model that it hopes will stave off the “cord-never” phenomenon that MSOs are running into—that is, the propensity for younger consumers to use only over-the-top (OTT) services for entertainment, eschewing a cable subscription from the beginning. According to a Verizon (News - Alert) Digital Media study, 106 million Americans watch TV online today, and that number is expected to grow to 145 million by 2017. Millennials are by far the largest generation in the U.S. and are watching more TV on computers, tablets and smartphones than ever before.

“Xfinity On Campus is a leap into the future, leveraging Drexel’s campus network to provide media content to our residential students at any time and any place,” said Drexel’s vice president and CIO, John Bielec. “It’s a perfect fit for today’s student mobile lifestyle.”

Edited by Stefania Viscusi

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