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Univ. rolls out free cable streaming

By Elianna Spitzer

Section: News

September 25, 2015

On Friday, Sept. 11, the Department of Community Living introduced Comcast’s “Xfinity on
Campus” video service to the residential student population. As of now, Brandeis is one of
27 schools that has adopted this service.

The livestreaming service grants access to over 170 channels and thousands of on-demand shows. The service may be accessed by web browser or iOS/Android app. Its cost has already been factored into campus housing fees. As a result, it is only available to students living in on-campus housing.

The Department of Community Living announced several events in conjunction with this
new service. On Sept. 14-17, Comcast representatives were available to speak with students about Xfinity on campus. The representatives conducted raffles and provided incentive offers at these information sessions. “They were very helpful. I was there early, and the representatives I talked to both heard out my problem about long loading times and helped me to troubleshoot so that the problem was fixed. I was able to sign up for a $10 premium service and receive $50 in AmEx gift cards,” Brian Dorfman ’16 said.

According to Comcast’s website, Xfinity on Campus “gives students the ability to watch
their favorite shows, movies and sporting events anytime, anywhere on campus.” It is a radical shift from the “communal lounge television” of the past. On-demand streaming erupted in popularity within the last decade. Major content providers such as Netflix and Hulu launched their streaming services in 2007.

The Xfinity on Campus platform, launched in 2014, seems to be the next step in the progression of on-demand service. The key is that it enables a student to livestream 170 channels to their preferred device. This is a notable difference in comparison to other on-demand services that release shows after they premiere on network television.

In addition to the basic channel package, Comcast offers upgrades in the form of
additional services. A student may select a bundle of up to five services. The options include
HBO, Showtime, Starz, Cinemax, The Movie Channel, Sports Entertainment Package, and
Digital Preferred. The cost of the upgrade is a monthly rate that depends on the package. It
begins at $9.99/month.

According to Brandeis students, the most important aspect of this new initiative is the access
it grants to programs that, based on their content, should be watched in real time. Sports
games, reality television and awards shows are more readily available based on the Xfinity on campus platform.

“With [most] reality TV, the big thing is knowing who wins, and it helps you stay ahead of spoilers,” Hannah DeRoche ’19 said. Live coverage also helps sports viewers stay on top of the latest news. “I watched the Patriots game and the Seahawks game. I had a positive viewing experience,” Robert Singer ’19 said. He added, “It wasn’t very glitchy, so it was fun to watch the games.”

The service is in its beginning stages. As such, the performance level of Xfinity on Campus has yet to be fully tested. As of now, the reviews appear hopeful. In an email, Tim Touchette of the Director of Community Living, wrote, “I have tested the service and I can tell you firsthand that you will find this is a vast improvement over what we provided in the past.”

Student reviews on quality seem similarly positive. “I’m a fan. It was a little laggy to be honest … but It’s also live TV, so there’s that trade off,” said Samuel Lieb ’19.

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