BY EMMA RUBIN ’20
As students returned to campus for the start of the spring semester, many were greeted with colorful cards dangling on their door knobs that read, “Stream anytime, anywhere included with campus housing.”
The cards advertise Mount Holyoke’s new subscription to Xfinity on Campus, a service from Comcast which provides live cable television, On-Demand programming and a personal DVR through streaming devices.
The new program is now being provided to all students living on campus through their housing fee. The television portal will not work off campus, as it requires a connection to Mount Holyoke’s IP network to function.
Until now, common rooms and the lower level of Blanchard had served as main gathering places for watching television programming, but the new service will allow students to do this from anywhere on campus. By going onto the official Xfinity on Campus website, students can select Mount Holyoke from a list of colleges, and the link will then bring them to the general login screen used for sites like Moodle. By entering their Mount Holyoke credentials, students can access a portal where they can watch their favorite stations, set up series recording or browse through on-demand movies.
Students can access 115 stations free of charge, and view premium channels for an additional monthly cost. The various upgrade options cost $9.99 per month and include choices such as HBO, ESPN, Showtime and more.
Douglas Vanderpoel from Auxiliary Services said that the program is a shift from the previous system the campus used for cable television. “We have been working on a replacement for our aging CATV plant for some time,” said Vanderpoel.
Community Antenna Television is a system which uses a series of signals and points to relay cable programming. Vanderpoel said that Mount Holyoke’s previous system dates back to the 1980s.
While the deal with Xfinity is still in its beginning stages, it is intended to fully replace the traditional television system. Vanderpoel confirmed that Roku systems, streaming devices which attach to the television much like a cable box, will soon be placed in the common rooms so that students can stream onto a larger screen. As well as providing access to Xfinity programs, Roku systems can connect to personal accounts on Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Video, Pandora and more.
The new service demonstrates a growing trend in streaming within the television industry. According to Business Insider, 2016 marked 32 percent growth in such streaming companies compared to 3 percent growth in traditional television subscriptions.
While based in a streaming model, Xfinity on Campus offers resources like DVR and live viewing, which are unique to such cable providers. The service reintroduces many students to cable television and its features in an increasingly streaming focused world.
“I didn’t know I needed it in my life until we got it,” said Sara Sarmiento ’21. “The system is a lot more accessible and flexible than the previous ability of cable on campus. It’s a lot easier to watch on mobile devices from any location, rather than being confined to previous spaces.”