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Comcast hopes Wi-Fi streaming will win over college students

As college classes resume at the start of another school year, Comcast hopes to teach some students a lesson of its own—having access to cable TV is a hard habit to break. In a move designed to build loyalty among people in their late teens and early 20s, Comcast is launching Xfinity On Campus. The IP-delivered service lets college students living on campus watch live and on-demand TV on their laptops, tablets, and smartphones.

Designed to be carried over a college’s existing IP network, Xfinity on Campus is being bundled with room and board for students at Bridgewater College, Drexel University, Emerson College, Lasell College, and the University of Delaware. Other colleges, such as Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of New Hampshire, will test the program this fall.

“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,” said Marcien Jenckes, Comcast Cable’s executive vice president of consumer services in a statement announcing the program. Translation: Millennials are increasingly watching  TV on platforms other than traditional cable-connected TV sets. Comcast doesn’t want to lose those eyeballs, so it’s trying to reach them where it can.

The elephant in the dorm room here is cord cutting: earlier this year, Experian Marketing Services estimated that 6.5 percent of U.S. homes have cut the cable cord, up from 4.5 percent four years ago. Comcast is not eager to have that percentage grow, and if impressionable college students are watching more TV online—Comcast says millenials are watching three times more programming online than other generations—then it’s going to find new ways to reach that base of potential customers.

It doesn’t hurt that Xfinity On Campus only requires one piece of Comcast equipment to be plugged into a college’s LAN. This minimizes the time and expense that college IT staff have to devote to providing The Big Bang Theory on their network.

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