Comcast Expands School-Focused IPTV Trial

Bridgewater College, a school founded in 1880, is about to get access to something new – an emerging multiscreen video service from Comcast that is delivered entirely over IP.

Bridgewater College, a Virginia school with about 1,800 students that’s located about two hours from Washington, D.C., has signed on for Xfinity On Campus, a new IP-delivered subscription video service that supports live TV streaming and on-demand content to select iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch models (the AirPlay function is disabled), and browsers running on PCs and Macs. Comcast is working on an Xfinity On Campus app for Android-powered devices.

Bridgewater College joins a small batch of east coast colleges that are testing or preparing to test the Xfinity On Campus, which is still technically in the trial stage. Other schools that are on board include Lasell College, the University of New Hampshire, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Drexel University, and Emerson College.

With roots to the cloud-based X1 platform that Comcast has deployed nationwide, Xfinity On Campus delivers a managed IP simulcast of the channels offered via the regular campus TV package, as well as access to Comcast’s VOD platform. Access to Xfinity On Campus, which requires students to sign on with their credentials, is limited to the on-campus network. According to the latest FAQ on the service, Xfinity On Campus also provides access to as many as five premium channel and Comcast’s sports package.

Comcast has not announced if it intends to apply its new Cloud DVR service to the Xfinity On Campus offering.

Comcast’s emerging college-tailored offering has some competition. Philo, a Boston-based startup backed by HBO and Mark Cuban, has developed an IP video platform and network DVR service for college campuses that runs on PC browsers, Roku boxes, and the Apple TV (using AirPlay). Philo’s roster of university partners includes Yale University, Fort Hays State University, University of Washington, Roanoke College, Harvard University, Wesleyan University, Pepperdine University, and William Patterson University of New Jersey.