By: Jonathan David, Class of 2021
The “Future of Awesome” is here, but not everyone is ready for the jump. In the Fall of 2014, Northwestern University became the first college in the Midwest to offer students access to the Xfinity On Campus streaming service (hereafter XoC). The free service allows students connected to the university wi-fi to stream live television as well as a selection of the latest hit movies directly to their phones, tablets, and laptops.
On Sept 8 of the year of the service’s rollout, Northwestern Now reported a statement from Comcast’s vice president of sales and marketing for the greater Chicago region, David Williams. Said Williams, “More and more students are streaming and downloading content and taking it on the go,” arguing that XoC “aligns with the way this generation of college students wants to watch TV.”
Over three years later, does that hold true?
According to a survey NUCh1 presented to members of the Class of 2021 early in January, approximately 3 out of 4 survey respondents acknowledged that they had at least heard of XoC. However, only about 56% of respondents – just over half – said they actually use the service, with the other 44% saying they never use it at all. About a quarter said they use the service “Very Frequently” or “Fairly Frequently.”
For those students who use the service, by far the most popular programming seems to be scripted television shows, with over 77% of XoC users watching. About 40% use the service to watch sports, 31% to watch Reality TV or unscripted programming, and 11% to watch the news. A meager 6% use the service for their movie selection.
Convenience was cited as a major factor in students’ inclination to use the service. Almost 92% of XoC users agreed that the nonexistent cost is a primary reason for using the service. 72% listed not otherwise having access to a television on campus as a primary influence. About a third say the service offers more content they enjoy than other services.
“I like that with Xfinity on campus, I don’t need to buy my own TV or fight other people in my dorms for access,” proclaims one student. The student also embraces the cross-platform capabilities of XoC, saying, “My laptop is a lot more portable than a TV.”
Another student praises XoC’s content selection, remarking that the service is perfect for “great for watching shows that may not be available on regular TV and is very convenient for watching shows back after they’ve already aired.”
Not everyone is a fan of XoC, though. By far, the most frequently cited reason for not using the service is simply not having time, with about 2 out of 3 respondents reporting this problem. This is an understandable observation for busy Northwestern students, but others note a more deliberate disinterest in the service. About 29% of respondents say they already have another service they prefer for watching television, while 11% simply aren’t interested in the content XoC offers.
Some people think there could be more variety, with students complaining about “certain channels/content that can’t be recorded.” One is irked by the service specifically lacking “classic/cult movies.”
Others report technical issues with the streaming platform, including having to login multiple times and sometimes slow connections. “My video kept on buffering and eventually I got fed up with it,” recounts one student. “Amazon Video is what I using now!”
Clearly, XoC is a viable option for at least some students’ entertainment needs. As for what could be added or improved? One respondent’s answer is simple: “More ghost adventures.”