Comcast launches TV streaming for colleges, to rival Cambridge’s Philo


Today, Comcast announces that it has debuted a service to let college students watch live streaming TV over the Web and mobile, with two Boston-area colleges offering it to start. The service, Xfinity On Campus, resembles one already offered by Cambridge startup Philo.

Five colleges will make the service available this fall, among them Emerson College in Boston and Lasell College in Newton.

MIT and the University of New Hampshire will also be running a trial of the service with students this fall, Comcast said.

From the news release:

Xfinity On Campus offers approximately 80 live cable channels including every major broadcast network as well as channels like AMC, Bravo, Comedy Central, ESPN, FX and MTV.  Students also can access thousands of current season TV shows and hit movies via Xfinity On Demand.  While off campus, students can use their university credentials to authenticate and access online programming that’s part of their subscription via TV Everywhere websites and apps such as WatchESPN and FXNOW.

Philo, founded by two Harvard students, offers live TV online at colleges including Harvard, Stanford, and Yale. The service first launched at Harvard in 2011. The company is backed by investors including  HBO, Mark Cuban’s Radical Investments, and New Enterprise Associates.

In an email, Philo chief executive Christopher Thorpe said the move by Comcast shows that “more and more media companies are realizing the importance of the university market both for today’s audiences and for future subscriber growth.” Philo expects to be serving tens of thousands of students at dozens of universities this fall, he added.

The new offering from Comcast comes as Aereo, a Boston-built TV streaming service that was recently outlawed by the Supreme Court, fights to stay alive.

Kyle Alspach has worked in journalism in Massachusetts since 2005 and was one of the original staff writers at BetaBoston.
Follow Kyle on Twitter