TU’s entertainment services, Cox cable and CaneFlix, are part of the university’s efforts to provide a good quality of life to on-campus students, but the usage of these services remains somewhat unknown.
For those who live on campus, the small Cox cable boxes can be a nuisance or a tool. The boxes are part of the university’s agreement with Cox cable, allowing students with televisions to receive a variety of channels.
According to Jeremy Smith, who deals with the housing side of the contract, the university has no real way of knowing how many students use the cable service. Based on observation and research, he believes, overall, TV viewership has dropped, in favor of “Netflix, Hulu, or on-demand services.”
About five years ago, the university did a survey of students, and Smith estimates 15 – 20 percent said they watched TV on a weekly basis. Smith plans to do another survey this spring, which could impact the university’s dealings with Cox.
Jason Grunin, who deals with the contract with Cox, said housing and dining polls the Residence Hall Association as well. “They are very aware of the desire for additional streaming services,” Grunin said.
With these potentially low viewership numbers, Smith said his department has discussed alternatives to the Cox boxes. These could include streaming-based and satellite options. Satellite services would require equipment changes, with potential rewiring that could be difficult in older buildings.
When TU installed the boxes about two-and-a-half years ago, there were discussions on using IP-TV. “Instead of having it through a cable wire, it goes through an Ethernet wire,” Smith said, but at the time, the network wasn’t strong enough, and it was a rather new technology for Cox.
“That’s the wave of the future,” Smith said about streaming. “A lot of universities are going that way.”
Grunin said even though the current contract doesn’t expire until January 2021, the university is looking into Cox Campus Connect. This service allows students to live-stream IP television to tablets, smartphones and laptops, with a variety of TV networks included. Unfortunately, the program is still in pilot mode, and hasn’t been fully deployed in Oklahoma.
Currently, TU does have a streaming service in CaneFlix, which gets 15 movies per month that students can watch while on TU’s WiFi. TU’s contract doesn’t allow for off-campus viewing, to the detriment of students who live off-campus. According to Smith, an average of 500 – 750 movies per month are watched by students, although he doesn’t know how many students are using the service. Caneflix also offers tutoring, in which students call in and can have problems solved on the air. This service is rather underused; Smith said five students called in over the course of last semester. The university is exploring different ways to offer that service to have it more utilized.
If students have movies they’d like to see on Canflix, they can contact the university, and are always welcome to offer suggestions on campus cable.