(TNS) -- With teenagers and college kids untethered from the traditional TV set, Comcast Corp. officials said on Tuesday that they had nearly quadrupled, to 30, the number of colleges participating in their Xfinity on Campus service.
Xfinity on Campus streams entertainment, news, and sports onto smartphones, laptops, and tablets throughout campuses, using WiFi.
Among schools participating in the Philadelphia region are Drexel University, Rider University, and the University of Delaware. Xfinity on Campus launched a year ago on seven campuses.
Comcast, the nation's largest cable-TV company, has lost millions of subscribers in recent years. It hopes this service will be relevant to the younger generation and help beat back its competitors for college viewers.
The start-up Philo, which recently relocated to San Francisco from Boston, also is offering WiFi-enabled TV to college students on mobile devices. The company is led by CEO Andrew McCollum, one of the founding Facebook team members.
Philo redistributes DirecTV, Dish, or other pay-TV services with its own user interface. Last fall, Philo said it was available on "dozens of campuses," including Harvard University, Yale University, the University of Alabama, and Shippensburg University.
Philo spokeswoman Alana Davis said Tuesday that the company plans to announce its back-to-college plans later this week.
Verizon also is expected to announce this week an ad-supported streaming service called Go90, aimed at 13- to 34-year-olds. The name refers to those who turn their smartphones 90 degrees to watch content on the small screens.
"College students are the next generation of consumers, and you want to extend your brand to them," said Brad Adgate, senior vice president and research director at Horizon Media, a media-services agency. "They are certainly light TV viewers, but heavy viewers of streaming content."
Adgate called college students "agents of change" for the TV distribution and media businesses, and said that companies such as Comcast have to be in "lockstep with them."
In addition to the expanded footprint of Xfinity on Campus, Comcast announced over the summer other projects to reach elusive millennial consumers and college students.
Through NBCUniversal, Comcast invested $200 million each in BuzzFeed and Vox, popular digital-media companies.
In the Boston area, Comcast disclosed, it is testing Stream, a service with live TV and a smaller bundle of cable channels.
Marcien Jenckes, executive vice president of consumer services in Comcast's cable division, said on a conference call Tuesday that "the state of our video business is very strong."
At the same time, college students were raised in an "on-demand world," he said, and Xfinity on Campus satisfies that consumption behavior.
The Comcast service replicates on a college campus what many students experienced in their WiFi-enabled homes growing up. There, they could watch traditional TV on a TV set, or access content on laptops, phones, or tablets in other parts of the house over WiFi.
Now, with Xfinity on Campus, students can watch TV or take their mobile devices and access content anywhere on campus that the college's WiFi network will reach.
Billing methods for Xfinity on Campus are different. But it is mostly offered through colleges as an extension of the pay-TV service available to students, Comcast officials said. The university pays for the service, and it is included in the student boarding package.
Jeremy Andreoli, executive director of video services at Comcast's cable division, said that over the first year, about 78 percent of the viewing on Xfinity on Campus was live sports.
©2015 The Philadelphia Inquirer Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.