In the next few months, RIT’s contract with Time-Warner Cable (TWC) will be up. TWC is the cable television that currently is in all of RIT’s housing. It’s pretty standard cable TV that you can only watch on a TV hooked into the cable jack in the wall. However, instead of renewing their contract with TWC, RIT will be replacing it with a new form of television provider. Starting early fall semester, RIT will be implementing Tiger TV, an Internet-based TV service provided through a company called Philo. Philo is a company that specializes in providing TV to colleges and universities via an Internet based format.
While RIT Housing will soon be sending out all the details, go-live date and instructions through emails, social media and flyers, here is some advance information about the change.
Philo isn’t your parent’s TV provider. It’s entirely Internet based, so that means you will be able to watch TV on pretty much everything you own that connects to the RIT Internet. So you can watch shows on computers, tablets, smartphones and yes, a regular TV. You also are not confined to only using Tiger TV in your apartment, either, you can use it wherever you want so long as it’s on RIT’s network. Housing’s goal was to find a service that allowed students to consume television the way they consume their other media; on the go and wherever they please.
Another new feature will be the ability to record TV shows through Philo’s DVR feature. This works similarly to a DVR you might have at home, but without the large cable box or external storage unit. You will be able to record up to 20 hours of programming on the cloud and use them wherever you please, not just on your TV at your residence hall or apartment. So this means that you can watch whatever network television you so choose wherever, whenever as long as you are on the RIT campus.
Possibly one of the best features (for me at least) is the fact that Tiger TV will include HBO, HBO Go, and Cinemax. This means that when the next season of Game of Thrones starts up, you won’t have to pay for an HBO Go account. This will be free with the new system, so there will be no subscription you will need to pay for along with your regular TV.
What’s the same?
Watching regular TV through Philo will still be the standard TV that you’ve come to know over the years. You’ll receive 64 channels that have the same programming as a regular cable provider, so that means commercials will still be a thing. This service will not affect the way you get Internet around campus either, no matter where you live on campus.
Possibly the biggest question that you may have about the service is whether or not this is going to jack up the price of your housing. Philo will not change the cost of housing in any way, shape or form.
What you will need
The new service will only be available on RIT’s network and only for students who live in RIT housing, so you won’t be able to set it up in Park Point or Provence. Before you ask, it will not work with a VPN. It will need to be authenticated through your RIT account, and only one person will be able to use your account at a time. You will need to download the app to your devices before use as well, but fear not, it’s free. Once you have opened up the app, you log in with your RIT username and password and you’re good to go.
To use Tiger TV on a regular television, you will need some way to connect it to the Internet and install the app. If you have a smart TV in your dorm or apartment, you can download the app directly to the TV. If you have a regular TV, you will need purchase a device such as a Roku or an Apple TV. Google Chromecast unfortunately does not work with RIT’s network, and Amazon Fire has not been properly tested. The Digital Den will be selling Rokus for about $50 to students, so you will be able to pick one up directly from Barnes & Noble. A Roku or similar device is only required for a regular TV, so your laptop, tablet, or smartphone will be able to use Tiger TV after getting the app and signing in.
Riverknoll & RIT Inn
There are some differences to the implementation of Tiger TV in the RIT Inn. The Inn, which also operates as a hotel, will retain TWC in all rooms. Since an RIT student login will be required to use Philo, TWC will still be needed for hotel guests in the RIT Inn. So the Inn will have both Tiger TV and Time Warner Cable available in the rooms. While this will be redundant for RIT students, the option exists so hotel guests can watch TV.
Riverknoll, since it is not on the RIT network, will not be receiving Tiger TV, but instead will be getting satellite television from DirecTV. These dishes will be operational soon after the start of school, well before the implementation of Tiger TV.
So when’s it coming?
As I mentioned, Tiger TV will be live mid fall semester. During this time, you will still have cable TV through Time Warner Cable. There will be no gap in coverage between the two providers, so you’ll be able to watch TV on TWC right up until Tiger TV goes online. It’s going to be quite the upgrade, since this is this will update the TV watching experience to what we as college students expect from modern media; flexible, mobile and able to be personalized. So be ready for the launch this fall, and most importantly, don’t spoil Game of Thrones for me, I’m like 3 seasons behind.