Ohio University pays about $39,000 a month for cable services, which adds up to about $470,000 a year.
The university offers students living in residence halls the amenity of watching cable television in their dorm rooms and student lounges. The service is called CatVision and receives approximately 150 channels, including HBO and many HD channels.
In residence halls alone, there are 4,681 cable outlets in students’ rooms and 237 in campus lounges, Josh Bodnar, the director of access, transaction and video services for Information Technologies and Administrative Services, said. Academic departments can request cable, but they have to pay a bill.
“Academic and support units can request to have cable and then they pay housing the service fees that then housing pays toward our service provider which is Time Warner Cable,” Bodnar, who handles the CatVision account for Housing and Residence Life, said.
The university renegotiated its contract with Time Warner Cable in 2014, and the contract will expire in 2021. The cost of cable is included in student housing fees, Bodnar said in an email.
“Because we purchase our programming in bulk and we own the infrastructure that’s used to deliver it, we get a substantial savings over what students would pay if, for instance, they lived off campus and had to purchase cable themselves,” he said.
CatVision is not available for students who live off campus. If they were to pay for a standard cable package through Time Warner Cable — which is similar to the package offered by the university — it would cost them about $50 a month.
Hannah Smith, a senior studying communication science and disorders, said she decided not to purchase cable when she moved into her house.
“I didn't want to spend the extra money and I don’t have time to watch cable or much TV at all,” Smith said.
A survey was conducted in 2013 in which 82.3 percent of students living in residence halls said they watched television regularly, Bodnar said. The responsiveness of the survey was 50 percent, so half of the students living in residence halls answered the survey. About 6 percent of people said they did not have a television hooked up to the cable outlet in their room, and 11 percent had a television hooked up, but did not watch it regularly.
“The service is there and on in all those locations, but we don’t have any way to know who is actually connected — who is using the service,” Bodnar said.
The university provides cable, according to Bodnar, because there are some programs not available on streaming platforms.
“Most campuses are still carrying cable and it’s typically because of local programming and live sports, a lot of which isn’t available through streaming services,” he said.
Charlie Collins, a sophomore studying sociology-criminology, bought a 32-inch television for his room so he and his roommates can watch “big games.”
“I mean we use it pretty often and we enjoy it,” Collins said. “NBA season just started, so we’re going to watching that more, but we normally watch every football game.”
Despite having access to cable in her dorm room, Madeline Nielsen decided not to bring a television to campus this year.
“We brought one down last year and we never used it,” Nielsen, a sophomore studying history, said. “It was just a waste of space at the end of the day.”
Nielsen said she prefers to watch her television shows on portable devices.
“I’m not around when (my television shows are) on cable,” she said. “To be able to watch it whenever I want on the app is just convenient.”