Northwestern still looking for NUTV’s replacement

Danny Kelleher, Reporter

Four weeks into the school year, Northwestern is still unsure as to how it will replace NUTV after deciding in May to stop funding it.

NU Information Technology phased out NUTV, an online cable-streaming option available to NU students and paid for by the University, in July. NUIT said it would look into a new way of offering a free online entertainment service to students living on campus, such as Netflix, Hulu Plus or Amazon Prime Instant Video.

(Northwestern weighing Netflix, Hulu as it discontinues NUTV)

“We ended the NUTV program just because students weren’t using the service,” said Paul Riel, executive director of Residential Services. “It was falling way below expectations in terms of students using it at all.”

Although students this school year do not have a replacement online entertainment option, on-campus housing rental prices haven’t been adjusted. Riel said the University has been allocating the leftover funds that had previously paid for NUTV toward upgrading the wireless infrastructure around campus.

(NUTV seeks student advice for service improvements)

Riel named Willard Residential College, Bobb Hall, McCulloch Hall, International Studies Residential College, Communications Residential College, Hobart House and Chapin Hall as some residential buildings whose wireless systems have already been renovated.

“We’re trying to improve the infrastructure first so that when we provide a deliverable entertainment package, it will be sustainable across the campus network,” Riel said. “If someone is streaming a movie on their laptop, someone else could also be doing their homework and not see an interruption of service.”

Erik Zorn, president of the Residential College Board, agreed that upgrades to NU’s wireless technology are necessary before an alternate student entertainment package can be provided successfully. He also said he was glad when the University decided to replace NUTV.

“For me the problem with NUTV was the fact that you always needed an ethernet cable to connect to it,” the Weinberg junior said. “And even with an ethernet cable, it almost never worked.”

Zorn said a committee that includes Residential Services staff and RCB members is supposed to deal with these types of issues but has yet to meet this year.  However, he is confident RCB will be updated soon on the progress of the campus-wide wireless Internet upgrades.

Sheng Wu, Associated Student Government’s vice president of technology, said he plans to inquire about what progress has been made in finding an NUTV replacement at an Oct. 28 meeting. 

“One element we would definitely want to see is online movie streaming,” the McCormick senior and former Daily staffer said. “On-demand sports streaming is also something we want because it could be used socially too.”

Daniel Ellis, director of content delivery operations at Netflix, said he was unaware of any existing agreements of a similar nature with other universities. He said in certain locations with unusually high numbers of Netflix users, the company will set up servers whose sole function is streaming Netflix without cost, but most colleges don’t have enough traffic to justify that type of equipment.

Riel said NU has had only preliminary talks thus far with Hulu Plus.

“I think (NUTV) will be replaced with something much better, something I think will be a lot more available to students,” Zorn said.

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