Early in the pandemic, I watched the 1967 classic Cool Hand Luke on the extremely new platform, HBO Max. The story, along with Paul Newman’s performance, captivated me. I recognized a famous line that my father quoted for years but never knew where it was from: “What we’ve got here is failure to communicate.” After that, I watched Phantom Thread and Barry Lyndon, two movies still among my favorites a few years later. I was hooked to the streaming service’s incredible library of films; the potential of streaming became enormous. 

I’ve always tried to keep track of the free things we get as Vanderbilt students. Many people I’ve talked to are unaware of all the streaming access we have from Vanderbilt’s libraries. While most know about Xfinity On Campus, here I will outline some of the other alternatives that are easy to use and how to access them:


Academic Video Online

This is the best hidden gem of Vanderbilt streaming. There may be some classes that use it (none that I’ve taken), but hardly any students seem to know about the impressive library of films it holds. This site has hundreds of award-winning films, including selections from the Oscars to Cannes and Sundance. It also has many excellent films from the studio Sony Pictures Classics, which shows many of Pedro Almodovar’s films along with Sally Potter’s adaptation of Virginia Woolf’s Orlando. There’s something for everyone on it with modern classics like Call Me By Your Name and works from the filmmaking duo Straub and Huillet. The only downfall is that it can sometimes be difficult to navigate. Anybody can access it with their VUNetID.



This site is a little more well-known than Academic Video, but it is still worth mentioning. While it doesn’t have as extensive a collection as the previous service, there is a great and constant selection of films. The site is easy to use, clearly displaying its offerings of many classics from the Criterion Collection. It also has more recent acclaimed films like Tangerine and The Last Black Man in San Francisco.


Xfinity On-Campus

This is obviously the most familiar and used of these services. It provides a convenient way to watch live television from your computer, which is its primary utility for Vanderbilt students. However, there are some great ways to exploit the service that aren’t common knowledge. Xfinity On-Campus gives access to all films available on Watch TCM. While heavily rotational with movies frequently coming and going, Watch TCM has an array of older films. If a movie is on its platform, it’s easy to search it up within Xfinity and watch it on-demand. They currently have Blood on the Moon until November 19, which Scorsese cites as a significant influence on Killers of the Flower Moon. It’s also fairly easy to use the DVR within Xfinity On-Campus to watch films later from channels like Showtime, Cinemax, and Starz. 


With all of these services, streaming can often seem overwhelming. Even so, it’s a familiar occurrence to find that the movie you’re looking for isn’t available anywhere. However, I hope this outline makes it easier to find more films in new places. And besides streaming, Vanderbilt’s iLens series is a great way to watch screenings of different films on campus.