Comcast Corp. (CMCSA), the largest U.S. cable-television provider, is rolling out a home-security business as it seeks sales growth beyond TV services.
The Philadelphia-based company is starting Xfinity Home Security in seven markets for $39.95 a month. It lets users remotely adjust lights and thermostats, watch cameras, and get e-mail or text alerts when doors and windows are opened and closed. Customers can watch live video of their homes on an Xfinity website or with an Apple Inc. iPad application.
Comcast is expanding in new businesses after losing basic cable-TV customers for at least four years amid competition from phone companies, satellite-TV providers and Internet-video sites. The move into security is a natural step because Comcast already specializes in home installation, said Mitch Bowling, the head of Comcast’s New Businesses unit.
“This is a broadband-based product, and we have one of the largest broadband networks in the country,” Bowling said. “It combines traditional security with our digital products that we’re already putting the home.”
Customers often install cable, broadband and a security system when they move into a home, Bowling said. Research indicates consumers will enjoy the ease of adding home security as one more item on their Comcast bill, he said.
The service lets customers set personalized “rules” that dictate when alerts are sent or when actions are performed. A user can decide to receive a text message when motion detectors activate and can follow up by watching recorded video online from security cameras to see what caused the disturbance.
Comcast tested a version of the home-security service in Houston last year. The expanded package will be available in additional markets including Philadelphia, Jacksonville, Florida, and Nashville, Tennessee. The company plans to expand the service in other markets later on.
The security business is a relatively small step in Comcast’s expansion beyond cable. In January, it completed the purchase of a majority stake in NBC Universal to gain programming revenue. Comcast today said NBC Universal will pay $4.38 billion to retain the U.S. television rights for the Olympics through 2020, outbidding Walt Disney Co. and News Corp.
Comcast’s cable business lost 757,000 video customers last year and 39,000 last quarter. The unit had $9.08 billion in revenue last quarter, accounting for 75 percent of total sales.
Bowling, who started the New Businesses division in 2009, wouldn’t give a specific profit or revenue estimate for home security because “it’s still so new.”
Comcast rose 10 cents to $24.02 at 4 p.m. New York time in Nasdaq Stock Market trading. The shares have gained 9.3 percent this year.
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