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How Dish Network Is Gaining Subscribers with Sling TV


May. 8 2019, Published 4:16 p.m. ET

Dish Network’s declining customer base

Satellite TV provider Dish Network (DISH) has been seeing a fall in its overall subscriber base for the past four years mainly due to declining pay-TV subscriber numbers and decreasing demand for subscription TV packages. In the first quarter of 2019, Dish Network’s pay-TV subscriber loss of 259,000 was much worse than analysts’ expectation of 242,000 and the previous year’s loss of 94,000.

Online streaming players such as Netflix and Amazon have disrupted the structure of pay-TV companies, as they offer premium video content at reasonable prices. Therefore, a large number of customers are shifting from traditional cable services to low-cost video streaming services. As a result, Dish Network has started offering its own streaming services through Sling TV to offset its subscriber losses. Telecommunications giant AT&T has a similar streaming service called DIRECTV NOW.

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Dish’s growing number of Sling TV customers 

Dish Network launched its streaming substitute, Sling TV, in 2015 amid falling pay-TV subscriber numbers. Since then, the company’s Sling TV subscriber base has been rising. The company ended up with 2.42 million Sling TV subscribers in 2018, up from 2.2 million and 1.5 million subscribers in 2017 and 2016, respectively.

The company gained ~7,000 net Sling TV subscribers in the first quarter and saw a rise in revenue per Sling TV subscriber, as customers opted for higher-priced packages and add-ons such as premium channels and cloud DVR offerings. Sling’s revenues have been rising since the third quarter due to the $5 increase in the Sling Orange plan’s cost. Dish has almost doubled Sling’s ad sales on a year-over-year basis and has enabled live dynamic ad insertion on more than 90 networks.


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