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Dish Network Is Focusing on Sling TV amid Pay-TV Customer Losses


Jun. 12 2019, Updated 2:36 p.m. ET

Dish Network facing declining pay-TV customers

Satellite TV service provider Dish Network (DISH) has been seeing a decline in its overall subscriber base for the past four years, mainly due to declining pay-TV subscriber numbers and declining demand for subscription-TV packages amid cord cutting. In the first quarter of 2019, the company’s DISH TV subscriber losses of 259,000 were worse than analysts’ expectation of 242,000 losses. Dish Network posted subscriber losses of 94,000 subscribers in the previous year’s quarter.

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Besides cord cutting, the company’s carriage dispute with AT&T’s HBO network and Univision also hurt its subscriber growth in the first quarter. During the first quarter, HBO and Univision accounted for a little less than half of the company’s total net losses of 259,000 pay-TV subscribers. While Dish Network has resolved the Univision dispute, its ongoing conflicts with HBO and Cinemax are expected to continue to hurt its subscriber base as well as its revenue.

Dish’s focus on Sling TV customers

Dish Network started its own streaming service through Sling TV in 2015 to offset its pay-TV subscriber losses. Sling TV’s subscriber base has been rising since its launch, and it ended up with 2.42 million 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 of 2019 driven by growth in its revenue per Sling TV subscriber as customers opted for higher-priced packages and add-ons such as premium channels and cloud DVR offerings. Telecommunications giant AT&T also has a similar streaming product called DIRECTV NOW.


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