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Why Are AT&T and Dish Network Facing Falling Customer Numbers?

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

Pay-TV companies are losing subscribers

Lately, companies such as AT&T (T), Dish Network (DISH), Comcast (CMCSA), and Charter (CHTR) have been facing declines in their US pay-TV subscriber bases due to falling demand for subscription-TV packages amid cord cutting.

Consumers are moving away from satellite broadcast packages and shifting to fast-growing over-the-top online video streaming services provided by streaming giants such as Netflix and Amazon Prime.

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Subscriber losses

During the first quarter, AT&T lost 544,000 net pay-TV US customers, worse than Wall Street analysts’ expectation of a loss of 385,000 subscribers. AT&T’s traditional US pay-TV subscribers totaled 22.4 million in the first quarter, down from 23.9 million in the previous year’s quarter.

In comparison, Dish Network lost 259,000 net pay-TV subscribers (including a loss of ~266,000 net Dish TV satellite subscribers offset by the addition of roughly 7,000 net Sling TV subscribers), worse than analysts’ expectation of a loss of 242,000 subscribers. Furthermore, its losses in the first quarter of 2019 more than doubled from its losses of 94,000 pay-TV subscribers in the first quarter of 2018. Dish Network ended the first quarter with 12.06 million net pay-TV subscribers.

Comcast lost 107,000 residential video customers and 121,000 total video customers in the first quarter of 2019, whereas Charter lost 152,000 residential video customers and 145,000 total video customers in the quarter. Rival Frontier (FTR) also saw video customer losses of 54,000 in the quarter.

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