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Dish Network Ups Video Sub Loss

9 Nov, 2016 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Dish Network Nov. 9 reported a third-quarter (ended Sept. 30) video subscriber loss of 266,000 to 13.6 million, from a base of 13.9 million in the previous-year period. The satellite operator said net video subs declined about 116,000, compared with a loss of approximately 23,000 in 2015. The decline was offset by sub increases in Sling TV, the online service launched in 2015.

Per policy, Dish does not disclose Sling TV subscriber data. Analyst firm MoffettNathanson estimates Sling added 204,000 subs in the quarter, up from 155,000 subs a year ago, ending the period with 911,000.

“The [pay-TV sub] loss is substantially worse than a year ago, when Dish lost a comparatively diminutive 178,000 subscribers, resulting in Dish’s [non-Sling TV] video base contracting by 8.1% this quarter,” MoffettNathanson wrote in note.

Dish said the pay-TV sub count increased by about 166,000 due to a change in calculation for commercial accounts. The company said the change had no impact on gross new pay-TV sub activations, net pay-TV sub losses or pay-TV churn rate for all periods presented.

Regardless, MoffettNathanson said the pending arrival of AT&T’s DirecTV Now, which offers access to 100 channels for $35 and includes a free Apple TV or Roku streaming media device, represented a significant challenge to Sling TV.

“We’ve always speculated that Sling TV subs are likely more price sensitive than average, and therefore more inclined to churn if a better deal comes along,” wrote the firm.

Sling TV CEO Roger Lynch said the service remains committed to targeting about 25 million broadband-only households, followed by departing pay-TV households.

“It's a growing market that taps into other growth segments that use over-the-air antennas, which is a growing market; broadband-only households, which is a growing market, [and] streaming services like Netflix, which is a growing market,” Lynch said.

About the Author: Erik Gruenwedel

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