Using an unclear method of data science, 21st Century Fox says that Dish Network (NASDAQ: DISH) has lost 90,000 customers since it removed Fox News from the satellite operator's program guide.
Speaking to Multichannel News, Fox EVP of distribution Tim Carry based the claim on the number of Fox News viewers who have reached out to the www.keepfoxnews.com website and its associated toll-free numbers.
Tallying 350,000 callers and site visitors, Carry bases the 90,000 calculation on "dwell times" users have spent on these platforms. "We think they've lost about 90,000 subscribers over the past two weeks tied to Fox News," he told Multichannel.
For its part, Dish has dismissed the count as "rumor and speculation."
Fox News and Fox Business Channel have been blacked out on Dish since Dec. 20, with Fox unable to reach a carriage agreement with the pay-TV operator.
Of course, the true damage to Dish's 14 million subscriber base won't be known until Dish delivers its fourth-quarter earnings report in February. And that will only offer a customer snapshot through Dec. 31, 2014.
Based largely on the burgeoning value of its wireless spectrum, Dish has seen its share price increase more than 20 percent over the last year, so it's unclear how much investor faith would be compromised in the event of significant video subscriber losses.
For its part, Fox News' prime-time ratings were down 12 percent year-over-year during Christmas week--a time of traditionally shaky viewership patterns.
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