Dish company lifer charged with maintaining Sling TV momentum

Erik Carlson will be charged with sustaining growth for a Sling TV division which was first to market with virtual pay-TV services but is now encumbered by competition from all sides.(Dish Network)

Dish Network announced the appointment of 22-year company lifer Erik Carlson to replace Roger Lynch as CEO of its virtual MVPD service, Sling TV.

Carlson, who has had a wide variety of job titles since joining Dish out of Bradley University in 1995, moves up from the position of president and chief operating officer. He’ll be charged with sustaining growth for a Sling TV division which was first to market with virtual pay-TV services but is now encumbered by competition from all sides.

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Dish notoriously refuses to segregate out Sling TV metrics from its overall subscriber numbers. But MoffettNathanson analyst Craig Moffett estimates the vMVPD gained 89,000 customers in the second quarter as Dish’s linear satellite platform lost another 285,000.

Moffett pegs Sling’s subscriber count at around 1.45 million—below an estimate of 1.7 million posted by research company comScore last month. Either way, Sling is far and away the biggest vMVPD.

But can it stay that way?

Carlson takes the reins as rival vMVPD platform DirecTV Now from AT&T seemingly has recaptured momentum, attracting 152,000 customers in the second quarter. The April-June period also saw the launches of vMVPD services from Hulu and YouTube. 

Carlson took over the COO role in December 2015, moving up from executive VP of operations, where he oversaw Dish’s in-home services, customer service centers, billing, IT organizations and manufacturing. He served as senior VP of retail services prior to that. 

“Erik is positioned to fully support and grow our enterprise’s portfolio, including our Sling TV asset, as we work to connect 100% of the country through satellite, OTT, wireless and even digital over-the-air offerings,” said Charlie Ergen, Dish chairman and CEO, in a statement. “Our company has built incredible assets from satellite, broadband, and streaming technologies, to a fleet of in-home experts and software development. We will continue to leverage those assets to be tuned in to the needs of our customers.”