Sling TV hits 2.2M subscribers as Dish finally breaks out customer metrics

Sling TV
(Sling TV)

Dish Network finally peeled back the curtain on its three-year-old virtual MVPD, revealing that Sling TV now has 2.21 million subscribers. 

The service, which launched in February 2015, picked up an additional 160,000 users in the fourth quarter. 

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Base-priced at $20 a month, Sling TV was the first vMVPD in the market. The next closest competitor in terms of girth is DirecTV Now; parent AT&T reported in early December, one year after launching the IP platform, that it had surpassed 1 million subscribers. 

Sling’s growth comes as Dish’s core satellite platform has declined more than 20% over the last two years to 11.03 million customers. 

The migration of the more profitable Dish satellite users to the economy-minded Sling TV is eroding Dish’s average revenue per user (ARPU) metric, which declined to $86.43 in 2017 from $88.66 in 2016.

Besides Dish’s falling EBITDA margins, “the only other metric of significant importance is ARPU,” MoffettNathanson analyst Craig Moffett said. “And here, too, the accumulated impact of Sling substation is becoming much more pronounced.”

Surprisingly, however, even though more of Dish’s customers are using a Sling TV platform that’s much easier to sign up for and quit than the linear product, churn was down to 1.78% last year compared to 1.97% in 2016.