Sling TV, Dish Network’s live streaming TV service, recorded a net subscriber loss for the first time in the fourth quarter of 2019.
After adding approximately 214,000 new customers and ending the third quarter with 2.69 million subscribers, Sling TV said it was down to 2.59 million subscribers at the end of 2019. The rare loss for Sling TV came during a quarter when Dish reported a total net pay TV subscriber loss of approximately 194,000, compared to a net decrease of 334,000 in the year-ago quarter.
The loss dropped the company down to about 9.4 million total Dish TV subscribers and 11.98 million pay TV subscribers overall. For 2019, Dish said it lost 511,000 satellite TV subscribers (approximately half of 1.125 million it lost in 2018). While satellite TV subscriber losses have slowed for Dish, Sling TV growth has also slowed. The company added a net 175,000 Sling TV subscribers in 2019, down from 205,000 one year ago and 711,000 in 2017.
The reversal of fortunes for Sling TV comes as competitors including YouTube TV and Hulu + Live TV are closing in. Google said earlier this month that YouTube TV now has more than 2 million subscribers and Disney said Hulu + Live TV now has 3.2 million subscribers.
Dish said that increased competition and programming gaps were largely to blame for the subscriber decrease at Sling TV.
“This decrease in net Sling TV subscriber additions is primarily related to increased competition, including competition from other OTT service providers, and to a higher number of customer disconnects on a larger Sling TV subscriber base, including the impact from Univision, AT&T and Fox RSNs’ removal of certain of their channels from our programming lineup, discussed above,” the company wrote in an SEC filing.
Dish’s consolidated earnings totaled $389 million for the fourth quarter, compared to $337 million from the year-ago quarter.