Video subscriber count: 11.06 million
230,000 video subscriber losses in the fourth quarter
Between Dish TV and Sling TV, the company’s virtual MVPD, Dish Network posted 230,000 net pay TV subscriber losses. While by no means a positive quarter, it’s a significant improvement over the 413,000 pay TV subscribers the company dropped in the first quarter of 2020.
Dish Network attributed the improvement in subscriber losses for Sling TV to lower subscriber disconnects “resulting from our emphasis on acquiring and retaining higher quality subscribers, partially offset by lower Sling TV subscriber activations.” The company warned that it is continuing to encounter increased competition from other SVOD and virtual MVPD service providers and noted that the first quarter of 2020 was negatively impacted by delays and cancellations of sporting events because of COVID-19.
During the company’s most recent earnings call, Chairman Charlie Ergen reiterated his belief that Dish Network and DirecTV will eventually need to combine so they can keep competing against a growing ecosystem of streaming power players. After the latest round of NFL rights deals included streaming simulcast stipulations for the league’s media partners—making marquee NFL content available outside the bundle—Ergen speculated that network affiliate fees will need to drop by 50%.
Dish is focused on its wireless business and network buildout but it’s clear that Ergen and company are not done disrupting the pay TV industry through contentious negotiation strategies.