As the virtual MVPD market matures and major competitors emerge, Dish Network’s pioneering Sling TV service is in danger of being left in the dust.
Macquarie Capital analyst Amy Yong sees a near future where Dish’s core satellite TV subscriber losses continue to mount and growth for Sling TV begins to stall. She predicts Dish will lose 1.8 million satellite subscribers in 2019 and 1.7 million in 2020. Meanwhile, total Sling TV subscribers will grow to 2.7 million in 2019 and 2.9 million in 2020.
At that rate of growth, Sling TV is likely to be overtaken fairly quickly by AT&T’s DirecTV Now and could be caught by Hulu with Live TV, which recently passed the 1 million subscriber mark.
During the second quarter, Dish said it lost a net 151,000 pay TV subscribers, an improvement over the 196,000 subscribers it lost in the year-ago quarter. Dish’s satellite service lost 192,000 subscribers and Sling TV subscribers rose by only approximately 41,000.
While Macquarie predicts slower growth for Sling TV, other analysts see continued scale for the overall vMVPD market. UBS analyst John Hodulik said that streaming service subscribers will total about 24 million by 2022, at which point they’ll account for about 25% of the video market.
At Macquarie’s suggested rate of growth for Sling TV, the service wouldn’t account for much of that total by 2022. But Sling TV does have some advantages over its competitors that could continue to help it maintain or grow share.
In the U.S., Sling TV’s two base packages—Orange and Blue—are both priced at $25, significantly less than the standard $40 to $45 per month many other vMVPDs charge. From there, Sling allows subscribers to build up their channel bundles through $5 add-on packages that focus on sports, news, kids programming, comedy and other categories, while also offering premium channel add-ons like HBO and Showtime.