Even with Sling TV, Dish Video Subs Fall

Despite significant innovation in the early part of 2016, Dish Networks still lost 23,000 video subscribers in the first quarter.

On the plus side, the company was able to report a revenue jump to $3.79 billion from $3.72 billion in the year-ago quarter, with subscriber-related revenue slightly outpacing that growth rate and rising to $3.78 billion compared to $3.7 billion at the beginning of 2015. Net income reached $389 million, up more than 10% over the year-ago quarter, and earnings per share rose to $0.84 from $0.76 in the same period last year.

Dish Network LLC (Nasdaq: DISH) has to be disruptive in the video market as the last solo satellite TV operator standing. To that point, the company has continued to add new features to its Hopper DVR including a Netflix app, Ultra HD/4K video support and the ability to make content both portable and sharable with its HopperGO solution. (See Dish Ups the Ante in Vegas With HopperGO.)

Sling TV is the bigger market disruption, however, coming out of Dish as a skinny-bundle, over-the-top alternative to the company's traditional television package. Dish offers Sling TV for only $20 per month with a selection of live television channels (including ESPN) and flexible options for adding further low-cost bundles of genre-specific content.

Recently, Dish also introduced a beta multi-stream Sling TV option. That service lets users access multiple streams concurrently and adds Fox Broadcasting Co. content to the TV bundle. However, the multi-stream service, which is still $20 per month, does not include Walt Disney Co. (NYSE: DIS)-owned stations including ESPN.

Want to know more about the impact of web services on the pay-TV sector? Check out our dedicated OTT services content channel here on Light Reading.

Given the low-cost, no-contract nature of Sling TV, Dish should be getting a boost in video subscriber numbers. However, overall pressure on the video market and competition from larger rivals continues to have a negative impact.

Ironically, Dish's overall average-revenue-per-user (ARPU) number has risen slightly to $87.94 from $85.73 a year ago. That suggests that a number of Dish subscribers are still opting for the big TV bundle over Sling TV.

Dish closed the quarter with a total of 13.87 million pay-TV subscribers counting both traditional and new Sling TV customers.

— Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, Light Reading

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