×

Ergen resigns as Dish Network CEO

Clayton takes over, Ergen remains chairman

Charlie Ergen’s resignation on Monday as CEO of satcaster Dish Network came as a shock to Wall Street, but given recent vague explanations from the topper about the strategy for Dish’s other recent surprise, the purchase of vid retail chain Blockbuster, it may be that he simply wants to figure out where Dish is headed.

Ergen will remain chairman of Dish Network; satellite veteran Joseph Clayton, last the chairman of Sirius, will assume the CEO and prexy roles.

Ergen remains chairman of his other company, EchoStar, which he founded in 1980 and from which Dish was separated in 2008. A year later, Ergen relinquished his CEO title there, appointing Mike Dugan as the new chief.

Ergen is gladly handing over the day-to-day duties to Clayton. “Joe is a 38-year veteran of the consumer electronics, telecommunications and satellite communications industries,” Ergen said Monday. “Joe brings an enormous amount of executive-level experience in the satellite and consumer electronics industries, including positions at RCA, General Electric and Thomson, and we look forward to his leadership.”

While stunned, investors seemed to welcome the news that Ergen might be spending more time on broader strategy, boosting Dish shares 9¢ to $28.90 while the rest of the market finished down.

On an earnings call with analysts on May 2, Ergen gave no hint of his plans to relinquish two of his titles. During that call, he offered little in the way of detail about his plans for Blockbuster, for which Dish paid $320 million during a bankruptcy auction. He conceded that the strategy for Blockbuster may still seem murky, going so far as to compare it to a “Seinfeld” episode: “Wait and see, it will all come together in the last few minutes,” he said. “I know ‘Seinfeld’ was a show about nothing, and I am sure our skeptics will say our strategy is about nothing. But everything we do has a purpose.”

In other recent calls with analysts, Ergen, unlike other distributors, has candidly expressed some doubts about the future of the subscription TV business given the rise of streaming on the Internet.

During the first quarter, Dish’s results exceeded Wall Street’s expectations. With Dish losing 156,000 subscribers in the fourth quarter and raising prices $5 across the board, the Street had worried sub losses would continue. But Dish added 58,000 subs in the first quarter, bringing its total to 14.2 million. Revenues gains of 5.5% in the period to $3.22 billion beat Street estimates, while net profits more than doubled to $549 million.

More TV

  • Russian Doll

    2019 Emmy Nominations Did Right By a Great Year in Comedy (Column)

    Even before the 2019 Emmy nominations were announced, the biggest and most obvious story belonged to the fact that last year’s drama nominees almost completely cleared the way for the final season of “Game of Thrones.” But for as weak as the drama categories are overall (give or take a “Pose”), the comedy categories have [...]

  • Big Little Lies Stranger Things

    Here's Why 'Big Little Lies' and 'Stranger Things' Weren't Nominated for 2019 Emmys

    Meryl Streep joined “Big Little Lies” this season, and “Stranger Things” broke a Netflix record — so why didn’t either show score an Emmy nomination? Every year, critically acclaimed and fan-favorite shows are noticeably omitted from the Emmy nominations, but not because they were snubbed. It’s because they’re not eligible.  This year, ineligible series include [...]

  • Game of Thrones Finale

    'Game of Thrones' Emmy Love Confounds the Show's Critics (Column)

    Today’s widespread Emmy recognition for “Game of Thrones” — now the most-Emmy-nominated series for a single season, a record that it seems odd the heavily-decorated drama didn’t already have — comes in most senses as no surprise. This series is both an awards favorite, having won the top prize at the ceremony for its last [...]

  • Elisabeth Moss Handmaid's Tale

    Emmys 2019: Writing, Directing Nominations Far From Parity

    While big name television writers and directors including Amy Sherman-Palladino and Ava DuVernay saw Emmy nominations this year, overall, the state of parity in such behind-the-scenes nods is far from being achieved. Looking closely at the directing fields for scripted series this year, the drama category is 75% male and 25% female nominees, while the [...]

  • Emmy Queen Bey? Beyonce's 'Homecoming' Lands

    Beyoncé's 'Homecoming' Documentary Lands Six Emmy Nominations

    It’s going to be a busy awards season for Beyonce. She could be up for Grammys or Oscars in the next six months, but she’s already made a splash with the fresh crop of Emmy nominations. Her documentary/concert movie “Homecoming: A Film by Beyoncé” has been nominated for six Emmys, and a win in most [...]

  • Astronomy Club

    Astronomy Club Sets Netflix Sketch Comedy Series With Kenya Barris Producing (EXCLUSIVE)

    The sketch and improv group Astronomy Club has landed a self-titled variety sketch series at Netflix, Variety has learned exclusively. The streamer has given the half-hour series a six episode order. Kenya Barris will executive produce under his Khalabo Ink Society banner at Netflix, with the show falling under the “Black-ish” creator’s overall deal. Daniel [...]

  • tur-soboroff-msnbc

    MSNBC Plans Launch of 'American Swamp' Docuseries with Katy Tur, Jacob Soboroff

    Katy Tur and Jacob Soboroff have been talking to each other since they were teenagers growing up around Los Angeles. Now MSNBC audiences will get to see them discuss what are likely to be much more serious subjects. The two NBC News journalists will lead the new four-part MSNBC documentary series “American Swamp,” which launches [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content