×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Dish Posts First Quarterly TV Subscriber Gain in Nearly Three Years

Dish Network tallied a net gain of 28,000 pay-TV subscribers in the fourth quarter of 2016 — its first move into positive territory after 10 straight quarters of sub losses.

The gain in the last three months of 2016 wasn’t enough to offset Dish’s steep losses earlier in the year, including its worst-ever quarterly loss in Q2. For full-year 2016, Dish lost 226,000 subscribers, ending the year with 13.671 million pay-TV customers.

The last time Dish posted a net quarterly gain in TV subscribers was for the first quarter of 2014, when it added 40,000 subs. The satcaster’s Q4 gain was a surprise: Wall Street analysts on average expected Dish to report a net loss of 87,000 subs for the quarter, according to FactSet StreetAccount.

However, it’s unclear if the subscriber results for Q4 2016 reflect an improvement in Dish’s core satellite TV business or a strong surge in its Sling TV internet-delivered streaming service. Starting in the second quarter of 2015, the company has reported aggregated metrics for both satellite and internet TV customers — which show that Sling TV has not been able to offset significant satellite subscriber losses, until the most recent quarter.

Analysts believe Dish’s high-value satellite TV business continues to suffer dramatic declines. Dish shed 245,000 satellite TV subs in the fourth quarter, far worse than the loss of 114,000 in the year-earlier period, according to estimates by MoffettNathanson analyst Craig Moffett. Dish’s traditional video base is down 7.8% year over year, he estimated.

In its 10-K filing with the SEC, Dish said subscriber activations “continue to be negatively impacted” by its focus on signing up higher-quality subscribers (i.e., consumers with better credit histories) — as well as increased competitive pressures from rivals, including “skinny bundles” like AT&T’s DirecTV Now, which added more than 200,000 subs in Q4.

To try to shore up its satellite TV business, Dish earlier this month launched a new ad campaign geared around a character called the “Spokeslistener,” carrying a message that the company is actively responding to consumer concerns and complaints.

Overall, Dish posted $3.72 billion in revenue for the quarter ended Dec. 31, 2016, down 1.6% from the year-earlier period and slightly below analyst expectations. Net income was $343 million for Q4 2016 (or 70 cents per share), topping Wall Street’s forecast of 66 cents, compared with a net loss of $125 million in the year-ago quarter.

Pay-TV average revenue per customer was $88.66 per month during full-year 2016 (across both Dish satellite and Sling TV services), versus $86.79 in 2015. Dish said average monthly subscriber churn for 2016 was 1.83% compared with 1.71% the year prior.

More Biz

  • Variety Business Managers Elite honoree Bill

    Variety’s Business Managers Elite Honoree Bill Tanner Looks Back, and Ahead

    As Hollywood business managers go, Bill Tanner of Tanner, Mainstain, Glynn & Johnson is one the most respected, with an impressive list of loyal big-name clients that includes Michael Keaton (“Birdman”) and Aaron Sorkin (“The West Wing,” Broadway’s “To Kill a Mockingbird”). Tanner, also known for his real estate and equity investment skills, is Variety’s [...]

  • Euphoria HBO

    Business Managers Adapt to Generational Change

    A youth movement has swept through most of Hollywood. The digital generation has moved into high-level jobs at a tender age, and young influencers are bursting forth from YouTube to enter mainstream media. Nonetheless, an older generation remains entrenched in the business management community, which often handles the financial aff airs of newly rich baby [...]

  • Alan Horn Disney

    Variety Keynote Speaker Alan Horn Sees Opportunities in Expanded Portfolio

    As Walt Disney Studios co-chairman and chief creative officer, Hollywood veteran Alan Horn oversees the most enviable content portfolio in show business. In step with his co-chairman, Alan Bergman, Horn has command of monolithic brands like Marvel Studios, Lucasfilm and Pixar — to say nothing of the 21st Century Fox film assets the men added [...]

  • Edward Cheng, Tencent Pictures CEO

    Tencent Results Show Rising Cost of Compliance, Impact of China's Slowing Economy

    Tencent, the Chinese tech giant that commands dominant positions across games, music, streaming and social media, Wednesday revealed third quarter results weighed down by slowing ad sales, slowing PC games and rising costs. Revenues in the July-to-September period showed a 21% year-on-year increase to RMB97.2 billion ($13.8 billion). Net profits dropped 13% to RMB20.4 billion [...]

  • Lilly Burns Tony Hernandez

    Variety to Honor Jax Media Chiefs Tony Hernandez, Lilly Burns at New Leaders Event

    Emmy Award-winning producer Tony Hernandez and Emmy-nominated producer Lilly Burns will receive the Creative Leadership Award on behalf of Jax Media at the Variety New Leaders event presented by City National Bank, taking place Nov. 14 in New York City. As founders of Jax Media, Hernandez and Burns have produced shows and specials such as [...]

  • Andrea Bocelli

    Andrea Bocelli Calls Plácido Domingo Cancellations Due to Sexual Harassment Claims ‘Absurd’

    Italian singer Andrea Bocelli is defending embattled opera star Plácido Domingo, saying it is “absurd” that concerts have been canceled in the wake of multiple sexual-harassment allegations. “I am still appalled at what happened to this incredible artist,” Bocelli said, according to the Associated Press. “I don’t understand this. Tomorrow a lady can just come up [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content