November 7, 2018
Dish Network Nov. 7 reported third-quarter (ended Sept. 30) loss of 367,000 pay-TV subscribers compared to a gain of 16,000 subs in the previous-year period – the latter largely attributable to an increase in Sling TV subs.
The Denver-based satellite TV operator ended the period with 10.28 million pay-TV subs compared to 13.2 million subs last year. Sling TV, the industry’s first online TV platform gained 26,000 subs – a fraction of the reported 240,000 subscribers added in the previous-year period.
Indeed, Sling TV, which was the first platform to offer standalone access to Disney-owned ESPN and has been offsetting Dish Network pay-TV sub losses since it launched in 2015, ended the period with 2.37 million subs. It ended 2017 with 2.21 million subs.
Dish TV’s average monthly subscriber churn rate (subs not renewing service) was 2.11% versus 1.82% for third quarter 2017.
It remains to be seen whether Dish decides to incorporate Sling TV with Amazon Channels, the ecommerce behemoth’s platform affording Prime members direct access to third-party over-the-top video services.
Services such as HBO Now, Cinemax, Lionsgate’s Starz OTT, CBS All Access, Showtime OTT and Cinedigm’s Dove Channel, have attributed much of their subscriber growth to Amazon – which in turn collects revenue-sharing and proprietary subscriber data for its distribution channel.
On the fiscal call, Charlie Ergen, co-founder and chairman of Dish, said the slowdown in sub growth at Sling had more to do with the growth of the OTT video ecosystem than consumer indifference.
“You’re seeing major [online TV] players that are all gaining subscribers, and everybody has a little different offering, a little bit different slew of channels, a little bit different interface,” Ergen said. “Obviously, Disney has talked about going direct to the consumer. So, you’re going to see an awful lot of people in the category, and at some point there will be too many, and at some point there will be a consolidation.”