EchoStar Announces Completion of Dish Network Acquisition

EchoStar Corp. has announced the completion of its acquisition of Dish Network Corp. on Dec. 31.

To complete the acquisition, a wholly owned subsidiary of EchoStar merged with and into Dish Network, with Dish Network surviving the merger as a wholly owned subsidiary of EchoStar. As previously announced, as a result of the merger, each share of Dish Network Class A Common Stock and Dish Network Class C Common Stock converted into 0.350877 shares of EchoStar Class A Common Stock, and each share of Dish Network Class B Common Stock converted into 0.350877 shares of EchoStar Class B Common Stock.

The transaction combines Dish Network’s satellite technology, streaming services and nationwide 5G network with EchoStar’s satellite communications solutions. It combines Dish Network’s 5G wireless network, which now covers more than 70% of the U.S. population, and EchoStar’s launch of the Jupiter 3 satellite with significant available capacity for converged terrestrial and non-terrestrial services, according to Echostar.

The combined company is headquartered in Englewood, Colo. The company will market worldwide under several brands, including Boost Mobile, Boost Infinite, Sling TV and DISH TV, as well as EchoStar, Hughes and Jupiter satellite services, HughesON managed services and HughesNet satellite internet.

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“This merger brings us one step closer to our goal of offering ubiquitous connectivity to people, enterprises and things, everywhere,” said Hamid Akhavan, president and CEO of EchoStar, in a statement. “Together we’re better positioned to realize the connected future by leveraging every type of transport, combined with smart, enabling technologies and fully integrated services. Our superior portfolio of technology, spectrum, engineering, manufacturing and network management expertise will deliver the unparalleled connectivity solutions that customers demand.”

“The completion of this merger marks an important milestone for our company and our customers, launching a new era of connectivity,” Charles Ergen, executive chairman of the board of EchoStar, said in a statement. “We have brought together two trailblazing companies with complementary portfolios to create a global connectivity leader with premier wireless, satellite, and video distribution capabilities. Together, EchoStar and DISH offer an enhanced consumer connectivity business and an unmatched enterprise managed services business. In a world that is increasingly wireless, we are well-positioned to drive revenue and profitable growth.”

“Bridging the digital divide and seamlessly connecting people, enterprises, and things is essential in the digital-first economy,” said John Swieringa, President, technology and chief operating officer of EchoStar, said in a statement. “Our combined brands, technology and operational and engineering resources uniquely position EchoStar to provide a compelling global offering that connects consumers to the internet access, mobile phone service, television programming, and streaming content they want, as well as delivering business and government customers the secure terrestrial, non-terrestrial, and hybrid connectivity solutions they need.”

EchoStar CEO Hamid Akhavan Assumes Same Title at Dish Ahead of Merger

When Dish Network and EchoStar Corp. announced a merger in August, the companies said EchoStar boss Hamid Akhavan would become CEO of Dish.

Dish Nov. 13 made it official, announcing the appointment of Akhavan as its new president/CEO, reporting to Dish co-founder/chairman Charlie Ergen.

Hamid Akhavan

The merger, which is subject to regulatory approvals and customary closing conditions, is expected to be completed by year-end.

“Hamid brings a unique set of skills to Dish, building off his experience in the technology, telecom, private equity and investment sectors,” Ergen said in a statement. “An engineer by background, he’s financially astute and a seasoned manager.”

Before joining Dish and EchoStar, Akhavan was most recently a partner at Twin Point Capital, an investment firm, and a founding partner of Long Arc Capital LLC. He held a variety of executive leadership positions, including CEO of Unify Inc. (formerly Siemens Enterprise Communications), COO at Deutsche Telekom and CEO of T-Mobile International, where he also served as a member of the board of management of Deutsche Telekom.

The hiring comes after Dish announced it was laying off 500 employees due to ongoing changes in the marketplace, including a dismal fiscal third-quarter that saw the satellite TV operator lose 1.1 million subscribers.

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Dish Drops 291,000 Sling TV Subs, 1.1 Million Satellite Customers in Third Quarter

The secular changes in the linear and online television market continue to escalate on the bottom line at Dish. The satellite TV operator Nov. 6 announced that net pay-TV subscribers decreased about 64,000 in the third quarter, ended Sept. 30, compared to a net increase of around 30,000 subs in the year-ago quarter.

The company ended the period with 8.84 million subscribers, down more than 1.1 million subs from 10 million customers in the previous-year period. Dish closed the quarter with 6.72 million satellite subscribers and 2.12 million Sling TV subscribers.

That compared with 7.6 million pay-TV subs and 2.41 million Sling customers in the third quarter 2022.

The decrease in net Sling subscriber additions was primarily related to lower sub activations and higher sub disconnects. The online TV sub losses are notable considering Dish created the online TV market in 2015 with the rollout of Sling, which featured the first-ever standalone access to ESPN.

“We continue to experience increased competition, including competition from other subscription video on-demand and live-linear OTT service providers, many of which are providers of our content and offer football and other seasonal sports programming direct to subscribers on an a-la-carte basis,” Dish said in a statement.

Dish Network Q2 Subs Fall Below 9 Million as Pay-TV, Sling Services Continue to Shed Customers

Satellite TV operator Dish Network Aug. 8 reported it ended the second quarter, ended June 30, with 8.9 million pay-TV subscribers, including record low 6.9 million Dish TV subscribers and 2 million Sling TV subscribers.

The overall tally is down more than 1 million subscribers from the same fiscal period last year when there were 7.8 million Dish TV customers and 2.2 million Sling subs. The decline is significant considering Dish created the online Pay-TV market in 2015 — a market now dominated by Hulu and YouTube TV.

The lone bright spot for Dish: The average pay-TV subscriber paid more ($104.07) for monthly satellite service in the quarter than s/he did a year ago ($101.30).

Dish’s foray into the wireless market remains challenged as well. The company said it lost 188,000 customers in the quarter to end the period with more than 7.7 million subscribers, down from more than 7.8 million during the prior-year period, when it lost 210,000 customers.

Overall, Dish posted net income of $200 million on revenue of $3.9 billion, down from net income of $523 million on revenue of $4.2 billion last year.

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Dish: Sling TV Added 214,000 Subs in Q3 to Top 2.4 Million

Dish Nov. 2 announced that its pioneering online TV platform Sling TV added 214,000 subscribers in the third quarter (ended Sept. 30). The additions brought the platform’s subscriber base past 2.4 million. The tally is down from more than 2.5 million subs in the previous-year period.

Dish launched Sling in 2015 as the first online TV platform aimed at curbing online pay-TV subscriber defections to subscription VOD services. The online TV market is now led by Hulu + Live TV, which ended the most-recent fiscal period with 4 million subscribers.

Meanwhile, Dish saw further erosion of its legacy satellite TV service, ending the quarter with 7.6 million subs, down from 8.4 million in Q3 2021. Dish’s total pay-TV footprint topped 10 million subs — down nearly 1 million (980,000) subs from 2021.

At the same time, Dish continues to spend more acquiring satellite TV subs. The company spent more than $1,000 in marketing costs acquiring a subscriber in the quarter, compared with $824 in the prior-year quarter.

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Sling TV Adds AMC+ Streaming Service

Dish’s pioneering online television streaming platform Sling TV has added access to the AMC+ subscription streaming service — for an additional fee. Starting Aug. 24, Sling subscribers can get AMC+ as an á la carte streaming service for $8.99 per month.

In addition to original series such as “Better Call Saul,” AMC+ includes video on-demand channels Sundance Now, Shudder and IFC Films Unlimited.

Some of the featured on-demand movies and series include:

Moonhaven: A skeptic in Paradise, Earth pilot Bella Sway is sucked into a conspiracy to gain control of Moonhaven, a utopian colony on the Moon 100 years in the future. She teams up with a local detective to stop forces from destroying Earth’s last hope before they are destroyed themselves.

“Dark Winds”: Follows Leaphorn and Chee, two Navajo police officers in the 1970s Southwest that are forced to challenge their own spiritual beliefs when they search for clues in a double murder case.

“The Walking Dead”: Follow a group of survivors, led by former police officer Rick Grimes, who travel in search of a safe and secure home.

“Watcher”: As a serial killer stalks the city, a young actress who just moved to town with her boyfriend notices a mysterious stranger watching her from across the street.

Despite creating the online TV market with the bow of Sling TV in 2015 — including the first standalone access to ESPN — Sling parent Dish has struggled to retain subscribers on the platform. The service lost almost 250,000 subs through June 30.

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Discovery+ Launching on Sling TV and Dish TV

Discovery+ Aug. 8 launched on Sling TV and will launch on Dish TV Aug. 25, Warner Bros. Discovery and Dish Network announced.

Sling and Dish users can access the streaming service for $4.99 per month, or upgrade to a commercial-free subscription for $6.99 per month. Those looking to add Discovery+ as an a la carte streaming service, or add to their Sling Free account, will get a seven-day free trial of the channel.

Titles available at launch include Hillsong: A Megachurch Exposed, “Conjuring Kesha,” “90 Day: The Single Life” and more from the “90 Day” universe, “Fixer Upper: Welcome Home” and “Unprecedented.”

All Sling users, including users of Sling Free or any Sling subscription, may customize their viewing experience by adding Discovery+ as a premium a la carte streaming service. 

“Providing our customers with the best entertainment experience has always been our number one priority at Dish and Sling,” Gary Schanman, group president of Sling TV, said in a statement. “The addition of Discovery+ on our platforms offers iconic and acclaimed content for the a la carte experience our customers love. We offer more than 50 premium a la carte services to enable our users to customize their viewing experience, all with a single account login so they can easily manage their services in one place.”

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“With Discovery+, we are committed to making our world-class content accessible to all of our fans across all platforms, and this partnership with Sling and Dish allows us to deliver on that commitment,” Gabriel Sauerhoff, SVP of digital distribution and commercial partnerships for Warner Bros. Discovery, said in a statement. “We always put our dedicated viewers at the forefront of our decision making, and we’ll continue to do so as we expand the reach of our beloved programming, talent and brands.”

More than 70,000 episodes of current and classic shows are available on Discovery+ from Discovery’s portfolio of networks, including HGTV, Food Network, TLC, ID, OWN, Travel Channel, Discovery Channel, Animal Planet and Magnolia Network, along with more than 200 Discovery+ original titles and hundreds of hours of exclusive content. Additionally, the service offers top non-fiction content from A&E, The History Channel and Lifetime, and an expansive offering of nature and environmental programming.

Dish Lost Nearly One-Quarter-Million Sling TV Subs in Past 12 Months Through June 30

Dish created the online television market in 2015 with the launch of Sling TV, which included the first-ever non-pay-TV access to ESPN. Today, Sling TV is trying to remain competitive with market leader Hulu + Live TV, among other platforms.

The service Aug. 3 reported a net loss of 55,000 subscribers for the second quarter (ended June 30). That compared with a gain of 65,000 Sling TV subs in the previous-year period. Sling has lost 242,000 subs in the past 12 months of the fiscal year to end the period with almost 2.2 million subs. That compared with more than 2.4 million subs at the end of Q2 in 2021.

Dish attributed the decrease in net Sling TV subs primarily to higher subscriber disconnects following seasonal sports activity.

“We continue to experience increased competition, including competition from other subscription video-on-demand and live-linear OTT service providers,” the company said in its 10Q filing.

On the pay-TV side, the satellite TV operator’s legacy business continues to shrink as consumers migrate toward alternative over-the-top video platforms. Dish lost 202,000 pay-TV subs in the quarter, up from a loss of 132,000 subs in the previous-year period. The company ended the quarter with 7.79 million subs — down 763,000 subs from 8.55 million at the end of June 30, 2021.

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Dish said the decrease in gross pay-TV subscriber activations was primarily related to the lack of demand and shifting consumer behavior, as well as increased competitive pressures, including aggressive short term
introductory pricing and bundled offers combining broadband, video and/or wireless services and other discounted promotional offers, live-linear OTT service providers, and direct-to-consumer offerings by select programmers.

Regardless, the pay-TV segment reported operating income of $785.5 million on revenue of $3.15 billion. That compared with operating income of $827 million on revenue of $3.25 billion a year ago.

Dish Posts 815,000 Combined Q1 Pay-TV, Sling TV Sub Loss

The first fiscal quarter of 2022 was not a good one for Dish Network. The long-time satellite TV operator reported significant subscriber losses in both its legacy pay-TV business as well as pioneering online TV segment.

The company reported a first-quarter (ended March 31) loss of 693,000 legacy pay-TV subscribers, to end the period with 7.99 million paying subs. That compared with 8.68 million subs in the prior-year period. In its pioneering online TV business unit, Sling TV saw a sub loss of 122,000 to end the period with 2.25 million subs, compared with 2.37 million a year ago.

At the end of the quarter, Dish had 10.245 million combined pay-TV/online TV subscribers in the U.S.

The Sling TV sub loss is especially significant since the service was seen as a savior to the declining pay-TV industry since its launch in 2015. Instead, the online TV market is now led by Hulu + Live TV and Google TV, among others.

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Dish Lost 595,000 Pay-TV Subs in 2021, Sling TV Flat

Satellite TV operator Dish Feb. 24 disclosed it lost 595,000 pay-TV subscribers in the fiscal year ended Dec. 31, 2021, to end the fiscal period with 8.2 million subs, compared with 8.8 million at the end of 2020.

Dish’s online TV platform Sling TV ended the year with 2.48 million subs, up slightly from 2.47 million subs at the end of 2020. The pioneering platform, which was the first to offer ESPN outside the legacy pay-TV bundle when launching 2015, added just 12,000 subs in 2021.

Dish attributed the declines and market softness to the lack of consumer demand and channel removals, including Tegna (which carries NBC), as well as increased competitive pressures, including aggressive short-term introductory pricing and bundled offers combining broadband, video and/or wireless services and other discounted promotional offers, live-linear OTT service providers, and direct-to-consumer offerings by certain of our programmers.

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Dish competitors include Netflix, Hulu, Apple TV+, Amazon Prime Video, YouTube TV, Disney+, ESPN+, Paramount+, HBO Max, STARZ, Peacock,
FuboTV and Philo.

“We continue to experience increased competition, including competition from other subscription video on-demand and live-linear OTT service providers,” Dish said a regulatory filing.