Dish Network in the third quarter reported losing 64,000 pay TV subscribers as satellite TV losses outpaced net additions at virtual MVPD Sling TV.
In the most recent quarter Dish lost 181,000 satellite Dish TV subscribers, roughly in line with the 184,000 it lost in the same period a hear ago. However, net additions at Sling TV slowed significantly since Q3 2022. Dish counted 117,000 Sling TV net additions, compared to 214,000 it added in the year ago period. Its pay TV subscriber base now stands at 8.84 million – contracting 11.8% year over year – including 6.72 million Dish TV subscribers and 2.12 million Sling TV subs. Sling TV’s base is smaller than it was a year ago when Dish had 2.41 million vMVPD customers at the end of Q3 2022.
Dish said the lower net additions at Sling TV were due to fewer subscriber activations and higher disconnects in 2023, in part as it continues to face more competition in the space.
“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 wrote in a 10-Q filing.
In terms of football, this fall saw the kick-off of Google’s coverage of the NFL’s Sunday Night Ticket package on YouTube and vMVPD YouTube TV. Competing sports-centric virtual MVPD Fubo reported Q3 earnings Friday, where executives touted a strong quarter for subscriber growth despite intense promotions and marketing for YouTube TV’s Sunday Ticket package. Fubo ended Q3 with 1.47 million subscribers. YouTube TV, meanwhile, had an estimated 5.9 million subscribers as of the end of Q2, per Leichtman Research Group.
As for Dish, total pay TV revenue of $2.8 billion was down 8.8% year over year in Q3. Pay TV subscriber service revenue in Q3 was $2.77 billion, compared to $3.03 billion Q3 2022. Pay TV equipment sales of $32 million were down from $41 million a year prior.
While Dish lost slightly fewer net traditional satellite subs in the quarter, the company said fewer disconnects were offset by lower gross new Dish TV subscriber additions. Dish TV’s gross additions of around 142,000 in Q3 were down 16.5%. The pay TV provider cited “a lack of demand and shifting consumer behavior” along with competitive pressure from other virtual MVPDs, introductory pricing for bundled offers with broadband and other services, promotional offers and DTC offerings from programmers.
“Our gross new DISH TV subscriber activations continue to be negatively impacted by an emphasis on acquiring higher quality subscribers,” Dish said in the filing.
In Q3 Dish TV’s churn rate climbed to 1.58%. Price increases helped pay TV average revenue per user ticked up 3.1% since the same period a year ago to $105.25.
Alongside its pay TV business Dish is building out a 5G network and runs a mobile business, with the aim of becoming a fourth nationwide competitor in the wireless market. Wireless revenue of $900 million in the quarter was down 11.6% year over year. Lower revenue in its wireless and pay TV segments contributed to total revenue declines for Dish in Q3, which dropped 9.5% year over year to $3.7 billion.