Dish shrinks pay TV subscriber losses to 133,000 in Q4

Dish Network, across its satellite TV business and Sling TV, lost approximately 133,000 pay TV subscribers in the fourth quarter, down from 194,000 in the year-ago quarter.

The company said it closed the quarter with 11.29 million pay TV subscribers. That includes 8.82 million Dish TV subscribers (down about 140,000 during the fourth quarter) and 2.47 million Sling TV subscribers (up about 10,000 during the fourth quarter).

For 2020, Dish said it lost approximately 526,000 net pay TV subscribers: about 408,000 net Dish TV subscribers and about 118,000 net Sling TV subscribers.

The annual Dish TV losses do not include the approximately 250,000 subscribers removed in the first quarter of 2020. Those figures represent commercial accounts impacted by COVID-19. Dish said that during the year, 80,000 of those subscribers came off pause or had temporary rate relief end and were included in the company’s ending pay TV subscriber count for 2020.

RELATED: Dish Network added over 200,000 Sling TV subs in Q3

Sling TV stood pat in 2020 while competing virtual MVPDs including YouTube TV, Hulu + Live TV and fuboTV all raised their base package rates to $65 per month.

In January, though, Sling TV raised prices by $5 per month for new subscribers to the service, which will now start at $35 per month for the Sling Orange or Sling Blue packages. New customers can also choose to subscribe to both Sling Orange and Sling Blue for $50 per month, which also represents a $5 per month increase.

However, thanks to a one-year price guarantee instituted in 2020, existing customer prices will not change through July 2021 as long as their existing subscription remains active.

While pay TV revenue largely held steady in 2020, up 0.7%, Dish Network got a substantial revenue boost from its wireless business in 2020. The segment contributed nearly $2.6 billion to consolidated revenues to bring the figure up to $15.49 billion, up 21% year over year.