Sling TV loses 100,000 subscribers in Q1

Sling TV dropped 100,000 subscribers in the first quarter of 2021 amid Dish Network’s wider 230,000 net pay TV subscriber losses.

The total, which includes 130,000 subscriber losses for Dish TV, compares favorably to the 413,000 pay TV subscribers the company dropped in the first quarter of 2020. Sling TV was also able to dial back its losses, which totaled 281,000 during the year-ago quarter.

Dish Network attributed the improvement in subscriber losses for Sling TV to lower subscriber disconnects “resulting from our emphasis on acquiring and retaining higher quality subscribers, partially offset by lower Sling TV subscriber activations.” The company warned that it is continuing to encounter increased competition from other SVOD and virtual MVPD service providers and noted that the first quarter of 2020 was negatively impacted by delays and cancellations of sporting events because of COVID-19.

Dish TV’s gross customer additions fell to 210,000 during the quarter, which again the company attributed to COVID-19. The company said stay-at-home mandates other pandemic guidelines reduced in person selling opportunities and a reduction in customers’ willingness to open direct mail marketing and allow in-home technicians into their homes.

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“As a result, beginning in the first quarter 2020, we reduced our marketing expenditures and our gross new Dish TV subscribers began to decrease,” the company wrote in an SEC filing.

While Dish Network’s overall pay TV subscriber base continues to decline, the company is seeing its pay TV ARPU rise significantly, reaching $93.63 during the first quarter, up from $88.76 one year ago. The company attributed the rise to Dish TV programming package price increases in the first quarters 2021 and 2020, the Sling TV programming package price increases in the first quarters 2021 and 2020 and higher ad sales revenue.

“Sling TV subscribers on average purchase lower priced programming services than Dish TV subscribers, and therefore, the increase in Sling TV subscribers as a percentage of our total pay TV subscriber base had a negative impact on pay TV ARPU,” the company wrote.

The company closed the quarter with 11.06 million pay TV subscribers, including approximately 8.69 million Dish TV subscribers and 2.37 million Sling TV subscribers.

Dish Network’s revenue totaled $4.5 billion for the quarter, compared to $3.22 billion one year ago, thanks largely to a service revenue boost from the company’s newly acquired wireless business. Net income attributable to Dish Network totaled $630 million, compared to $73 million one year ago.