Dish has lost more than three million satellite TV customers in the last four years, a 21.8 percent decrease, according to company reports.

The company yesterday reported that it had 11.030 million satellite subscribers at the end of last year’s fourth quarter. At the end of the first quarter in 2014, Dish had 14.097 million satellite customers, meaning it has lost 3.067 million since then.

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The company’s satellite service has been steadily losing customers since the end of the 2014 fourth quarter.

To counteract the growing satellite losses, Dish launched Sling TV, a live streaming service, in January 2015. The company revealed yesterday that Sling had roughly 2.2 million subscribers at the end of the 2017 fourth quarter.

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“Within our Pay TV business segment, we’ve got a mature business in Dish TV and we’ve got a growth business in Sling TV,” Dish CEO Erik Carlson said yesterday during the company’s earnings call, following release of the fourth quarter report. (Seeking Alpha has provided a transcript of the call. )

However, the shrinking satellite numbers has Dish openly discussing possible mergers, including one with DIRECTV if AT&T felt it was necessary to sell its satellite unit to win approval of its merger with Time Warner. (The federal government has rejected the AT&T-Time Warner merger. AT&T is now fighting in court to get the deal approved.)

“I think you can extract out that as the industry declines in the linear TV business, that there’s consolidation opportunities, where you are going to need to be more efficient,” Dish Chairman Charlie Ergen said yesterday during the earnings call.

— Phillip Swann