News and Analysis
Dish reported on Friday that it lost a net of 462,000 video subscribers in the first quarter, including 234,000 for its live streaming service, Sling TV, and 228,000 for its satellite service. Company executives blamed the loss on a variety of factors, including increasing competition, a first quarter price hike, a now-settled programming dispute with Tegna, and poor execution by each service.
However, the decline continues a longtime trend for Dish which has lost several million subscribers over the last several years. Sling was once seen as the company’s escape hatch, at least in the video category. (Dish is also investing heavily in wireless.) But the streamer’s growth has slowed significantly of late as it also has for other live streamers such as Hulu Live, YouTube TV and DIRECTV Stream. FuboTV, another live streaming rival, also lost subscribers in the first quarter.
Consumers were once infatuated with live streaming’s low prices, but they have fallen out of love as prices have risen to offset escalating programming costs.
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It would appear that the escape hatch of live streaming might become a booby hatch.
So Sling is stalling.
Dish is declining.
And it could get even worse for the satellite TV service over the next few years.
The majority of Dish’s satellite subscribers are in rural areas, many of which lack reliable high-speed Internet service. They often subscribe to Dish or DIRECTV because it’s the only way to get quality television; they can’t stream, and cable is usually not available.
However, the federal government last year approved $65 billion to bring the Internet to rural communities as part of a larger infrastructure bill. (The FCC has estimated that roughly 20 million Americans are without reliable Internet access.) Over the next few years, many of those Dish subscribers will have more video options than they ever have. Will they stay with Dish or will they opt to subscribe to less expensive Net-based services such as Disney+ and Netflix.
Dish executives understand what they are up against and Charlie Ergen, the company’s chairman, last week said it behooves Dish to find new ways to entice viewers, particularly those who suddenly have multiple alternatives.
“You can give people a good user experience,” Ergen told financial analysts last week in a conference call following the release of the first quarter report. “I think that the company is going to be very profitable. But I think there’s a transition there, and we’re all going to have to feel our way around. But we’re problem solvers. We think we can make our product better with the help of our content providers.”
But many analysts, and perhaps Ergen himself, would say that Dish’s best hope is to merge with longtime rival DIRECTV. Ergen says such a merger is “inevitable” but it would appear that it’s quickly becoming a short-term necessity.
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NO ONE seems to be touting WHY “SATELLITE” is DEAD…IT IS BECAUSE NO ONE BUYS CABLE “channels” any longer. The day of “more channels” then CABLE had ship has LONG SINCE SAILED and the INTERNET is now what most are occupying their time with. “TV” is just a change for the ALL DAY on the smartphone, tablets or other.
TV has been DIEING for YEARS NOW and the IDIOTS at AT&T found that out AFTER they blew BILLIONS (Rupert STILL THANKS YOU “IDIOT RANDAL”)…DISH will be the ONLY “survivor” for a while AFTER DIRECT is gone. THE dish will have to throw in the towel and go all stream too BUT that will be a while because DISH SATELLITES are “younger” then the soon to die junk left at DIRECTV.
SO while it is true that MOST of the “still” subscribers of SATELLITE ARE in the “hills” when INTERNET gets to the HILLS”, that will be the END of Direct to home “satellite” TV…IT IS A DONE DEAL PPL…IT IS ONLY a question of TIME.
Do not understand why you are so down on Direct TV because I have had both of them and Dish sucks big time. You could not give me Dish and I would take two cans and a string on them.
I am not sure fiber will kill satellite since I live in a rural area and got fiber in January 2022. I opted to keep Direct TV rather than switch to cable because the price almost the same and I liked Direct TV.
Though, I have the ability to stream I am not fond of it and rarely use it because, in my opinion, it takes too many clicks and searches to watch something where Direct TV allows you to key a channel number and there it is.
Dish has a great satellite service and their equipment and interface blows DirecTV away. We had their service for over 20 years but switched to DirecTV three years ago for the following reasons.
No regional sport networks, (YES, SNY, MSG)
Lack of other channels that DirecTV carries
They are ALWAYS in some sort of dispute with providers that cause channels to be dropped.
Dish, will continue to play second fiddle to DirecTV until they realize these mistakes and Charlie Ergen stops running the company like a poker game
Bruce…couldn’t have said it any better myself!
A merger will not help either Dish nor Directv. Every person I know who has Directv swears they will never have Dish for many reasons. So if a merger happens and Ergen is in control I would be willing to bet that there would be a mass exodus of customers from Directv to any other option whether it be through existing high speed internet or soon to be available internet. Anyone who has no high speed internet available will only keep satellite until they have access to high speed internet. Personally I like Directv very much, despite the high cost, and have had it for over 20 years but will switch to Verizon FIOS tv in a second if Ergen gets control of Directv.
Thoams, the mass exodus of customers from DirecTV and Dish is ALREADY HAPPENING among those customers who have other video entertainment options thanks to the availability of some form of broadband service at their home. Once DirecTV loses NFL Sunday Ticket after this fall, there really will be no reason for anyone who even still wants multi-channel pay TV to keep getting it via satellite, as opposed to other ways (e.g. YouTube TV, DirecTV Stream, etc.) UNLESS SATELLITE TV IS THEIR ONLY OPTION.
Satellite TV’s last stand is rural America, i.e. those places where it’s the ONLY option for subscription video entertainment. And as fiber and fixed wireless internet (mainly from T-Mobile) becomes increasingly available in those areas, there goes satellite TV’s last customers as this decade progresses.
So, yes, a merger of Dish and DirecTV will help both because it will eliminate each other’s only competitor in rural America and allow them to have reduced costs via shared scale, which means better profit margins. Don’t get me wrong, a merger of the two WON’T BE ABOUT CREATING A BETTER SERVICE FOR CONSUMERS. But then, that’s not something you have to care about when you’re the only option available, right?
I have to love how idiot boy Dave, makes i conversation on how badly Dish is doing, into another tirade against DirectTV, , Dave, you just don’t get it! This streaming from one service to another is killing the market. How often can one put up with getting to enjoy one service only to see one or more favorite shows jump to another service, pretty soon you need 3, 4 and more services to get your favorite shows, soon paying more than you were for the all in one, satellite like Direct!