By Phillip Swann
The TV Answer Man –@tvanswerman

Dish Stock Plunges 37 Percent

Dish announced today that it lost a net of 64,000 TV subscribers in the third quarter compared to a net increase of 30,000 in last year’s third quarter. However, despite the third quarter increase last year, Dish has lost roughly five million subscribers in the last eight years. Investors are increasingly expressing concern about the company’s future with Dish’s stock yesterday reaching a 25-year low after falling 37 percent. Yesterday’s unexpected announcement that company CEO Erik Carlson will step down did little to alleviate those concerns.

Dish Chairman Charlie Ergen yesterday took questions from financial analysts and journalists following the release of the third quarter report. Here are his comments on the company’s future and whether it will ever merge with satellite rival DIRECTV.

Can Dish Overcome Current Financial Troubles?

Ergen is confident that Dish will survive in the years ahead but admits that the company could falter if economic conditions don’t improve by 2026.

“I would say it is we have a narrow path but there is a path for us to achieve financial stability and make sure we meet our commitments,” Ergen said. “And so having been through this for a long time, we’ve had narrow paths before, and it’s a sharp focus for your management and a necessity sometimes the mother of invention. So we certainly look at 2026 as a challenge today. We expect that the market environment will be better in 2026 but there’s no guarantee of that, obviously. If the market environment today was like it was the same in 2026, I think that would prove to be difficult for us based on our operations today.”

Will Dish Merge With DIRECTV?

For the first time in the last few years, Ergen cast doubt on a merger with his satellite rival. The Dish chief has repeatedly said it was “inevitable,” but yesterday he dismissed the likelihood, at least anytime in the near future. Ergen said the company instead is focused on completing the merger between Dish and Echostar, its sister company.

“We’re still getting the Echostar-Dish transaction done. (See our article on the Dish-Echostar merger.) I mean, obviously, we filed a lot of stuff but we got a ton of stuff in terms of combining the companies and the management teams and making sure that we don’t wait on synergies and get those and with the starting next week, that will be very helpful. So we just don’t have any plans for DIRECTV based on that,” Ergen said.

Asked if that meant Dish might consider a DIRECTV merger after the Echostar deal is complete, Ergen would not commit. “Well, that’s certainly for now. I don’t know how to answer that, but our focus is elsewhere,” he said.

Update: Some good news for Dish this week as it announces on Friday night (November 10) that it has signed a new carriage agreement with Hearst Television, ending a two-month blackout. 

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The TV Answer Man is veteran journalist Phillip Swann who has covered the TV technology scene for more than three decades. He will report on the latest news and answer your questions regarding new devices and services that are changing the way you watch television. See the bio for Phillip Swann here.