Dish Network: Sling TV Subscribers Topped 2.2 Million Mark in 2017
Dish Network ended 2017 with more than 2.2 million Sling TV members, the company said Feb. 21, marking the first time the company provided the number of subscribers that its over-the-top (OTT) “skinny” TV bundle had attracted.
“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, and we’ve also got a future business in wireless,” W. Erik Carlson, Dish Network CEO and president, said on an earnings call for the fourth quarter of 2017 (ended Dec. 31).
The company ended the quarter with 13.24 million pay-TV subscribers, which also included 11 million Dish TV subscribers.
Net pay-TV subscribers increased by about 39,000 in the quarter, but that included 75,000 reactivations in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands following Hurricane Maria, it said. That gain compared to net additions of 28,000 in the same quarter a year earlier.
Despite being a growing business for the company, Sling TV subscriber additions slowed to about 711,000 people in the year ended Dec. 31 compared to the addition of about 878,000 Sling TV members in the same period of 2016, the company disclosed in a 10-K SEC filing. The decrease in net Sling TV subscriber additions was “primarily related to a higher number of customer disconnects on a larger Sling TV subscriber base and from increased competition, including competition from other OTT service providers,” it said.
Since launching Sling TV in early 2015, rivals including Sony’s PlayStation Vue, Hulu with Live TV and YouTube TV have jumped into the skinny bundle arena.
Dish Network lost a total of about 284,000 net pay-TV subscribers during the year ended Dec. 31, compared to a loss of about 392,000 in the same period of 2016, it also said in the 10-K. That decrease in net pay-TV subscriber losses “resulted from fewer net” Dish TV subscriber losses, “partially offset by fewer net Sling TV subscriber additions,” it said. The company lost about 995,000 net DishTV subscribers in the year, down from a loss of about 1.270 million net Dish TV subscribers in the same period in 2016, it said.
Total Q4 revenue fell to $3.48 billion from $3.75 billion a year earlier, but income attributable to Dish Network grew to $1.39 billion from $355 million.
After integrating Netflix into its Hopper DVR and adding hands-free TV capability last year by adding Amazon Alexa voice control, the company will now integrate Hopper with the Google Assistant voice control service later this year, Carlson told analysts and reporters on the call. The company shipped its newest remote with voice control in November, he noted, adding: “Customers love voice control. Those customers that use the features have lower churn and definitely higher margin.”
The company expects both Sling TV average revenue per user (ARPU) and margins to expand in 2018, CFO Steve Swain said on the call. He added: “We’ll see ARPU tailwinds coming from addressable advertising, as well as increased penetration on add-ons such as DVRs,” he said.