MERGER ON THE WAY?

Dish Network on Wednesday said it lost 194,000 net pay TV subscribers in the fourth quarter, compared with a loss of 334,000 in the year-ago period when carriage disputes with Univision, which has since been settled, and HBO hit results.

The company recorded its first-ever subscriber decline at streaming service Sling TV in addition to a drop at its traditional satellite TV business.

In the fourth quarter, Dish, led by chairman Charlie Ergen, lost about 100,000 traditional pay TV subscribers, while in the fourth quarter of 2018, the company had lost 386,000. It also lost about 94,000 Sling TV subscribers in the final quarter of 2019, compared with a year-ago gain of 50,000.

Dish had a total of 11.99 million subscribers at the end of 2019 compared with 12.32 million at the end of 2018. The latest figure includes 9.40 million traditional pay TV customers and 2.59 million subscribers of the Sling TV streaming service, compared with 9.90 million and 2.42 million, respectively, at the end of 2018.

“We lost approximately 336,000 net pay TV subscribers during the year ended December 31,” compared to a loss of approximately 920,000 in 2018, Dish said in a regulatory filing, citing “fewer net Dish TV subscriber losses, partially offset by fewer net Sling TV subscriber additions.”

It said it lost approximately 511,000 net Dish TV subscribers during the year, compared with the loss of about 1.13 million in 2018. Dish added approximately 175,000 net Sling TV subscribers during the year, down from 205,000 in 2018.

“This decrease in net Sling TV subscriber additions is primarily related to increased competition, including competition from other OTT service providers, and to a higher number of customer disconnects on a larger Sling TV subscriber base, including the impact from Univision, AT&T and Fox regional sports networks’ removal of certain of their channels from our programming lineup,” the company explained.

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