Evercore ISI Group media analysts Vijay Jayant and David Joyce said subscriber losses at Dish Network in the fourth quarter were likely due to some recent high profile content disputes with programmers, adding that the satellite giant’s future growth will be driven by its wireless spectrum and its recently launched over-the-top service, Sling TV.
Dish lost about 63,000 net video subscribers in the fourth quarter, slightly better than consensus estimates but likely driven by since-resolved programming cost disputes with Fox News Channel and Time Warner Inc.’s Turner Broadcasting.
Fox News went dark to Dish customers on Dec. 20 and returned on Jan. 15, after a contentious negotiating period where Fox claimed that as many as 90,000 customers dropped the satellite TV service provider through Jan. 7. About eight of Time Warner’s Turner Networks went dark to Dish customers on Oct. 20, but were restored about a month later after the parties reached an extension agreement through March. While neither Dish nor Turner have officially announced a formal carriage deal, because the channels are part of its Sling TV service, most observers believe a deal has been reached.