Dish Loses Subscribers as Disputes With HBO and Univision Continue -- Update

Date : 02/13/2019 @ 5:48PM
Source : Dow Jones News
Stock : Dish Network Corp. (DISH)
Quote : 32.06  -0.35 (-1.08%) @ 8:30PM

Dish Loses Subscribers as Disputes With HBO and Univision Continue -- Update

Dish Network Corp. (NASDAQ:DISH)
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By Kimberly Chin 

Dish Network Corp. on Wednesday reported that it lost subscribers in the latest quarter as pressure from blackouts of HBO and Univision weighs on its base.

Shares of the satellite-television provider fell 8% in response.

Dish said in an annual filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that it lost 920,000 net pay-TV subscribers in 2018, ending the year with 12.3 million subscribers. For comparison, the company lost 284,000 pay-TV subscribers in 2017.

About 9.9 million of its total subscribers were Dish TV customers, down 1.13 million from a year earlier, while Sling TV subscribers rose 205,000 to 2.4 million. Dish TV had a churn rate of 1.78%, flat from a year ago.

HBO, along with sister channel Cinemax, has denied access to Dish's subscribers since October due to a continuing spat over the terms of a new distribution agreement.

HBO and Cinemax are currently owned by AT&T Inc., which closed its acquisition of Time Warner Inc. in June. AT&T offers HBO and Cinemax programming directly to consumers through the internet or its streaming service, Watch TV.

Dish was also struggling to reach a new contract agreement with Spanish language broadcaster Univision Communications Inc., which has kept several of its channels in the dark since June.

"We experienced a higher DISH TV churn rate, higher net Pay-TV subscriber losses and lower gross new DISH TV subscriber activations during the third and fourth quarter 2018 and continuing into the first quarter 2019, when Univision and AT&T removed certain of their channels from our DISH TV and Sling TV programming lineup," Dish said in a filing.

Dish has a history of not relenting to networks during contract disputes. It has dropped Fox News, CBS and local TV station owners Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc. and Tribune Media Co. in the past. Dish eventually struck new agreements with them all.

Dish's shares had fallen as much as 26% to $23.98 in the ensuing weeks after HBO cut access, though it has since crawled back to around $30 on Wednesday. Dish's stock has fallen 34% in the past 12 months.

Revenue from subscribers for the year, which makes up most of Dish's top line, fell by 5.6%.

Overall revenue declined by 5% to $3.31 billion from a year ago, slightly above analysts' expectations of $3.28 billion.

Profit fell 76% to $337 million, or 64 cents a share, down from a year ago. Analysts polled by Refinitiv were expecting earnings of 67 cents a share. Dish recorded an impairment charge of long-lived assets of $112 million.

Write to Kimberly Chin at kimberly.chin@wsj.com

 

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 13, 2019 12:33 ET (17:33 GMT)

Copyright (c) 2019 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

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