DISH wins some, loses some more

In an early morning filing, DISH revealed the financial results we more or less expected. Revenues are up, but subscriber counts are down, and that means that existing customers are paying more.

DISH’s own press release, which I’ll post at the bottom of the article, gives the details, but the big picture here, as stated by several other blogs, is that this is potentially the largest third quarter subscriber loss in DISH’s history. It’s not clear how many of DISH’s subscriber gains were for its Sling TV streaming service, but common sense would tell you that it wasn’t that many… since that service is cheaper than satellite service and revenues actually went up.

The depth of DISH’s loss is in sharp contrast to AT&T/DIRECTV, who did not gain subscribers at the same rate as it has in previous years (due completely to U-Verse customers leaving) but saw nothing like the subscriber losses listed by DISH.

Is there anything to be learned from these numbers? It’s hard to know. Even a full set of financials (which are likely to be released today) will not tell you anything about the mood of people who are switching away from DISH to other services or cutting the cord altogether. In the past, DISH has seen itself as a more budget-friendly alternative to DIRECTV for those who are not so beholden to sports programming, but that focus seems to be shifting somewhat.

Regardless of what the numbers tell us today, DISH remains a strong company with strong net income and strong subscriber metrics. I personally think the Sling TV product will continue to grow, just as similar products from other providers will likely blossom. These results, while not completely positive, are also not completely surprising and the company will rebound from any drubbing the stock takes today.

In short, we all move on, and bad news today only leads to good news tomorrow.

Oh, here’s that press release.

ENGLEWOOD, Colo.–(BUSINESS WIRE)– DISH Network Corp. (NASDAQ: DISH) today reported revenue totaling $3.75 billion for the quarter ending September 30, 2016, compared to $3.73 billion for the corresponding period in 2015. Subscriber-related revenue increased to $3.73 billion from $3.70 billion in the year-ago period. Net income attributable to DISH Network totaled $307 million for the third quarter 2016, compared with $196 million from the year-ago quarter. Diluted earnings per share were $0.64 for the third quarter, compared with $0.42 during the same period in 2015.

DISH includes all of its Sling TV subscribers in the company’s total Pay-TV metrics, including in the Pay-TV subscriber, Pay-TV ARPU and Pay-TV churn rate numbers set forth below. Sling TV subscribers are reported net of disconnects in our gross new Pay-TV subscriber activations.

In the third quarter, DISH activated approximately 736,000 gross new Pay-TV subscribers compared to approximately 751,000 gross new Pay-TV subscribers in the prior year’s third quarter. Net Pay-TV subscribers declined approximately 116,000 in the third quarter, compared to a loss of approximately 23,000 in the third quarter 2015.

The company closed the third quarter with 13.643 million Pay-TV subscribers, compared to 13.909 million Pay-TV subscribers at the end of third quarter 2015. Our ending Pay-TV subscriber count increased by approximately 166,000 subscribers as of September 30, 2016 as a result of a change in our calculation for our commercial accounts. This had no impact on our gross new Pay-TV subscriber activations, net Pay-TV subscriber losses or Pay-TV churn rate for all periods presented.

Pay-TV ARPU for the third quarter totaled $89.44, compared to third quarter 2015 Pay-TV ARPU of $86.33. Pay-TV subscriber churn rate was 2.11 percent versus 1.86 percent for third quarter 2015.

DISH lost approximately 20,000 net broadband subscribers in the third quarter, bringing its broadband subscriber base to approximately 593,000.

Year-to-Date Review
For the first nine months of 2016, DISH Network’s revenue was $11.37 billion, compared to $11.29 billion in revenue from the same period last year. Year to date, net income attributable to DISH Network totaled $1.11 billion, compared to $872 million from the same period last year. Diluted earnings per share were $2.35 for the first nine months of 2016, compared with $1.88 during the same period in 2015.

Detailed financial data and other information are available in DISH Network’s Form 10-Q for the quarter ended September 30, 2016, filed today with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

DISH Network will host its third quarter 2016 financial results conference call today at noon Eastern time. The dial-in numbers are (800) 618-8682 (U.S.) and (312) 281-1202. A webcast replay will be available on DISH’s Investor Relations website [] today from 6 p.m. to 12 a.m. ET.

About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 8,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.