The news isn’t all bad. Net income is still $300 million give or take, and earnings per share dropped only 10 cents. At a time when we expect to hear doom and gloom from nearly every pay-TV provider, that’s not so bad.
I’m talking about DISH’s third quarter results. You can get a lot of detail here and in the links within that page, but the bottom line here is that they lost about 400,000 customers since this time last year and still managed to make some money. Each customer brought in about $2 less than before. That’s pretty much what the average person wants to know.
A lot of market pundits are beginning to seriously gun for DISH, saying that the company’s wireless holdings are so costly that it’s getting to the point where the company becomes unsustainable. I personally don’t believe that, but it is true that DISH is holding on to quite a few licenses that they haven’t used. At some point the FCC will make them sell or abandon them, and at that point they lose money either way. This all comes from a mid-decade buying spree that left most people (myself included) thinking DISH would start some sort of wireless service. Unfortunately that hasn’t happened, and now DISH has a lot of spectrum that doesn’t do anything for them.
The company seems to really be doubling down on niche markets like mobile satellite, marine, and “heavy users,” with hardware that’s far more appealing to people than some of the DIRECTV offerings. DISH’s dual-Hopper-3 setup gives you up to 32-tuner capacity with 16 rooms at the same time, which beats DIRECTV’s top-of-the-line Genie 2, and its satellite systems work with smaller dishes for those RVers and tailgaters who want to keep a low profile. The company may shrink more into being a niche provider but let’s not forget that at 13 million subscribers it’s still pretty big. It’s also healthier than Charter and many other cable companies despite having no cellular, landline, or internet service to sell.
So, it’s a mixed bag for now but I would say, no cause for alarm.